by | December 22, 2008 at 5:04 PM | General, NFL, Philadelphia, Sports

At the end of The Last Samurai, Katsumoto achieves his ultimate goal—the perfect death. It’s not that he wants to die, he just knows—like everyone else—he will die. So he longs to go out “perfectly.”

He gets his wish when he is killed on the battlefield with his best buddy Tom Cruise by his side and his favorite tree, the cherry blossom, in front of him in full bloom.


That’s exactly how I feel about the Eagles today. I didn’t want them to die, but I knew they eventually had to. They were neither good enough nor well-coached enough to go anywhere this year.

So if they were destined to go out…I hoped they could go out like Katsumoto: perfectly.

And that’s exactly what they did Sunday against the Redskins. Three points all game…a 78 percent pass-run ratio…and still coming within 18 inches of winning a game…

That loss was perfect.

Think about it, can a game more perfectly expose all of the ’08 Eagles’ weaknesses?

The coach refused to run the ball and bungled a much-needed second-half timeout, the running back couldn’t stay healthy, the quarterback kept throwing at the receivers’ feet, the receivers got zero separation, and when they got separation they dropped the ball.

And then there was that last drive. Because in Philly, there’s always a last drive.

The Eagles never just disappoint…they disappoint, then give fans a glimmer of false hope, then break fans’ hearts all over again.

This time they did it with 18 inches.

Nice route, Reggie. It was perfect.

Perfect because you can already hear the spin the Eagles front office is going to give fans this offseason. “We’re so close. We’re really just a yard away. If we get that yard against the Bears and the Redskins, we’re 11-4-1 and get a first-round bye.”

This time, though, the fans know better. They know the Eagles cannot win as currently constructed and coached.

It’s been the same script and same excuses for four straight years now. Four seasons since the Super Bowl, and the Eagles have been inferiorly talented all four.

But the truth is, the Eagles have a litany of problems. It’s not just talent. It’s coaching. It’s philosophy. It’s an inability to adapt.

But the coach, the players, and the front office refuse to see what is so clear to the rest of us. They all insist it’s still 2004, and this team is still the best the National Football Conference has to offer.

The Gold Standard.

Except the Gold Standard’s only playoff berth post-T.O. was sheriffed by Jeff Garcia—directly correlated with the coach’s sudden lapse into a balanced-play-calling delirium.

And while that delirium seems to recur each year, and always coincides with an Eagle winning streak, it never lasts.

Invariably, Andy regains his insanity. Invariably, Andy returns his offense back to that one-dimensional train wreck we all have gotten to know so well. Invariably, Andy throws, throws, and throws some more.

And invariably, the Eagles lose games just like they did on Sunday. With a whimper.

I feel like a paycheck. Week after week I keep saying the same thing.

No matter how many times the Eagles’ offense fails when it is unbalanced and succeeds when it is balanced, Reid is going to go back to over-passing. It’s all he knows.

When he gets bogged down, he passes. When he gets ahead, he passes. When he gets behind, he passes. When he gets a chance to pick a player in the first round of the NFL draft, he passes.

The Eagles called 14 run plays and 50 pass plays Sunday. Their first four drives of the fourth quarter were all three-and-outs. All 12 plays were passes.

Reid was asked about the imbalance and replied, “We were trying to get something started any way we possibly could.”

That’s true as long as “any way” doesn’t include running the football.

In a close game, Big Red scored three points on 50 called passes and still can’t bring himself to admit that the NFL may have passed him and his pass-first offense by.

No matter how many times the Eagles fail, as long as Andy Reid is here, the game plan is simple.

When a passing play doesn’t work…

the Eagles pass.

When the quarterback is clearly off his game and hitting no one in stride…

the Eagles pass.

When the receivers (those on the field) make it clear that they can’t catch a cab…

the Eagles pass.

And when all the Birds need to do to control their own playoff destiny is score 11 points on a Redskins team that has already quit on its coach…

the Eagles passed.



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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.