Eagles Wake-Up Call: The ‘Compelling’ 2004 Squad

Today, we take a trip down memory lane and remember a team that will either bring a smile to your face or elicit tears from your eyes: the 2004 Eagles.

ESPN.com is doing a series on the five most compelling NFL teams since 2000, and the 2004 Birds, led by Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens, Brian Westbrook and company came in at No. 3, behind only the 2010 Brett Favre-led Vikings and the 16-0 New England Patriots (2007).

Ashley Fox provides a recap of the 13-3 campaign, which ended in a 24-21 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl:

“When we stepped on the field from OTAs to the first game against the New York Giants, we felt no team could beat us,” Ike Reese said. “We were hunting for the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. That’s who we had to beat. I just remember the level of confidence was at an all-time high for a team coming off three NFC Championship Games. It took us to an almost invincible feeling.”

It’s impossible to discuss that season without mentioning the fallout afterwards. Despite how things turned out with T.O. and the ensuing 6-10 campaign in 2005, Andy Reid told Fox the gamble on Owens was well worth it.

“I like Terrell. All of us could’ve handled it a little different,” Reid said. “I take a little of the blame for that. Everybody I know wants to come after Terrell. I take some of the blame, too. There were things we could’ve done better after the way it worked out. But was it worth it? Yes. I would do it over again. I would. I wish things could’ve worked out better during the Super Bowl. Philadelphia deserved to have a championship there, but it didn’t pan out that way.”

The Eagles had strong leadership on that team, but nobody could seem to find a way to keep McNabb and Owens on the same page for another season.

“If you can somehow keep that team in tact, that offensive staff in tact for another season… you would definitely be the favorites to win the Super Bowl,” Westbrook said last year. “That offense [would have been] the No. 1 offense in the league for a long time, and we would have been so productive.”

Added Dawkins: “What I tried to do was pull guys to the side, away from everybody, and just have conversations with them. ‘What’s going on? What’s the deal? What can I do to help? This is what we need to do to get back on the winning track, and if I can assist in any way, let me know. Even if you don’t let me know, this is what I’m willing to do. This is what we need to do in order for us to get this thing going in the right direction.’

“The thing that you always want to do is get everybody in the room at the same time. That was never able to be done.”

And so, Eagles fans are left to wonder what could have been. But there’s no doubt that “compelling” is a fair way to describe the team that got the franchise closer than any other to the Lombardi Trophy.

WHAT YOU MISSED

What the Oregon sanctions mean for Chip Kelly.

Will Kelly run a physical camp? Players weigh in.

We asked three players a simple question: What do you know about Kelly now that you didn’t know a few months ago? Here are their answers.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers some thoughts on the defense:

The defense won’t be a top unit until the right players are in place. It is possible we could find out we already have those players, but I think that is an extreme longshot. I like this group, but don’t see them turning out to be a great defense. The secondary still needs work and there are front seven questions to be answered.

I’m not enamored with the system we’re running, but it has grown on me. The most important issue for me is that the team did hire the right coaches to teach the scheme. This staff has a lot of 3-4 and hybrid defense experience. If you want to be creative and complex, you must have the right teachers. I think the Eagles accomplished that.

Over on The Philly Post, Richard Rys is not happy that Marvel has teamed up with the Cowboys:

What’s worse, for me as an Eagles fan, is that the one Marvel/NFL tie-in that makes sense for adults who are not virgins is right here in Philadelphia. Future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins was known for his love of Wolverine, the X-Men member with unbreakable bones and a berserker rage. He kept Wolverine figures in his locker and named his on-field alter ego after the character’s code name, “Weapon X.” Marvel honored Dawkins with a Wolverine-inspired poster after he retired. But they could have made a mint with Weapon X shirts; in fact, one local company has made a very cool Dawkins tee that isn’t anywhere near as corny as the Cowboys line. Forget Hugh Jackman — if B-Dawk says a Canadian with retractable claws is cool, it’s gospel.

COMING UP

Haven’t you learned by now that we always come up with something?

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

    Oi, talk about opening old wounds. That 2004 team was magnificent. I thought for sure that that was finally the season the Lombardi Trophy came to Philly.

    *sigh*…What could have been. And honestly, I don’t think I’d be so bitter if it wasn’t for the total melt down the following season and the whole Spy-gate thing.

