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October 23, 2018

Al Morganti: 'If Pederson or any of the Eagles thought there would be a grace period they were very wrong'

Opinion Eagles
1001_Eagles_lose_USAT Christopher Hanewinc/USA Today Sports

The Eagles gut-wrenching loss Sunday could be a turning point for their season.

Remember back to the bad old days, those days before the Eagles won it all?

Remember when you would have sold your soul for a Super Bowl parade? Remember when you said that for the next 10 years you would never complain if the Eagles won a Super Bowl.

Well, it happened and guess what – the moaning and complaining is the same – and that’s a good thing.

The Super Bowl champion Eagles are headed toward the mid point of the season looking like anything but a team ready to defend its title. The team is headed to London with a game it must win to keep its head at sea level at the half way point of the season.

For the fan base, the Super Bowl has slipped away into the distant past. The Eagles performance in the first month and a half of the season has sent an adoring fan base into a panic that there won’t even be a chance at a repeat, never mind an actual repeat at champions.

Well, that’s actually the way it’s supposed to be, especially in Philadelphia where passion for professional sports is as crazed as any city or town in America. What happened last season was wonderful, but what happens from week to week in the fall and winter of 2018 and hopefully into 2019 is more important, because it is NOW.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson bristled at some of the criticism this week, suggesting that the media is not down on the field with him. He was particularly upset at the idea that the Eagles should have run the ball more consistently at the end of the game.

Although the complaints were directed at the assembled media, it is the fans who are asking the same questions. It is the fans who have watched the team already lose two games at home, and a defense that appears to be getting shredded by opposing passing attacks.

If Pederson or any of the Eagles thought there would be a grace period they were very wrong.

After a summer of replaying the Super Bowl from beaches, yard sales and block parties, the fans stopped living in the past ended when the season kicked off for the 2018 season. There was that celebration on a Thursday night to start the season, but since then there have been harrowing sequences of football with disappointing results culminating with Sunday’s remarkable fourth-quarter meltdown at the Linc against the Carolina Panthers.

Since the end of that disaster Pederson has appeared to be upset at all the second guessing. He isn’t happy at all the questions about the pass/run ratio, the soft play of his defense, and the suggestion that a team could not blow a 17-point lead.

The hope here is that Pederson is simply trying to circle the wagons in his locker room. If you’ll recall, the team rallied around Pederson last season when it was suggested he didn’t have the stuff to be a successful NFL coach.

The result was perhaps the greatest run by any team in history of Philadelphia. It was the ultimate underdog role, played out in a city that brought America rocky.

It is almost impossible to play the underdog role when a team is the defending Super Bowl champions, but after the muddled start to this season it appears that Pederson is attempting to renew the same battle cry.

Sorry, but the dog masks as underdogs don’t work when you’ve got Super Bowl rings. The underdog theme does not work when your starting quarterback Carson Wentz is back at work, and the team is featured as a prime time player.

Pederson appears as confused as anybody about the Eagles performance through the first half of this season, and his theory of “a play here, or a play there,” making a big difference does not sit well with a fan base expecting a whole lot more.

Remember, it was Pederson who said there was “a new normal” around the Eagles after they won the championship, and a big part of that new normal is to hold the team to a higher standard.

That higher standard involves a whole lot more than keeping pace with a very mediocre NFC East. That higher standard involves a whole lot more than just being close in games, and that higher standard certainly does not include a head coach who is now uncomfortable answering questions about what happened to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Maybe this will be the week that the Eagles travel to Europe and find their game against a Jacksonville team suffering through an even more unexpectedly bad start than the Eagles. True enough, this could be the week that starts the Eagles on a road to recovery.

However, even a convincing victory over the Jaguars will not stop the questions.

The simple fact of the matter is that much is expected of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the fact that they won the Super Bowl last season will not take the edge of poor performances this season.

It was Doug Pederson who made it pretty clear in the preseason that whatever happened last season should have been put in the rearview mirror, and the slate was clean when the opening kick off took place against Atlanta.

Well, it appears that message was pretty clear to the fans, and it’s a message that the coach is going to have to once again stress to his players.

In the meantime, complaining about criticism for losing football games is only going to make the job more difficult.