Over the past week, I have gotten trapped in the rabbit hole that is historic Eagles games. Earlier in the week, I fast-forwarded through the 4th and 26 game. I was only 11 when that happened, so aside from the miracle Freddie Mitchell catch and Dawkins interception, I didn’t remember much. What I learned was Sheldon Brown, despite delivering one of the greater Eagles playoff moments just two years later when he turned Reggie Bush into a crawling toddler, got absolutely roasted against the Packers that night. He gave up both touchdowns the Pack would score, and almost cost the Eagles their season. McNabb also had the most McNabb game ever. Broke the pocket a lot early in the game, missed a few easy throws, and then pulled a rabbit out of his hat when he scrambled around to find Todd Pinkston for the game winning score. It was a great trip down memory lane.
After watching Ahman Green plow through the Eagles Front 7 for 2-and-a-half hours, I decided to check out a more recent game: The Snow Bowl. Watching the broadcast from 2013 was pretty cool because it’s almost exactly the same, but you got to see what was going on in the league at that time. It was also nice to see the Matt Stafford of old air-mailing passes, fumbling snaps, and blowing games. His MVP-caliber season in 2016 was more shocking than Trump’s rise to power. Re-watching the Snow Bowl returned order to the universe for me.
This was also the first year of the Chip Kelly Era. I know that A LOT of people hate Chip Kelly, but I’m really not one of them. Controversy circled him, he broke the Front Office, and he was an absolutely abysmal GM. The one thing I still think he was is a good coach. Chip led the Eagles to a 26-21 record with the Birds, including two 10-win seasons. His scheme might have been figured out, and his tactics may have worn players down physically and mentally over his tenure. I don’t know, and I’m not here to argue that. I’m not a Chip defender by any means.
What I do know is his coaching in the Snow Bowl was phenomenal. The game plan for the Birds made sense heading into that day, especially since the snow wasn’t supposed to start falling until 3pm – two hours after kickoff. Stretch the field with the offensive weapons, avoid the Lions dominant defensive line, and make their secondary beat you. When I say the Lions defensive line was dominant, they were allowing 46 yards per game on the ground up to this point of the season. That’s nuts.
With all of the snow on the ground, the game plan crumbled. DeSean’s first couple of touches went backwards, and Shady couldn’t get going at all. The Eagles went 3-and-out on their first 3 series, and ended the first quarter with -4 total yards. Throwing downfield didn’t work either, as Foles was overthrowing everything with the wet ball and threw his first interception of the entire season, which led to a Lions TD. They went into halftime down 8-0.
The 2nd half is where Chip’s great coaching ability showed. Beating the Lions with the original game plan clearly wasn’t going to work, so Chip had to try and beat the Lions at their own game. The Eagles ran it down the Lions’ throat, took advantage of 1-on-1 matchups when Detroit stacked the box, and wore down the defense with their fast tempo. Say what you will about how annoying the fast-pace became, but it worked in this game. Suh and company were clearly gassed in the 4th quarter. The Eagles Offensive Line was dominating by getting 2, 3, 4-yards down the field on every play. Shady ran wild, and the Eagles got a huge victory that will live in Philadelphia infamy.
It was nice to see Mychal Kendricks make some plays, a young Fletcher Cox breaking up plays in the backfield, and remembering who Bryce Brown was. A true trip down memory lane. It’s only May 19th and for the love of God get me to football season.