  • Robin Wallace

    This wasn’t the only Eagles Team that was suppose to win it all. I know this is ancient for some but, the 1981 Eagles was favorites to win the Superbowl. We lost to the Wild Card Team, Oakland Raiders. I bet the farm on them and had to eat beans for a whole month afterwards.

    • southy

      I think the years we lost to Tampa Bay and Arizona might have been better shots at coming home with a SB title than the ’04 season, actually.

      • GEagle

        We shouldn’t have lost to the rams….that hurt.

        wonder how many superbowls we would have if Andy Reid had an elite game day play caller….I blame play calling for a lot of tough losses

        • Stephen Stempo

          I dunno. The Rams were good that year and the Eagles were so young. I think if Buckhalter doesn’t get hurt the second half of that games plays different though.

      • Robin Wallace

        Actually, I agree, the year (2002) we lost to Tampa Bay was a sure shot Superbowl we should have won.

        • Johnny Domino

          At that game. Head still hurts.

          • GEagle

            I was at that Tampa loss…then I had the priveldge lol of being at the other Tampa Loss where we opened up the season on MNF 1st ever game at the Linc…it was the first time a Rocky Balboa video message was used as our pregame rallying cry..Unfortunately the players didnt get the memo from Rocky and we stunk the Linc out that night…atleast I found out how easy it would be to smoke joints on the smoking decks at the Linc…HIGHLIGHT of that worthless night!

          • G_WallyHunter

            Great little tidbit to know if I ever get down over the border lololol

          • GEagle

            ohhh once you get there its pretty obvious lol….its like 90% whacky smoke, and 10% cigarrete smoke lol…heck, I have literally rolled up in my front pocket of a hoodie while sitting at my seat lol, or you can pre-roll, and stash them in the cufs of rolled up Jeans..waltz right in…The linc is absolutely 420 friendly! lol

          • G_WallyHunter

            uptokes for you!

        • Johnny Domino

          Jurevicius still a bad word in our house.

      • Stephen Stempo

        The 2002 team for my money was BETTER than the ’04 squad. People get hung up on TO and the offensive explosion and 13-3 but I think 2002 was the best eagles team Reid had. That D was historically good. We just ran into possibly the best D in maybe the last 20 years in Tampa Bay. I still think if trotter were on that team

  • MediaMike

    The excitement and energy around that 2004 team was unreal. TO was our savior and they almost pulled it off. Ultimately they lost to a better team in the Superbowl, but a win would have been great.
    I’d 100% agree with Southy that the 2002 and 2008 teams should have been our champs.

    • Stephen Stempo

      How was T.O. our savior? We went 12-4 the year before and there is no reason to believe whatsoever that we wouldn’t have gone at least 12-4 again in 2004 with or without T.O. He didn’t play in the playoffs either and we pretty much still rolled through them. I stand by my statement that TO was the difference between winning games and Rolling over teams. Either way though we probably still win those games.

      • GEagle

        I hate TO…but don’t short change the impact the swag he brought to our team…We were a good offense, but adding him gave everyone that extra confidence, and it was a big addition….but yeah We would have been good with or without TO

        • Stephen Stempo

          if you have a shot 100 proof liquor and you add another shot of 100 proof liquor you don’t have stronger liquor. you just have more of it. TO didn’t make the eagles better per se it just gave them more good to work with. I stand by my statement that his addition was fun for a while and nice but was never earth shattering as some suggest.

          Would we be i the SB in 04 without TO? impossible to try and guess but I’d put every cent I have on yes.

  • GEagle

    2004 team shouldn’t even be spoken about until we hoist a Lombardi trophy. Much too painful lol…

    BTW, how can I go back an watch every game from the 2004 Eagles? Hypocrisy at its finest! :)

    • borntosuffer

      I was thinking the same thing – too soon.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    that season was very special. every game was like a dream. it came down to the final game in Jacksonville and the first ever superbowl tied at halftime. and what happens. no andy adjustments and we lose the 2nd half. its andys fault.

