These are not the best of sports times in Philadelphia.
The Phillies failed to make the playoffs for the first time in six years, their star players starting to leak some serious oil in the process. The 76ers appear to have been hoodwinked in the Andrew Bynum deal, putting all the eggs in the basket of a 7-footer with creaky knees and an even creakier drive. The Flyers … well, the Flyers, like their NHL brethren, haven’t even taken to the ice this fall and it doesn’t appear they will again in the near future.
Even the city’s only major-college football team, Temple, is in tatters, a somewhat ballyhooed return to the Big East (at least around campus and among some alums) being overrun by consistently stiffer competition and a head coach who grows more and more stubborn with sticking to a power ground game that continuously fails.
But rock bottom is reserved for the true heart and soul of Philly – the Eagles.
No squad, no outfit, no franchise, no organization means more to more people within the city’s limits than the midnight green-clad gladiators who take the turf on Sundays, representing the blue-collar masses in battle against NFL competition.
So, standing at 3-6, listless and lifeless, following an offseason in which they were pumped up as a serious Super Bowl contender, well, the Eagles haven’t exactly lightened the load of a long-suffering sports base in 2012.
The Andy Reid era appears over … if owner Jeffrey Lurie finds the nerve to pull the plug.
The Mike Vick era appears much the same … especially after he suffered a likely season-ending concussion in Sunday’s 38-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The team, essentially, is in shambles. The offensive line is brutal. The defensive line is either underachieving or way over-rated. The defensive backfield is the most overpaid group in corporate society, and that’s just going off Nnamdi Asomugha’s insane salary.
Reid reassigned his longtime offensive line coach to defensive coordinator last fall then served him up as fall guy last month … and the defense has gone from one the league’s middling units to one of its worst.
The strength of the offense rests on the legs of LeSean McCoy, yet Reid remains steadfast in throwing the ball 60 percent of the time.
After 14 years under Big Red’s direction, the circle has completed. Chaos reigns again, much like it did when Lurie reached out to replace Ray Rhodes following a 3-13 season in 1998; rebuilding from the ground up looks to be the only way to go from here.
Reid’s drafting of Donovan McNabb with his first pick as head coach signaled the start of the turnaround. Ironically, his drafting of Nick Foles, many followers of the team hope, this past spring may prove to be the flashpoint for another rebirth of the franchise.
Change is needed – immediately – and the early returns at Lincoln Financial Field, most fear, might not be the most appealing for a little while.
But, have no fear Philly sports fans, Bynum is supposed to be ready to go in January now … if his right knee holds up and the big fella finds a pulse somewhere, sometime (Lakers followers insert laughter here).
Plus, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will be back again for the Phillies in the spring … another year older and another year further removed from their primes.
Hey, it ain’t all bad. At least the Flyers should avoid another early exit in the postseason … and college basketball tips off this week for Temple – not to mention the city’s other five Division I hoops programs.