The National Football League did the Eagles, and especially their fans, a favor.
By scheduling their road trip to Tampa for a Monday Night Super Wildcard Weekend game against the Buccaneers, the NFL allowed Eagles faithful to step back from an 18-week journey to the biggest meltdown in league history.
The ensuing week, with all its retirements and coach firings, with five other playoff games before the Eagles kicked off, with a perfectly delicious blowout loss by the hated Cowpokes, gave Eagles fans a bit of perspective.
The Eagles are a mess. They’re injured, demoralized and beaten down in the philosophical and actual sense.
There’s no way to sugar coat it. The Eagles stink.
The only question is how bad?
Do they stink worse than New England, a team that was so bad that the greatest professional football coach in history was unceremoniously dismissed after 24 years and six Super Bowl wins?
The Raiders, Panthers and Chargers didn’t even make it to the end of the regular season before their coaches were fired. All three of those organizations have notoriously sketchy ownerships and organizations. The Eagles couldn’t possibly be that bad?
Atlanta barely returned from its flight after playing New Orleans before dismissing yet another ineffective coach. That’s not the Eagles’ situation, right?
Washington parted ways with the last, maybe only, decent vestige of the Daniel Snyder era in coach Ron Rivera. From the moment Sixers owner Josh Harris added the Commanders to his portfolio, Washington is currently trusting the football process. Sixers fans know all about that. Are the Eagles on a better path?
Seattle parted ways with the one coach who has ever had real success in the Pacific Northwest. Pete Carroll was annoying to opposing fan bases for many reasons but there’s no denying his sustained run of winning with the Seahawks. The Eagles have even higher aspirations but is that enough?
Those early playoff games were very instructive, if you knew what to look for.
The Bills were left for dead after giving the Eagles one of the biggest thrills of the season. The Bills went from 6-6 to the No. 2 seed in the AFC. The Steelers, with far lesser talent, won their last three games to somehow keep coach Mike Tomlin’s winning-record streak alive.
The Rams and Lions swapped quarterbacks three seasons ago and both teams found their way back to the playoffs again by getting behind flashy, multi-faceted offenses.
The Texans put their franchise in the hands of one of their all-time greats and a rookie quarterback to lay the wood to a Browns team running on hope and baling wire. As nice as it was seeing South Jersey’s Joe Flacco flash some of the brilliance that made him a Super Bowl winner, Cleveland had too many issues to overcome.
The Chiefs showed the upstart Dolphins that even if speed kills, cold kills speed, like rock beats scissors.
Kansas City knows how to maintain excellence, a lesson Andy Reid learned after leaving Philly. Miami’s mad scientist approach to offense is great fun to watch but it melts away when the weather turns frosty.
And how ‘bout them … Packers? With the youngest team in playoff memory, the Pack treated the Cowboys like a plaything all just one year removed from parting ways with future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.
Speaking of Rodgers, the Cowboys hitched their wagon to a man who couldn’t find a way to sustain greatness with Rodgers at quarterback. Mike McCarthy has had similar troubles trying to win with Playoff-Dak Prescott.
All the while, the 49ers and Ravens wait to take the field. Two organizations that gave their teams the very best chance to win.
Meanwhile, the Eagles still stink. But do they stink less than the alternative. Keep everything you’ve learned during a week waiting for the Eagles playoffs to start. When this season ends, deciding what kind of team the Eagles hope to be is the first priority.