    • GEagle

      Im not about to absolve McPuke of all wrong doing…classic McNabb, Choke when it matters, and when it doesnt matter anymore he throws a beautiful Bomb to Greg Lewis…thats a microcosm of McNabbs career, in a nutshell along with the MASS GENOCIDE of poor helpless worms

      • Brent E. Sulecki

        I enjoy blaming Mcnabb as much as the next guy. even more so now. but 17 total run plays in a Superbowl game for the championship is absurd. in a tied game going to the 4th quarter mind you. Mcnabb played his but off. im sure he was tired of throwing. 51 times is crazy. meanwhile brady throws 33 and mixes it up with Corey Dillon. Bad 4th quarter coaching by Reid. but yes Don and his 3 ints are his fault. but Andy kept calling his number. #5 was trying to make plays. just couldn’t do it and Andy should have recognized and gave him help with Westy. 30 for 51 for 357..3tds 3 ints. bradys line wasn’t as stellar, but very efficient and 0 turnovers. keep the posessions by running and throwing on 3rd down. stop trying to outsmart everyone and play football. who knows the outcome could have been different had #36 given the chance to shine

        • eaglepete

          great great points, in hindsight that much more glaring. 51 throws, insanity. Also had a FG at end of first half all but locked up, that INT by harrison killed me, I was at the game in the corner of that end zone and saw westbrook lined up on Brewski and Dmac audibled for that throw. Thought it was a sure TD, little too much air under it and Harrison makes an amazing diving catch, no FG. Yes, absolutely should have kept forcing it to Westbrook and made the Pats contain him, he was a beast. Most of that success to me was him in that offense, he did it all and always broke huge plays open. I thought wed dominate for a decade around that time, wow Im sour just thinking about it. Never been so happy then after that champ game, dancing and screaming with friends, were going to the superbowl

          • GEagle

            I was living on Broad street in south Philly back then….EPIC PARTY on broad street aft that game

        • GEagle

          Lol…won’t dispute a word you just wrote….but I prefer bashing McNabb and blaming everything on him, Andy and Banner til ATleast 2020… give me some time, and I will be able to rationally speak on this subject….No point in you wasting good points on a Topic I refuse to be rational about lol….ATleast I admit it and keep it real lol

          but yeah, PLAY CALLING for me is the number 1 culprit, then McPuke

  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    A little off topic but did anyone start reading the Tao of Chip Kelly? I started it last night. It’s not bad, but it’s written by a huge Ducks fan so everything is made to be taken with a grain of salt. I was hoping for a more objective opinion of him since most of what I’ve read about him was from FishDuck (which this dude actually writes for) who are all Chip super fans.

    • Brian

      I finished it yesterday. He did a good job of detailing chip’s philosophies (from a fan’s perspective). I don’t remember feeling this good about Andy Reid in year one. I believe Chip Kelly’s philosophies may lead us to nirvana.

    • theycallmerob

      Yea, I finished yesterday as well. short read. And honestly, it’s mostly a compilation of quotes and expansion on the few principles Kelly has revealed. If you’ve read Kelly’s Nike talks, not much left to surprise you.
      To me, that’s the best part. Nothing Kelly does is sneaky, mysterious, or wildly outlandish or “new-age”. He simply practices harder, conditions harder, and makes use of mismatches. Beauty in simplicity.

      Overall, a good read…$5 on amazon as a ebook download.

      • G_WallyHunter

        thanks for that review, definitely worth a read before season starts

  • knighn

    2004:
    If only… Shawn Andrews didn’t have his leg broken in the first game of the season
    If only… Terrell Owens didn’t have his ankle broken by Roy “Horse Collar” Williams
    I’m pretty sure the Eagles could have won that Super Bowl…

    • GEagle

      dont do it to yourself man….lol

    • Stephen Stempo

      What about IF the Patriots didn’t cheat.

  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    The image of McNabb dumping the ball to Westbrook and keeping the clock going will forever be burned into my mind. I’m sick just thinking about it.

    • Brian

      I can still feel the frustration. Reading Ashley Fox’s article brings it all back. Bummer.

