Thank you, Denny Green. You really nailed that one.
Wide receivers who don't get open and don't make plays? Check.
Offensive coaching staff that reverts to a pass-only attack when times get tough? Check.
Limited offense that shuts down if Westbrook isn't having a big day? Check.
Quarterback who has games where he blows more than his share of easy throws? Check.
Solid defense that still can't generate turnovers? Check, check and check.
They are who we thought they were.
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Of course, knowing all that didn't change the bitterness of that loss yesterday. That was tough, very though. Knowing you hold your playoff destiny in your hands and then coming out and playing like that? That was terrible.
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I'm not buying all this "flatness" stuff, though. There's no way they came into that game anything less than very excited. But then the offense ran 13 plays to pick up 24 yards -- total -- in the first quarter, and immediately the energy was gone.
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My understanding of the Philadelphia Sports Booing Culture is taking a hit. Consider this situation:
- High-priced, high-profile free agent brought in to do just one thing to help the team.
- Free agent kind of does that thing, but not really, and seems to blow plenty of opportunities to do that one thing.
- In the biggest game of the year to date, the free agent blows a chance to not only do that thing, but then maybe score the game-tying points as a result.
- The next day, this free agent still isn't really taking any hits among the fans and all signs point to a non-booing next week at home.
This doesn't make sense to me. Sure, I think it's fine. I doubt Asante's performance would be improved by getting vocally reamed each week at home, but either the PSBC has really changed since the World Series (which would be news to Donovan) or else there's something different about Asante. I can't figure out what it is.
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There are basically two approaches the Eagles can take here: 1) blow it all up, or 2) aim for incremental improvement.
If you fire Andy Reid (which they won't), you're going for number one. I think many Eagles fans -- even the Reid supporters -- occasionaly find themselves engaging in a little Bill Cowher fantasy. You know how it goes: the grizzled old coach comes in and kicks a little tail, the guys at first reject his hard methods but then find themselves responding to them after they see the results, the team gets to playing FOOTBALL not that mincing, fraidy-cat WCO junk, and 12 months later Brian Dawkins is not only back, but holding the Lombardi Trophy.
It's a nice picture, but it has as much chance of happening as your other fantasy about Padma Lakshimi. The Eagles are not a "get over the hump" franchise right now. They're in the midst of a massive overhaul and any coach they bring in right now would be continuing that path. "Win Now" won't be the mantra.
(Hold that thought, however, because in three years the Eagles are either going to be in the Super Bowl or the very definition of a franchise in the midst of a can't-get-over-the-hump phase.)
The problem for the incremental improvement approach is two-fold: 1) it's hard to figure out exactly what needs to change and 2) some of those changes are going to look a lot more like "blow it all up" than "incremental improvement":
Changing QBs. I go back and forth on the advisability of this. I think there's little chance that Kolb is a better QB than McNabb next year (little as in "barring injury, almost none.") And I do think this team is really just a couple of elite pieces away from being right there at the top of the league. But what if Westbrook gets hurt next year? Or Trent Cole? Or a few guys on the offensive line? Suddenly, all your plans for making one last push for a championship with the old guys are out the window.
And look at the New England Patriots for a minute. There's no chance Matt Cassel is even remotely as good as Tom Brady. Zippy. But that team has such overwhelming talent at the other 10 positions that even a guy like Cassel can come in and have immediate success. If a McNabb trade can help bring in that kind of talent to put around Kolb, there's at least a decent chance you're there in year two.
Removing the offensive coordinator. I don't think Marty is a bad OC. It's a little hard to tell where Reid's job ends and his begins, but for the most part, the schemes don't generally seem to be the problem. With that said, the Eagles seem to need a guy who can tell Reid, "No, we're going to keep running the ball here no matter what. It doesn't matter than you just started calling plays this series and got DeSean open deep (on a ball he then dropped), We Have To Run The Football."
You know me. I'd give Mark Whipple a shot.
Changing/upgrading the skill position talent. Westbrook is the man. Curtis and Jackson can both be in a team's top three. Kyle Eckel has shown me a lot this year as a #3 RB who can come in and bring the hammer. Everything else should be up in the air. And I mean everything. If you bring in a third-round tight end, but say that Celek is going to be your starter, then you haven't done enough. If Matt Schobel is on this roster next year, rather than a power run-blocking TE type, then you haven't done enough.
If Correll Buckhalter -- who is a true Eagle and a guy who deserves nothing but our respect -- is the #2 running back next year, rather than an explosive, big-time stud college tailback, then you haven't done enough.
And if you're still trying to convince us that the Eagles' receving corps is just fine as currently constructed because you like to "spread the ball around a lot," then you really, really haven't done enough.
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One last, quick note on the receiving corps. I really thought Reggie Brown would respond yesterday by coming out and making an impact. Not so much.
Salary cap considerations aside, who would you rather see out there playing for the Eagles next year if the team can bring in the kind of uber-talent, looks like a future #1 WR, they need -- Reggie Brown or Hank Baskett and Jason Avant?
Not a hard choice. Give me the two guys who have been out there busting their tails all season, and who both bring something to the table other than just being pretty good across the board.