Eagles games would be unwatchable under these circumstances if not for the intrigue of tracking the development of young quarterback Nick Foles.
His progress has been tough to judge at times because the offensive line is so deplorable.
(Today at Tampa, that line was no better. Bryce Brown's terrible outing—6 rushing yards, plus two catches for another 6—can also be attributed to the porous offensive line, which allowed the Buccaneer defense to play in the Eagle's offensive backfield all game long.)
Yet watching Foles for the first three-and-a-half quarters on Sunday, it was difficult not to get excited about his play. After he led a thrilling, last-second, game-winning drive, it was almost impossible.
The comeback officially began on an earlier drive, during which Foles threw a beautiful, running pass to Clay Harbor to shave 5 points off an 11-point deficit. After a quick defensive stop, the stage was set. Two fourth-down conversions, 64 yards and 2:44 later, Jeremy Maclin cradled Foles's pass in the front right side of the endzone, just getting a knee down inbounds as time expired for the game-clinching TD.
The 23-21 loss was a crushing blow to the Bucs, which, at 6-6 coming into the game, still had playoff aspirations. It was fitting because Tampa honored its 2002 Super Bowl-winning team from 10 years ago at halftime—a Super Bowl the Buccaneers had reached by upsetting the Eagles.
It was small consolation, but any Eagles fan with a memory had to take pleasure in sounding the death knell for the 2012 Bucs' playoff hopes.
And the Eagles looked like they had won the Super Bowl the way they celebrated the win that snapped their 8-game losing streak. A little overdone perhaps, but the weight of two months of losing had been a heavy one to bear.
In the grand scheme of things, the win meant little. That it resulted from Foles' outstanding play and the last second drive he engineered means a great deal. Without a good or developing QB, there is no hope for an NFL team. In a season with so little to smile about, the possibility of the Eagles having found their QB of the future is reason to grin ear to ear.
Not too much earlier before Foles' heroics, the Eagles thoroughly dominated the Bucs for a solid half of football. Then the special teams unraveled with a muffed punt and two missed field goals. This team lacks character and when things start to go downhill, it rarely has the fortitude to stop the momentum before it costs the game.
Thanks to Foles, the Eagles were able to overcome their mistakes yesterday by the narrowest of margins. When a team has a quarterback who can perform in the clutch, it makes everyone better. But winning cures all—well, almost.
Still seeking Nnamdi
The defense played better, but the poster child for the Eagles' problems this year is Nnamdi Asomugha. He is constantly beaten by any receiver he tries to cover. When he manages to be near a receiver, he gets out-muscled for the ball. He is incapable of tackling and unwilling to tackle. In an open competition—devoid of contract implications—with his pedestrian backup, Curtis Marsh, he would lose in a blowout.
The Eagles have a lot of chemistry problems to solve. Excising the heartless growth that is Nnamdi Asomugha should top their offseason to-do list. Even with that, the Eagles still have a roster laden with players who do not complement each other and who cannot play well together. They have some individuals who can be useful going forward, but they have a lot of work to do.
Today, though, was about Nick Foles. In leading the game-winning drive, he was again very composed and poised. For a novice quarterback on the road, his demeanor was as impressive as were his passes. It is too soon to tell if he will be a franchise player—Reid has named him the started for the remainder of the season—but Foles' composure suggests he's unlikely to fall flat on his face in a full-time role (like Bobby Hoying, for instance).
Ours is still a winter of extreme discontentment. As fans, we wish we were rooting for a division leader, scoreboard-watching and calculating tiebreakers. Such is not to be this year.
The offseason will bring a lot of changes to this organization. In the meantime, we will watch glorified preseason games and root for the young QB to develop. It is all we have and it is also the most important thing to have.