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February 07, 2020

Final thoughts (and spoilers) on Amazon's 'All or Nothing: A Season with the Philadelphia Eagles'

Here's what we learned after watching the first seven episodes of the eight-part documentary series

Eagles NFL
680922_Eagles_Lions_Carson_Wentz_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

In case you were unaware, Amazon's "All or Nothing" sports-documentary franchise went behind the scenes of the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles, tracking them from training camp to the end of the season. The series was released on Amazon Prime Video on February 7.

The folks at Amazon were kind enough to send me an advance copy of episodes 1-4, initially, then 5-7, after which I gave a bunch of random thoughts on the series, in no particular order. Here, we added in what we saw in the final episode. You should know that there are spoilers below, so if you like to "go in fresh" like Frank Costanza, then you should stop reading right now.

The Eagles should hire Lane Johnson to be the offensive coordinator.

After DeSean Jackson toasted Washington for two deep touchdowns Week 1, Johnson remarked on the sideline, "Just keep throwing it to that little d*ckhead right there. It ain't that hard."

Brandon Graham is very likable.

I'll often get asked who my favorite player on the team is, from a personality standpoint. It's Brandon Graham. He's always upbeat, always energetic, and you see that in this series. Also, his daughter is super cute.

I had forgotten about DeSean Jackson's un-ironed shirt at his initial Eagles press conference.

At his initial post-acquisition press conference, DeSean was wearing a shirt that looked like he had just taken it out of the packaging, lol. That shirt makes an appearance.

The "DNA boys," lol.

At one point during training camp, Jon Hamm narrates that the Eagles' top three receivers -- Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor -- have a new nickname, the "DNA Boys." Or was it "DNA Boyz" with a z? I'm going to henceforth use a z. Anyway, I had completely forgotten all about that. 

That nickname obviously never stuck, because it was terrible. If you're wondering how they arrived at "DNA Boyz," D, N, and A are the first initials of each of their names:

DeSean Jackson
Nelson Agholor
Alshon Jeffery

If three dudes named DeSean, Nelson, and Alshon were all, like, forensic scientists or something, then yeah, by all means, be the "DNA Boyz." But it doesn't work in the context of football, at all.

I love that Hamm continues to call them the "DNA Boyz" a few times after that, as if it had actually become a thing during the season.

You want good 2019 Eagles receiver nicknames? How about Agholorator Arms and Alshonymous?

Nothing on the PhillyVoice Carson Wentz story? Or Josina Anderson? Really?!?

Speaking of "Alshonymous," you know what doesn't appear often in this "documentary?" Pretty much anything negative. I'm only through four episodes, of course, but we're already past the timeline in which a Josina Anderson report surfaced for the second consecutive year in which a player criticized Carson Wentz. Also, there's no mention at all of the PhillyVoice Carson Wentz story that called into question Wentz's standing within the locker room.

Even if you're not one for a journalistic retelling of the most relevant storylines of the season and just want to be entertained, the narrative of Wentz's leadership being questioned, and subsequently putting the team on his back to make the playoffs would have made for slam dunk storytelling. 

I can't imagine Amazon just didn't think of that angle. I mean, right?!? It really doesn't get any more obvious. Perhaps the Eagles had some veto power on storylines they didn't want in there? Whatever it was, it is a glaring omission.

If you're a fan who was hoping that nobody would come off looking really badly like folks often do in HBO's "Hard Knocks," fear not.

The Dallas Goedert - Avonte Maddox relationship

Goedert and Maddox are best friends, roommates, and call themselves brothers. Their Nerf gun games inside their house look like a lot of fun. Amazon does a good job showing some off-field personality here. This is where the series is of value to fans who already know exactly what happened during the season, and are looking for more than just a recap of it. 

The documentary hints (perhaps unwittingly?) at Malcolm Jenkins' frustration with Sidney Jones.

At one point, Jenkins says to Jones, "Waiting for you to switch it on."

At another point Jenkins says (not directly to Jones, and not necessarily about Jones, though that was my takeaway), "If you're not confident, we can't use you."

There's so much WIP.

From a media perspective, there isn't a team in the NFL that is covered with as much volume, or as aggressively, as the Philadelphia Eagles. No, not the New York teams. Not Chicago. Not Dallas. Not New England. Philadelphia has the largest media contingent in the NFL, and it really isn't even all that close. 

WIP, a broadcast partner of the team, certainly has cemented its place in Philadelphia, but it's not the be-all, end-all of Philly media, though that's what you'd think if you were from some other part of the country, given it's extreme dominant voice in the series. 

From a fan perspective, in real life, opinions on the team are wide-ranging. Some are simple-minded, of course, like you'll find in any city, but Philadelphia also boasts their share of really smart football fans as well. Both examples exist on WIP and elsewhere, but the latter isn't shown in the series.

There are a few clips of WIP callers early on, which then morphs into interviews with "blue collar" folks around town, such as the obligatory guy flipping steaks at Geno's, for example. In my view, that's lazy, and fits the preconceived notion of what every Philly fan is. The absence of diverse fan viewpoints was disappointing.

