Eagles Wake-Up Call: Harrison’s Theory On Super Bowl XXXIX

Warning: If you have no interest in reading anything about the Eagles’ 2005 Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, please proceed to the ‘WHAT YOU MISSED’ portion of the Wake-Up Call.

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It’s been just about eight years since the Eagles dropped Super Bowl XXXIX to the New England Patriots in Jacksonville.

And with this year’s title game just four days away, a new theory has emerged about why the Birds came up short in that game.

Rodney Harrison, who had a pair of interceptions and a sack for New England, argues that the Eagles wasted too much energy during pre-game warmups, and that contributed to their fatigue down the stretch.

“Philly came out, Brian Dawkins, them guys were pumped up. They were sweating, they were off the chain, they were all over the place,” Harrison said, during an interview with Tony Bruno and Jon Marks on 97.5 The Fanatic. “They look on our sidelines, we were chilling. It was almost like a funeral because we knew we had to keep ourselves down and just chill. We knew after the pre-game warmups, you have to go back in the locker room and chill for 45 minutes to about an hour. Those guys, they wore themselves out.

“And in the third and fourth quarters, you saw them starting to get tired.  Now, T.O., he said Donovan McNabb was tired, but T.O. was the best-conditioned athlete on both sides of the ball, so of course he didn’t get tired. But we saw a drastic change in their speed and their level of focus in the fourth quarter. I think it made all the difference in the world in the game.”

The Eagles’ slow tempo during their comeback attempt was obviously one of the major story lines in that game. Down 10 with 5:40 left, the offense took 3 minutes, 52 seconds to score. The defense, meanwhile, allowed Tom Brady and company to score on three of their first four second-half possessions.

The result, as you know, was a 24-21 Patriots victory.

“The same thing happened to us against Carolina in 2003,” Harrison said. “We went out there, and man, we were all hyped up and pumped up and were talking smack, both teams going back and forth. And in the third and fourth quarters, you saw both the teams start to wear down. Start to see big plays happen, missed tackles, guys huffing and puffing. And people don’t understand, when you come out in pre-game warmups, those lights are flashing, you feel that electricity. And because of our experience in 2003, we understood against Philly.”

So that’s Harrison’s theory. Anyone buying it?

WHAT YOU MISSED

I sorted through a presentation Chip Kelly delivered at a coaches clinic and learned a lot about his core philosophies. How will those translate to the NFL? Here’s the breakdown.

The Eagles reportedly have a new quarterbacks coach. Learn more about Bill Lazor, who is leaving Virginia to return to the NFL.

Is Alex Smith a fit for Kelly? T-Mac offers his take.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Juan Castillo is at the Super Bowl as part of the Ravens’ staff. Martin Frank of the Wilmington News-Journal caught up with him:

CSNPhilly.com reported that Washburn called Castillo “Juanita” during team meetings. Castillo didn’t deny that, but said the comments might have been in joking.

“There are a lot of things happen in meetings and you play around,” Castillo said. “I’m not sure if jest is the right word. You’re playing around … I know this, when they let me go, all the D-linemen called me, so I think I had that respect. I think that’s the most important thing for a coach, to know you have the players’ respect.”

What about Washburn, who was recently hired as a defensive assistant with the Detroit Lions?

“I respect Jim as a coach,” he said. “I think he respects me as a coach. That’s important. We’ve kept in touch, you know.”

Les Bowen of the Daily News talked to 49ers defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, a potential defensive coordinator candidate:

“I’m a 3-4 coach now. There’s no question about it,” Donatell said. ” I just think there’s more combinations you can do, and there’s more flexibility to it.” Donatell worked as a senior advisor to the Jets, who ran a 3-4, then spent two years in Denver in a 3-4 before coming to the 49ers, who also employ that scheme.

And Jeff McLane of the Inquirer spoke to Ravens linebackers coach Ted Monachino:

“They have not. I’m not fielding any calls right now,” Monachino said. “Obviously, we’re right in the middle of trying to prepare for a big game. It’s flattering to have those things out there, but right now there’s no legs to it.”

