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February 16, 2023

Tyrone Johnson: What kind of fans do we want to be?

"It is very hard for teams to win championships. It is just as hard for fans to watch teams lose them."

I want to start by saying thank you to every single person who read anything I wrote this season. I want to thank the PhillyVoice, Evan Macy, and Shamus Clancy for the opportunity.

The Eagles blew a 10-point halftime lead in the Super Bowl to fall 38-35 to the Chiefs. They became the first team in NFL history to score 35 points or more in the Super Bowl and lose. Jalen Hurts is the first quarterback in NFL history to be responsible for four touchdowns and also lose the Super Bowl. The most talented Eagles team in franchise history was unable to close the deal. 

The second-half defense and special teams were as poor as we have ever seen. The pass rush that was so fearsome completely disappeared. Unfortunately, they also made more mistakes than the Chiefs and you can’t make mistakes in the biggest games. The Isaac Seumalo false start that made a third and one a third and six, for example, seemed like an annoyance until Jalen Hurts’ fumble on the next play. That fumble doesn’t happen if they are doing a QB sneak. Hurts knows that was a killer mistake, but what led to it is just as frustrating for me. 

Quez Watkins completed his extremely disappointing season with a game-altering drop that would have, at worst, put the Eagles at the  six-yard line or best case would have been a touchdown. The Eagles lost two games all year that Hurts started and Quez was a big part of why they lost both. Remember that open field fumble against Washington when he was tackled by the legs? Instead, the Eagles kicked a field goal on the drive after his drop, costing them both precious time on the clock and four points. Arryn Siposs and the punt team came up very short, too. The Eagles allowed the refs to do the final punch in the gut. Yes, it was a horrendous call, but the Eagles could and should have eliminated the refs from the game.

My question for all of us now: how should we react to this?

 Most of us are sad that we aren’t at a parade, but what is the next step when the sadness begins to fade? If it ever fades? The Eagles were favored in the game, had a double-digit lead, and lost. Yes, they lost to a Hall of Fame coach and quarterback, but the Chiefs had those same credentials when the Eagles were up 24-14. In the underdog era we would just take it as a great year maybe, but is that how we should continue to operate? Should we demand more? What should our expectations be in the city going forward with the Eagles and the other teams? The Phillies were up 2-1 in the World Series and got no-hit at home the next game. The Union were up a goal and a man in extra time and lost in the MLS Cup. Andy Reid’s era was the best run in Eagles history, but it was riddled with near misses. There is no reward for near misses, only sports pain and I don’t want to feel this sports pain again.

Things were lined up very well this year for a Super Bowl win. I don’t think they could have been lined up any better. This season the Eagles had amazing injury luck, a great mix of veterans, guys in their prime, and youth. They have now lost both their offensive and defensive coordinators. I wish Shane Steichen well with the Colts. Johnathan Gannon... well, Gannon left us with a parting gift to remind us who he really is on his way to Arizona. 

I think they’ll be fine, but there could be growing pains with new people. 

Hurts was incredible this year, but his burden will likely only grow from here. With the number of free agents they have, the roster will likely be less complete meaning he will need to be better. Is it fair to ask the guy who had over 370 total yards and four total touchdowns in the Super Bowl to do even more? We know that the Eagles hit bottom shortly after the 2018 Super Bowl victory. The Eagles were 6-10 the year after Reid and Donovan McNabb lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Do we demand an actual “new normal” this time? Should we be thankful for the fun ride this season?

I say that we have to fundamentally change how we treat our teams because we know our worth. 

Philadelphia fans are the best fans in the world, and we should have the best teams in the world as well. Not second best. That doesn’t mean that we should not appreciate the fact that the Eagles are a very well-run organization. It means acknowledging that they should have won this game and that close isn’t good enough for us anymore. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t appreciate the Sixers are in the playoffs every year. It means demanding a championship that people under 50 can remember. The same goes for the Phillies and the Union. We know things could be worse, but we still must demand better. 

Finish the deal. 

This city is the biggest city in the country that has zero dynasties. The fans deserve it. I hope the Flyers can join the conversation at some point, too. The truth of the matter is that we should always demand more when our teams don’t play their best and the Eagles didn’t play their best game on Sunday. The horrible call and horrible field are just icing on the inedible cake. The Eagles didn’t give us four quarters of quality when they needed to. It is very hard for teams to win championships. It is just as hard for fans to watch teams lose them.

Tyrone Johnson is the host of "The Best Show Ever?" on 97.5 The Fanatic, airing Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

You can follow him on Twitter: @TyJohnsonNews