Anybody but Philly. That's the prayer, the mantra, the fondest hope for Cowboys fans as they struggle through another year of dashed hopes. As the Eagles take the field against Minnesota this weekend for the last stop before the Super Bowl, Dallas sports bars will be packed with a wave of Vikings fans.
At the Community Brewery tap house during the Falcons-Eagles game Saturday, Dallas fans were cheering loudly for Atlanta, and it wasn't because of Southern kinship. This week, there'll be a run on Vikings jerseys and horned helmets.
It's not that Cowboys fans hate the Eagles. It's that we really, truly, deeply, passionately hate them. If the Eagles were facing off against an all-star team of serial killers, Dallas fans would tell themselves, "You know, that Son of Sam guy wasn't really that bad. Anybody but Philly.” In a year that was supposed to belong to the Cowboys, watching Philly's success in the playoffs — something Dallas hasn’t seen since the 1995-96 season — has been particularly rough.
What stings the most is that the Eagles and their coach, Doug Pederson, are doing it with a backup quarterback and offensive left tackle. Losing Carson Wentz and Jason Peters didn’t completely derail the team, unlike the Cowboys, who tank when a star player is out under coach Jason Garrett. His teams have a track record of falling apart and looking lost without their best, which showed this season when Sean Lee, Zeke Elliott and Tyron Smith missed time.
Philadelphia fans are happy to point that out.
And these Eagles fans, who probably all aren't convicted felons, have a point.
While Philadelphia backup quarterback Nick Foles may not be lighting it up for the banged-up Eagles, the team has a strong defense to lead the it through the playoffs. When asked what’s it’s like being an underdog at a home playoff game, Pederson sounded like the anti-Garrett.
“I understand Carson's a great player, but every week our guys are hearing the same thing,” he confidently told ESPN. “Now, all of a sudden, we're not good enough? We're 13-3, best record in football, home-field advantage throughout.”
The running game is supposed to be the prop for Dallas and its strong offensive line, but too many times, Garrett and his coaching staff didn’t trust Elliott’s backups when he was out on a six-game suspension. It was frustrating at times watching Alfred Morris and Rod Smith get something started in the first half only to see Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan abandon the run game in the second half.
Still, Garrett got a vote of confidence from owner Jerry Jones after the season and the security for at least one more season.
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“I get to look at a lot of different things,” Jones said, “and have been around a lot of head coaches and coordinators, so I feel good about our head coach.”
It's nice to know someone does, but the clock is ticking on Garrett as coach of the Cowboys. Jerry’s quest to turn him into a winner has yielded only two successful seasons sandwiched around some mediocre .500 football and one season that resulted in a No. 4 NFL draft pick.
Watching the wounded Eagles compete in the NFC Championship might be a much-needed kick in the butt for the coach and owner of the Cowboys. So, in a way, maybe Cowboys fans should show a little appreciation for those Eagles fans who so kindly pointed out the Pokes' shortcomings. Let's turn the other cheek and, instead of rooting for the Vikings, wish the Eagles luck. Football, after all, is just a kind of theater. And you know how theater people say "good luck."
Break a leg, Philly. Heck, break two.