Raise your hand if you saw the Mike Shanahan thing coming. Anyone? I sure didn't.
This is why I don't (really) gamble on sports. Who could possibly have guessed that both the Broncos and the Chargers would finish 8-8 at the end of the year -- but Mike Shanahan would be the one getting fired.
If things hold the way they seem to be going, Wade Phillips and Norv Turner will keep their jobs ... but not Mike Shanahan. Amazing.
It's funny, everyone talks about how Mike Shanahan was a personnel guy / coach just like Reid, and they say that's one of the reasons Denver has struggled. That may in fact be true. But you don't even have to get into that kind of supposition to see that Shanahan was taking on too many roles.
You may not know this, but Mike Shanahan stopped calling his own plays this year. That's right. One of the best play-callers in the history of the NFL turned that duty over to his 32-year-old quarterbacks coach this year. Shanahan slid into the role we all believe Reid has, which is overseeing the gameplan and vetoing some plays in some situations.
I know nothing about Bates. He may truly be an offensive wunderkind. But when Mike Shanahan is coaching without calling his own plays, he's coaching with one arm tied behind his back.
The scary thing is that there's a lot of executive/coaching talent floating around out there right now. Bill Cowher is sniffing around. Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan are both free agents. Bill Parcells can opt out of his deal (but probably won't?) when the ownership in Miami changes. That's a whole bunch of Super Bowl rings just waiting to get back into the game.
On that note, I have to say I find the Holmgren thing at least a little interesting. We know the guy didn't have truly high-end success in Seattle, but he had a pretty good run there before the wheels came off this season. We also know the reports are that Holmgren promised his wife he'd take a year off. And I realize people are already pre-hiring him for the GM spot in San Francisco next year. But if I'm Jeff Lurie, I'm thinking very, very hard right now about how I might fit Holmgren into this organization.
We know Andy Reid has the utmost respect for Holmgren. He's uttered some variation of the line, "No one does it any better than him," dozens of times over the past decade. Holmgren might be one of the few guys out there Reid would happily accept as a co-equal.
The beauty too is that Holmgren still has his head in the game. He'd be able to step in quickly and help with this year's offseason -- only the most critical offseason in the last five or so years.
I firmly believe the Eagles need to bring in a fresh voice this season for the personnel department. Someone who doesn't share all the baggage of the past few years (because they wouldn't be the one who'd brought these guys in). Someone who can say, "Look, I know you like this guy, but I can tell you for a fact that we used to try to go after him with X, Y and Z back in [other city]." Mike Holmgren is a perfect fit to be that guy.
And then once that's done, let's figure out how to make Mike Shanahan our offensive coordinator...
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Stories like this are why Peterson will hang on to the football in this game. I bet if FO tracked this, they'd find RBs make far fewer fumbles in games after games in which they couldn't hang on to the ball. All week, the Vikings coaches are going to be banging ball security into AP's head. He'll be fine on that this week.
I'll see your Joselio and raise you a DeSean. From Domo's story on the defense today:
"Hanson, I kind of knew what he could do. We really like him inside. He's got good quickness to cover a slot receiver. It's the hardest thing to do, covering a slot receiver inside. Because they got half of that field to work with..."
Which is why Jackson is uncoverable in there. You know what I'd like to see? A four-receiver set with Baskett and Brown on the outside and Curtis and Jackson in the slot. We know Baskett has the long speed to get by anyone, so you'd have to be careful leaving him outside without help. On the inside, what kind of personnel do you use to cover these two seriously dangerous receivers? You can put your nickel on one of them -- a mis-match in favor of the Eagles -- but then you're going linebacker, safety or dime back on the other. None of those are good match-ups for the defense.
The obvious move is to play zone, but both those guys are really smart and good at finding creases. And if you send them deep, the middle of the field is going to be nice and open for the outside guys running crossing routes.
Annnnnnnd ... if you spread the defense out that much to deal with your passing game, how happy to run the ball do you think Westbrook and the offensive line will be when they're blocking five-on-five in the box.
Some context missing in this story about the Eagles' upcoming draft picks:
Looking back on it, you wonder if the Eagles would have traded out of the first round with the Panthers last year. Knowing what they know now, you wonder if they might just have gone ahead and made the selection as it stood, and what impact that might have had on 2009.
Draft order does matter. A ridiculously high percentage of Pro Bowl players come from the first half of the first round of the draft - and the Eagles almost never pick there. It makes their life harder. In their hearts, they figured the Carolina pick might get them into the first half of the first round. Now, this.
Just another draft day miscalculation for a team that isn't as bad as people say when it comes to picking players, but isn't good enough.
Yeah, it sucks that the Panthers ended up being good this year. But the thing is, we know Andy Reid wanted to use that first-round pick on DeSean Jackson. I can't find the quote right now, but he said a couple months ago that Heckert was the one who convinced him that Jackson would be available in the second, even though Reid was freaking out (inasmuch as he freaks out) that the Eagles were going to miss out on this guy.
And if they did the draft over again today, do you think Jackson would be there in the second?
So basically the Eagles got the first-rounder they wanted (who has very much played like a first-rounder but won't be getting paid first-round money for a couple of years), an extra year out of a developmental future guard (Mike McGlynn), and a free first-rounder in this year's draft.
Assuming the Eagles would have taken Otah, would you be happier now if they had him instead of DeSean Jackson? I wouldn't. Maybe Trevor Laws, though.
But there's another, much larger, subset of Eagles fans that simply want to learn as much about their team as possible.
That's why so many people visit PhiladelphiaEagles.com every day. It's not because we crave the incessantly pro-organization editorial slant. It's because you can learn a lot about the team, its players, the coaches and generally what's going on at the NovaCare Complex by checking in.
This really came through to me the other day when I was (back pat) talking to David Akers. We talked for 10 minutes, but I could easily have filled two hours with questions and follow-ups. And yeah, it was a pretty cheesy interview, but did you know he ran a 4.6 40-yard-dash coming out of college? Did you appreciate, as I did, hearing about Sav's development as a holder? Did you really, really want to find out what kind of shoe he likes to wear when he works out?
Ok, maybe not that last one. But the point stands: Every single player on the Eagles has an interesting story. And I want to read about it.
And I don't think I'm alone.
So why did we have to wait until after week 17 to read that story about Chris Clemons? Who cares about needing the fumble return as a hook? They guy's life story is just as interesting now as it was four months ago. And as great as that fumble return was, he's really been playing good football for most of the second half of the season.