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Eagles beat Redskins to end disappointing season - The Morning After

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Morning campers and Happy New Year...

I want to wish each and everyone a prosperous and healthy 2012!

Ok enought of that warm and fuzzy crap...

No I kid, I really do wish and hope that all your dreams come true in 2012. tma logo

And speaking of dreams... how'd that whole "Dream Team" thing work out? Yeah I know Vince Young, the not-quite-ready-for-Mensa QB was the one who coined the now infamous and epic misnomer but... many, especially those in the media, bought into the hype. 

Hell I seem to recall one Polish/Italian scribe foolishly predict a certain team in green would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. Hey, it may still be a team in green (bay), but there was very little doubt from say Week 5 or 6 that it would not be the Eagles needing to make parade plans.

Lord what was I thinking?

Oh yeah, as for the game yesterday... 

Um, let's see, the Eagles needed to burn a timeout after a whole two plays had been run; a one-legged running back (Roy Helu) was last seen running unscathed for a long catch and run TD; another Redskins' RB sliced and diced his way through a porous Eagles' defense; Chad Hall  was doing his best Rudy Ruettiger impression all over the field; Jeremy Maclin was dropping TD passes and bobbling others which could have been TDs; Jaiquawn Jarrett was showing another example of another failed high secondary draft pick (See Allen, Nate); Michael Vick  was showing he still cannot handle a blitz, and DeSean Jackson  was showing he is still very much a big play threat. 

Does that amount sum it up?

By all means let me know if I missed something, because truth be told, MQ & I were flipping between the Eagles game and the replay of the Flyers/Rangers Alumni Game as part of this year's NHL Winter Classic.

And yes the replay was pound for pound more exciting...

NEXT QUESTION...

As I mentioned in last week's TMA here's some of the key questions I see that need to be answered by next year:

Will Andy Reid be back?
This of course, trumps every other question bar none. For the answer to this question will impact all other questions. But allow me to quell any fears for any Reid supporters and crush the hopes of any Reid detractors... he will be back. Mark it down. Book it. The reasons are many but first and foremost is money. Jeffrey Lurie will not want to pay big name head coaches - one to coach and one not to. See if Lurie does fire Reid he will need a big name coach to placate the Eagles faithful who will surely not idly by while an inexperienced coordinator and college coach takes over. 

As for me, I am in the camp who wants Reid gone. I hear all the "well who else is out there who is better than Reid?" nonsense and I am tired of hearing it to be honest with you. My retort to these folks is this: I don't know who else is out there, but that's not my job to know that. There surely has to be someone, the odds alone dictate it, who can do just as good a job as Andy Reid. You're telling me Reid is the ONLY person capable... of mismanaging a clok; of drafting pathetically bad players in the first three rounds; of failing to realize he has the leading rusher in the entire goddamn NFL so let's not give him the ball more; of hiring a defensive coordinator who not only had zero experience but was also being forced to adopt a scheme - the infamous Wide Nine - which of course spelled disaster from the get-go." 

I could go on of course but you all know the Andy Reid saga. 

Look I am not one of those who thinks Andy Reid is a horrible head coach who has done nothing right. Of course not. Those idiots are, well... idiots. 

And clearly his team quit playing for him this year - at least when it counted most. 

But enough about Reid... he will be back. Deal with it. 

NEXT QUESTION...

Will Juan Castillo be back?
In a word... let's hope not. Hey Juan's a great guy, we hear that all the time and I surely don't want to see the man lose his job. But put him back where he belongs, on the other side of the line. Call him an offensive assistant in charge of blocking dummies for all I care or some other title, I honestly don't care. 

juan castilloWhat I do care about is a woefully prepared and incapable defense which, for the better part of the season, was as bland, boring and vanilla as humanly possible. The Eagles' offense committed far too many turnovers but make no mistake about it, the Eagles' defense, more than any other aspect of the team, is the reason they will be home watching the playoffs

And to be even more specific it was the play of the Eagles linebackers and secondary which can be labeled as the key culprit. 

