Family stuff is over. Time to return to football obsession.
I think the Andy Reid discussion has been put to rest. Big Red will be back in 2012, barring a showdown between him and Joe Banner and/or Howie Roseman. For those hoping for a situation like that, I’m sorry to report that Joe, Howie, and Andy get along better than most would like to believe.
There is going to be one critical decision facing the Eagles brain trust. Does Juan stay on as DC? I’m not ready to have the full discussion yet. I haven’t made up my mind. This is a really complex subject that is critical to the future of the team.
It is easy to say “Fire him”. It was an awful decision and he’s been overmatched. The team blew a record number of 4th quarter leads and continues to struggle with Red Zone defense. The counter to that is that we are currently ranked 8th in the NFL in yards and 13th in points allowed. The defense has made great strides from September to now and is showing the potential to be pretty special. There are strong statistical arguments to make for both sides. I’d rather wait til the whole season is over and let’s deal with final numbers.
The one thing I’ve tried to point out all year is that the numbers don’t exist in a vacuum. Compare the Eagles situation to other teams. New England is 32nd in defense. Bill Belichick gets a pass from many because he lacks good players. Green Bay is 31st. And Dom Capers has plenty of talent (Matthews, Raji, Woodson, Hawk, etc.). Gregg Williams and the Saints are 25th.
Part of my point here is that you have to admit that the Eagles have good defensive talent or that Juan Castillo is a better coach than you thought. There is no way the Eagles are up where they are if Castillo is clueless and the Eagles have no talent at S or LB.
What will the Eagles do? I don’t know. The case for keeping Juan was very thin (think Olsen twins) just a month ago. Since he made some personnel adjustments and schematic tweaks, things have been wildly different. It also helped having DRC get back on the field and Nnamdi healthy. The blitzing and pass rush stuff doesn’t work if you can’t cover.
I’m sure Andy will push for Juan to return. Howie and Joe are the tough ones to read. Heck, I’m still surprised they went along with the idea to start with. Juan and Andy must have done one hellaciously good sales pitch.
I mentioned an idea to a friend on the phone recently and it was also discussed in the comments section as well. Steve Spagnuolo seems very likely to lose his job in St. Louis. If so, you wonder if he would be open to coming here as Assistant Head Coach/Defense. Let Juan remain the DC, but have Spags as part of the staff. He can gameplan. He can coach. He can advise on calls and adjustments in games. This is what we brought Marty in to do when Brad Childress was still the OC. The sales pitch for Spags is that he would be a HC candidate here when Reid leaves or is fired. AR isn’t going to be here 20 years.
This would be a solution that would appeal to just about everyone. Juan is popular with the players, so that relationship would remain intact. Andy would be happy. Joe/Howie would get continuity, with some change. Fans would know that a veteran coach was now helping Juan and the defense. Spags might prefer to go back to flat out being a DC. Heck, the Giants might be looking for a coach. Seems like Tom Coughlin’s time in NY is winding down so maybe Spags sees that angle and wants to be there to take over. Interesting food for thought.
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Should Juan lose the DC spot I do not (NOT) see him going back to the OL. The line has been rebuilt with a completely different style of players. The line has been good this year (very good for much of the season). There are 2 rookies starting and both fit the Howard Mudd style of blocking. Evan Mathis fits the new style. Todd and Jason Peters fit any system. The thought of rebuilding the OL just to fit Juan’s style makes no sense.
Plus, the new style of blocking also ties into the running game. Shady has thrived this year with some new running plays that tie into Mudd’s blocking scheme. I don’t see Reid changing that. I fully expect Mudd to be back next year. Eugene Chung will take over for him at some point in the future.
Should Castillo lose the DC spot, I think he stays on the staff in some other capacity. I bring this up because Troy Aikman said the other day he could see Juan going back to being the OL coach. I just can’t see that happening.
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Should the Eagles rest players this upcoming game? This is another tricky subject. I certainly understand the fear of some star tearing an ACL in a meaningless game. At the same time, I tend to believe in playing your players. Resting them for the playoffs is one thing. Sitting them down in this situation wouldn’t feel completely right to me.
That said, it would be interesting to see Mike Kafka and Dion Lewis get a lot of playing time. The problem we have is that we already play a lot of young guys. There aren’t a ton of veterans to sit so that we can evaluate young guys.
I also don’t know if many guys have incentive clauses that are reachable. Players keep up with that stuff.
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Can we start to ease up on Alex Henery now? He missed 2 critical FGs in the SF game and Eagles fans haven’t trusted him since then. He mostly made a bunch of short FGs, but on Saturday was good from 51 yards out and the kick had plenty of distance. He’s 22 of 25 on the year. He has the SF misses and a 60 yard miss from early in the year. That’s it. I know he needs to make a clutch kick for us to really buy in, but so far the kid’s been pretty good.