“Defense wins championships.” It’s a saying that has been etched in the football fans vocabulary since legendary coach Paul Bryant said “Offense sells tickets but defense wins championships”. When looking at the current team of the Philadelphia Eagles it’s clear that their weak point is on the defensive side of the ball. And if you are a believer in Bryant’s quotes then you might not think the Eagles have a shot to reach Dallas on February 6thbut such may not be the case.
This time of the year brings with it cold weather, the Christmas spirit, and usually an Eagles hot streak that leaves the phone waves of the local sports radio stations to be lit up with talk of “Super Bowl”. This year is no different with the Eagles going into their week 14 matchup with their division rivals Dallas Cowboys holding a tie for the division lead with a record of 8-8. The Eagles are one of the hottest teams in the league and have gone 4-1 since the bye. But even with a division lead, and three out of their four next opponents holding losing records, you still have people that think the Eagles don’t have a chance because of their lack luster defense.
It’s no surprise if you’re an Eagles fan that the defense is struggling this season. After being negated in the draft for the past couple seasons, and the death of long team defensive genius Jim Johnson, the Sean McDermott era hasn’t been a pleasant one to watch. This season they’ve made receivers such as Kenny Britt, and Earl Bennett look like first ballot Hall of Famers. Their first round pick Brandon Graham has struggled to make an impact and the linebackers have been exposed at times. But that hasn’t seemed to matter much as their offense has led the Eagles to victory most weeks with the team just outscoring most teams.
The Eagles defense currently ranks 20th in the NFL in total defense. For some Eagles fans that may be a pleasant surprise as the Eagles defense was actually supposed to be much worse. But even though the defense may be playing better then perceived expectations that were laid on them at the start of the season, they still are nowhere near the dominating Eagles defenses that led the team to the playoffs year in, and year out in the last decade. But that may not matter.
“Defense wins championships” Paul Bryant says? I say Defense wins championships as much as offense wins championship. The philosophy that if you don’t have a good defense you will not survive is getting thrown out the window along with head to head hits. Last season the New Orleans Saints brought joy to the city of New Orleans by winning their first ever Super Bowl. They were led by Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees who turned the Saints into the best offense in the NFL, But what about the Saints defense? The Super Bowl winning defense ranked 20th in the NFL last season but with an offense averaging 31.9 points per game it didn’t seem to matter.
In fact that been the trend. The offense winning the championship and an average defense following behind. In 2008 the Pittsburgh Steelers had the best defense in the NFL but in 2007 the Super Bowl winning Giants had the 17th ranked defense in the NFL. In 2006 the Colts defense ranked a pathetic 23rd overall in the NFL but managed to get a ring thanks to a high powered offense led by Peyton Manning. For the past decade some Super Bowl winning teams have had dominant defenses while others have had average to bad defenses.
Which means the Eagles have a shot. I’m not ready to book my trip to Dallas just yet. The Eagles have looked great against some teams, and bad against others. They are a tough team to get a gauge on. They blow a huge lead to the 5-7 Titans but manage to embarrass the 10-2 Atlanta Falcons 31-17. But what fans don’t have to question is how explosive their offense can be. The Michael Vick led offense currently ranks second in the NFL averaging 28.7 points per game. Michael Vick has put on a clinic at times and made it look like he was scoring at will.
History has shown that defenses can indeed win championships, but so can high powered offenses. Because of that you cant count out Philadelphia representing the NFC in Super Bowl 45. Im sure the possibility of watching their team celebrate its first ever Super Bowl on enemy territory is music to most Eagles fans ears.