Whether it meant anything or not--and trust me, it didn't--last week's preseason debacle in Pittsburgh took the wind right out of the Eagles' sails.
Nobody wants to get embarrassed like that, least of all on national television, even if technically it didn't count. And naturally, with all the hype surrounding this franchise right now, an effort like last week's is bound to get blown out of proportion.
That should explain why Andy Reid and the boys are taking tonight's meeting with the Browns a lot more seriously--even though, again, these games carry little weight. That said, we are entering the third week of the scrimmage period, which is traditionally treated as the most relevant around the league.
So nobody is going to complain if the Birds play to win this one.
Conversely, should the Eagles suffer a similar fate tonight, in their own building against a perennial loser, the bandwagon will undoubtedly be less full by the time the regular season kicks off in little more than two weeks.
Just about anybody that I spoke to or who reads this blog either disagreed with or was surprised by my indifference toward last week's shellacking. (Big surprise there.) The thing is, it's nothing we haven't seen before.
Last season, Cincinnati roughed up the Birds 22-9, and Michael Vick looked dreadful. In '09, it was the Colts dissecting the secondary en route to a 23-15 victory. And the year prior to that, Carolina took a 6-0 lead into the locker room, only for the reserves to rescue a W by scoring 24 fourth quarter points.
What those three performances all have in common, besides disappointment in either the first team offense/defense or both, is each one happened in Week 2. The Eagles have recently wrapped up training camp, and the intensity, focus and preparation simply aren't there, perhaps even intentionally.
Meanwhile, all three of those teams were in the playoffs, making a run to the NFC Championship game in '08, while climbing into the picture for a post-season bye each of the past two seasons. Needless to say, when we claim the preseason measures little, we mean it.
Yes, this is the "most important" exhibition game (sort of like saying John Beck is the Redskins "best" quarterback). And yes, the expectations tonight are they must have a strong outing versus an inferior opponent.
But the final score of tonight's exhibition game with the Cleveland Browns is not going to make or break their season. You know that as well as anybody, so try to just enjoy the game.