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No Defense: Eagles dismiss McDermott, Joe Flacco struggles, Aaron Rodgers' stock rising

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On Monday, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid made it clear to the media Former Eagles Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott.that defensive coordinator Sean McDermott would return for his third season at the helm. Five days later, the much-maligned McDermott was out of a job, as the Eagles relieved him of his duties on Saturday.

Fans were screaming for the Eagles to make major changes after a second straight early playoff exit, and McDermott was the fall guy. In reality, he came into a tough situation. He had struggled with trying to carve out his own niche after stepping in for the legendary Jim Johnson, who passed away in 2009, and it seemed like his lack of experience really contributed to this move.

However, it was the Eagles’ defense that ultimately let everyone done. An awful effort against the Vikings cost the Eagles a bye, and to add insult to injury, Philly allowed James Starks to become a household name in the Packers 21-16 wildcard win last weekend.

But, what really stood out was the inability of the defense to stop anyone in the red-zone, where they ended the season with the worst red-zone efficiency in the NFL since 1988, while allowing a franchise-high 31 touchdown passes. In the end, this move had to be made.

Dick Jauron, who is a senior assistant, would be the logical choice to take the place of McDermott. What is somewhat puzzling is how the decision to fire McDermott was made on Wednesday, but the announcement came down on Saturday, according to a league source. Perhaps, Jauron, who is slated to interview in Cleveland this week, told Reid he would stay if he was given the job as defensive coordinator.

In any event, if Philadelphia wants to reclaim its status as one of the best and most opportunistic defensive teams out there, Reid and crew must start drafting the right players and start to dip into the free-agent pool as well, so get ready to hear names like the Ravens’ Dawan Landry, who would be a great compliment to Nate Allen, but more important Landry could help out against the run. He posted a 111 tackle season with the Ravens, which is impressive as a safety and he is also a ball hawk.

The defensive end position needs a huge makeover and the Vikings' Ray Edwards just might fit the bill. Minnesota most likely will keep Edwards and pay him, but he has a non-stop motor that the Eagles are missing. Stick him opposite Trent Cole and you have two legitimate pass rushers, and Edwards is only 26. And while the Eagles are at it, why not try to pry away Edwards’ teammate in Chad Greenway, who can come in right away and play strongside linebacker. He had 144 tackles this season and with the future of the oft-inured Stewart Bradley in doubt, Greenway would be a solid acquisition. Philly could let Bradley go in free agency.

Ultimately, McDermott took the fall, but you also have to put the blame on the players and rest assure the Eagles will be aggressive in the off-season to upgrade the defense after an embarrassing effort in 2010.

South Jersey’s Flacco just can’t beat the Steelers

Joe Flacco will be having the same reoccurring image in his head this Flacco photo: www.ravensmania.comoff-season, and it will be of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense blitzing him, rattling him, and forcing him into turnover after turnover, and Saturday was no different.

The South Jersey native, never got into a consistent groove against the Steelers, who rallied from 14 down at the half to stun the Ravens, 31-24, and move on to the AFC Championship Game next weekend.

The offensive line didn’t help out Flacco, who was under pressure all afternoon. He was harassed, dropped, battered and became rattled against Pittsburgh, which seems to own Flacco of late.

He was sacked five times, three times by James Harrison, and was under constant duress the entire game. He added a fumble on a bad exchange from the center and had a costly interception in the third quarter, after he overthrew tight end Todd Heap, and was picked off by Ryan Clark.

Three plays later, Ben Roethlisberger found Hines Ward for an eight-yard TD toss, knotting up the game at 21 before the Steelers would take the lead for good, stunning Baltimore.

In 2010, the stats were there for Flacco, but it was evident late in the game that the Steelers’ pass rush was getting inside his head. With the season on the line, Pittsburgh employed a five-man rush, forcing Flacco to throw three incompletions and take an eight-yard sack during the last four plays of the game. He was not helped out by T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who dropped a fourth down pass that hit him in the numbers.

However, after a solid game against Kansas City and a nice first-half against the Steelers, Flacco started to get happy feet, and pressed too much, completing just 53 percent of his passes, with one TD to go along with the five sacks and the bad pick.

