The Trade that Pointed the Eagles Toward the Super Bowl
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The butterfly effect is something in chaos theory where a small change in one state of a nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
Saturday served as the anniversary of a trade where the Eagles sent popular receiver Jordan Matthews, and a 2018 third-round pick, to Buffalo for cornerback Ronald Darby.
"A year ago we needed corner help obviously," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "Patrick Robinson was the free agent that we brought in, and [CB] Jalen [Mills] was coming into year two; we just picked up [CB] Rasul [Douglas]. We were young."
Many in Eagles nation gasped at the time because Matthews had been the best of a bad lot at receiver, a high-volume guy who excited many of the uneducated who simply couldn't understand the price tag Howie Roseman was willing to part with in order to secure Darby, a young, talented, cost-effective player at a position of need which turned out to be an important piece of the puzzle.
The unintended consequences from the deal, however, is what really sent the Eagles on their way. In addition to tangible presence of Darby, was the intangible aspect of opening up the slot positions on both sides of the football for Nelson Agholor and Robinson.
A relatively straightforward trade was the butterfly's wings creating an entirely different landscape down the road for what turned out to be the Super Bowl champions.
"The butterfly effect? What?" Doug Pederson joked when 973espn.com asked him about Edward Lorenz's explanation of turning points.
After further clarification, Pederson jumped in.
"I'll tell you, that's a positive," the coach said. "That's a good thing. You bring somebody in that can solidify that corner and now it frees up a couple other players to give you depth."
So call it what you will -- the butterfly effect, a ripple effect or even just luck -- but what Roseman did a year ago set off a chain of events that resulted in the Lombardi Trophy resting at One NovaCare Way.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen