Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012, 7:15 AM Updated: Sunday, November 18, 2012, 7:23 AM
By Mark Eckel/The Times
Remember that four-game winning streak the Eagles put together at the end of last season?
It might have been the worst thing that could have happened to them.
Not only did the streak that got the team to .500 after a dreadful 4-8 start give them false hope that they were actually a decent team, when all they really did was — with no pressure on them — beat other bad teams, it may have also cost them a chance at a better future.
Imagine if the Eagles were going against the Washington Redskins today and Robert Griffin III was under center for the Eagles instead of the Redskins. And somebody besides Andy Reid or Marty Mornhinweg was calling the plays for RG III.
Yeah, yeah, I know Nick Foles is a combination of Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana and will be enshrined in Canton after this season, becoming the first active player to ever do so. He’ll be right next to Bobby Hoying, Kevin Kolb and Mike Kafka.
While Eagleland is going silly over Foles, who will make his first NFL start today, I’ll reserve judgment and listen to some of the best college scouts in the league who continue to tell me there’s a reason the former University of Arizona quarterback went in the third round of the draft.
Griffin, however, the second overall pick in that same draft, is the real deal. He might not be as good as the guy who went No. 1 — Andrew Luck (he might be Unitas/Montana), but he’s pretty darn good. And he could have been an Eagle.
In a conference call this week with Eagles reporters, Griffin told the story of how Reid interviewed him during the scouting combine and told him to be prepared, because during the draft anything could happen.
What did happen was Washington, with the sixth pick in the draft, traded up with St. Louis, sitting in the No. 2-spot, and selected Griffin.
It’s come out that Cleveland, with the No. 4 pick, was also in conversation with St. Louis and so was another “mystery” team.
I’m not saying that team was the Eagles, but Reid did confirm Griffin’s story that he interviewed him during the combine and came away very impressed with the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor.
The Eagles did move up in last year’s draft from No. 15 to No. 12 and selected defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. But when you finish 8-8, you pick in the middle of the draft and then have to give up another pick just to move to No. 12 and get a defensive lineman.
If the Eagles would have played those final four games of last season the way they played the first 12 or the way they have played most of this season — that is to say lose, they could have been in position to get their quarterback of the future.
Had the Eagles finished last season 4-12, Reid would have likely been fired. Which means that next year’s rebuilding process would have already been a year in the making and that RG III could have been the quarterback.
A 4-12 record for the Eagles would have given them the No. 4 pick in last year’s draft (in a tie-breaker over Cleveland) and in a good position to move up the two spots to No. 2 to select Griffin.
It would have cost the Eagles a good sum. The Redskins gave the Rams a second-round pick last year and two future No. 1 picks to move up from No. 6. The Eagles may have been able to get away with both of their second-round picks last year and another No. 1 next year. In the process, they could have used Mike Vick as trade bait to recoup a pick.
You could argue that would have damaged the future of the organization to give away that much for one player, but when the one player is a franchise quarterback to build that future around, it might not have been that much at all.
Instead, the Eagles basically wasted this season with Vick playing his final games at quarterback, Reid on the sidelines for the final year and the team 3-6 in another disappointing season.
Contact Mark Eckel at firstname.lastname@example.org