NFL Unfiltered Week 11: How to Fix the Philadelphia Eagles
Despite my suggestion in last week’s Unfiltered, Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid appears determined to finish his career as inauspiciously as humanely possible.
At 3-7, it’s a virtual certainty the birds will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year—a first in the Reid era. Furthermore, he’s now lost six games in a row, a dubious achievement not seen around here since the final days of Rich Kotite.
The good news for fans in the Delaware Valley is the NFL creates a culture where teams can quickly improve from one season to the next. With that in mind, these are the five things the Eagles must do to return to National Football League relevancy in 2013.
Hire a talent evaluator
According to the Eagles’ official website, general manager Howie Roseman has been involved in each of the last three (2010-2012) drafts. I am sure Roseman is a hard working and committed chap, but his resume looks more suited to business acquisitions instead of player acquisitions.
Of the thirty-two players selected since his arrival, only defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and linebacker Mychal Kendricks look like 2013 starters. That is a poor effort by virtually any measure.
This choice is pivotal because the two most important people in any football organization are the franchise quarterback and the person who knows what a good player looks like. That guy hasn’t worked for the Eagles in a long, long, time.
Find a head coach (philosophy is everything)
This is going to be tricky because it is natural to want to flirt with Super Bowl champions Bill Cowher, John Gruden and Tony Dungy. But if you do that history says a championship will arrive after they’re gone. That is because the next NFL coach to win a Super Bowl with two different teams will be the first.
Instead, the Eagles’ next coach should be the man who values running back LeSean McCoy and intends to build the offense around his skills. McCoy is their best offensive player and only a buffoon (sorry Coach Reid) would consistently call 40+ pass plays each game.
Release a handful of unproductive—and overpaid—veterans
This is the Nnamdi Asomugha principle. If you follow Unfiltered, then you know I took some criticism earlier this season when I essentially said Asomugha is an aging, overpaid, cornerback. Now that it’s no longer a secret, he cannot return to the Eagles next season. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and defensive end Trent Cole are also finished being productive starters.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of players on the roster who are at least three years past their primes.
Find a competent NFL quarterback
In all fairness, this guy might already wear green. Michael Vick is still eminently capable of leading a team on a playoff run. But he is not Peyton Manning, so his effectiveness is tied directly to the philosophical ideals of the next head coach.
If Cowher or Gruden man the Eagles’ sideline next season ,there is a very good chance Vick possibly remains the starter. But if the next guy is the latest wunderkind NFL assistant or big name from college, all bets are off, and Vick has likely played his last game for the birds.
For the record, I think Vick has been coached poorly throughout his career and at times he has not been coachable. But he has talent and I believe after years of head banging and super hero efforts, he is ready to hand the ball off 25 times a game.
Hire a seasoned defensive coordinator
Not to sound like a proponent of age discrimination but admittedly, I have a blind spot when it comes to NFL defensive coordinators. In my view, they should all be north of 55, have a significant amount of gray hair and wear their glasses low on the bridge of their noses.
Think about all the good defensive coaches in modern NFL history. Now think about what they look like. Buddy Ryan, Dick LeBeau, (the late) Jim Johnson, Vic Fangio, Romeo Crennel and Dom Capers all look like somebody’s grandpa.
It is a job that begs for experience and more than any other discretion (and there are several) Reid’s inability to replace Johnson is easily the most egregious.
WEEK ELEVEN OBSERVATIONS
What the pundits can’t or won’t say
-Now that the Eagles have reached new lows the overreaction is palpable. Yes, it’s obvious they are a bad football team, one of the worst in the league but ebb and flow matters for bad teams, too. That’s why it is irrational to think the 2-8 Carolina Panthers, coming off an emotional, heart-breaking loss at home to a division rival are going to come to Philly during Thanksgiving week and play well.
-The national love of Dolphins’ rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is primarily based on the fact he plays a more traditional game. Never mind the fact he does not do it well.
-Mike Tirico of ESPN’s Monday Night Football said Bears’ quarterback Jason Campbell lost jobs through the years “because of circumstances” rather than his play. Not so Mike. If a team keeps looking, it means the quarterback they have isn’t good enough.
-Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman and other Buccaneers’ players suggested former head coach Raheem Morris allowed players too much freedom. Sounds like Morris treated them like men but Freeman and the rest of the team leaders couldn’t handle it.
-Daniel Snyder deserves a refund from head coach Mike Shanahan. It is week eleven and I still don’t know what the Redskins’ offensive identity is.
-I am convinced Redskins’ linebacker London Fletcher and Cee Lo Green were separated at birth.
-If you let statistics shape the way you view pro football you are probably wondering why Jaguars’ quarterback Chad Henne isn’t a starter somewhere.
-And while I’m at it, the Texans’ defense has now laid two big eggs at home. Defensive end J.J. Watt is a terrific player, but they made the aforementioned Henne look like Dan Marino. I do not see them advancing in the playoffs.
-The coaching ineptitude demonstrated at the end of the Browns/Cowboys game is the reason why Bill Belichick looks like a genius instead of simply a good coach.
-I am not proposing a return to the old days, but these 3rd and 1 pass plays have to stop. It is three lousy feet, so coaches need to quit auditioning for head coaching jobs and just get the first down.
Top 4 this week (rankings disclaimer: my top four will always feature two AFC teams and two NFC teams).
Houston Texans (9-1) – That is two bad defensive performances at home.
Atlanta Falcons (9-1) – It’s not like they’re some sort of juggernaut anyway.
Baltimore Ravens (8-2) – That’s three in a row since Joe Flacco returned to form.
San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) – Take your time getting healthy, Alex Smith.
Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.
Contact Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org
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