Monachino said he didn’t even have an agent. The 46-year old has never been a coordinator at the NFL or collegiate level, but he is viewed around the league as a coordinator in the making.

COMING UP

Oh, I’m sure we’ll come up with something. Stay tuned.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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  • Myke Lowery

    Oh…and here I thought it was the video taping of practice that gave the patriots the advantage.

    • Graham

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    • JofreyRice

      yeah, after grinding tape on the Eagles practice plays before the game, Harrison came up with his theory that they were spending too much energy. Like they say, you gotta watch the tape!

    • PhEaglesPhan

      Agreed, the is why Belichik should have an asterisk by his name for those years

  • Mark Sitko

    That’s funny – I think losing by 3 had a lot more to do with THEM CHEATING. Let it never be forgotten – since Bill got caught cheating he has not won ANYTHING. Patriots have not taken another title since 2004 – every year they get so much respect, but they have not been Great in a LONG TIME. Since they were cheaters…

    • fran35

      Good point. I hadn’t really thought of it that way.

    • FMWarner

      They went 16-0 and have been in the playoffs every year since then apart from the year Brady got hurt. The fact that they haven’t won a Super Bowl since then is kind of immaterial.

  • Septhinox

    I believe Harrison’s comments.

    Also, Donatell comments about him being a 3-4 coach now tell a lot.

  • docboy

    I remember in the 2nd half, the patriots were like a different team….they seems to knew every move the eagle’s were going to make…I remember saying that its like they had someone standing next to reid and reading over his shoulder…..when it came out that they video taped their practice/warmups…I knew….
    I was disappointed that they weren’t stripped of their title….bunch of no good cheaters…

    • Myke Lowery

      definitely in the red zone they seemed to know what plays were being run. even before the scandal broke something looked fishy about that game.

  • Andy

    I believe Harrison is right and that may have contributed something to the outcome of the game. I live in Baltimore and with the Ravens preparing for the big game on Sunday, I’ve heard ex-player radio broadcasters here comment that the format is definitely a lot different in the Super Bowl then in a any other professional football game. Lots of drawn out pre-game and halftime coverages, extra commercial breaks, etc. Qadry Ismail basically said he learned the same lessons Harrison was relating after his trip to the Super Bowl.

  • Dawkins20Fan

    Take a cheating Belichick away from the 2004-5 Patriots and a cheating A-Rod away from the 2009 Yankees and we would have had two more parades by now.

    • peteike

      ha, I was going to post the same thing. The only time Arod doesnt choke is against the Phils and roids were def in play, he had a great series. I was at the superbowl in the corner of that end zone (sittin 10 rows behind ?uestlove ha) and the play that still gets me is the first Rodney Harrison INT. Were at the 20 and they line up westbrook wide and Bruschi covers him, I saw it and screamed for McNabb to go to him. McNabb saw it also, just had too much air under it and rodney flew out of nowhere to cover all that ground and making a diving INT. He drops that we at least get a FG. Harrison was on roids also, haha, or he knew our playbook.

  • Chris H

    I just have a hard time imagining well trained professional athletes running out of steam simply because of using a bit too much energy during the warm up.

  • Hurricane Dave

    I believe what Harrison says contributed to their poor performance down the stretch. Just add that to Jim Johnson continually blitzing Brady in the second half after it was obvious they were going to screen them to bolivian, ChokeNabb and his interception-fest, and Andy who didnt have the acuity to push his team to score twice in 5 mins. Besides, they should have already HAD the Super Bowl experiences after blowing the previous two championship games (man, that TB game..still..unforgivable).

  • DayToday

    Who cares what anyone from the CHEATING PATRIOTS has to say? why even interview one of those clowns? they stole a superbowl from us and our media is here kissing up to them, its laughable

  • FMWarner

    I can’t believe how many people think Spygate was the difference in that game. That has to be the most overblown scandal in sports. We lost. The end.

  • Kimbafuzz

    I don’t think the pregame stuff tired out Dawkins. Dude was always amped up. But it wouldn’t totally shock me if that affected others.