If you haven’t yet binged the eight-episode Amazon/NFL Films “All or Nothing” series on the Eagles’ 2019 season, here’s a quick primer:
1. Brandon Graham is the affable star of the show — mic’d up doing everything from trash-talking Cowboys OT La’el Collins (“Go eat another cupcake”) to unwrapping Christmas presents with his joyous two-year-old daughter.
2. Eagles fans are portrayed terrifically in this salute, although I look forward to the day when a creative director stops believing the only two places to find us is at a cheesesteak shop or by the Rocky statue.
3. It’s painful to watch Episodes 5 and 6 when the Birds suffered their mid-season swoon and half the roster got injured. If you want to cheat, start at Episode 7 when rookie Miles Sanders and practice squad heroes Boston Scott and Greg Ward come to the rescue.
The last two episodes will make you fall in love with the franchise again. Speaking of which…
My favorite Eagle after investing the combined six hours in watching this is … (drum roll)… backup QB Josh McCown. Really.
The 40-year old journeyman, who took all of 15 snaps in the regular season, comes across as wise, likable, loyal to his family, and supportive of his colleagues — particularly the embattled Carson Wentz. He’s a phenomenal teammate and the ultimate big brother.
McCown is presented encouraging Wentz through his mid-season slump with moral support and technical tips. More than that, he’s got a coach’s eye — showing the starting QB where the opportunities are. You see McCown suggesting a play to Wentz and Coach Doug Pederson — and then see the play successfully executed.
It makes you wonder exactly what the role was of offensive coordinator Mike Groh (who’s since been fired). It also makes you understand why the Eagles reportedly talked about hiring McCown as a coach for next season.
More than that, McCown comes across as an admirable man. One scene captures his weekly routine of flying to North Carolina after Friday’s Eagles practice so he can coach his son’s high school football game — and then flying back to Philadelphia by midnight.
Of course, the arc of the story leads to the playoffs, where a headshot by Seattle’s Jadeveon Clowney knocked Wentz from the game, giving McCown his first-ever playoff opportunity.
The old man wasn’t able to win that one, as the Eagles lost 17-9. But it’s not an exaggeration to say he played heroically. Coming off the bench for the first time in three months, he completed 75% of his passes and provided leadership to an offense shaken by losing Wentz in the first quarter.
As every fan recalls, McCown tore his hamstring late in that contest but stayed in. NFL Films’ cameras caught the moment and the aftermath. After telling TE Zach Ertz, “I let you guys down, man,” McCown breaks down crying in the tunnel to the locker room.
It’s brilliantly portrayed, and I challenge you not to choke up.
McCown has not yet said whether he intends to play in 2020, but “All or Nothing” makes me hope the Eagles bring him back. I recognize it may not be wise to place expectations on a soon-to-be 41-year-old.
But McCown’s benefit to Wentz as a sounding board and sideline coach obviously made a difference as Carson got out of his slump and finished 2019 on a high note.
Besides, what am I supposed to do with that No. 18 McCown jersey I just invested in after watching this series?