There is simply no defending (no pun intended) the decision to go to war with this group of linebackers AFTER having made the decision to install the Wide Nine along the front four. The Eagles defense was a laughingstock of the NFL. All their opponents had to do was essentially ram the ball down their throats and watch gleefully as the Jamar Chaneys of the world flailed helplessly trying to bring down an opposing running back. 

Yes the Eagles' defense tightened up toward the end of the season, but it was of course too little, too late. Does the Seahawks game ring a bell? Marshawn Lynch is still out there looking for more Eagles' defenders to run over. 

Since we've already established Reid - the man ultimately responsible for Castillo and the defensive shortcomings, will be back, we must surmise that a new defensive coordinator is on the horizon... God I hope so.

And please, spare me 'but Steve, the Eagles' defense finished in the Top 10 in overall defense in the NFL" nonsense. 

If that stat alone is not the epitome of the fact many stats are completely overrated and meaningless I don't know what is. 

NEXT QUESTION...

Will DeSean Jackson be back?
This one's gonna get dicey in my opinion. Yes, the Eagles can franchise DeSean but my spidey senses tell me they (Reid, Banner, Roseman) see the future, and it doesn't include #10. 

A game-breaker for sure, DeSean Jackson has also displayed the kind of petulance that caused him to slip out of the first round of the draft a few years back. Having two undersized starting receivers is not a recipe for success for any team that does not have a Tom Brady  at QB. And we know Michael Vick is no Tom Brady. desean jackson

Right now, at this time on this date, I do not think DeSean Jackson will be an Eagle next season but I reserve the right to change my mind, like say on the day the Eagles slap the franchise tag on him. 

NEXT QUESTION...

What do the Eagles need to do to return to NFL elite status?
The good news is the Eagles play in one of the weakest divisions in all of football, the NFC Least. To think 10 wins would have won this division this year... hard to believe, Harry. 

Believe it not there were some bright spots this year most notably among them the coming together of a very solid offensive line. This group of 5 progressed quite nicely as the season went on.

Eagles' TE Brent Celek showed he belongs to be listed among the best tight ends in the NFC. 

LeSean McCoy is clearly the Eagles' MVP and should get consideration for league MVP as he is fast becoming one of the best running backs in the entire NFL. 

And of course the Eagles' defensive line got a lot of publicity for their gaudy sack totals - the Birds' finished tied with the Vikings for the most sacks in the NFL with 50. 

The bad news is of course the other seven players that play behind the front four are, well... they're not very good to put it mildly. The linebackers, as previously mentioned, were pathetically overmatched. And as for Nnamdi Asomugha, the key free agent signing of the offseason... I laugh out loud when I hear the dopes on the local sports talk call in shows referring to him as a bust. If they knew anything about football they would know he played essentially the entire season out of position. Do you think he suddenly went from a Pro Bowl corner to the second coming of Izell Jenkins?

Of course not...

Assuming Jim Washburn and the Wide 9 remain in place next year the clear and present need is for a linebacker... or three. Linebackers who can take on a pulling offensive lineman especially the middle linebacker. Go get the biggest, baddest and meanest MLB this side of Dick Butkus.

Then there's the position of safety. Dangle Asante Samuel  as trade bait and see if you can get a big hitting safety in return. I would say otherwise look to the draft but... based on their recent drafting prowess or lack thereoff (see above) if you do draft a safety make it in the 5th round or later... this way if/when he fails we won't be as disappointed. 

THE BOTTOM LINE...

The bottom line is this was of course an extremely frustrating and disappointing season on many levels. Expectations were very high, especially considering the way the Phillies season ended.  

The Eagles were "all in" at least on paper. The problem was somebody called their bluff, namely the Cardinals, the Seahawks, the Bears, the Niners, the Bills... do I need to go on?

They will be back next year of course and so will I with The Morning After. 

I may drop in from time to time during the offseason but until then...

Time's yours. Food's mine.

Be sure to let Steve know what you think of all this and follow him at solenski@philly2philly.com  And on Twitter at @steveolenski

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