Fly, Eagles, Fly: The Eagles’ Fate

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Fly, Eagles, fly, on the road to victory.

This has long since been the tune of Eagles fans.  We stayed loyal to the Birds through the mid- to late-1990s, when the Eagles were terrible—they had losing records in 1994, 1997, 1998 (3-13), and 1999 (5-11).  That loyalty paid off at the turn of the millennium, when Donovan McNabb was promoted to starting quarterback.  11-5 in 2000 and 2001 improved to 12-4 in 2002 and 2003, and finally 13-3 (and a Super Bowl berth) in 2004.  The tune of green and white finally was ringing true to the city of Philadelphia.

A loss in the 2004 Super Bowl quickly turned the tides.  2005 held a depressing 6-10 finish for the Eagles, and they never fully recovered.  2006 led to 10-6, 2007 was 8-8, and 2008 was 10-6 again.  The 2009 season yielded 11-5, but a loss in the last game of the regular season to the Cowboys forced the Eagles to play Dallas the next week in the Wild Card round, where Philly lost 34-14.  Loyalty from fans was still very existent, but frustration was building.  We were still waiting for a Super Bowl victory and still hadn’t gotten one.

In 2010, coach Andy Reid decided to trade McNabb away in favor of Kevin Kolb starting as quarterback.  The city panicked, afraid that Kolb would not meet Philadelphia’s high expectations for its football team.  Whether or not we were right, no one truly knows, because Kolb was injured in the season opener and backup Michael Vick had to play.  Vick was quickly promoted to starting quarterback, taking the league by storm.  A dynamic player, he was quick and fast, and had an arm that could find receivers even in the tightest coverage.  As the enthusiasm and expectations for the Eagles rapidly changed, so did the tune so pleasant to our ears.

Fly, Eagles, fly, on the road to Vick-tory.

Vick’s brilliance did not last long.  Defenses quickly caught on to his schemes, forcing him to throw errant passes and take taxing hits.  One of the most embarrassing instances of this penetration was in Week 16 against the 5-9 Minnesota Vikings, who injured Vick on the game’s first play and forced him into throwing three passes straight to the defense (two were dropped, one was caught for an interception).  The Vikings, led by their third-string quarterback, beat the Eagles 24-14, knocking them out of the hunt for a first-round bye in the playoffs.  This was costly, when the Green Bay Packers came to Lincoln Financial Field and beat the Eagles 21-16 in the Wild Card Round.

The story did not get any better.  After a win to open up the season against the Rams the next year, the Eagles fell to 1-4, highlighted by a blown 23-3 fourth-quarter lead against the 49ers.  A four-game win streak to end the year was only enough to draw the Eagles to 8-8, a game shy of the playoffs.

And then this year happened.  The Eagles won in Weeks 1 and 2 by the skin of their teeth, pulling off one-point wins with late fourth-quarter touchdown drives.  After starting the season 3-1, the Eagles then proceeded to drop nine straight games, the longest losing streak of Andy Reid’s career.  The Birds lost 11 of their last 12 games, finishing with a record of 4-12, ranked 30 out of the league’s 32 teams.

Finally, the moment that Eagles fans had been awaiting for two seasons finally happened: Andy Reid was fired.  The Eagles did not waste any time before doing this; Andy was fired just hours after the final game of the season.  Fans, who had been demanding Reid’s head on a pike since the Eagles fell into a swoon last season, jumped for joy, long since adamant about moving on from Andy’s inept, pass-happy, inalterable strategy.

So what’s next?  No one knows for sure.  The Eagles have an opportunity to opt out of Michael Vick’s monster $100 million contract this offseason, and are almost sure to do so.  Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo has about no chance whatsoever at keeping his job, and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is likely to go with him.  Many question marks still float over the Eagles and their fans, waiting for a sign of something positive to rebuild the team.  But one thing is for sure, and that is that the tune of Philly football has changed once again:

Fly, Eagles, fly, on the road to Vick-less-tory.  It’s time for some Vick-less history.  The era of Michael Vick and Andy Reid is long since over.

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