While we feast on our turkey and become Oakland fans for a day, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on things Philadelphia Eagles fans can be thankful for on this day of giving thanks.
This isn’t to say that, in reality, the Eagles themselves shouldn’t be thankful for the fans because without us, they wouldn’t be getting paychecks. With that said, I do find myself in a more joyful mood this year as the holiday season kicks off today.
Last year, the Eagles’ record was 3-7 on Thanksgiving Day and we were only four days removed from a 31-6 blow-out loss to the Redskins. The team and the season was in complete disarray and the future looked, at best, uncertain.
Talk about ruining your appetite!
But, that was then and this is now and the following are things I’m thankful for this time around…
1. I’m thankful that the rest of the NFC East stinks. If not for the shortcomings of the Redskins, Giants and Cowboys, the Eagles could be buried in the standings.
2. Chip Kelly. Yes, I’m thankful that we appear to have a coach who has brought a fresh plan to Philadelphia and one that appears to be working so far. Yes, he’s made some mistakes and odd decisions at times, but overall he’s been a refreshing change.
3. Nick Foles. His play is a big reason why we’re in a position to compete as well as giving us hope for the future. I don’t know about you, but I would really like to head into the 2014 draft without needing to give up a king’s ransom to secure a first-round quarterback.
That’s not a certainty yet, obviously, but at this moment we can dream about addressing another big need position in Round 1 come May.
4. LeSean McCoy. Baby mama drama aside from last offseason, McCoy is a player that genuinely loves what he’s doing. He’s emotional, excitable and is awesome to watch on the field.
If we were playing “six degrees to McCoy”, here’s how it would go: Thanksgiving > football > Lions > Barry Sanders > LeSean McCoy.
5. The defense is physical and tackles well. After watching two historically bad defenses for the past two seasons, it’s good to see a distinct change this year. This defense has progressively gotten better as the season has gone on and one the biggest noticable differences is the tackling.
No more prima-donnas in the secondary, we have guys that mix it up and tackle. Hell, even Nate Allen looks more physical this year.
6. Turnovers. The lack thereof on offense and the takeaways on defense. Last season the Eagles finished with a -24 turnover differential…negative twenty-four! Right now they’re at +4 and it’s a huge reason why this team is still in contention.
7. More efficient play in the red zone. I’m thankful that the defense is actually stopping opposing offenses more and the offense is scoring touchdowns.
For the past two seasons it seemed automatic that when the other team got inside our 20 they’d score a TD, and when we got inside their 20 we’d either turn the ball over or call mind-numbing plays.
8. Riley Cooper. Yep, I’m thankful for the racist! I kid, of course. But, in reality, Cooper’s emergence as a legitimate deep threat opposite DeSean has helped this offense more than you realize.
Teams can no longer key on Jackson and take him away because if they do, Cooper will get em’ from the other side. It also means that defenses can’t stack the box so therefore McCoy will have more open lanes to run through.
9. Michael Vick. I’m happy and thankful he has taken his demotion like a professional. This is important because he’s an idol in the eyes of a few important players on offense and if he thought he was being “done wrong” and decided to make waves, it would have a detrimental impact on the team.
It’s kind of odd I find myself being “thankful” for such a thing, but these situations can become volatile.
10. Most of all, I’m happy that the Eagles are in contention for a playoff spot. Whether it’s via winning the division or stealing one of the wild card spots, they are actually in a position where they control their destiny.
How terrible has it felt these past two seasons when you knew the season was over by Thanksgiving? I entered this season kind of expecting that to be the case, but here we are, right in the thick of things.
For the first time since 2010, Eagles football in December will be meaningful. This is important to me because there’s nothing quite like football at this time of year, especially if your team is primed to play into January.
And for that, I’m thankful.