He is still a young QB, and there will be growing pains along the way, but the bottom line is this. If Flacco is going to be considered the franchise QB, he is going to have to beat the Steelers when it counts. Unfortunately, he has not. His rookie season was stellar, but he lost to the Steelers three times, including a 23-14 loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC Title Game. In that contest, he ended just 13-for-30 for 141 yards and three interceptions; the last one returned 40 yards for a score by Troy Polamalu to ice the game.

He is now 2-6 in 8 career games, against the Steelers, and 0-5 against Pittsburgh in games that Roethlisberger has started, and has not had that real signature win against the AFC North rivals. He has just seven TD’s to eight picks against the Steelers.

His nickname might be “Joe Cool,” but not against Pittsburgh.

Welcome to Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood

Well the next time you and a friend start to argue who are the elite QB’s in theAaron Rodgers photo: obtuseobserver.com/?tag=aaron-rogers league, you better add Aaron Rodgers to the mix along with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, and Drew Brees.

Rodgers, in just his third year as a full-time starter, get better every single week and his legacy in Green Bay is already being shaped, and after Saturday night’s performance it is safe to say he is an elite QB in this league.

All Rodgers did against Atlanta was torch the top-seeded Falcons for 366 yards on an incredible 31-of-36 passing performance for 4 TD’s, including a rushing score in guiding the Packers to a stunning 48-21 road rout in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.

Green Bay moves onto the NFC Championship – their second – in the last four seasons courtesy of Rodgers’ arm and guile. Rodgers played the quarterback position as good as you possibly can, and he showed the rest of the league why is a Top 5 signal caller.

Not only, did he play well in and out of the pocket, Rodgers made plays were there were none and he had the second-highest completion percentage in a 300-yard passing game in NFL postseason history, joining Manning and Kurt Warner – not bad company.

At 28-14, Rogers drove the Packers down the field and capped off an 80-yard drive with a seven-yard TD run, when he broke the pocket and in the process put away the shell-shocked Falcons.

Rodgers led the Packers on four drives of at least 80 yards, and he outplayed Matt Ryan, with his signature throw of the night, giving the Packers the lead in the second quarter, as he threw a perfectly thrown pass to James Jones along the side of the end zone, allowing the wideout to leap over shorter cornerback Brent Grimes for a 20-yard scoring strike.

It was the kind of throw that only a handful of QB’s would attempt to throw and make, and Rodgers is one of them.

He had to sit and wait for Brett Favre decide on his future year after year for the Packers, but since being giving the starting nod under center three years ago, he has flourished.

Rodgers has thrown for 4,000 yards two of the last three seasons and was just 78 yards shy of doing it again in 2010. He has thrown for 86 TD’s in that span against just 31 interceptions, and he never seems to get sacked.

His pocket awareness is uncanny and when the pocket collapses, Rodgers takes off. His legs are another weapon and for a guy that is 6’2, 225 lbs, he can move quickly and he is elusive.

Rodgers can basically make any throw on the field, and when given the time, he can pick apart any secondary. The win against the Falcons pushed him into elite status, two more wins and Packers fans will start to forget about that other QB, who wore No. 4, for what seemed like an eternity, especially for Rodgers.

Rich Quinones is a freelance sports broadcaster, sports writer, and host and creator of "On Q" Sports Talk, which can be heard every Thursday night from 10-11PM on 1460 WIFI AM.

He has over 13 years of broadcasting experience, most recently spending the last three as afternoon drive-time host for 1290 The Ticket, a Fox Sports Affiliate in Delaware. He has worked for various news and sports radio stations in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Ohio and the “First State,” where he won numerous awards for his own-air work. A national freelance sports correspondent for several different media outlets across the country, Rich has covered every sport over the years as well as the local teams in our backyard, and is known for his “hard-hitting,” passionate style behind the microphone. His work has been published online as well as in SJ Magazine and South Jersey Magazine. He is also play-by-play voice for the NAFL and served as lead blow-by-blow announcer for Dave Tiberi’s T.N.T Boxing.

“Q” covers the sweet science on a daily basis and is set to launch his own show online. Rich is also an advocate for retired NFL Players, who are struggling in life since leaving the game and need some guidance. He has partnered up with several former NFL players, who also believe in this cause.

Contact Rich at rquinonesmedia@hotmail.com