They made sure Orlando Scandrick looked like a two-faced jerk.

You get to see not-previously-seen Scandrick interactions with teammates in practice, and he's all "rah rah" when he's with the team. Then, as you all recall, Scandrick melted down in a tirade against Malcolm Jenkins and other Eagles players after the team cut him.

Avonte Maddox lobbied to stay in the game while he was down on the field in Green Bay.

After Andrew Sendejo's friendly-fire head shot on Maddox against the Packers, Maddox stayed on the ground, while trainers carefully tended to him for some time, before he was eventually carted off. Amazon got audio of their interactions with Maddox, who wanted to stay in the game, citing the Eagles' many injuries already at corner.

While one takeaway here will be that Maddox is tough — and that's certainly true — perhaps the bigger takeaway is that football culture, from high school through college, and into the pros, makes players think this way. Viewers in the stands and at home are hoping that this guy isn't paralyzed, and he's on the field telling trainers that he wants to keep playing because they don't have ideal numbers at corner. Crazy.

Some of the sideline interactions were fun

In the Eagles-Patri*ts game, there was a call on the field in which the officials gave the Patri*ts an interception/touchback on what should have clearly been a Dallas Goedert touchdown. After the Eagles challenged, we see a cameraman on the sideline, with his camera fixed on Wentz. The cameraman obviously has audio of the telecast, because he tells Wentz, "Romo says touchdown," which puts Wentz at ease, as Wentz says that Romo is always right.

Howie Roseman got tinted car windows to be incognito

At one point, the Amazon crew is doing a ride-along with Roseman, and his tinted windows come up in conversation. Roseman then tells a story from early in his general manager tenure in which a fan spotted him, and yelled, "HEY HOWIE!" Then after a pause, "F*** you!" Lol. Roseman, who has a family, decided then that it was maybe time to get some tints.

Eagles fans really do travel well

Leading up to the Eagles-Dolphins game, or really any of the road games, I (and other reporters) will tweet about the number of Eagles fans around the city, or outside the stadium leading up to game time, because they really do make a difference sometimes.

Against the Dolphins, you get better views of what we see pregame, both outside and inside the stadium. Since 2017, I would say that there have been at least a half-dozen games in which Eagles fans outnumbered the home team's fans. Here are some of the Eagles crowds that have shown up in big numbers, over the last three seasons, in chronological order:

  1. Eagles at Chargers, 2017
  2. Eagles at Rams, 2017
  3. Eagles at Giants, 2017
  4. Eagles at Buccaneers, 2018
  5. Eagles at Titans, 2018
  6. Eagles at Rams, 2018
  7. Eagles at Washington, 2018
  8. Eagles at Dolphins, 2019
  9. Eagles at Washington, 2019
  10. Eagles at Giants, 2019

Obviously, the Eagles lost to the Dolphins in embarrassing fashion, highlighting the low-point of their season, but seven of those 10 above games were road wins.

Josh McCown's presence

McCown's energy is impressive. Amazon shows his routine, practicing with the team during the week, flying down to North Carolina to coach high school football, and then heading back to Philly for game day. 

He is ever-present in Eagles practices, and in games, constantly shouting encouragement to Wentz, and other players on the team, as well as trying to get in on advising Doug Pederson on big calls.

We also get a little glimpse of McCown practicing at wide receiver before a game in which the Eagles were only going to have three active receivers.

You can kind of see why McCown was reportedly getting a look as the offensive coordinator.

Brandon Brooks' anxiety

Because Brooks has been so open about his anxiety, and has used his platform as a professional athlete to bring awareness to it, there's really nothing new that Amazon showed as far as what Brooks has to deal with, but they did cover it heavily.

Certainly, Brooks' bouts with anxiety were worth covering, to continue to raise that awareness, and his story will be seen by an entirely new group of viewers. Kudos to Brooks for choosing to try to turn his illness into a positive for others. 

The Eagles' players hate Dallas as much as you do

Prior to the Eagles' Week 16 game against the Cowboys, DeSean Jackson addressed the team in a speech that included the phase, "F*** Dallas." Zach Ertz did as well, noting that he had played Dallas 13 times in his career, and in Ertz's words, "I can honestly say I freaking hate this team."

Brandon Graham's trash talking is often great

We noted above that Graham comes off as very likable in this series, and he saves the best for the last episode. Against the Cowboys, Graham is complaining to the official about getting held all game, and he motions to Cowboys RT La'el Collins as the culprit, loud enough for Collins to hear him.

"Fat boy here... too many cupcakes," Graham says.

Then once he has Collins' attention, "I know you had a cheesesteak when you got to this m*****f****er. Tell the truth. Them bitches good as hell. I eat 'em too."

Some little kid has a career as a Philly beat writer

Wentz goes to a charity event, and brings a few of his teammates along. While there, a kid (I'm guessing he was 9-10 years of age), starts peppering Wentz with hard questions about his fumbling issues, and reminders that they lost to the crappy Miami Dolphins. It's really outstanding, though I fear that this kid is going to be so good that someday he'll take my job.

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