PHILADELPHIA – Mike Tyson is famous for many things — some good and some bad — but the former heavyweight champion of the world remains in the modern sports zeitgeist for a statement that still rings true for many.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” the pugilist said even if it’s not nearly as literal in most other sports compared to what Tyson had to deal with.
The sentiment behind the quote involves planning. That’s the easy part, the more difficult aspect is adjusting to the real-life entity that jumps off the pages of the notebook and reacts in a different fashion than expected.
Everyone needs a plan but the best can adjust quickly when needed.
In an Eagles’ sense, they got figuratively punched in the mouth over the first seven games last season before Nick Sirianni scaled things back for a young quarterback and rode his dominant offensive line to the playoffs.
That was the obvious part but another aspect that wasn’t working was a two-man backfield of Miles Sanders and then-rookie Kenny Gainwell. Boston Scott didn’t even tough the football offensively until Week 7 in Las Vegas and veteran Jordan Howard was still stashed in the practice squad until the next week in Detroit.
The breaking glass in case of emergency in the backfield came because of an ankle injury Sanders suffered against the Raiders coupled with a costly fumble by Gainwell. Sirianni needed a steadying hand and he got in from Scott and Howard, who combined to rush for 10 touchdowns the rest of the way.
When Sanders came back it was a three-man rotation with Gainwell the odd man out after hitting a bit of a rookie wall.
Fast forward to the 2022 offseason and the plan is again for Sanders to be the lead back entering a contract year and Gainwell, who is really talented as a pass-catcher, penciled in as the third-down and hurry-up back.
If the Eagles get punched in the face again when it comes to the backfield, however, the contingency is Scott, who was brought back on a one-year deal for $1.75 million with $1.1M of that guaranteed. Incentives could spike that to be worth as much as $2.25M.
The business part of things didn’t seem to phase Scott, who is used to having to prove himself since entering the league as a sixth-round pick of New Orleans in 2018.
“I think as a businessman, I think it’s important to always keep things open, but at the end of the day we chose what was best for the team, for me, for my future,” Scott said. “That’s a credit to this entire organization. They’ve always carried themselves with a tremendous amount of poise, kept things cordial, and maintained that good relationship.
“We were on good terms whenever the season was over. So, that line of communication stayed open the entire time and it’s always been nothing but love on both sides.”
Howard, on the other hand, remains a free agent as we enter June. The hope is the speedy Jason Huntley or perhaps undrafted rookie Kennedy Brooks can make a run at the final roster spot in place of Howard, who seems to thrive only behind the Eagles’ O-Line due to some athletic limitations.
“I’m not really worried about what my role is or isn’t,” Scott explained last week. “I come here, and I show up and work. I just want to be a little bit better than I was last year, competing against myself, and wherever the cards fall, that’s where they fall.”
That kind of philosophy is important for a backup in the NFL, a league where you might not even touch the football for six weeks until attrition has you carrying it 87 times for 373 yards and seven TDs the rest of the way. The letter can only be accomplished, however, if you keep your head in the preparation aspect of the business.
— DIG B0ston. (@BostonScott2) May 23, 2022
Game days are generally fun for players but the practice to get ready for them can be tedious.
“There are definitely some difficulties and some challenges with that,” Scott admitted. “I think continuity [in playing time] is a big thing, but at the end of the day, this is the NFL. Your job is to show up and when you’re presented with those opportunities, maximize those opportunities.
According to Scott, there are “no excuses.”
“Nobody within those lines cares about what’s going on in your life. Your job is to show up and do what you’re supposed to do,” Scott explained. “That’s what I try to focus on the most, but it can be difficult.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for JAKIB Sports.