      • GEagle

        I remember McNabb being a whiny, puking !!!!T-N-U-C lol…god forbid we had a real man for a leader, of the dumb, jock, caveman Terry Bradshaw Mold…Now thats a QB. If we had to watch a flaw QB, I prefer it being a QB without FATAL FLAWS a la McWORM Murderer….
        ..
        McNabb was the Hernandez of WORMS and our hopes and dreams! lol

        • Capt. Undapants

          About how he led us to the Super Bowl and all…

          • GEagle

            You can celebrate a second place finish….For me, getting to the Super Bowl is no better than going 4-12.. hurry, to each his own

          • Capt. Undapants

            Well… Seeing as there are 32 teams in the NFL and only 2 of those teams make it to the Super Bowl each year, I’d consider making the Super Bowl a pretty large accomplishment. Do we want more? Certainly. But to call a Super Bowl appearance the equivalent of going 4-12 is, for lack of better less offensive words, dumb. And to call the QB that led that team a… whatever you actually called him is, well, overly harsh.

            To each his own, though.

          • gruvi

            Capt, GEagle is too immature to debate with. Save yourself the irritation.

  • Jon Alan Lukacher

    I remember Donovan McNabb saying it was like playing a video game.

  • Johnny Domino

    An aside, but who died and left Ike boss?

    He is unwatchable to me.

  • scrapple sports

    I know that this is an unpopular comment but I think Dawkins’ leadership skills were overrated. Dawkins said he pulled people to the side… What would Ray Lewis have done? I have always thought that the Eagles should have gave TO the money. The Eagles knew they got him under market value due to a paperwork mistake. He proved he was worth more. My personal opinion is that Joe Banner made that decision and hung Andy out to dry (wonder if we will ever find out what happened).

    • GEagle

      “HOW DARE YOU? That woman is a SAINT!!!”… “MOM!!!!! Make me some meatloaf, NOW!!!!!!”

    • knighn

      Sorry, I don’t even think Ray Lewis could have put T.O. in his place. T.O. was a megadiva and wanted as much attention as possible, whether positive or negative. The only way Ray Lewis would have gotten T.O. to actually shut up is if Ray actually killed him.
      The Eagles made two big mistakes with Terrell Owens: 1) The Eagles didn’t give him a contract that would make sure that T.O. is always the highest paid (Banner)
      2) They took him too seriously (Reid / McNabb).
      Banner deserves a lot of credit for putting a good financial system together for the team. He also deserves a lot of blame for the bad feelings coming from the players (and Dawkins departure – I am pretty sure that alone had much to do with Lurie’s decision to fire Banner).
      As for Reid and McNabb – they should have recognized both T.O’s talent and his nuttiness. Catching touchdowns? That’s T.O. being T.O. Saying stupid stuff? That’s also T.O. being T.O. Instead Pops McNabb and Donovan decided to elevate things.

      • Warhound

        If T.O. had had more tact, maybe that team would’ve stayed intact.

        • knighn

          That is true. However, here is the heart of what I was trying to say: “you can’t count on crazy people to be sane.”
          Asking T.O. to have Tact would be like asking DeSean Jackson to play O-line. It just doesn’t suit him.

    • Stephen Stempo

      I don’t get it. T.O. is the MOST overrated part of the 2004 team. The Eagles that year could easily have been 15-1. How much of that was Owens? I mean was he the difference between 9-7 and 13-3? NO. With T.O. we were rolling over the league with blowout after blowout and finishing 13-3 and getting a first round buy. Without him? We probably go 12-4 and maybe even 13-3 and still get a first round buy. I love the revisionist history that somehow without T.O. we would have been worse that season? The only thing T.O. let us do was rest our starters for basically 2 games we were 12-4 the year prior. Then he didn’t help int he playoffs because he was injured, which we rolled through anyway. He showed up in the SB and played well, but at the same time? So? I’m not sure 2004 would be ANY different without T.O.

      • eaglepete

        I kind of agree and not sure we could beat the mighty Pats with Brady and video of our practices haha

        • Stephen Stempo

          Who knows how it plays out with or without TO. Not having Chad Lewis hurt too.He looked good against Atlanta and McNabb always relied on Chad as a safety net when things got dicey.

        • GEagle

          They werent video taping our practices. HUGE misconception….they were video taping TO running routes(from a very knowledgable source close to the situation)

    • Stephen Stempo

      Also. Ray Lewis may have, well killed them? I guess? Speaking of overrated leadership skills. How about Ray Lewis? I’m not sure how much “”"leadership”"” players have between squads of O and D?