Tampa Bay Will Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Their Super Bowl Championship on Sunday

Tampa Bay Will Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Their Super Bowl Championship on Sunday

Amid a season chock full of added insults to injuries, the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers are planning to openly tease the Philadelphia Eagles on
Sunday. At halftime of their scheduled meeting, the Bucs will hold a ceremony to celebrate the 10-year
anniversary of their victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Naturally, they climbed over the Birds in the NFC Championship game to get
there.

It’s hard to believe after all this time, but even still to
this day that may have been the most crushing defeat of the Andy Reid era. Coming
off of a conference championship appearance the previous year, the Eagles
finished the regular season 12-4, earning a first-round bye and home-field
advantage throughout the playoffs. They were a team on the rise, and the Super
Bowl was supposed to be the next step.

The stars seemed to be aligning in their favor as well. They were
set to host Tampa, a team that had been struggling to get over the hump for
awhile; a team that had never won a postseason game on the road; a team that
had never won a game at all when the temperature was below freezing. And Philadelphia
owned the ultimate home-field advantage, holding the last pro-football game
ever at Veterans Stadium.

Even on the opening kickoff, it appeared as though
everything was going to click. Brian Mitchell returned it 70 yards, setting up
a 20-yard Duce Staley run that gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.

It would be their only lead of the game, their only
touchdown for that matter. Quickly the momentum was reversed, as anything that could go wrong
did.

When they had the Bucs pinned deep, wide receiver Joe
Jurevicius got matched up on linebacker Barry Gardner, and took a shallow
crossing route 71 yards to set up a score to take over the lead. A stingy defense swarmed Donovan
McNabb, who lost two fumbles, one as the offense was driving toward the end of
the first half. Then the lasting image – down 10 but closing in on the goal in
the fourth quarter, Ronde Barber jumped a short hitch route and ran back McNabb’s
pass 92 yards to the house to seal the 27-10 victory for Tampa Bay.

Obviously the Eagles lost again in the NFC Championship a
year later, then in the Super Bowl the season after, either of which were arguably tougher to swallow. But in ’02, there was almost a feeling that they were a
team of destiny.

Here we are 10 years later, and it all feels like a distant
memory, partly because the Eagles are 3-9, but also because we would probably
just as soon like to forget about it for right now, maybe forever. Thankfully, for those watching at
home, we shouldn’t see or hear too much more about their little celebration.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Reid and Jeffrey Lurie will be on hand to take it all in though. After all, they are pretty much the last
remaining remnants to that period in franchise history when you were almost
certain they were gonna win one of these things.

Then again, I'm sure both men realize there's no going back now.

Reid could still get some measure of revenge however, at least for Tampa's not-so-subtle choice of Week 14 as the day to salute their banner. The Buccaneers are 6-6, and still have a chance to sneak into the tournament. Beating a cupcake like the Eagles would go a long way to that end. Losing to Philly, on the other hand, could be the knockout blow.

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Wayne Simmonds gets engaged during Flyers' bye week

Wayne Simmonds gets engaged during Flyers' bye week

So far, 2017 has been a pretty big year for Wayne Simmonds.
 
In addition to being named to his first All-Star team this year, Simmonds clearly had big plans on how to spend his bye week away from hockey, before returning to play the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. He popped the question to his girlfriend, Crystal Corey, and she said yes.
 
Simmonds announced the engagement on his Instagram.

11,700 feet and she said YES! I Love you @cryscorey 💛#SimmondsandSimmonds

A photo posted by Wayne Simmonds (@wayne17simmonds) on

Simmonds is the second Flyer to get engaged this season after Claude Giroux popped the question in December.
 
Congratulations, Wayne!

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, C: Cash money or Kelce?

Time to talk everybody's favorite Eagles whipping boy, or one of them in Jason Kelce, who's viewed very differently by fans than he is his peers. Case in point, it might surprise some readers to learn Kelce was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl for 2016, which means a lot of NFL players and coaches must've been voting for him.

We know Eagles fans weren't coming out in droves. Yet if we were to go off of only the respect people around the league have for Kelce, he's considered one of the top eight centers in football. That ranking also happens to be roughly commensurate with his salary cap hit for 2017, which is currently 10th at the position, according to OverTheCap.

That's still going to be high for many critics that say Kelce is too undersized and has become too frequently penalized in recent years. It's especially high when you tell some of those same people the Eagles could save nearly $4 million by going in a different direction.

The trade or release of Kelce would free up $3.8 million to be exact, although once again, that's before we consider the cost of replacing him. And unlike other areas of the Eagles roster, there really isn't a young prospect waiting in the wings to take over, even somebody who is maybe only a year away from being ready to take over.

So if the Eagles were to get rid of Kelce, they would have to pay somebody to replace him. Granted, only 14 centers carry a higher cap number, and many starters make half of the six-year veteran's money, so there are cheaper options available — although, what kind of quality is the offense getting for that price?

Kelce is a perfect example of when the grass isn't always greener. There are some big, mauling centers around the NFL, like the Pouncey brothers, and who doesn't love that? But while Kelce isn't necessarily going to rip anybody's spine out at the point of attack, there probably isn't a better center in the league at pulling or blocking at the second and third levels. He's a unique player from that perspective, something people tend to forget.

The Eagles are not going to upgrade the position by going significantly cheaper. Kelce can hold his own in pass protection, and he's elite when the play design allows him to get into space. There's also something to be said for his knowledge of the offense, in addition to the rapport he's building with Carson Wentz.

Best case scenario, the Eagles are probably replacing him with Stefan Wisniewski, who the club paid $2.76 million in 2016. Figuring a raise, that's most of their cap savings right there, and Wisniewski is not nearly as decorated or so widely respected by his peers. There must be a reason for that.

Kelce is pretty good.

CENTERS UNDER CONTRACT

Jason Kelce
Age: 30*
Cap Number: $6,200,000

The bigger issue with Kelce is he's approaching his 30th birthday this year, although many centers enjoy lengthy careers, especially the guys who play more of a finesse game. And if the Eagles do want to start thinking about the future, it might help if they begin developing his replacement now. Kelce will be much easier to move on from in 2018 in terms of the salary cap, so if the Eagles draft somebody this year, theoretically they could move on next season. Keep in mind, Kelce was a sixth-round pick, and the club got a lot of mileage out of him, so it doesn't have to be a major investment. Plus, if that doesn't work out, renegotiation could be on the table, with Kelce's cap hit reaching $7.2 million in '18, but only $1.2 million of prorated signing bonus left on a contract that runs through 2020. The Eagles will be looking to reduce their costs, while Kelce will want some financial security.

Josh Andrews
Age: 26*
Cap Number: $615,000

Andrews joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State in 2014, and after a few years of clinging to the practice squad and on the 53-man roster as a reserve, finally saw his first action on offense this season. He played one snap at center against the Ravens in Week 15. Andrews can also line up at guard and has played special teams, though spent most of '16 inactive. He seems like a bit of a Chip Kelly outcast at this point, although it's difficult to put him in a box with so little actual experience. Is Andrews somebody who simply hasn't been given an opportunity and could fill in capably for Kelce, or will the Eagles feel the need to find competition for his roster spot?

Aaron Neary
Age: 25*

Neary originally joined the Broncos roster as an undrafted rookie, but found his way to the Eagles practice squad following his release. The Eastern Washington prospect was a two-time All-American at the Division I-AA level. At 6-foor-1, 305 pounds, Neary is considered undersized, like Kelce, which suggests this organization wants nimble centers like that. While he's probably a ways away from having any impact, the Eagles signed Neary to a futures contract at the conclusion of the season.

* Age as of 12/31/2017