PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Football is ballet in tighter pants. One wrong step or one missed note and the performance is not as good. One missed blocked, one route run too shallow and the play is not as good.
So, when a player says they’re “one play away from being really good,” as the Eagles have been saying routinely throughout the season, there is actually some truth to that. These are identifiable, correctable problems that can be highlighted and underlined because they are specific. They have a face.
It’s the faceless issues that create the biggest problems.
Odds are, you’ve been in a workplace. You understand what gossip is and recognize it’s destructive properties. It is indescribably easier to deal with workplace issues when you know who is saying something compared to strong whiffs of smoke in the air from numerous places.
The same can be said for NFL locker rooms.
Breaking news: I did not play professional sports. If you don’t count my City6 Softball championship at Temple, then I didn’t play collegiate sports either. But I’ve been on plenty of teams and worked in plenty of newsrooms. They’re not entirely different from locker rooms.
When an anonymous ESPN report came out criticizing the Eagles’ offense and Carson Wentz for taking too many chances downfield and not hitting underneath receivers, it set off a firestorm. A (hilarious) witch hunt ensued by the assembled Eagles media to find a snitch. Players handled it in various ways.
Alshon Jeffery — reported by some to be the anonymous source — started by being nice. Then wasn’t as nice. Doug Pederson admitted in a press conference last week the off-field reports had become distractions.
Despite what most players say about not paying attention to social media, they do. Trust is crucial in the most difficult team sport there is. Without it, players are looking down the locker room stalls to find out what kind of man doesn’t put his name next to critical comments about coworkers.
Then Friday hit.
For a guy who spent three weeks on the Eagles’ roster, Orlando Scandrick certainly had a lot to say about the locker room. He eviscerated Howie Roseman, called into question the leadership on the team and called Malcolm Jenkins selfish.
This time, criticism had a face to focus on and a person to rally against.
The Eagles released a video of Scandrick praising Jenkins against the Vikings.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 25, 2019
Take a leisurely stroll through Twitter and you’ll find pregame huddles captured on camera from Sunday with Wentz talking about being a family. Lane Johnson screaming that no one outside their circle matters.
Pederson addressed them after the win against Buffalo about getting their house in order.
Wentz addressed it at the end of this video tweeted by the Eagles.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 28, 2019
Instead of looking in circles in their locker room, the Eagles turned their attention to a former member of the team. A Cowboy sleeper cell that may have just singularly focused their anger and anxieties and gave it a name and a face. If nothing else, it’s a new start.
Scandrick may have repaired the locker room and saved the Eagles’ season in one afternoon. All because he wants a TV career.
We should thank him.