The guest prognosticator series is changing with the seasons as the NFL starts up. For Monday nights Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles matchup, I’ve invited regular Philly sports contributor Kevin McGuire to answer some questions and offer a prediction. McGuire, who writes for College Football Talk on nbcsports.com and is a contributor to Yahoo’s Eagles coverage is back for yet another Q&A about his beloved Iggles. He’s been here before (for the Phillies too). We missed running into each at Springer’s in Stone Harbor by about 45 minutes last month.
WFY: Andy Reid is gone, as many of expected. It seems he got a better send off than Charlie Manuel. Nevertheless, do you have any final thoughts on Reid, in particular as it relates to the series with Redskins?
KMc: Charlie Manuel deserved to be honored in front of the Phillies fans for winning his 1,000th game as a manager, but I will leave that conversation for another time. As for Reid, the time had come for a change (I think That time came a year earlier but whatever). While the Reid era ultimately left this city without filling the biggest hole in the franchise’s history – a Super Bowl victory, or two – it would be silly to suggest he did not have a certain amount of success in town. I give him plenty of credit for turning the franchise around and taking a chance on Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. It was the most successful stint in franchise history in the Super Bowl era, but it came with a number of flaws that were never really fixed. Reid is a solid coach who can help build a foundation for winning, but after over a decade as head coach it was painfully clear he was not the type of coach that could get that team over the edge.
WFY: One of the keys to the Reid era was dominance within the NFC East. At the height of it all, the Eagles took advantage of wins against a weak NFC East, including a pile against the Redskins although I did not realize how many times Reid lost to the Redskins until looking up the numbers. I think the game that sticks out the most to me came on a Monday night early in the 2002 season. The game was played in FedEx Field and came at the time the Eagles were really starting to become the top threat in the NFC. If I recall correctly, at some point during the 37-7 road victory the TV cameras caught Steve Spurrier in a classic moment:
Can I say it again? Thank you RGIII for healing us
I wish Reid the best in Kansas City as he looks to turn that franchise around. I expect he will and it will not take too long either. That said, I am ready for this franchise to turn the page.
WFY: Please briefly recap the 2012 Eagles season for us.
KMc: Must I? Why must you be so cruel? In brief, the offensive line was decimated by injuries and it was only a matter of time before that led to injury to the often-injured Mike Vick. Throw in a defense that could not create turnovers or stop anything, thanks to having an offensive line coach taking over as defensive coordinator, it was a mess on top of a pile of trash. As the games went by, Reid lost the team and by the end of the year here was nothing to play for.
WFY: Back in the present, how do Chip Kelly’s Eagles look so far?
KMc: Different, at least to most people. You know I watch a lot of college football, so the new look offense looks a little more familiar to me than most in this area after having watched Kelly at Oregon over the last few years. The up-tempo offense is still a bit of a work in progress but I am sure Kelly has a few things to unveil during the regular season. The defense also looks a little more comfortable in a more traditional format, but is still showing plenty of room for improvement.
WFY: Michael Vick is going start week 1, but do you think he’ll still be the starter in week 11?
KMc: No. At some point in the season I suspect Vick will go down with an injury, which means Nick Foles will likely be the next man up under center. I have said before I would not be shocked to see Matt Barkley get a start before the end of the season, with the assumption being Vick is injured, Foles struggles and Kelly looks to see what he has in Barkley before entering the 2014 draft with his eyes set n Tajh Boyd or Teddy Bridgewater.
WFY: Can the Eagles defense stop anybody?
KMc: Not yet, but they stand a better chance than the defense did last season. Getting back to a more basic 3-4 defense should ensure players are in better positions this season, as opposed to the wide-9 used last year that spread everybody out and put everyone in poor positions. This defense still lacks talent overall, but the addition of Cary Williams from Baltimore and mixing in some new faces should help change the entire mindset, and I really feel that along with the new formation helps change the defensive production overall this season. They’ll still give up yards and points, but they will be better than last year and at least that is a start.
WFY: How do you feel the Eagles matchup this week? Do you have any additional concerns about them opening the season on Monday night on the road?
KMc: This Eagles team has some personalities that enjoy the spotlight, so opening on a Monday night does not necessarily serve as a concern for me, but doing so in Washington could be a very difficult spot. If Robert Griffin III is in good shape, the Eagles could be in trouble. I honestly feel that the Eagles deserve to be underdogs this weekend and they probably will in most of their games. Do the Eagles keep things close and maybe find a way to steal a game? Yeah, probably. I’m just not ready to count on it yet.
