Tuesday, December 6, 2011
What now: The Philadelphia Eagles
This is the first of a two part series examining the future of the rooting interest of yours truly
The scene at Lincoln Financial Field following the Patriots loss was depressing. Having attended my first game at the Linc, I left feeling like I had been punched in the stomach following a beating that the Patriots are making routine this season. Even now, still not mathematically eliminated thanks to the overall poor play in the NFC East, it is obvious that we are looking at a very interesting offseason. As the, “Fire Andy!” cheers came down from around the stadium, I can say I was the only person in my section challenging others around me to give me good reasons for a Reid firing. Of course there were no real replies, but this has become a much discussed option for the Eagles this offseason.
Today’s NFL operates under 3 principles. Controlling the line on offense, controlling the line on defense, and, most importantly, having a great to elite quarterback. Generally, the last point can outweigh the other two but for a Super Bowl team, you need to be above average in each facet. Looking at the Eagles’ roster, you see a top 10 quarterback and top 5 athlete in Michael Vick, the best LT in the NFL with Jason Peters, an extremely solid run and pass blocking scheme thanks to the acquisition of Howard Mudd, and a defensive line that is racking up sacks at a higher percentage by position than ever thanks to Jim Washburn’s wide-9 scheme. That alone speaks to the job Reid has done building this roster. This isn’t the article to go in depth arguing why the Eagles should keep Andy Reid, but to examine what moves need to be made to get back to being a SB contender in 2012.
The first evaluation needs to be made at the QB position. With a true summer as the number one and a full offseason of OTA’s and training camp, Michael Vick should enjoy a season similar to his 2010 breakout. The Eagles’ success in contingent on Vick avoiding the turnovers, especially in the red zone. Under McNabb, the offense was efficient and turned the ball over at an extremely low rate. Protecting the ball becomes pertinent inside the 20 because it is essentially taking points off the board. His TD%/INT% went from 3:1 last year to 1:1 this season. Regaining elite play from Vick would reignite the offense to hopefully build insurmountable leads instead of blowing them in the 4th quarter. Also, with Vince Young being gone before the door hits his ass, it is time to decide if Kafka can truly be your number two quarterback behind an oft-injured Vick. If its decided he can be a suitable replacement for 2-4 games a year, draft a developmental guy with your glutton of picks. If not, find a veteran not named Donovan to man the position with Kafka remaining a project.
At the RB and WR positions, there is some truly elite talent at the top with interesting projects towards the bottom. LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin should be locked up to long term deals immediately following the season. As for Ronnie Brown, let him go somewhere for an opportunity. DeSean needs to be taken care of. Either give him a long term contract or trade him for a first or second round pick in this draft. They can’t handle another in between contracts year from DeSean; he just hasn’t been the same player this year. These last few games should be to see whether, Dion Lewis and Riley Cooper will be ready to contribute on a role player basis next year. Signing a veteran might be a possibility at RB but I feel that the Eagles will draft a WR and let Steve Smith go; what a horrible offseason signing. If they trade DeSean, try to take Blackmon, if available. If not, evaluate the difference between starting Riley Cooper, drafting another WR, or signing a veteran in FA. Finally, just cut ties with Chad Hall, Andy. The cute games work when you have a special athlete like Welker is. Whatever explosion Chad had in college is gone, so find a different project in the later rounds this year.
First off, DAMN! Doesn't Jason Peters resemble Ricky Rozay? Anyways, at TE, I believe we are set for a few years with Clay Harbor maybe taking over Brent Celek’s starting role at some point. OL will be interesting to follow. Presumably, Mudd stays at least another year, but his time with us is short. We should also have an in house replacement on Mudd’s replaced hip so that we can keep a scheme that seems to fit Shady McCoy (Tommy Lawlor over at IgglesBlitz.com informed me that the coach currently learning from Mudd is Eugene Chung. Good to hear). LT is anchored by Peters or a few years and hopefully Herremans can do the same at RT. They will probably look to re-sign Mathis once FA hits, due to a rule where you can't extend 1 year signees (thanks Eric), as long as they stay in the same OL blocking scheme. Kelce has settled into his C position nicely and looks to be a Jeff Saturday type blocker for many years if he progresses as planned. The ever talked about Danny Watkins has looked slightly below average to slightly above average at different points this year. Not the play we expected out of the first rounder but there are high hopes that he will turn out to be a Pro Bowl caliber guard in the next 2 years.
In the next article, I will touch on defensive changes and coaching moves that should be made.