C. Northcote Parkinson is quoted as saying, “It is better to be a has-been than a never-was.”
No truer words could apply to an organization more than these words apply to the Philadelphia Eagles franchise.
In the lead-up to the NFL regular season finale that pitted Philadelphia against the New York Giants, the narrative was that the Eagles haven’t been playing as badly as their record would indicate, and with Giant-killer Michael Vick at the helm, the Giants were in trouble.
Without question, New York had been playing uninspired football, and took it on the chin from the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens. But in case, Philadelphia players and fans hadn’t noticed, those are two teams currently reside in first place, so the competition was a bit stiffer than a four-win, last place team.
And based upon the result of this contest, the Eagles’ position in last place represents a distinction that the team has undoubtedly earned.
So in terms of the Eagles’ progress, or lack of progress, the question becomes, would a 5-11 season with a season-ending victory over the arch-rival Giants really be any reason to cheer?
Many articles indicated that a victory over the Giants would be a morale booster.
Yet once the ink dried on the wishful thinking articles, the Giants showed which team is the defending Super Bowl champions, as well as which team is constantly looking for moral victories.
New York scored early and often, and rode two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning’s right arm to a convincing 42-7 victory at chilly MetLife Stadium.
Rookie receiver Rueben Randle caught two touchdown strikes from Manning, and fellow rookie, running back David Wilson also hauled in a 15-yard strike from Manning, and the G-men had a 21-0 lead before the first quarter was over.
Michael Vick hit Jeremy Maclin with a 7-yard TD pass early in the 2nd quarter to draw the Egales to within two touchdowns, but that would be the highlight of Philadelphia’s trek up the New Jersey Turnpike this weekend.
Ahmad Bradshaw punched into the end zone from one yard out, and Victor Cruz hauled in a 24 yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left in the half, and Big Blue lead 35-7 at intermission.
If this was Michael Vick’s finale with the green and gray, it was certainly an uninspiring performance. Vick was 19/35 for 197 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. The game ended with Vick on the bench in favor of third-string quarterback, Trent Edwards, who was thrust into mop-up duty after Vick waved the white flag on this game, this season and probably his tenure in Philly. Vick finished the afternoon with a putrid 68.4 quarterback rating.
As bad as Vick was, the Eagles’ defense was worse, if that’s possible.
First, Eli Manning’s five touchdown passes were a career high, and he had a 134.5 quarterback rating on the day. Secondly, Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 107 yards to put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Bradshaw averaged 6.7 yards per carry against the porous Eagles’ rush defense.
If the Eagles short-term goal was to defeat New York and go out on a high note, then the mission amounted to an unmitigated failure.
And if Las Vegas placed odds on which Eagles’ players won’t be asked back in 2013, Michael Vick’s odds would put Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes odds (1/10) to shame.
But as poorly as Vick played, most likely signaling an end to his time in the City of Brotherly Love, another Eagle player might have had a worse afternoon.
After getting torched by rookie receiver Rueben Randle’s 38-yard TD catch, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha’s day was just starting. The overpriced former Oakland Raider once again tackled poorly, covered badly and was yanked after his second penalty, giving the Giants another much-needed first down.
Given the fact that Asomugha’s contract for 2013 is $14 million, he is even less likely than Vick to return, even though Rotoworld shows that $4 million of his 2013 salary is guaranteed.
If you’re a has-been, then you might lament would could have been, knowing what it felt like to achieve success. If you’re a never-was, then you wrap yourself up in moral victories because you have no understanding about what it takes to be a champion.
When the final gun sounded, the Has-Beens defeated Never-Was by a 42-7 score.