Super Bowl LVII, which started so promising, ended with what has to be the greatest disappointment to Philadelphia sports since the 1964 Phillies.
As Eagles head coach, Andy Reid frustrated Philadelphia football fans. Yes, he had a great football mind, recognized talent, and his players loved him.
He took over Ray Rhodes’ shambles of a 3-13 team and built it into a perennial contender. On his way to becoming the Eagles winningest coach, he took the team to five NFC Conference championship games, including four consecutive. He only won once, which ended in heartbreak in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Frustrations grew because Big Red never seemed to learn from his mistakes. Reid never thought it was time to run the ball or that you could throw it too many times. Yet, somehow he didn’t value wide receivers. The one year he relented and got Terrell Owens was the one out of fourteen seasons the Eagles went to the Super Bowl.
Reid never seemed to figure out clock management or challenges. He looked befuddled when time ran out, and the Eagles were one score down.
As the seasons wore on, the cliches became cliché.
- “I gotta do a better job.”
- “That’s on me.”
- “Time’s yours.”
Reid’s time with the Eagles ended after a disappointing 2012 season. A week later, he reunited with former Eagles Senior Vice President Mark Donovan, who moved to Kansas City to become the Chief’s COO.
Nick Sirianni was impressive in his second year as an NFL head coach. Compiling the most Eagles wins in a season, then cruising through the playoffs. The 49ers, who were supposed to be the league’s best defense, had no answers in the Conference championship game. Coaching wunderkind Kyle Shanahan was out-coached. (The whining would be legit if the defense had stopped the Eagles). And who can forget reading Sirianni’s lips shout, “I know WTF I’m doing,” during the Divisional dismantling of the Giants?
What happened in Super Bowl LVII is pretty straightforward: “Big Red, we hardly knew ya.” Down ten points and receiving the kick-off to start the second half; be honest, didn’t you assume he would throw the ball eighteen times in a row?
The Chiefs started the third quarter with a ten-play TD drive that included seven running plays (one of which was a Mahomes twelve-yard scramble) and three passes.
Old tendencies die hard, however. The Chiefs scored another touchdown on four passing and one running play on the next drive.
Two thoughts on this:
- Reid’s ability to adjust and keep the Eagles totally off balance is why they lost.
- The defense’s inability to make a single stop in the second half. Literally. The Eagles did not have a single play for negative yardage. The defense that nearly broke the single-season sack record was feckless, and the secondary went back to the soft zone coverage we questioned all season. Had the defense made just one stop, the Eagles would have won – just one stop.
Sirianni has been an unwavering supporter of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. The critics were right, Sirianni wrong. If the Arizona Cardinals still want to interview Gannon for their head coaching vacancy, good riddance. Any team dopey enough to have the turf we witnessed during the Super Bowl deserves Gannon as head coach.
How is it possible that Gannon is seriously (?) up for an NFL head coaching position and Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is reportedly going to be announced as the Indianapolis Colts new head coach, but the Chiefs coordinators, Eric Bieiemy (offense) and Steve Spagnulo (defense) seemingly aren’t in the running for any head coach positions?
What didn’t cost the Eagles the game:
The punt return. If anything, the 65-yard punt return by Toney kept the Eagles in the game. The Chiefs had scored touchdowns in both of their prior two possessions the first time, taking 5:30 and 4:41 off the clock, respectively. Kansas City got the ball back on the Philadelphia five-yard line. They took :49 seconds to score. Had they taken over at their own 30-yard line with 10:11 running the ball over six yards per attempt, the Eagles might not have had time to score.
If the Chiefs had left enough time on the clock for the Eagles to tie the game, the Chiefs would have likely still had time for a final score with time running out.
The defensive holding call. To be clear, I HATED this call. It was a ticky-tack penalty that may or may not get called during any given NFL game. What made this call so egregious was there had not been a single defensive holding or pass interference called up to that point the entire game.
Early in the second quarter, also on a third and eight, Mahomes to Smith-Schuster, Bradbury in coverage with a much more blatant grab. Greg Olson doing color for Fox, said: “You can see, Juju Smith-Schuster. He got up mad, and I think deservedly, so. That left-hand kind of spins him around…There was some contact down the field, and I think Bradbury got away with one.”
If refs aren’t going to call a flagrant call in the second quarter, they sure as hell shouldn’t make a ticky-tack call with less than two minutes in a tie game. There needs to be a little consistency. I’ve worked with many active and former NFL players. They all say that come playoff time, they “let the players play.” For most of the game, that seemed to be true. It was a horrendous call. While it’s not why the Eagles lost, it is why they didn’t get the ball back with a little over 1:30 left and at least a chance to win or tie Super Bowl LVII.
It’s a tragedy the Eagles did not come home with the Lombardi Trophy. Woulda, shoulda, coulda. It was a great season that evaporated as the sun went down for a disastrous final 30 minutes. We discovered that we have a franchise quarterback and a talented head coach who needs more seasoning. And that perfect endings happen only in fairy tales and Hollywood.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio). He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.
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‘93 World Series?