Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers Have Death-Spiraled into MNF Clash

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Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers Have Death-Spiraled into MNF Clash
Rob Carr/Getty Images
A picture is truly worth a thousand "I don't knows."

Looking at the Philadelphia Eagles and the Carolina Panthers now, it is nearly impossible to believe that these franchises once competed for a Super Bowl berth.

They did, after the 2003 season. The Eagles scored three points at home (via ESPN.com) in a 14-3 loss, which illustrated that just because Veterans' Stadium had been torn down did not mean that the Eagles would just start winning big playoff games again.

Now, nine years later, the idea of either of these teams even contending for another playoff appearance in the next few years seems ridiculous.

The Eagles' troubles, culminating now with a Monday Night Football appearance where both Michael VIck and LeSean McCoy are out with concussions, have been laboriously documented (via Philadelphia Inquirer).

Andy Reid will not quit (via ESPN.com), but that is likely motivated as much by the money he would forfeit by resigning as it is by a passionate wish to finish this awful season out.

But while Reid will not quit, the question of whether his players have quit is definitely up for discussion, per NFL.com. When the league house organ has Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin debating whether your team's players are even trying their hardest, well, that is about as low as you can go.

These Eagles, then, are a far cry from even that 2003 team that came up short against the Panthers in that long-ago NFC Championship game.

The departures of both Reid and Vick are widely assumed, per profootballtalk.com, which means the Eagles will spend the offseason looking for a new coach.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images
"We're not at Auburn any more, Toto."

That new coach will then need to decide whether Nick Foles can win as a starting quarterback or whether the team needs to spend more capital (by draft pick or salary cap space) to fill that position.

Eagles fans should hope that the team does not look to the Carolina Panthers for the best way to answer such questions.

Jon Fox, who coached the Panthers for nine seasons, including the 2003 season where the Panthers advanced to the Super Bowl, left after the 2010 season. When Fox left, Jimmy Clausen had just completed his rookie season after being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Clausen's play was so lackluster (the Panthers went 2-14) that the team decided to select Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Ron Rivera was tapped to succeed Fox.

Neither move has worked out well.

The Panthers finished 6-10 in 2011 and are well on their way to another losing season at 2-8 entering play against the Eagles.

Rivera, a Reid protege, is facing hostility from Panthers fans similar to what Reid is dealing with from Eagles fans, per the Charlotte Observer.

And purported franchise savior Newton is alternately sulking, pouting and failing to lead, according to Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon. Yahoo.com quoted Moon on Newton's demeanor thus: "You have to project optimism and calmness to the players around you. You can't be demoralized. He's not showing optimism. He's looking puzzled...and his teammates see that."

So...are you ready for some football?

Eagles and Panthers fans are likely to spend tonight wishing it was 2003 again.

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