Last night saw Peyton Manning cement his legacy by winning Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos, two years removed from an embarrassing blowout to the Seahawks. It was Manning’s second Super Bowl as he became the only Quarterback to win a ring as a starting Quarterback on two different teams..but he wasn’t the star of the team last night and for the Eagles, that is a very promising sign.
Denver were only able to muster up 194 yards of total Offense and Peyton Manning ended the game with 13 completions out of 23, an interception and 141 total yards..his final rating was 56.6. So why does this give hope to Philadelphia fans? Well, last night proved Defense wins championships..and in a league that has recently been dominated by Quarterback prowess, a league that depends on an accurate arm and in the modern game a mobile one..the Denver Broncos proved that the fundamentals still apply.
The Broncos amassed 13 hits on arguably the most versatile Quarterback in the league as well as 7 sacks….7. 10 pass deflections, a pick and of course those impressive forced fumbles saw the best Defense in the league emerge as one that will be discussed for years to come.
For the last few years, the Eagles have been an Offensive team. With Chip Kelly’s revolutionary College system sending the Eagles to some big wins and a playoff run in his debut season, the team seemed as though that the only direction was an Offensive one. But this season the Offense hit speed bumps for a culmination of reasons and whilst the Offense was a shadow of its former self and the pieces has changed, the Eagles Defense was still bringing the heat despite being thrown into very tough situations.
In the last eight years, the Eagles have also struggled in their search for a long term option at starting Quarterback. From Michael Vick to Nick Foles, Kevin Kolb to Sam Bradford..in retrospect the birds have been desperately searching for the man to lead their team after McNabb bid farewell to the birds at the end of 2009..but they may have been looking in the wrong position all along.
Billy Davis had all the right pieces to create an intimidating Defense, but the scheme, situational handicaps and play-calling of the Defensive Coordinator hurt the unit massively. But with Jim Schwartz in charge and a change to an attacking 4-3 formation, the Eagles could be heading towards becoming one of the most intimidating Defenses in the NFL.
Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, Connor Barwin and DeMeco Ryans have all enjoyed huge seasons in the past three years and now whilst Doug Pederson is predominantly an Offensive coach, the hiring of Jim Schwartz implies that Jeffery Lurie is more than aware of where the true talent of this team lies.
Many criticised Sam Bradford..many also criticise the Eagles for taking so long to make a decision on his future. Many are angry at the idea of letting him go and drafting someone who may not be ready for the NFL. But whatever happens at the Quarterback position, it might not be the end of the world. Peyton Manning was benched in favor of Brock Osweiler before coming back and “leading” his team through the playoffs and to a Super Bowl…but his numbers were hardly staggering. So how did the Broncos climb to the very top of the NFL ladder? An incredible Defense made up of experienced veterans, some bright talent and exceptional play-calling.
If Jim Schwartz can create a formidable front line and rebuild a cracked secondary then the Eagles could easily have one of the most efficient Defenses in the NFL. We know how successful Schwartz was as both a DC and a HC when it comes to his units and we know that with the likes of Jordan Hicks, Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox all licking their lips at the diea of a 4-3 that the birds are primed for a big year. But now we know that the old saying has had the dust blown off of it. Defense DOES win Championships..and the Eagles have all the potential in the world to rank among the very best and bring the same fire that Eagles legend Brian Dawkins once did.