We already know how next season will end
With an interception and disappointment… At least, if you look at The Walrus’ very consistent track record.
Not counting the 1999 season – his first as Head Coach – Andy Reid’s teams have annually dashed the city’s championship hopes in very similar fashion.
Following The Walrus’ 5-11 inaugural season, the Eagles overachieved in 2000, winning 11 games in a weak NFC, beat an equally-overachieving Tampa Bay team in the Wild Card Round and then got trounced by the eventual NFC champion-Giants at the Meadowlands, playing from behind the entire game.
Then the streak started:
- 2001 – NFC Championship Game vs. St. Louis Rams
In a back-and-forth game, the underdog Eagles got the ball for one final time, down five points, with 2:20 left on the clock. McNabb drove the team to mid-field, but then – with time – stepped up in the pocket and fired a pass to Freddie Mitchell… except All Pro-Cornerback Aeneas Williams was standing right in front of him, and ended the game (and season) on an interception.
- 2002 – NFC Championship Game vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Also known as the second worst day of my entire life (and I refuse to link to this game, due to the fact that I’ll stab myself in the eyes if I see even one second of it). After driving 73 yards to the Bucs’ 10 yard-line, the Birds had 3:12 to score 10 points and take the game to overtime. But then McNabb threw a pass DIRECTLY to Ronde Barber, who returned it 92 yards for a NFC clinching-TD, thusly ending the game, the season, and Veterans Stadium, on an interception. By far, the worst Eagles loss I have ever witnessed.
- 2003 – NFC Championship Game vs. Carolina Panthers
Also known as the Ricky Manning, Jr. Game. A game marred by three McNabb interceptions in 10 minutes (all by the aforementioned Ricky Manning, Jr.), horrendous play by the Eagles’ Wide Receivers and McNabb getting his ribs bashed in so badly that Koy Detmer had to come in to throw the game/season-ending interception, with the Eagles down 11 points and 5+ minutes on the clock.
- 2004 – Super Bowl XXXIX vs. New England Patriots
Tragic… Another back-and-forth contest that was tied through the third quarter before the Patriots took a 10-point lead midway through the fourth. McNabb led them back to within three (on the most controversial drive in Eagles history – lack of urgency, not going to the no-huddle and, of course, puke-gate), and the Eagles got the ball back with under a minute to go. But McNabb kept the streak alive by forcing a pass right to Rodney Harrison. Another game, another season, ends with an interception and no Lombardi trophy.
In 2005, the Eagles suffered from the dreaded “Super Bowl Hangover.” McNabb had a miserable season before injuring his groin and missing half the year. And even though the team only went 6-10 and missed the playoffs, the streak of Eagles’ seasons ending on interceptions continued in Week 17, with Koy Detmer (replacing the putrid Mike McMahon) throwing a pick with just over two minutes left against the Redskins.
The Eagles made the playoffs three of the next four seasons, with the following results:
- 2006 NFC Divisional Round Game vs. New Orleans Saints
Eagles trailed by only three points with just over three minutes to play, go three-and-out and punt (way to play to win the game Walrus!), never to get the ball back and have Jeff Garcia end the season with a pick.
- 2008 NFC Championship Game vs. Arizona Cardinals:
Down 7 with 2:53 left in the game, McNabb drove the team over mid-field before throwing four-straight incomplete passes to end the game.
- 2009 NFC Wild Card Game vs. Dallas Cowboys
Eagles got completely outplayed and never really had a chance to win the game, but still ended the final drive of their season with four-straight incomplete passes.
Of course, that brings us to this season… And we know how that ended. Different Quarterback. Same Coach. Same Result. A chance to win a playoff game, in which the Eagles controlled the ball, the clock and the momentum, only to under-throw it away to Tramon Williams and the Green Bay Packers with under two minutes to go.
How many more seasons can end like this? More importantly, how many times does the same outcome need to occur before Andy Reid is finally held accountable? Though McNabb can certainly take a heaping of the blame for his small performances in big situations, we’ve seen the exact same conclusion with Detmer, Garcia and now Vick (who rightfully took the blame). But at what point do we need to step back and look at the guy whose responsibility it is to put these players in the right position and make sure they don’t force stupid mistakes?
If all of those seasons ended on a bad pass by McNabb, fine. But that’s not the case. This trend needs to end and there’s only one way to end it… Fire The Walrus.
Until then, 2011 will just be another Groundhog Day.