Some thoughts on the Eagles franchise -- past, present and future
Posted by Derek
If the Eagles win a bunch of games next year, it's going to be by accident.
"I think to be really successful in this league, you've got to be able to have the freedom to make short-term plans, mid-term plans and long-term plans and if you feel like you're under the gun where you're going to be given two years ... you're not going to get the best coaching. So, when a coach comes to the Philadelphia Eagles ... he knows he's going to have the owner's support to both plan in the short run, plan in the midterm and have long-term strategy as well."
-- Jeff Lurie announcing Reid's departure
They're not bringing back Vick to see if his old legs can lead them on one more run. They're not hiring Jon Gruden to wring very bit of talent out of this roster using all his quick fix tricks. And they're not reaching for a guy like Geno Smith unless they're 100 percent certain he's their franchise quarterback.
They're starting over.
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I realize I'm going to sound like every ex-coach announcer ever when I say this, but too many of the Reid retrospectives I've read in the past few days have given short shrift to what he accomplished in the first half of his time here.
Andy Reid -- to his lasting dismay -- never won a Super Bowl. But I would argue that what he accomplished was statistically indistinguishable from winning a Super Bowl.
The amount of enjoyment we got out of watching those teams was remarkable. I've never been more crushed as a sports fan than I was after those games against Tampa Bay or Carolina, but I've also never been happier -- as a sports fan -- than I was during that era as a whole.
Reid has always had his detractors, but I think too many of his fans are hand-waving away the magic that was the run from 1999-2004, either out of defensiveness or bitterness regarding what we've seen since.
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The alternate universe where Andy Reid took a year-long sabbatical after what happened at training camp and then the entire team "missed his leadership and strategic acumen so much that they crashed all the way to 4-12" is quite a thinker.
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The historical revisionism surrounding Jim Johnson is getting annoying. Johnson was an incredible coach and won his share of games for this team, but so did Reid, McNabb, Dawkins, Westbrook, Trotter, Vincent/Taylor and all the rest.
Laying it all at the feet of Johnson repeats the same error Lurie talked about in his presser. It takes an organization to raise a trophy. You're never just one guy away.
Give Johnson his due, but he didn't carry Reid. All those guys picked each other up.
Now, none of them do.
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Speaking of all those old guys, this old depth chart is work a look.
How many 2012 Eagles are starting on that team? I'll give you Mathis and Celek on offense, and Cole and Ryans (sorry, Trot) on defense. Cox could have played, but Johnson hated starting rookies.
There's some work to do here.
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It's weird how much expectations matter, even after the fact. The Iverson/Brown Sixers are perhaps my second-favorite team/era, and I have no regrets about their long climb to the Finals that ended just short of a trophy. They "shouldn't" have won one more game than they did.
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This does nothing to discourage my pet theory that the Eagles are laying the groundwork to shift to a 3-4 going forward.
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I have less angst about Roseman now that we understand he won't be Joe Banner. In fact, there will never be another Joe Banner, because Jeff Lurie has become Joe Banner on all the things we care about -- long-term vision, sticking to a plan, facilitating inefficiency exploiting strategies -- and has carved off for other people all the other things we don't care about.
I'm also reading Lurie to be saying, look, it wasn't just the 2012 draft. Roseman really hated Watkins and was completely overruled. He may even have been the lone voice arguing against Vick. Or when Castillo happened he begged Lurie to stop it and he should have listened.
We'll never really know what's happened, but Howie's had plenty of opportunities to oppose terrible decisions the past few years.
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On what gives him confidence that general manager Howie Roseman is the right fit at general manager moving forward: "A lot of the analysis of what we have here has taken place over the last 12 months. It's not been reported properly because the information hasn't been communicated properly ... The mistakes that were made in the 2011 draft have little or nothing to do with Howie's evaluations and I think it was important for me to own up to the mistakes that were made and understand where they were coming from and it was awfully clear. So, an effort was made to streamline the entire operation and, as it turned out and it was nothing I could easily communicate to all of you ..."
Look, I've made my share of jokes here, but at the end of the day, PR people are at the mercy of senior decision makers. The problems the Eagles have with communications have nothing to do with a taciturn head coach or tactical choices regarding the wording of official statements. They need a mindset shift.
The Banner Plan, which granted MFN status to one key beat writer in an attempt at message control, blew up spectacularly this year when Joe left town, but continued feeding self-serving scuttlebutt to his old contact.
In his presser, Lurie seemed spectacularly displeased about that craven display of disloyalty those stories represented -- and really, the outcome where your divorce is only the second most contentious split of the year is truly mind-boggling -- but the most important point here isn't "Joe Banner is self-evidently a jerk no matter how many poor kids he helps."
The Eagles have the opportunity to push the reset button in a lot of ways the next couple months. How they communicate through a) the media and b) their own channels is something to work on.