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Eagles mailbag: What’s the worst season-opener ever?


It’s time for my first Eagles mailbag at PhillyVoice! These should be coming out regularly on Tuesdays during the season, but, hey, here’s some Friday fun (and misery given the topics!) for you. If you want to ask a question in a future mailbag, feel free to email me (shamus@phillyvoice.com) or tweet at me

Let’s get after it…

@treblawTop 3 worst season-opening games ever

I wasn’t alive for it, but No. 1 has to be 1991, right? Randall Cunningham was coming off a 1990 season where he finished second in MVP voting. Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, Jerome Brown, Eric Allen and Seth Joyner were all in their primes. Bryce Paup, man. The Packers linebacker hit Cunningham in Week 1 in ’91 and Cunningham tore his ACL on the play. That was the end of his season. Oof. 

Since I wasn’t around those days, I called my dad to get his take of what it was like in real time:

“We went from really thinking that we’re finally going back to the Super Bowl to it being over in two seconds. I was at a shore house in Wildwood that my parents were renting and we had a TV outside. It was horrible. Just horrible. It was unbelievable. The defense was one of the greatest of all time. Randall was getting better and better. He was at the peak of ‘The Ultimate Weapon.’ It was just really horrible. Nothing compares to that. I can’t even think of any opener that sticks with me like that.”

You wonder why I’m the way I am!

The Eagles’ defense finished first in passing yards and rushing yards allowed. It’s considered one of the greatest defensive units in the history of the sport. The Eagles, however, couldn’t manage enough offense in Cunningham’s absence. The Birds valiantly went 10-6, but missed the playoffs. 

For No. 2, it’s the roughest one during my time following the team: 2003 at home against the Buccaneers. That January, the Bucs upset the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game and closed out Veterans Stadium with a loss. Tampa Bay went on to win the Super Bowl. The Eagles moved into Lincoln Financial Field that fall. The Bucs opened it up with a 17-0 win. Joe Jurevicius had two touchdowns. That guy, man. Sylvester Stallone’s pregame antics now live in infamy given the game’s result. 

I’ll go with a more recent one in 2015 to finish up: Another Monday Night Football game, but this one coming in Atlanta. It was the peak of Chip Kelly mania, as the doofus head coach wrestled player personnel control that offseason and remade the team into his own image. The hype was out of control. I convinced myself that Sam Bradford was The Guy. Fool. A damn fool. New linebacker Kiko Alonso had an all-time, one-handed interception in the end zone that I thought was the beginning of a Super Bowl run. Fool. The Birds lost 29-24, missed the postseason and Kelly was fired. It was the first game I ever bet on too. Eagles were 2.5-point road favorites. The first of many bad shops for me. 

Honorable mentions: 2002, 27-24 loss in Tennessee to the Titans. I was eight-years-old and thought the world was ending. 2005, 14-10 road loss to the Falcons. It was on Monday Night Football coming off the team’s first Super Bowl berth of my lifetime. Jeremiah Trotter got kicked out because of a pregame fight. Bad vibes that carried throughout the rest of the year.

@SwaggyMitch:  Who do you see finishing LAST in the nfce

Good question, Mitch. In late August, I did a game-by-game prediction for every NFC East team. Here were the records I ended up with for each squad:

 Team Record   Playoffs
Eagles  12-5 ✅ 
Cowboys   10-7  ✅ 
Commanders   6-11  ❌ 
Giants  5-12 ❌ 

I loved the Brian Daboll hire for New York. They had a great first round in this year’s draft. There’s just not enough talent on both sides of the ball to outweigh the issues Daniel Jones presents at QB though.

@lwrncjones: Which position group have you gained the most confidence in since the start of the offseason?

Without a doubt, it’s linebacker. The Eagles’ linebacker group has been maligned for about 15 years now. The organization has poured resources into about every position but linebacker and running back. With added talent and internal improvement, however, I’m more confident than I ever could’ve imagined back in, say, January.

T.J. Edwards had the best camp out of any Eagle on either side of the ball. I’d throw Kyzir White into the top five. That’s even before getting into the upside that rookie Nakobe Dean presents. I’d consider Haason Reddick more of a pass-rusher than a linebacker (though his positioning will be as SAM linebacker), but if you want to include him, go ahead.

For the first time in a long time, the linebacker spot won’t be a punching bag for Eagles fans. 

@kenwoodbeer: Over under 150 regular season Kennys consumed ?

Well, my Sunday consumption won’t be the same now that I’m a Big J journalist and covering the team intently. Scratch that part out. Will I be able to hit 150 just on Monday and Thursday night games when I’m off? I think so. There are 31 NFL Monday and Thursday gamedays where the Eagles aren’t playing. I’d have to average three Kennys per night to hit that mark. Smash the over. 

@_magowanIf you had to bet money, which division could send all 4 teams to the ‘yoffs

The division my mind immediately went to is the AFC West. They have two of the four best quarterbacks in the conference. Russell Wilson? Also pretty good! Derek Carr with that group of skill position players in Las Vegas? I think they get back to the postseason again. 

@TreyfromNY: with chauncey gardner-johnson being a known irritant – who do you think he’ll bait into a fight this season?

Poor Jalen Reagor in the Week 2 home opener against the Vikings. I’d also go with Brandin Cooks when the Eagles head to Houston to face the Texans on Thursday Night Football in Week 9. The Saints, for the third-straight season, come to the Linc. This matchup’s in Week 17. Given that it’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson’s first game against his old squad, I expect to be in be in Michael Thomas’ face all day long. 

@killakow: Draft a 5 man Eagles dangerous nights crew

For those of not familiar, “dangerous nights crew” is a reference to a sketch in the second season of the Netflix series “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.” It’s basically a group of your bros you’d go out and party and be an idiot with. Here are my five choices:

1. Jason Kelce: He’s a beer guy, just a guy who loves beer. He’s pulling up with a 30-rack. What separates him, however, is that there’s leadership quality to him. He would be the guy who’d actually have a plan of what to do or where to go out instead of everyone just sitting around in his apartment at 11 p.m. rhetorically asking if they’re “making moves.”

2. Darius Slay: The archetypal “cool guy.” He’s a savvy dude who could talk your crew’s way out of any situation if things get dicey. 

3. Brandon Graham: He’s a guy who would gas everyone up and bring positive vibes while also being a dude who could kick anyone’s ass.

4. Jordan Mailata: He’s charming while also doubling as muscle. Your crew’s stock is rising with him around. 

5. Gardner Minshew: The ultimate wild card. He doesn’t come out with you every weekend, but when he does, he shows up unannounced at the bar and everyone goes, “Here comes trouble!” He might randomly go missing for 90 minutes before reappearing at a different bar. He also says, “Where we going next?” when you leave the after-hours club at 3 a.m.

Dudes rock. 


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