They didn’t deserve it. And I refused to jump on the bandwagon.
With that being said, I deserve all your criticism. I flirted with the idea that maybe the Jets could beat the Giants and the Eagles would win out and make a magical playoff run, but it was all for naught as Mark Sanchez proved he isn’t “The Sanchize.”
My promise to anyone who has read my posts throughout the season is this: I will always be honest with you. Now, I also reserve the right to change my opinion at anytime, just as I defended Jason Avant when he changed his. The idea that you have to be “consistent” and that you can’t change your opinion is not only childish, but it’s flat out ignorant.
As a fan you pay attention to your favorite team, as a member of the media we make stories out of spilt milk. If writing about this disappointing 2011 Philadelphia Eagles season has taught me anything, it’s just that.
There might not always be a story to tell, but it’s the job of the media to make one, regardless of if it’s out-of-context quotes, leading people to a pre-determined conclusion, or allowing personal feelings to get in the way of being honest– we’re all human.
The game isn’t just X’s and O’s anymore. The NFL (and all sports for that matter) has been TMZ’d. For every fan that can tell you how important DeSean Jackson is to opening up the running game for LeSean McCoy, there are 10 who will tell you that he was late for a special teams meeting.
As a member of the media, I take responsibly for that. We are overly critical of things that don’t matter because it makes more people listen. Again, guilty as charged.
Were there things I wrote about this season that I made out to be bigger than they were? Yes. Were there things this year that you thought were going to turn out different? Yes.
So don’t judge me because this team underachieved.
Judge the fact that Michael Vick missed three games because he won’t slide. He has been told by everybody in the Eagles organization not to take the hits outside of the pocket that he took. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a kid when Randall Cunningham was “The Ultimate Weapon,” and was too young to understand what he was doing when he was doing it, so I will have to use Donovan McNabb for my comparison.
Frankly speaking, McNabb was on par with Vick in terms of his understanding of the game. Where Vick excels versus McNabb is in athletic ability. McNabb made the decision somewhere in-between NFC championship games to stay in the pocket and secure himself a longer career.
Vick, much to his own shortcomings, hasn’t played as much football as McNabb. Vick has played in 110 regular season games to McNabb’s 167. His body hasn’t taken the punishment that 57 more NFL games will do to you.
What made Vick so good for those first seven games in 2010 was the fact that teams insisted that he was a running quarterback. He was able to sit in the pocket as that extra defender “spied” him.
What changed, though, was that Sunday Night game against the Giants last year when the opposition sent that “spy” in on a blitz and demanded that Vick beat them with his mind, not his legs. Which leads to my biggest question going into the offseason: Is Vick smart enough to stand in the pocket and win football games?
Or not get hurt, for that matter.
There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that the biggest long-term need of this team is quarterback. If Kafka was the guy, he would have been given a chance while Vince Young was having delusions of grandeur. He wasn’t.
You can count on the fact that Vick will miss at least three games a year. I have no confidence in Kafka coming in and saving a season, making it that much more essential to address the quarterback position.
With a draft this deep at quarterback the Eagles would be fools to not move up and get one. How does a second rounder and Asante Samuel sound? Do what you do Howie… just let someone else pick the player.
As much as he drives me up a wall, Andy Reid, overall, is a good coach despite the fact that he sometimes believes he invented the game of football. Love him or hate him, one of his greatest stats is that he is a perfect 13-0 after the bye week, but perhaps one reason Reid is returning next season is because he is 39-15 in the month of December. 39-15!
Notice I didn’t mention his record in February? That’s the funny thing about stats, you can use them to prove any point you set out to make.
Watching Juan Castillo learn on the job this year was about as awkward as comparing pinkies with Brain Baldinger. You feel bad for the guy that he was asked to do something he wasn’t capable of doing, but he has to be held responsible for his shortcomings.
Having Jaiquawn Jarrett cover Larry Fitzgerald on a 3rd and 10 with under three minutes left in the fourth quarter– Juan’s fault. Having 4th round draft pick Casey Matthews start at middle linebacker for the first three weeks– Juan’s fault. Having Nnamdi Asomugha play zone coverage when his whole career he has played man– Juan’s fault. Having Jim Washburn dictate to him that they had to play the Wide 9 regardless of down and distance– Juan’s fault. Therefore, there isn’t a shadow of doubt in my mind Juan will be gone next year. If he’s not– Reid’s fault.
But what we should all really be talking about is the play of Nate Allen. I was extremely high on Allen when the Eagles picked him 37th overall in the 2010 draft, and he got off to a promising start with three interceptions in his first four games. In his next 24 games he has come up with just one interception, and that was against the “grizzled veteran” Rex Grossman. In his senior year at South Florida he came up with five picks, and was considered to be a ball-hawking safety. We haven’t seen that player, and I don’t know that we ever will. Kurt Coleman, a player taken in the same draft, 207 picks later, has been the better player of the two.
Overall, the safety position needs to be reevaluated in this offseason. I honestly don’t think they are going to do anything at the linebacker position, even though they don’t have a single linebacker on the roster that could start for any of the other 31 teams in the NFL.
We will see what the teams’ fourth defensive coordinator in five years does with a talented bunch of players.
This defense was 8th in the NFL– leading the league in sacks, ranked 16th against the run, and 10th against the pass. All of those numbers are impressive considering the way they started the year, but think about how much better they would look if their offense wasn’t tied with a league-leading 36 giveaways.
If there is one thing that you can take away from this season, it’s that the Eagles were legitimately beaten only twice, and beat themselves in every other game they lost. The Patriots and Seahawks manhandled them. No one else.
We are a smart fan base and we all have our own opinions about this team. Let’s not devour our own because we aren’t “fan” enough. Instead, let’s circle the wagons, and realize that it still feels good to beat the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins. Ideas like wearing Phillies red to the Linc and not buying merchandise are silly. Banner and Lurie don’t give a damn about public opinion, and taking a couple pennies away from them isn’t going to put a dent in their billion dollar business.
Anybody telling you that winning these last couple of games doesn’t matter; ask the 2010 Detroit Lions what those last four games meant to them in 2011. It kick-started that franchise to a 5-0 start this year, and they clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1999. Ironically, Andy Reid’s first season as Eagles head coach.
Quite frankly, Lurie doesn’t have to do anything to sell the fans on coming back next season. We are all going to be there regardless of what they do or don’t do in this offseason. We always have been, and always will be. Whenever Reid decides to leave, or Lurie gets an offer he can’t refuse to sell the team– we will still be there, standing outside in the freezing cold clinging to our hope that this is the year.
So hold your head up, Philadelphia. As is often said in this city…there’s always next year.
Time’s still yours.
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