WFY: With the Phillies era coming to an end, have the Eagles reclaimed undisputed supremacy for the hearts and minds of Philly sports fans? How would your rank team popularity in the Delaware Valley? Do the Eagles really have the 17th most loyal fanbase, last in the NFC East? Does anybody say “Delaware Valley” other than television stations and the Pennsylvania Turnpike?
KMc: The football season could not have come soon enough for the local sports fans here. If the football season could have started in June, not many people around here would have complained. The Eagles, with a new head coach, have sparked the imagination of the fans and perhaps given them a false sense of optimism. Of course, right now we are just starving for something, anything to get excited about.
Right now, the Eagles remain on top of the local sports scene without question. I think the Phillies are still firmly in second despite the struggles of management and declining win total (and attendance). The Flyers right now are probably the third team in the pecking order with the Sixers dropping to fourth heading in to what many expect to be a dismal season in hopes of a high lottery pick.
I can’t think of any time I have heard anyone outside of TV refer to it as the Delaware Valley, but maybe others have.
WFY: No Philly team made the playoffs last year, are you noticing a difference amongst Philly sports fans overall? I’m probably not asking because that could happen here, no not at all.
KMc: Disgruntled is probably the best way to describe it. Nobody needs to be reminded it has now been over a calendar year since the last postseason game played here (sorry Union and Soul, but you do not count in this discussion). Then again, most Philly sports fans may be described as disgruntled anyway. It’s easy to see why though. All we want to do is celebrate a championship. The 2008 World Series was a nice release, but the droughts still continue for the Sixers (1983), Flyers (1975) and Eagles (1960, before the Super Bowl era). Now, all of a sudden, the five-year exemption for the Phillies has expired as well. Where did the time go?
WFY: What are the best book and movie you have ever read and seen about the Eagles?
KMc: I honestly have not read a whole ton of books specifically about the Eagles, although WIP radio personality Anthony Gargano’s story (A Sunday Pilgrimage) of the Super Bowl trip to Jacksonville was decent. I actually really enjoyed War Without Death by Mark Maske, which was more a look at the entire NFC East.
The easy answer for best movie is probably Invincible, but I still can’t get past the terrible representation of the inside of Veterans Stadium. The documentary about being an Eagles fan (E-A-G-L-E-S The Movie) was actually pretty solid. Were you expecting me to say Tony Danza as The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon? I will say that Silver Linings Playbook was a pretty good film as well. It felt pretty accurate as well.
You know what want to watch Tony Danza as an Iggles kicker, shot from a video camera in front of TV, the way it was meant to be seen
WFY: What is your favorite pop culture reference to the Eagles?
KMc: I’m a fan of the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so I’m going to go with the episode where the gang all tries out for the team. I mean, it has the guy who played Elvin in The Cosby Show playing the role of a Donovan McNabb imposter, Green Man, and Dee trying to pass as a guy.
WFY: I understand the Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie remarried. Do we know if the new Mrs. Lurie likes kelly green? I’m getting tired of having to watch midnight green/expansion like uniforms on an 80-year old NFC East team twice a season. You are probably tired of answering the question annually.
KMc: I wouldn’t hold your breath on the Kelly green, although many around here would love it. Chip Kelly, Kelly green, it just makes sense). I think at this point the best we can hope for is for the team to adopt an official alternate jersey that throws back to the Kelly green era. The uniforms they wore a few years ago, to me, were great. The silver wing on the helmet, simple Kelly green jerseys with traditional white block lettering just looks right.
WFY: Defend the lyric “fly on the road to victory” from the Eagles fight song. (Still better than almost everything Messrs Henly, Frey, et al. wrote)
KMc: I do not see much of an issue with this one. Have you ever used the phrase “I flew down the highway,” or something like that to describe how quickly you got form one place to another? Have you not watched Back to the Future, where Doc and Marty fly on a skyway thanks to a hover conversion on the DeLorean “Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”
In the history of music lyrics, I hardly think we need to quibble over this line in the official team fight song.
WFY: Who takes game 1? Who takes the season series? What do you think the Eagles and Skins records will be, respectively?
KMc: I think we are in store for a season split between the Eagles and Redskins, with the home team winning each time. I think the Eagles defense will get better as the season progresses, but this being the first game of the season means they are perhaps their most vulnerable. If RG3 is good to go, I expect to see the Eagles defense lagging at times. I think the Eagles put up some points, but think they give up a bunch as well in week one.
I think the Eagles have a low ceiling, with seven games perhaps being optimistic. The Redskins can probably get to 10 wins this season, but that is under the assumption RG3 stays healthy. I doubt either team keeps their opening day starting quarterback for a full 16-game schedule. I’ll put the Redskins down at nine wins.