During Week 8 of the 2011-12 NFL season, I announced myself as one of two contenders of my fantasy league. I had found myself reunited with Ben Roethlisberger, a starting QB pick I have been forced into twice, and a selection I make with a reluctant reach forward as I look the other way while dry heaving.
But the rest of my roster was locked and loaded. My running back corps was comprised of Fred Jackson and Matt Forte. My receivers were churning out points like slot machines in the form of Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald, and Dwayne Bowe. At tight end, Jason Witten contributed whatever Tony Romo could get to him. And with the Packers’ defense and kicker, I was sitting pretty for the championship run that a 5-2 record at the near-midway point would allow.
Cackling from my throne, I cast judgement on the teams below who struggled to summon 50-60 points a week.
“Hahahaha,” my putrid laughter echoed from the heavens. “HAHAHAHAHAHA.”
I would never win another game.
And while my backup quarterback (Matt Ryan) was never thoughtless enough to call Sex Flavored War Machine the “dream team” of the league, we didn’t really need him to. Our collapse was both sudden and gradual; minute and massive. Underperformance. Injury. Bad luck. Poor judgement. Injury, again. We had it all.
But because nobody cares about any fantasy team but their own, I can only express the disappointment, frustration, and wall-kickery that my team evoked in the form of a universal similar example. And to see that exhibit, I ask you to merely hop on the Broad Street Line, get off at the Sports Complex, and stare wistfully up at the Linc, where your glorious Eagles have packed up and left for another year.
The cold wind will toss your gently to the side and a gentle snowfall will caress your face, but the numbness of last 17 weeks of Eagles football won’t allow you to feel a thing. One by one, other fans may gather for their distant stares at the structure, but there will be no screams of pain. Just confusion. Just sadness. Just freshly familiar devastation.
The 2011 NFL preseason was warm and fun and jolly. Sure, Mike Patterson collapsed and needed to be revived. But if you take that out, the Eagles camp was 90% coaches standing in front of podiums, announcing the signing of elite players.
Players make up a team. So why not round up all the great players, push them into the same room, and have a great team? It’s bulletproof.
Well, as you can see from the Eagle carcass lying before you, riddled with bullets, that theory failed to produce anything but all-caps tweets.
The signings of Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Jason Babin were going to make this defense thick with experience, talent, and speed. Opposing QBs weren’t going to be able to walk into the Linc without yelping and dodging the leaping Asomugha that still lives in their imagination from a previous visit. The 1-4 record to start the season seemed to indicate otherwise.
New defensive coordinator Juan Castillo got ripped in half by the fans, though the players stood by his side, claiming they just needed to adjust to his newness. The team for some reason didn’t take the fans advice and run Castillo out of town, and the season continued.
Meanwhile, Andy Reid clutched his clipboard and muttered into his headset. Sadly, nothing he muttered seemed to end with Shady McCoy getting the football. Throughout an explosive season, the young running back wouldn’t stop doing great things, as if he played for some other team or something. But it was Reid’s play calling that was questioned when he failed to give the playmaker the ball when the situation called for it. Often times, the situation was “a football game.”
Fortunately, there was Desean Jackson to fall back on, whose decision to sleep through meetings, bitch about his contract, and run really fast made him some kind of annoying cartoon character for a lot of the season.
Michael Vick entered the year with a Nike endorsement deal, a white version of himself, and a six-year contract worth its weight in $100 million. He ran around for awhile, then his body kind of exploded and Vince Young, he of the “dream team” utterance, stepped in. And that’s when things took a turn for the hilariously terrible.
Young got the win his first week against the Giants, in one of those weird games where the Eagles didn’t lose to a division rival. He tried his best and only threw three interceptions, which apparently wasn’t enough for New York to capitalize. WIP blew up with calls saying he should be the full time starter, because this city is 80% football geniuses. The following two weeks, he threw a combined five interceptions and two touchdowns, though against the Patriots he threw for a career-best 400 yards.
The Eagles were 4-8. Weirdly, they wouldn’t lose again. Not weirdly, they wouldn’t make the playoffs, even after Ed Rendell announced on a post game show that they were “back,” even after a hair-raising week of needing other teams to lose while they secured a win, even after people really really really wanting them to.
And so, your 2011-12 Eagles, your “dream team,” lies dormant and forgotten at 8-8. The sudden burst of life at the end was nice, but during a season of 16 games, a late start can be a death sentence. At best, the team can be summed up in one haphazardly inglorious moment in early October. Ronnie Brown, attempting to run for a 1-yard touchdown with the Eagles up 10-3 against the 49ers, tried to throw a pass or something in the middle of being tackled, in hopes that an incomplete pass call would negate the play.
It of course was not. That makes no sense. The 49ers recovered. The Eagles lost.
And that was your Eagles this year: A nice idea, but in the end… what the fuck?