No. Just no.
As a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons I try not to blog on them often because I like to cover the whole NFL. But every now and then they WILL inspire me to rant and rave. So yes this post is long enough to rival “Roots,” but there’s no point in having a blog if you can’t let loose every now and again.
The Eagles are known as perennial contenders. And most of the time I’ve been a fan of the team they have at least been competitive. This year, they’re not competitive at all and I’m getting strong feelings of deja vu from the 1998 season.
In 1998, current Cleveland Browns Defense Assistant Ray Rhodes was the Head Coach of the Eagles. This 1998 team featured the talent of DE Hugh Douglas, LB Jeremiah Trotter, TE Chad Lewis, CBs Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, DT Hollis Thomas, RB Duce Staley, and WR Irving Fryar. QB duty went to Bobby Hoyer until he was benched for Rodney Peete (who had previously shared QB duties with Hoyer and Ty Detmer).
It wasn’t a perfect team but it was damn sure full of talent. That year, the Eagles won 3 games.
The fans, media and everyone else complained that Philadelphia’s high priced stars weren’t stepping up in big games. Team morale was gone, play was listless, and the players weren’t listening to Coach Rhodes and it was largely his fault.
Fast forward to 2011 and here we are again!
Everyone is frustrated with expensive free agents like Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin, and Cullin Jenkins, and expensive stars like Vick and Asante Samuel. 49ers running back Frank Gore, who racked up 127 yards against the Eagles in a win last weekend said that the Eagles gave up during their game so I think we can safely say the play is lackluster. Last week Eagles DE Darryl Tapp CASUALLY mentioned that former offensive line coach cum defense coordinator is still learning to call plays on the fly.
SAY WHAT NOW?
Who in the hell can trust coaches when they don’t know what they’re doing. Worse: who can trust coaches when they HIRE people who don’t know what they’re doing. If you spent your life coaching offensive players shouldn’t you AT LEAST have to be an offensive coordinator before you take over defensive coordinator duties? Andy Reid didn’t think so.
I’d say this season has all the making of 1998.
- 1-4 going into week 6
- Frustration with expensive talent
- Terrible Coaching
- Player distrust of Coaches
- Loads of talent at key positions
- Noticeable gaps in talent at other positions
WHY I BLAME ANDY REID
LBs, DBs, and OL
Yes the Eagles have poor linebackers and poor safeties. But every team has holes. Football is a strategic team game. Coaches are supposed to look at the opponent and look at their team and figure out which plays to use to mask (or at least deemphasize) those holes. Reid’s biggest strength over the years has been making contenders out of patch-worked pieces. If he can’t do that anymore then why is he still around?
The offensive line’s weaknesses offends me the most due to the fact that Vick is their prized possession, Lesean McCoy might be THE BEST pass-catching running back, and Desean Jackson is their best weapon when down… priority numero uno should have been to keep Vick safe so that he has time to find Jackson and to make sure they could block for McCoy. They didn’t. And that fault lies with the Eagles front office. At 5 years old I knew to guard my favorite doll, a cabbage patch kid named Glenna Nola, as though my life depended on it. So there’s no way the Eagles front office didn’t know Vick needed protection.
I didn’t appreciate seeing jokes about the Eagles possibly getting Andrew Luck. Not only is it not funny but it’s stupid. Vick has to get rid of the ball faster and he has to anticipate pressure better especially with his sham of a line. HOWEVER, overall Vick has played well under the circumstances. He’s been tough, and he has never given up during games. Now who’s ultimately responsible for Vick consistently passing on 2nd and 4s and treating McCoy like a stepchild anywhere near the redzone? Well, I’d say again it’s Coaching cause that’s the kinda jackassery that went on when Vick was still a happy Atlanta Falcon and Donovan McNabb was at the helm of the Eagles offense.
