Fly Eagles Fly, but Pats Dynasty isn't Done Just Yet
Taking glee at the misfortune of others is largely frowned upon, but also largely accepted as a unalienable right in the sports world. We've probably all spent far more time than we would care to admit to relishing in the pain of our favorite sports team's rivals. Super Bowl LII provided that wonderfully petty opportunity in droves. Outside of the greater New England area most of America got what they wanted Sunday. A rags to riches victory for the Eagles and their MVP back-up quarterback, but more importantly, a fall back to earth for larger than life NFL superstars Tom Brady, Gronk, Bill Belichick and the most dominant team in the Super Bowl era.
Is it the end of one dynasty and the start of another in Philly?
As much as we may all want to think so, I'm not sold.
The Eagles are the first "on the rise" Super Bowl champions since the Seattle Seahawks. With a star quarterback in Carson Wentz (and a Super Bowl MVP backing him up) a fantastic coach in Ferndale's own Doug Pederson and a roster full of young stars on both offense and defense, the future appears to be very bright. There should be optimism in the city of brotherly love, but maybe tempered optimism.
Super Bowl wins change things. Players who were all about the ring, quickly become all about the bling. Money becomes the paramount stumbling block to repeating or much less establishing a new dynasty. The Eagles are already 9.2 Million dollars over the cap according to OverTheCap.com. Many tough economic decisions will need to be made.
What is the future for perennial Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters and his 11.6 million dollar cap hit after playing just 7 games this season due to injury? Will defensive end Brandon Graham and running back Jay Ajayi, who both enter the final years of their contracts next season, get big, long-term deals? Can Philly afford to pay Nick Foles 4-million dollars next year to back-up Wentz?
I don't want to put a damper on things in Philly even before everyone dresses up like a cheese steak (Geno's please) for the victory parade, but those are just a few of the big names that must be dealt with by Eagles GM Howie Roseman this offseason. No matter what moves are made, Philadelphia will be a different team moving forward. players will be dealt, agendas will change, feelings will be hurt and "Fly Eagles Fly" will be just a little more difficult to sing in full voice next season.
That's the difficulty in a league built on a model of parity. It's not supposed to be easy to repeat, much less become dynastic. That's why I'm not ready to turn the lights out on the Patriots winning machine. New England has been to 8 Super Bowls during the Brady/Belichick era, winning five. Relish in their pain today, but realize they've made three trips to Super Sunday in the last four years. As much as it pains me to say...they have the formula, they know what they're doing, they have a system.
Despite all the asinine postgame questions about retirement for TB12 and Gronk yesterday, both will be back for the 2018 campaign. Belichick isn't going anywhere or his top two assistants in Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia wouldn't be expected to leave the organization this week for head coaching gigs in Indianapolis and Detroit respectively.
But, I keep hearing Tom Brady is too old. Well, the 40-year-old future Hall-of-Famer just wrapped up a game in which he threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards with 3 TD's and a 115.4 passing rating. He did all this without his favorite target in Julian Edelman, who was lost to injury during the season and his most explosive weapon in Brandin Cooks, who was lost to injury in the first half Sunday. No, Brady clearly shouldn't be scrambling for first downs or trying to catch passes, but thinking he is too old or not still at the top of his game comes across as very short sighted.
The Pats have plenty to do in the offseason. Find two new coordinators. Get more athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. A replacement must be found for soon-to-be-gone DB star Malcolm Butler and of course a QB in waiting must be drafted or traded for. That's not an easy list, but does anyone really doubt that the Pats organization can't get it done?
Probably no more doubt than you had that Brady was going to lead the Pats to another comeback win on Super Sunday. Admit it, you thought Gronk was going to haul that Hail Mary in. Who would be betting against touchdown Tommy in OT?
Doug Pederson would. Kudos to the former Golden Eagle for betting against the house all game long and winning. Enjoy all the riches and spoils that come with the amazing victory, but the tougher job is yet to come.
As for me, I'll hold my nose and stick with the Vegas pick of New England as the favorite for Super Bowl LIII. Vegas has a system and a winning machine too. It can be beaten, but much to my chagrin, not very often.