|Linc Wear: 1 wear, 1 spare, 1 puke|
Is this now the worst franchise in the league?
As we've seen from last week's breakdown of the roster, there are maybe a handful of players on the current roster that will be part of the next tolerable Eagles team. But I think that it goes beyond that, or the sense that the fan base is so checked out that I'm starting to wonder if there won't be multiple blackouts by the end of the year. Rather, there's this.
What, beyond even the tailing return that is Shady McCoy, the occasional flashes from DeSean Jackson, or the moments of promising competence from youngsters Fletcher Cox and Mychael Kendricks... does this franchise have going for it right now?
We have a roster of quasi-famous coaches that match and mirror the free agent laden lineup, in that what got them paid here was done elsewhere, and they've shown no further ability to perform at that level. Seriously, Bobby April's special teams can't get 11 on the field against a figgie, or fail to give up a killshot return TD. He also has his kid on the staff for some reason. Howard Mudd's OL is one of the worst in the league. Todd Bowles' secondary was weak, and his entire unit has been worse than Juan Castillo. Jim Washburn's Wide Nine has become the signature joke of the era. As soon as the Fat Man hits the slab, they will follow, spread to the winds of unemployment, retirement and richly deserved obscurity.
There is no home field advantage to speak of, unless you really get turned on by environmentally friendly architecture. The division is weak, but the first place team has recent rings, the second place team has better talent and an owner that, while functionally insane and , at least is truly committed to the success of his team. The third place team just blew them out and has a franchise QB. I get that one year isn't everything, but it's really hard not to see how this franchise isn't the worst in the division.
Well, let's expand it to the conference, then. Carolina has a worse record and a terrible recent history, but at least they know who their QB will be in two years. The Rams somehow lost to the Jets today at home, but at least they have a coach with a history of tolerable defense and a big mess of draft picks that might work out. Arizona crushed the Eagles earlier this year, have a plus defense and solid home-field advantage, and might be one player (OK, a QB) away from being a playoff team. Detroit went to the playoffs last year, has the game's best WR, and while I'm not in love with their future prospects due to their questionable character... well, you'd still rather be a Lions fan right now. Amazing, no? (Everyone else in the conference is above .500 and in playoff contention, so let's not continue the exercise.)
How about the AFC? I'll give you the Chiefs and Jaguars, and won't even go down the path of how these teams have been bad so long that they don't mind rooting for dreadful teams. Cleveland is also probably in this category, even though I think that they are just going through growing pains before becoming a run of the mill ordinary team. Oakland is also pretty hopeless due to the ownership situation and spectacularly misguided draft pick bonanza that was sent to the Bengals for Carson Palmer. Miami, the Jets and Bills are all 4-6, have no chance for as long as the Patriots are what they are, and are all pretty much devoid of hope and intriguing young talent; I'd call them equivalently hopeless. Tennessee is pretty much where the Eagles will be in a year or two, once the current regime is flushed. San Diego is kind of the West Coast version of the Eagles, in that the coach has been there too long and has failed them, and the only people who seem to have not gotten that sign the checks. But at least if you a Charger fan, you probably live there. And trust me on this -- it's a lot easier to root for a terrible team when they come with California weather. Finally, you can argue that Bengal Fan has it worse, but they also have the best WR in the game that's not named Megatron, and the QB looks like a keeper, too. I'm also a fan of that defense, and the top two teams in the division are graying fast. I'd rather be a Bengals fan now. The rest are playoff teams and off the board.
So, let's recap, shall we? The five worst NFL franchises to root for are now...
Which leaves us with just one question for the rest of this year.
Can they crack the top three?