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