‘Top of the Mountain’ syndrome is something that’s extremely hard to quantify, let alone recover from. The premise of it however, is simple. You spend a substantial amount of time working towards an ultimate end-goal. Maybe it’s a promotion at work, or a milestone at the Gym, or even winning a Super Bowl. But when you become so obsessed with hitting that milestone, surpassing it can often leave you with a sense of confusion. There’s no direction anymore, nothing to drive for, nothing to re-light a fire that burned you to smithereens for so long. You’ve climbed the top of the Mountain, now what?
You can certainly make the case that the Eagles suffered from this after winning Super Bowl 52. The underdog energy that captivated the City was nothing short of incredible, but when the ultimate goal was reached, ‘the new norm’ just wasn’t enough. ‘Targets on their back’ weren’t enough.
The Eagles looked complacent, sloppy, and without an identity, last year until something grabbed them by the hair, screamed at them until the message was clear, and gave them a purpose.
2019 has seen much of the same. The only difference is that there is a sense of awareness now, but getting out of that funk is no easy task. Guaranteeing a win against Dallas didn’t work. Cutting veterans to send a message didn’t work. Anonymous sources didn’t work. The wheels started to wobble and just when the tunnel seemed darkest, the Birds’ reached the other side.
Boston Scott, a formerly undrafted running back now in his second season broke out in the most unpredictable fashion. 59 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, and 69 receiving yards headlined a night to remember for Scott, but it’s easy to forget the offseason he endured.
Scott was praised as one of the Spring’s big standouts after joining the Eagles in December of the year before. He saw plenty of time as a punt returner and looked primed to fill the role presumably left by Sproles, making it onto the final roster with relative ease. The problem is, even Doug Pederson compared him to Darren Sproles, and it’s Sproles the team wanted.
The Eagles brought the veteran back for one last rodeo during the offseason and despite a strong preseason where he registered 40 yards and a touchdown, Scott was nudged out of a spot on the final roster and sent to practice squad purgatory.
The Washington product was a man in a similar position. Perkins caught 5 receptions for 37-yards against the Giants on Monday Night and his ability should come as no surprise. He registered 4 catches for 57-yards against the Bucs last season before notching a ten-yard catch against Indianapolis one week later, Perkins made his presence felt on an offense that at the time, needed receiving depth. Something he echoed on Monday. But it wasn’t always easy.
Perkins also spent the entire 2019 season on the practice squad. The Eagles rolled into the season with two tight ends, despite an intent to use 12/13 personnel looks more than most, and when calling up a third tight end, they would turn to the more-recently signed Alex Ellis. When Perkins finally heard his name called, he was ready to deliver.
Then, there’s another product from Washington University. Someone who had a rollercoaster of a season and was ultimately benched, with many assuming his ‘experiment to be over’ and that a parting of ways was on the card. Told to play through pain by Doug Pederson and indirectly scolded by Malcolm Jenkins, it looked as though the former second-round pick was destined for an early exit.
But then, with Rasul Douglas pulled from the game with an injury, Jones stepped in and made arguably the biggest defensive play of the entire night on his first snap, injecting adrenaline into the Eagles once more and sparking that final push.
All three players had their own individual reasons to shine. Maybe it was proving others wrong, or proving that they belong. But the fire and intensity that each showed after big plays was infectious. The Eagles started to feed off that energy and all of a sudden, there was an identity. A team that wanted to give their all and follow those underdogs into battle.
For the first time since arguably Super Bowl 52, the Eagles looked fully unified. Everything clicked and there was a unanimous belief that not only could they overthrow the Giants, but that the ultimate goal was attainable once more.
It didn’t matter if it was the Giants or the Niners, the Eagles needed that win. They needed something to inject life into the team and give them a ‘why’. Something to remind them how important this game is to those who are yet to taste that glory. That’s exactly what happened on Monday night and like a Phoneix rising from the ashes, there is every reason to believe the Eagles can make some noise as the season winds down.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports