Are the Philadelphia Eagles the Most Underachieving Team in NFL History?
I never thought I would see the day when the Eagles became a national joke.
The McNabb/Reid era was a long and fruitful one, but one that I knew would have to soon come to an end. The Philadelphia Eagles, a solid franchise with an excellent fan base, would just fizzle out after a good many years as one of the league's forefront teams, albeit with no championship to show for it.
But instead, the Eagles went down a different route.
Refusing to rebuild, the Eagles started to cut established veterans like Jeremiah Trotter, Hollis Thomas, and Jevon Kearse, all the while bringing in young playmakers to take their spots.
The Eagles' ruse of transitioning new players into important skill positions while cutting veterans was one that had been used before, primarily by the Patriots...with admirable success.
As players like Trent Cole, Stewart Bradley, and DeSean Jackson settled in, the Eagles' Front Office subsequently received praise for keeping together a competitive team all the while maintaining their steady corps of tallent—Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, and Brian Westbrook.
However, their distinctly average 29-28-1 record over the last three-and-a-half seasons did not show any evidence of any front-office success. Frustrated Eagles fans even started to demand a thorough rebuilding process, not the half-baked version that the Eagles were apparently unsuccessfully offering.
But the path that that the Eagles chose to go down was a smart one, and probably turned out much better than the organization could have ever expected. The fans, for the most part, had no inkling of this success.
In fact, according to FootballOutsiders.com's statistical formulas, the Eagles are ranked as the third-best team in the NFL! The two teams in front of them, the Tennesse Titans and the New York Giants, are respectively 10-0 and 9-1.
"We have them ranked as the third-best team in the league," said editor in chief Aaron Schatz. "They were second until this week."
Schatz also remarked that the Eagles had underperformed relative to their statistics for the third straight season.
"We've gone back to figure out out what's going on," he said. "We've had complaints from our readers. It's an example, some people say, that our stats don't work. But anything we try to do to fix the model has to apply to all 32 teams," and the Eagles have proved a stubborn exception.
"Some of the Eagles weaknesses are clear," Schatz added: "David Akers no longer has the leg for long field goals, and the offense struggles in the fourth quarter of close games, particularly in converting third-and-short runs."
But those factors still do not explain a 5-4-1 record this season. Instead, even more damning, is the fact that the Eagles have the third-best point differential in the NFL at 7.1, again behind the Giants and the Titans!
And yet, nothing to show for it.
"I've given up on them," Schatz said, when asked about the Eagles possibly making a run for the playoffs. "I just don't understand the Eagles at all."
Neither do Eagles fans, which is so unfortunate.
As an Eagles fan, I once in a while feel obligated to criticize the organization. But, if the statistical formulas that Glatzer researched are correct, they dictate that the Eagles have one of the best teams in the league!
Little do Eagles fans know how successfully the front office navigated the rebuilding process. In fact, they skipped it...the Eagles are a great team now!
The Eagles are the most confounding team in the league.
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