Some people are fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Philadelphia Eagles.
Your 2021 record: 9-8. The Eagles started last season 2-5, mostly because they were under the mistaken impression that they knew how to pass the football. Once better teams disabused them of that notion, they shifted right into Air Force Mode and ran an offense that made the corpse of Buddy Ryan rock hard. That sea change in philosophy resulted in Philly winning four of their last five games and making the playoffs. Mark Wahlberg will play Jalen Hurts in the movie based on that turnaround.
But look closer and suddenly last season looks considerably less inspiring. The Eagles didn’t beat a single playoff team all season, and eight of their nine wins came against teams with losing records. We call this NFC Eastflation. The exchange rate for such victories to real victories is exactly 0.4. They let Derek Carr complete 91.1 percent of his passes against them. They lost to the Chargers at the gun, at home. They didn’t win a home game until the week before Thanksgiving, in fact. They got swept by Dallas, allowing the Cowboys an average of 46 points in each contest. And once they entered the playoff field, the Bucs smoked them like a pack of unfiltered Camels.
Tampa Bay led 17-0 at the half of that game. These Eagles weren’t built to come from one point down, much less 17 of them. I’d have rather watched a Woody Allen movie.
That Bucs loss showed you who the 2021 Eagles really were, and it’s important you remember that when a bunch of prognosticators get all horny about their chances in 2022. True, 2021 was a relative success for this ball club. After spending the prior offseason trading away their starting quarterback and firing their Super Bowl winning head coach for the cardinal sin of obeying direct orders from team management, you had every right to think that the Eagles would go 1-72. Instead, something even better happened, which is that they deluded their fans into believing that they’re an actual team.
Their QB was nearly crushed to death by a falling stadium platform. Their offensive line died.
Your coach: The Rest Attacker.
“We’re attacking the little parts of that day, right? The players right now are attacking rest.”
And when they’re done doing that, my players are gonna ATTACK getting out of bed. Then they’re gonna ATTACK the process of hunting around the pantry for a granola bar. Then they’re gonna ATTACK getting in the car and ATTACK obeying all traffic lights and stop signs. Then they’re gonna get out a RIFLE and SHOOT neighborhood dogs as they drive by.
Anyway, your head coach is Nick Sirianni, who has more than a touch of Dan Campbellness in him. He’s the PG version of Dan Campbell, and who isn’t encouraged by that?
Your quarterback: The Eagles are the rare team that has two shitty quarterbacks that people talk themselves into. It’s like having double Marcus Mariotas. At the top of the depth chart we have Jalen Hurts, who’s only effective when playing in a college offense and running it against teams that suck at defending ANY offense. Behind Hurts is Gardner Minshew, who was a big deal a few years ago because he had a funny mustache. FUN FACT: According to this Ringer post, Sirianni believes that Hurts can become a franchise cornerstone with just a few minor tweaks:
“The two areas where he thinks Hurts needs to develop are accuracy and decision-making.”
Ah yes, accuracy and decision-making. Those two famously easy-to-pick-up quarterbacking skills. I bet Hurts could learn both those things simply by watching a few YouTube videos. You and I could learn them, too! ANYONE CAN. It’s so simple, God!
Anyway, Eagles GM Howie Roseman, who has more lives than an Edge of Tomorrow sequel, is building around a young QB while that QB is still on his rookie deal. That’s always a good idea, unless it happens to be THIS young QB. When Hurts fails this season and local fans go, BOOOO WE DON’T LIKE BLACK QUARTERBACKS NOT NAMED RANDALL CUNNINGHAM BOOOO, Roseman will cut bait on Hurts, draft some other schmuck, win another nine games with that schmuck, and repeat the process until the world has died.
What’s new that sucks: After commissioning a new banner to celebrate last year’s Wild Card spot, Roseman went batshit crazy this offseason and loaded up the roster with the explicit goal of losing to Tom Brady by ONE touchdown in the postseason instead of 38. He poached edge rusher Haason Reddick from Carolina. He grabbed corner James Bradberry from the Giants. And, as a capper, he suckered the Titans into trading wideout AJ Brown to him. Big change of scenery for Brown, going from one aggressively conservative offense that underutilized him to another that will operate in the exact same way.
Brown arrives at the NFL’s foremost wideout graveyard. And you might think to yourself that, since the Eagles didn’t draft Brown themselves, he has a chance to avoid the ignominious fates of Jalen Raegor, and Nelson Agholor, and Jordan Matthews, and Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant, and Reggie Brown, and Todd Pinkston, and Freddie Mitchell, and DeVonta Smith two years from now. No team has a more storied history of drafting wideouts who can’t catch a football, but the Eagles are by no means victims of bad luck here. No no no, they TEACH these wideouts how to suck. They draft guys like Smith and then instruct them to catch passes by using the GO GATORS hand signal as their primary ball-securing technique. Then their fans go, MORE LIKE AJ CLOWN AMIRITE and you never hear from those wideouts again.
