Forget the booing, send positive vibes
Philadelphia fans, you’re better than this and you need to learn from mistakes. You need to know exactly what’s going on with this football team many of you spend thousands of dollars a year to support.
Except the times when you don’t, like when you booed the Eagles off the field at halftime of their last appearance at Lincoln Financial Field. They were awful but obviously were giving full effort, and they rallied to beat the New York Giants in overtime.
Boos can be destructive, especially the booze-generated kind that often are more intense the later the game starts.
This one against the Dallas Cowboys begins Sunday at 4:25 p.m. and will be televised by Fox. If you’re anything but all-in, then watch on TV.
Because if there’s one thing this team has proved time and again this year, through its seven wins and seven losses, it’s that effort was never lacking.
The talent has been deficient, but that’s not the players’ fault.
Quarterback Carson Wentz has had some awful stretches in which he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Not from lack of effort, though, as his comeback efforts the last two weeks have proven.
Their defensive backs have had all kinds of trouble covering receivers even when the quarterback is being pressured, which hasn’t been very often. But as with the other phases, it’s not from lack of trying, as we’ve seen week after week.
When the effort is not there, the boos are deserved.
But has this been a problem with this band of prideful brothers? Hardly.
On Wednesday, third tight end Josh Perkins, who wasn’t even targeted Sunday against Washington after catching five passes against the Giants six days earlier, came into the locker room late, after a walkthrough practice, in full pads.
“I do it to catch passes after practice,” he explained.
In the Dolphins game earlier this month, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who was dealing with a season-long back issue nobody outside the team knew about at the time, lied about a concussion he correctly guessed he suffered on the game’s first play from scrimmage to stay in the game so he could be there for his teammates and his fans.
Right guard Brandon Brooks was so consumed by trying to live up to the rich contract extension he signed in November that it led to him having another bout with anxiety, forcing him out of a game against Seattle.
Those are just three examples of how much the players care.
Not allowing this year’s unanticipated struggles to rip them apart, which as everyone knows happens routinely throughout the NFL, is another positive trait many have come to take for granted.
Furthermore, the players genuinely appreciate support.
Just listen to some of their words and voices from this week and try to find any insincerity. There is none.
“I would say [to the fans] to bring energy, but I know they [will]. They’re the best fans in the world,” Brooks said.
Cornerback Avonte Maddox believes the reason the defense plays so much better at home than on the road is because “you’ve got your 12th man in the stands giving a lot of energy out there. You don’t want to be embarrassed at home.”
Added defensive end Brandon Graham: “The fans are always crazy here. We’re going to need them Sunday too.”
This is why, win or lose Sunday, everybody needs to be supportive to the end. If the Eagles come out flat or play a poor first half, booing won’t help.
Everyone should know by now that this team fights to the end, so what kind of message does it send to boo?
“Crowd noise always makes it difficult for opposing offenses to communicate,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “They do a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage and things like that. But I think it’s more than just that. It’s more than the noise affecting the game. I do think that our players feed off of the energy of the crowd and in a big game like this, it will be a playoff atmosphere.
“Our guys know the stakes of this game and I’m sure our fans do, too. They’ll know what time it is.”
Time for the fans to wake up to the reality that they’re a big part of game plan this week. The defense can’t succeed any other way, and the overall behavior should be a message of encouragement, no matter how bad things may get.
Don’t be part of the problem. Be part of the solution.