There’s nothing wrong with the Wide 9 scheme in my opinion. It does, however, call for players to learn it first and hopefully to have a good middle linebacker. Andy Reid chose to start 4th round rookie Casey Matthews at MLB. He later benched him in favor of 6th rounder Brian Rolle. Someone once asked Pat Kirwan what’s the hardest position to transition from one team to another. Kirwan’s answer? Middle linebacker. Why? To paraphrase, in order to be successful at that position you gotta know the back and the front of the defense including the lingo. In Matthews’ and Rolle’s case they didn’t just change teams they changed LEAGUES and had no OTAs during the summer. Reid should have expected problems and angled for at least one proven linebacker middle or otherwise. Just so you know, Detroit Lions’ LB Stephen Tulloch who previously played in the Wide 9 formation was available while the Eagles were trading their lives away for another corner.
Speaking of corners…
Asomugha built his well-earned reputation as a great cornerback playing press. The Eagles have him playing zone. But that’s not all. They also have him lining up all over the field. Same as Rodgers-Cromartie who is also very good in press and not so good everywhere else. When I peaked in on ONE play in the Bills-Eagles game today I saw Asante Samuel playing press on Stevie Johnson and I almost tossed my cookies. Samuel is a ball hawk, he’s not a press guy and he hates being tied to one spot or person. I had previously suggested Samuel try FS but after witnessing his idea of tackling, I take every bit of it back (not that it’s worse than the current safeties). Anyway, Asomugha and Johnson are almost exactly the same height and weight. Whose idea was it to have Samuel cover Johnson when he gives up 3 inches and 30 lbs to him?
The Eagles don’t need Asomugha to be Charles Woodson lite…they need Asomugha to be Asomugha. But in typical Eagles fashion, they pick a scheme and force personnel into it instead of looking at the personnel and playing to their strengths. RIP to Asomugha’s stellar reputation. He has to regret picking the Eagles over the Jets.
REBUILDING THE EAGLES
The 1998 season ended with the firing of Rhodes which made 1999 a rebuild season with Reid named as the new Head Coach. In 1999, Reid’s first season as the Eagles head coach their record was 5-11. The VERY NEXT year their record was 11-5 with largely the same talent they had in 1999. I genuinely believe that with better coaching the Eagles would be a better team this year and certainly next year with the benefit of off season activities.
In January of this year, I wrote that Andy Reid should be fired (and was subsequently LAMBASTED for it). But I stand by what I said although I could have expressed my thoughts more clearly. But just like today, I was angry when I wrote it.
Suddenly everyone is tired of Reid, including the press–though he’s been putting on the same rude show in the media for years now. The Eagles remain the ONLY team in the NFL in violation of the NFL access to coaches rules as Reid typically does not allow his assistants to conduct interviews.
For the record, it pisses me off whenever you call for a coach’s firing and people say “well who would you replace him with?” I take that opportunity to remind folks that Reid was plucked from relative obscurity to coach the Eagles. In other words, I’m sure they can find someone qualified. I’m not an advocate of staying in a bad relationship just because dating is hard.
I said at the beginning of this season that this SHOULD be a rebuild season for the Eagles and I would have preferred they fired Reid at the close of last season and made it official. I didn’t think they’d be *this* bad, but I didn’t think they’d necessarily go to the playoffs with 63% of their defensive starters new to the team. There are no easy games in the NFL anymore. You can’t roll over the Bills, Lions, Browns, Bengals, Raiders and other teams that have been consistently weak for a few years. Anyone can win on any given Sunday…teams must be smart and cohesive. The Eagles are currently neither.
I swear I didn’t start this site: http://firethewalrus.com/about
Final note… on the “Dream Team” label
Had anyone told me that I could have Vick, Maclin, Avant, McCoy, Jackson, Jenkins, Babin, Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, Samuel, Cole, Peters, Herremans, and Young all on one team YES I would have thought I was dreaming. A grand dream. A happy dream. The kind of dream where you wake up smiling and don’t know why. I love the talent that’s on this team. I STILL BELIEVE the Eagles are infinitely more talented than most of the teams in the NFL. Only in the hands of Andy Reid does this group become a complete nightmare.
Foreshadowing…if the Falcons lose to the Packers another rant soon cometh.