When looking back at the 2019/20 season as a whole, it’s hard not to see it as a missed opportunity. On paper, this roster was among the best in the NFL, while the schedule was among the easiest. What followed was nothing short of bitterly disappointing.
Even one of the season’s happiest memories, a week one win over the Redskins and a receiving clinic from DeSean Jackson, was tarnished by an abysmal first-half showing. Oh, and the injury bug set in almost instantly, with recently-signed DT Malik Jackson having his first year in midnight green ripped away.
Penalties, drops, inconsistencies, injuries, and setbacks all define the biggest ‘what-if’ season in recent memory. What if the Eagles didn’t lose DeSean Jackson? What if the wide receiving corps wasn’t totally depleted? What if they found a way to win so many of those games dropped? What if the Eagles didn’t shoot themselves in the foot time after time?
But through all the frustration and deep dives on this rollercoaster, Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson, and their band of broken toys, found a way. A new energy gripped the offense at its most desperate time. A new belief surrounded Carson Wentz, who went on to silence just about every doubter in the land. The resiliency through all the distractions, all the pressure, all the heartache, is what carried this team to a place where many deemed impossible after the first half of the season – the NFL playoffs. It was the culture curated by Doug Pederson that withstood every test in its path…but there was ultimately one that was too heavy to lift.
The game against Seattle will also go down as the biggest ‘what-if’ game of the entire year. What if Carson Wentz wasn’t hit by a homing missile in the way of Jadeveon Clowney?
Within just a few short drives, the Eagles were down to their 40-year old backup QB Josh McCown. But still, they fought on in what turned out to be the perfect synopsis of the 2019 season.
A Jason Peters holding penalty? Yep.
Sticks defense folding on two third and long’s? Mhmmm.
Missed tackles? You bet!
Questionable officiating? Oh yes.
Drops in key moments? Heartbreakingly so.
More injuries? It wouldn’t be an Eagles game without them!
This game comprised of everything that had plagued the Eagles all year long. Every minor setback that they had gotten away with unpunished, was suddenly punished. Every mistake that previously stung them, dug a little deeper this time around. But more than anything? They didn’t break.
“One thing I want to say is, regardless of the injuries, regardless of us barely getting into the playoffs, at the end of the day, this is a great team, and it shows.” Jalen Mills said after the game. “We had practice squad guys who stepped up and made plays. Guys were banged up and we had guys step in and make plays. At this point, it’s very frustrating. We know we have the talent to go out there and win it all, but we just came up short today.”
Zach Ertz played through injuries that sound painful to even read:
And even after the team failed to convert that second fourth-down attempt, the defense came right back out swinging, knowing the game is closer to being out of reach, and still forced a quick three-and-out. They left it all on the field and gave it everything right until the bitter end.
Fletcher Cox had his most dominant game all season, the corners (for better or worse) flew into every play with 100% commitment, and the receivers continued to fight for every yard to help their quarterback.
This season will go down as a huge ‘what-if’, as will this game, but the resilience, the character, the will to push through adversity will ultimately be what carries over into the future. It’s been what’s defined this Eagles team for so long now, and it’s what will define them once more.
The loss to Seattle will leave a sour taste for a while, just like every loss this season. But the Eagles will come back from this, a season that was wrapped up in a game that featured everything making this season so hopelessly hopeful.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports