Home > NFL > The Dream Team Eagles are not a difficult fix, but will Andy Reid be part of their future?

The Dream Team Eagles are not a difficult fix, but will Andy Reid be part of their future?

The Philadelphia Eagles fell to 4-8 last night on Thursday Night Football in Seattle, which I thought was an entirely predictable result given what we knew about the Eagles to date.  The schedule did the Eagles no favors this year, and ultimately they didn’t do themselves every favors.  But the Eagles entire season broke down into three negative categories that prevented them from winning the super bowl:

  1. Their pass catchers vastly underachieved
  2. Their defensive back seven was very poor all year
  3. They had really awful luck

In terms of determining how easy to fix these issues are, I’d say it goes pretty easy, more difficult, and will correct itself respectively.  See, the Eagles have already identified DeSean Jackson as a potential problem with their offensive scheme and since his contract is expiring, you could at least suggest that the Eagles more or less have this problem solved, either with Jackson or the money they’ll use to find his replacement in the offense.  And the crappy season that the Eagles receivers had was every bit to blame for the problems of the offense this season.  Jeremy Maclin’s problem hasn’t been playing well, it’s been simply playing.

Still, the Eagles will have ample opportunity to fix the receiver issue over the offseason, so long as they still believe Michael Vick is their quarterback.  The Eagles offense can still be dynamic.  The defense is a bigger issue.  Typically a defense will reflect the strength of its defensive line, but the Eagles D-line played undeniably great football this year.  The back seven was still a major issue.  One thing that no one talked about when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha this year — in part, I believe, because some were anticipating a second roster move — is that both Nnamdi and Asante Samuel would be 30 years old this season.   I think the idea was, and still is, that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would take over for Samuel after the year and that would fix part of the age problem, but with the way that Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie played this year, the plan to replace Samuel would seem to be at best, risky.

The safety play on the Eagles was dreadful.  When the Eagles won games this year, they got good individual performances from their safeties (Kurt Coleman against Washington and New York, Jarrad Page against St. Louis, or Nate Allen against Dallas) as well as some sporadic performance in losses, but enjoyed no strong play at the position over the course of the season.  The expectation that Nate Allen can still develop into the team’s long term free safety seems reasonable, but the Eagles must continue to search for Quentin Mikell’s replacement, who they did not find this year.  The linebacker play was even worse than the safety play.  It remains to be seen whether this season will cause the Eagles to change their long term organizational philosophy to make this less of a weakness.

While assignment football on defense was a major problem all year for the Eagles, there’s far less evidence that any opponent was able to systematically target the Eagles run defense as a method to beat the Dream Team.  At times this year, the run defense was gashed by intelligent offensive gameplans, such as was the case on Thursday in Seattle.  But the defensive line actually did more than it’s fair share of handling opposing running backs on a consistent basis.  The unexpected problem was in pass coverage, which just wasn’t good at any point this year.  For the Eagles, that’s the problem that may not be easily solved.  In theory, a new year with the same strong DL gives them as good a chance as any to be an elite pass coverage unit, but I’m not sure they have yet to diagnose what went wrong this year.  I don’t think it would be safe to assume the Eagles are going to have the defense figured out this year for the first time since days of the late Jim Johnson.

The main takeaway is that Reid or any coach of the Eagles has a quick fix on their hands next year.  The Eagles are as obvious a pick for the NFC East title as any.  I think the fact that they proved to be losers this year will make preseason prognosticators bearish on their chances, but it would seem that a couple of the main questions raised about the roster this season will be very easily answered.  Because of the team’s decision to marry a bunch of veterans this year, the long term health of the Eagles is very much in doubt, which may cost head coach Andy Reid his job.

To me, now would seem like as good a time as any to go in a different direction.  Andy Reid is a really, really good football coach, and he can definitely make winners out of the current group of players, but there are problems with his coaching staff that cannot be fixed easily if he remains the head coach.  The Eagles employ a bunch of giants of the game under Reid: Marty Morningweg, Howard Mudd, Jim Washburn, Juan Castillo, and Bobby April.  That staff is not getting the job done.  Reid is under fire because of that, and I think if anyone there needs a fresh start, it’s Castillo and Reid.

The frustration of the season will dissipate shortly after the end of the season.  I just don’t know if it’s reasonable to expect the team to be able to move on with Reid if they want to leave this 2011 season firmly in the past.

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