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Are the Eagles frauds or a fairytale? NFL Unfiltered Week 16

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Most fans of the Philadelphia Eagles view the 2013 season as a pleasant surprise since the birds are on the precipice of an NFC East division title.  

But they should also remember it as one of the more perplexing years in team history because despite their record, and likely playoff appearance, they still don’t know if the team is any good.

That is due to the fact the birds benefited from some incredible good fortune throughout.  And not just the kind that often occurs during the course of a game.

They were 3-5 at the season’s midpoint and scuffling along after losing to the woeful New York Giants. Subsequently, they won six of seven and are on the verge of making it seven of their last eight if they defeat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.  Photo: Matt Rourke/AP

Granted, a team can only play a schedule as it appears, but a closer examination of their last eight games reveal some interesting facts.  

This Sunday marks the third 2nd string quarterback to take on the Eagles’ middling secondary in the season’s last half.  In fact, the Green Bay Packers had to resort to their third quarterback—Scott Tolzien—against the Eagles.  

Additionally, Mother Nature delivered a blizzard just in time for the fair-weather Detroit Lions.   

All told, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer provided the Eagles’ stiffest test since October. And that includes Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is a one-legged shell of his former self.

Still, the Eagles won games and they deserve a ton of credit for that. But they look fraudulent because they laid waste to a bunch of stiffs.

Of course any year that ends in a playoff appearance is a good year, but this season needed to serve as a foundation. Instead, it has the uncomfortable look of a total fluke, like the 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  

The Bucs went 10-6 that year, the second season for head coach Raheem Morris. They missed the playoffs because of the talent at the top of their division.  But they were scrappy and hungry and played opportunistic football.  They were also fortunate enough to play the Carolina Panthers—the NFL’s worst team that season—twice.  Furthermore, the NFC south played the NFC West (arguably the worst division in NFL history that season) and the Bucs went 4-0.  Remember, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Jim Harbaugh were all in college then and the Seattle Seahawks managed to win the division with a 7-9 record.  

Morris talked tough all while never really looking like an NFL head coach.  Those Bucs fed off his energy and he patterned himself a player’s coach. One year later, the Buccaneers finished 4-12, last in the division, and team brass relieved Morris of his head coaching duties.  

Clearly, Chip Kelly has some offensive tricks up his sleeves and we know the Eagles have the best running back in football.  But in my view, the Eagles have the same question marks today they did when training camp began.

The point here is not to suggest the Eagles are headed for a colossal downfall next season like the 2011 Bucs. It is merely a cautionary tale for those who believe the Birds are already built for perennial success.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 16

-Despite the NFL marketing machine, neither Eli Manning nor Jay Cutler are elite quarterbacks.  In fact, we’ve seen the best of both and in Cutler’s case, the Bears will regret resigning him.  

-Enough of the Marc Trestman is a genius talk. He obviously knows offense, but under the circumstances, his team’s performance says all you a lot about his ability to lead men.  

-There is no mystery to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s game or his recent struggles.  His fundamentals are terrible and he doesn’t play a cerebral brand of football.  He is quite possibly the most poorly coached quarterback in the league.  

-It’s hard to believe, but the Seahawks are going to win the Super Bowl with an offense consisting of Russell Wilson running around until someone gets open.   

-There is a fragility to any team that gets shutout by an inferior team in a pivotal late December game.  Maybe it is youth or perhaps something more. Either way, the Dolphins still have issues to sort out.  

-The most impressive thing about former Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman is the fact we no longer pay much attention to teammate Patrick Willis.

-49ers cornerback Tarell Brown doesn’t need our sympathy, but it’s been a tough season for him.  First, he lost $2-million dollars because he missed off-season workouts. Then, he got hurt and watched as teammate Tramaine Brock took his job and received a fat new contract extension to boot.  

-To my count, more than half of the league’s 32 teams are unsettled at the quarterback position.

-Stanford head coach David Shaw belongs on an NFL sideline- and he fits the Washington Redskins perfectly.  

 Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

  

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII

 

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Photo: Matt Rourke/AP