October 4, 2023

Super Bowl, baby — 5 observations from 49ers-Eagles NFC Championship Game a day later


Terry Bradshaw, left, reacts as Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, second from left, hoists the George Halas Trophy as quarterback Jalen Hurts, center, holds a microphone after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 31-7. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

As I sit on my couch wearing my NFC Champions t-shirt after watching the condensed-game highlights from Sunday night’s victory, I reflect on how good the last few months have been in Philadelphia sports.

Just two months ago, the Phillies were competing with the best team in baseball for the World Series, and the Union were competing with the best team in the MLS for the MLS Cup.

Now, the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl, competing against debatably the best team in the NFL besides themselves.

But for now, let us focus on a victory.

Here are five observations a day after the NFC Championship Game:

  1. Remember just a few years ago when people wanted Eagles general manager Howie Roseman fired? Roseman was coming off a long skid of bad drafts. He picked JJ Arcega-Whiteside of DK Metcalf, Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson, a backup quarterback in Jalen Hurts in the second round, and more. Now, he has built two Super Bowl teams in a six-year span with different coaches, different quarterbacks, and probably a 90% different roster. Owner Jeffrey Lurie gave Roseman the opportunity to develop and learn from his mistakes, and Roseman paid him back by building two NFC Champion rosters. This past offseason might be the best the Eagles have ever had. One more win and the guy who had fans against him, wanting him out of town, will be on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
  2. Can we talk about Haason Reddick? Uh, hello? What an incredible playoff Reddick is holding. He may honestly be the Eagles’ best pass rusher since Reggie White, and as good as he was during the regular season, he’s taken it to a whole new level in the postseason. After his dominating 1.5-sack performance against the New York Giants, Reddick desecrated the 49ers Sunday, adding two more sacks for a franchise-record 3.5 sacks this postseason. Reddick is looking to force a fumble every time. And he did that with his first-quarter sack. Not only did he force Brock Purdy to fumble, but it also took him out of the game. In his second sack on Josh Johnson, he came up with the ball at the end of the play, but the refs ruled that Johnson was down by contact before Reddick ripped the ball away from him. Nearly another strip sack. Then Reddick forced his way to the loose ball when Johnson fumbled with a minute left before halftime, setting up the Eagles’ third touchdown. He is a monster.
  3. Hurts was not great and his passing numbers are, whatever — 15 for 25, 121 yards, no TDs, no INTs. After the first quarter, he passed for only 50 yards. However, Hurts did exactly what he had to do, have no turnovers and no mistakes. The 49ers perform multiple dumb penalties like a facemask, a roughing the kicker, a personal foul, an unnecessary roughness, all leading up to 12 penalties in total. The Eagles did not do that. And that is a major cause why they won the football game.
  4. This running back group is the definition of “no I in team.” They all work together. Miles Sanders is still the number one guy, but when you can attack a defense with three running backs with different ways of going about things like Sanders, Kenny Gainwell, and Boston Scott, it is nearly impossible to stop. But not just are they talented, but they are all clutch. Sunday night there was a time when the Eagles’ offense was down and was unable to generate any momentum. That is until Gainwell hit a couple of big plays, jumpstarting the offense.
  5. The last two head coaches Lurie hired took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in their second year. The last two quarterbacks Roseman drafted took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in their second year (the Eagles do not make the Super Bowl without Carson Wentz in 2017). So, Eagles fans, do not take things for granted.

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