Brandon Brooks retired. The Eagles appeared to hit the motherlode in the draft when both Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean fell to them in the first and third rounds, respectively. But Dean’s body is made of discarded popsicle sticks and Davis is the kind of fat guy who can only play two downs before he needs to get hooked up to an oxygen tank.
What has always sucked: These fans are a known allergen.
I’m so fucking tired of these people. I’m tired of them dragging every conversation back to Philly like it was a condition of their fucking parole. I’m tired of them worshipping Allen Iverson like Allen Iverson ever won a goddamn thing besides his divorce trial. I’m tired of them STILL complaining that Joel Embiid wasn’t named MVP. I’m tired of them getting bundled up and driving over a bridge just to say racial slurs in the parking lot at the Linc. I’m tired of their stubble. I’m tired of the Wawa discourse, especially when you can find a Wawa in fucking Florida if you feel like it. I’m tired of them acting like no shit-talk bothers them when only Lenny Dykstra has a shorter fuse. I’m tired of them celebrating Kelly green like it can prevent COVID-19. I’m tired of them telling me, for the 50,000th time, that locals don’t actually go to Pat’s or Geno’s. No one cares. It’s a sandwich. Go fuck yourself with one.
I’m tired of all things Philly, and I hope you people never win a goddamn thing ever again. The rest of us Americans can’t stand you. We hope your families break apart and we hope that when Putin blows up that one nuclear plant in Ukraine, he airlifts the fallout material directly onto your fucking city. Your accent is a waste of time. Piss on your face.
Dallas Goedert hasn’t been the same since losing his hunting partner. Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox are a combined 429 years old. Every running back the Eagles have ever had weighs 104 pounds. Philly Special is never happening again. The only person alive worse than Bryce Harper is Doug Mastriano. Fuck Dr. Oz with his own scalpel.
Ratto says: It seems Nick Sirianni was more than just a malaprop in a visor, but the matter of how long he can rest on the laurels of being 9-8 in the worst division in football remains open. Jalen Hurts is the new quarterback of the future with the notable advantage of never having played in North Dakota. In a division that already has two franchise enhancers in the Giants and Commanders. The Eagles are probably trying too hard with this.
What might not suck: The O-line? It’s pretty good.
HEAR IT FROM EAGLES FANS!
The most exciting part of being an Eagles fan last year was holding Indy’s conditional second round pick and needing Carson Wentz to play just well enough to not be benched.
Being an Eagles fan means that, no matter your ethnicity or socioeconomic status, you are still white trash.
Like the railing at FedEx Field, Jalen Hurts is a flimsy stand-in who’s been asked to support way more than he can handle.
They fired their Super Bowl winning coach for an excitable puppy who pisses on the floor when you’re not looking.
Our coach has the worst beard in the league. Either grow a beard past your jawline or don’t grow one. He looks like a NPC from a PS1 Tomb Raider game.
The idea that Hurts is supposedly improving, the idea that he needs more time to be fully evaluated, the idea that his intangibles such as leadership are absolutely off the charts: all of these are sweet nothings I tell myself late at night to sleep better. But they’re not the truth.
Our starting QB has to put his entire body into any throw over 20 yards.
Oh great, we have a black quarterback who’s actually pretty exciting and fun to watch and will win us a lot of games, but our cracker-ass-cracker fanbase will focus on every shortcoming and barely bother to conceal their racism when they call into WIP and say he doesn’t have what it takes to be a winner. I’ve been dealing with this shit for 30 years. This franchise and Wentz deserved each other.
A home Eagles game is the NFL’s equivalent to a Jimmy Buffet concert. You’re going to get drunk and fistfight a goatee guy named “Todd”. You don’t care about the music because you already know it sucks.
Nick Sirianni got into a fight with a Giants fan on a tennis court in the wealthy New Jersey town he lives in.
Why did no one tell me James Harden was fat?
The vibes are all immaculate I’m here for it. But some rando depth piece like Christian Elliss is gonna say “Dream Team” and jinx this whole damn thing. We’re going to start 2-1 and still be subjected to around-the-clock WIP callers complaining that Jalen Hurts “lacks toughness.”
My daughter asked me why they booed Reagor so loudly. She also asked me what a “homo” is, as women in the stadium bathroom referred to him as such. Who uses that word anymore? Oh right, Delco.
We barely got any slow decline or collapse into inadequacy; it was just a straight-up swan dive off the top of the mountain.
Tell McQuade to cut his hair and shave his goddamn beard for fuck’s sake.
Angelo Cataldi won’t retire until after the season.
We have the worst fanbase in professional sports, a dipshit megalomaniac owner who chased away a Super Bowl-winning coach because he didn’t call enough passing plays, and a GM who thinks he’s the next Otto von Bismarck. Carson Wentz is going to throw for nine touchdowns against our supposedly improved secondary this year. We’re going to waste a stud receiving corps because Jalen Hurts couldn’t hit a mattress from 30 yards away.
The Pissed Guy Corridor encompasses three major cities, beginning in Philadelphia, extending through New York City, and ending in Boston. The name comes from the statistically significant percentage of adult men whose primary personality trait is being pissed. For some, it’s a constant, thrumming of underlying resentment as they constantly scan every room they enter in search of a target. For others, it’s their well-known tendency to flip a mental switch from affable to popping the fuck off with little-to-no provocation. Still others simply inflect a degree of being annoyed at having to do or say literally anything into every conversation they have under the belief that this is what sarcasm is. For the emotional coward (guilty), it’s a useful crutch. When you are afraid to express what’s truly inside of you, being pissed at least projects the contours of a personality.
I say this because I love the Eagles and I love being pissed with Eagles fans because it’s what connects us. I will always have some of that Pissed Guy in me and it’s comforting in a way to see it in the wild, because it makes me nostalgic.
This year’s team seems like they could be good if Jalen Hurts is good. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to be, and I look forward to getting pissed about it with the homies. My one wish is if Hurts does end up being good, we credit him and not some front office executive.
Our GM thinks he’s the superstar of the team, and he might be. Our best player is a center who has threatened to retire for the past three years. Fletcher Cox hasn’t been good since the Super Bowl year, but he’s still getting paid like he’s Aaron Donald. We spent our first round pick on a run-stuffing DT when no smart team runs the ball anymore. Our defensive coordinator doesn’t believe in blitzing, or covering people, or anything, really. His philosophy is just that if we play 15 yards off people, opposing offenses will screw up on their own.
I am a diabetic, and I take a cocktail of drugs to keep my blood sugars under control. As part of that mixture, I now get up to pee often in the night, and each pee stream lasts for up to two minutes. I also get a healthy dose of diarrhea as a side effect from one of the pills, which wakes me up at 3am for the purposes of spewing fire from my anus. I frequently now have “poop dreams,” similar to “pee dreams,” where you feel like you have to go. There’s always the risk that if you ignore the dream for too long, your imaginary pee becomes real piss in your bed. That has happened to me once in my adult life, and I now live in existential poop dread every night that I’ll miss the signal and literally shit the bed.
That’s what it’s like to be an Eagles fan. A constant two-minute drill of piss whilst praying you don’t shit yourself.
It’s May of 2019. The Sixers are on the ropes in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and facing elimination in Game 6 at home. My brother and I have a relative with season tickets, but since he’s a fairweather fan, he decides to give his seats to us since he, “didn’t want to see them lose on home court.”
The seats are excellent. The best I’ve ever had for a live sporting event. Now, the Sixers have this new tradition of an honorary “Bell Ringer,” usually some local celebrity/athlete/etc who walks out and rings a mini replica of the Liberty Bell with a mallet at half court before the game to get the crowd extra pumped. The Bell Ringers for Game 6 are Eagles favorites Lane Johnson and Chris Long, both wearing the rubber “underdog” dog masks that have become ubiquitous in Philly with the 2017 Super Bowl run. They ring the bell and start walking off the court in our direction. Lane Johnson takes off his dog mask and starts waving it around, clearly about to throw it into the stands.
This is when my brother goes feral: his eyes widen like in Requiem for a Dream, he begins frothing at the mouth. As Lane Johnson throws the mask into the stands, my brother lets out a primitive guttural yell and he leaps forward about two rows.
He faceplants right into the back of a metallic stadium seat, breaking his nose.
He starts gushing blood everywhere, ruining some poor Raptors fan’s jersey. Fortunately, it’s a rally towel giveaway night, so my in-law and I start grabbing as many rally towels as we can to clean up the blood and to give him something to hold against his nose so he doesn’t drip everywhere.
(He didn’t get the mask, in case anyone was wondering.)
I deleted my Facebook on January 5, 2020. That was the night I went to the Linc to watch my Eagles get shredded by the Seahawks in a Wild Card game we had no business playing in. Not content to limit my misery in the Linc, I began posting violently on Facebook. This lead to a very public, very drawn-out flame war between me and my old high school civics teacher about whether the Eagles (and life) were worth a shit. Then, in one of the most lucid moments of any Philly sports fan’s life, I thought, “What the fuck am I doing?” and quietly left the game. I deleted my Facebook on the ride home.
This submission is now the only surviving record of the fight between me and the 70-year-old man who taught me about the branches of government. Fuck you, Mr. Miller. You know I’m right.
Submissions for the Defector NFL previews are closed. Next up: Pittsburgh Steelers.
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