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Philadelphia Eagles had issues before their "Dream Team" even played a game


We are seven weeks into the NFL season, and it’s safe to say that the Philadelphia Eagles’  rocky start is a far cry from what was expected of this so-called “Dream Team.”

After all, when you land the number one free agent on the market (Nnamdi Asomugha), a Super Bowl winning defensive tackle (Cullen Jenkins), an All-Pro defensive end (Jason Babin) another strong cornerback (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), a nice backfield compliment to LeSean McCoy  (Ronnie Brown- who the Eagles thought they actually traded) and a player you thought might be a dependable backup quarterback for Michael Vick (troubled Vince Young- who started all this “Dream Team” nonsense), it’s deliver- or else.

But in sports, no paper championships are ever given, and all of the above additions propelled the Birds to a disappointing 2-4 record going into the bye week.

Personally, I thought the Eagles were going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2011, but only as long as they worked out their deficiencies. This team was far from perfect. Here were my concerns as training camp beckoned:

Danny Watkins’ inexperience (or lack thereof)- Not only does Watkins have limited football playing experience, he might have the least pre-NFL experience of anyone in the league. And whether he was reading the playbook or not, the fact that he held out didn’t help matters either. To put expectations on a rookie who had no OTA ‘s because of the lockout is unrealistic, so Reid is nursing him along. Defensive End Jason babin is one Eagle who has lived up to his contract. Photo: daylife.com

Only problem is, there are other issues on the offensive line, so Watkins would have been under a magnifying glass no matter what.

Inexperienced linebackers-  Defensive line coach Jim Washburn has had players like Babin flourish  in his system, but implements a pretty wide defensive scheme, which can leave a hole for an opposing teams’ running backs to waltz right through the defensive line through a team’s inept linebackers, and past your inexperienced safeties (more on that in bit) and cornerbacks (you know who I mean) who avoid tackling like the Eagles have avoided the win column this year. Sound familiar?

Moreover, I don’t know whose idea it was to anoint Casey Matthews the starting middle linebacker, but the play of the entire linebacker corps is probably almost bad enough to make Seth Joyner cry. And if you remember Seth, there’s a better chance of the Eagles actually winning a Super Bowl than that happening.

Inexperience at safety- With Nate Allen coming off knee surgery and rookie Jaquawn Jarrett from Temple University as safety options, you have very limited if any experience in this position. After all, Quintin Mikell led the team in tackles last year with 88, and he's now in St. Louis. Jarrad Page? Next question. B Dawk, we still miss you. I know he’s 38 years old, but he’s still better than anyone the Eagles have right now. While Kurt Coleman had a career game against the Redskins, whether he can keep up this level of play remains to be seen.

Inexperience at kicker-  You would think that a team competing for a Super Bowl would want a veteran kicker like David Akers back in the fold for a few more years. But when Reid threw him under the bus for missing those field goals against the Packers in the playoffs last season, the writing was on the wall.

Enter Alex Henery, whose two field goals against the 49ers  cost the Eagles another victory as Akers watched from the Niners bench. Ironic don’t you think? Henery may have a bright future, but it’s never too wise to entrust such an important part of your game to a rookie. Especially if the Eagles Juan Castillo- the Eag;es new defensive coordinator?  Photo: BusinessInsider.comwere planning to go to Indianapolis in February.

Juan Castillo-  I know the man is getting grilled, but the Eagles (or Reid?) put themselves in this position. Making a former offensive line coach a defensive coordinator is like telling Ryan Howard you’re moving him to second base.

It’s not surprising that there were rumors several weeks back of Eric Mangini turning down a defensive consultant's role with the team. Truth be told, Castillo makes Sean McDermott look like Bud Carson. Just not a smart football move for a team with high expectations, and everybody seemed to know this except the Eagles themselves.

NFL Lockout-  It was my opinion that the Eagles were talented enough to muscle through the first half of the schedule despite their flaws.


To be honest, the Birds needed a bunch of things to go right this year and so far, they haven’t. In their defense (no pun intended), this team was more affected by the lockout than any team in the NFL. Now I understand that’s no excuse because Jim Harbaugh and the Niners are doing just fine. In saying that, there is too much talent on this team for none of it to come together- despite their shortcomings.

You have three new coaches (Castillo, Washburn, Howard Mudd) who are implementing schemes the established veterans don’t know let alone free agents and inexperienced rookies. Combine that with the constant failure by Reid to adjust during games (I really don’t need to comment anymore on this) and you have what you have: a 2-4 team that needs to basically run the table (or close to it) if they even have a hope in hell of salvaging anything in 2011.

Even though Asante Samuel has recently taken shots at the Eagles' front office  saying they are 'playing fantasy football with the owner's money,' you can’t completely blame Joe Banner and Howie Roseman for the players not working together as a unit, and we can only hope that the Eagles’ shoddy performance so far this year won’t deter the team from signing more potential free agents in the years to come by fearing they will become this decade’s Redskins.

That first step towards next year could start on Monday if they can't pull out a tough win against the Cowboys.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Babin photo: daylife.com

Castillo photo: businessinsider.com