The Philadelphia Eagles captured their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history this past Sunday with a 41-33 upset victory over America’s favorite villains, the New England Patriots, and exercised 85 years of demons in the process.
Nick Foles, a backup quarterback filling in for injured starter Carson Wentz, somehow outlasted — and even out–caught — the greatest quarterback of his generation, throwing for an impressive 373 yards and three touchdowns in a performance that even Wentz would’ve been hard-pressed to exceed.
As victory soaked confetti rained down in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tom Brady bowed his head, Bill Belichick stoically walked off the field, the Eagles raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and the city of Philadelphia partied well into the wee hours of Monday morning.
While we contemplate whether this could be the twilight of the Patriots dynasty, we’re also greeted with the possibility that we could be witnessing the dawn of a new championship era in Philadelphia.
Consider the fact that the Eagles won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback or backup left tackle and without key pieces like Darren Sproles and Jordan Hicks. Meanwhile all six Eagles Pro Bowlers — Zach Ertz, Malcolm Jenkins, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox and Wentz — are under contract until at least 2021.
Essentially the same team that won the Super Bowl should be back next season, and the Eagles look to have as bright a future as any in the NFL.
Wentz is only 25 years old and already one of the best quarterbacks in the league, with both his arm and his legs. In only 13 games this season he threw for more than 3,000 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, running for nearly 300 more. He looked to be well on his way to earning the distinction of “Best Ginger” — until Prince Harry ordered British intelligence to take Wentz’s knee out in order to maintain his position as the world’s preeminent ginger (I may or may not have sources to support this claim).
The defensive line of Philadelphia, the backbone of a stout defense this season, will be returning next year largely intact, and the architect of that side of the ball, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, should be back as well. Not to mention head coach Doug Pederson, along with Alshon Jeffery, Mychal Kendricks and Meek Mi — oh wait, never mind, he’ll still be in jail.
Nonetheless it doesn’t take the most creative mind to imagine a scenario in which this team is competing for multiple Super Bowls in the foreseeable future.
That being said there are nagging questions heading into next season for Philadelphia, the primary issue figuring out what to do with new Philly hero Foles.
In a league that’s desperate for effective starting quarterbacks, more than a few teams will come knocking on general manager Howie Roseman’s door offering a deal for the Super Bowl MVP. Philly has limited cap space, so trading Foles in return for some solid pieces could effectively kill two birds with one stone for the Eagles’ front office.
Philly has to consider the possibility, however, that Wentz may not be the same player after his injury — at least for the first few games — and trading away a proven backup at the wrong time could spell disaster for their prospects of a repeat.
Aside from Foles, critical pieces such as LeGarrette Blount and Nigel Bradham along with slot corner Patrick Robinson will all be free agents this offseason, and it will be interesting to see whether Philly decides to sign them again.
Then there’s history to contend with next season as well, as no team has repeated as Super Bowl champions since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005. Teams that we thought had a chance to win multiple trophies — the 2010 New Orleans Saints, 2011 Green Bay Packers or 2014 Seattle Seahawks) never reached the same pinnacle again.
Football is a cruel sport — success is fleeting, and heartbreak common. Injuries happen at the wrong time, the famous “Disease of Me” infects locker rooms, a bad call goes against your team in a playoff game or a freak play changes the course of a franchises future.
There is only so much a team can control, and there’s an undeniable element of luck that figures into any championship run. The past seems to suggest that the future for Philadelphia may not be as bright as it looked at first glance and only further emphasizes just how incredible New England’s consistent success has been this century.
That being said the only thing certain for Philadelphia going forward is that they are Super Bowl champions, now and forever. The future may yet be written for the Eagles, but 85 years of ghosts can tell you that the past may never die. The Eagles championship run should remind us all that sometimes you just need to “Trust The Process.”
Rory O’Toole writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].