The beauty of the way
With their impeccable path to Super Bowl LII, the Eagles have flown higher than any team in the National Conference this season
Lovers of mountain climbing explain that Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man who scaled Mount Everest, was able to remain at the peak for only a short amount of time because he expected the weather to worsen quickly. When asked about this situation, the adventurer said: “More than reaching the summit, the most beautiful thing was the way that we got to it”.
Like New Zealand’s mountaineer, the Philadelphia Eagles completed last Sunday the hard climb to the National Conference summit, which is always tougher than the American Conference. Proving this point is the fact that nine different teams have been NFC champions in the last 10 years.
Anyway, like Hillary, Eagles fans should be very proud of the way our team got to the Super Bowl. The Eagles, considered underdogs in both playoffs games despite having the home field advantage, overcame key injuries and managed to push one step forward every week of the season. For many experts, the fact that the Eagles have qualified for the Super Bowl has made this NFL season one of the most surprising in years.
Head Coach Doug Pederson is largely responsible for Philadelphia’s enormous success. He came to our city not only to clean up the mess left by predecessor Chip Kelly, but also to build a winning franchise. Considering he has been in command of the Eagles for only two years, this feat came much earlier than expected.
I met Pederson when he played at the World League of American Football (later NFL Europe), where he was a quarterback for the New York/New Jersey Knights in the early nineties, then for the Rhein Fire in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1995. After Europe, he had quite a journey in the NFL — not as successful as other players from the extinct league, such as Kurt Warner, but long enough to learn, most of the time on the bench, from the very best, including the offensive staff of the Green Bay Packers.
Pederson always had the ability to absorb every concept that came his way, developing a wise mind for offense. He shined right away when given the chance to be a head coach for the first time.
If I was in Pederson’s shoes and someone told me before this season started that I would lose my best offensive lineman (Jason Peters), my defensive leader, (interior linebacker Jordan Hicks), my third-down explosive running back (Darren Sproles), and my young standout quarterback Carson Wentz, who was on an MVP run, then I would have considered quitting right away. But Pederson and his staff overcame all of these challenges, showing they have become a rock-solid unit.
It is true Wentz is exceptionally skilled, but when Nick Foles emerged, the second-string quarterback validated the great job done by Pederson & Co. The now-famous run-pass option (RPO) was executed masterfully by Foles, leading the Eagles to success NFC playoffs.
With Foles, the Eagles played five sensational games, including epic wins over the Atlanta Falcons and the Minnesota Vikings. But now the only focus is to defeat the formidable troops commanded by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII. Of course the Eagles are underdogs again in this NFL postseason, but Philadelphia fans, deep in their hearts, can trust Pederson and his team to register a huge upset and defeat the New England Patriots, ending the curse of 58 years without winning an NFL championship for the City of Brotherly Love.