Reality Check

Posted: December 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 78 Comments »

Okay, Eagles fans.  Let’s get this right:

Juan Castillo is terrible and has no idea what he’s doing.

The Wide-9 is a dumb system.

All the DL care about is sacks.  None of them can play the run.

The Eagles have the worst LBs in the league.

The Eagles have awful Safeties.

Howie Roseman is awful at acquiring players.

So how in the hell is it that the defense is ranked 8th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed?  HOW???  I know it kills some of you, but you can’t have everything be wrong.

Detroit has a strong DL.  They had Ndamukong Suh in the middle.  They have Levy and Tulloch at LB.  They have Jim Schwartz as HC and Gunther Cunningham as DC.  Their farts know more about defense than Juan Castillo.  So how is it that Detroit is below us in yards, points, and rushing yards?  How???

Chicago has Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Peanut Tillman.  Lovie Smith is the HC and Rod Marinelli is the DC.  Their farts know more about defense than Castillo.  So how is it that the Bears are below us in points and yards allowed?  They do have a better run D, but allow almost 50 more passing yards a game.

I could go on, but you should get the point by now.

Listen, no one is trying to make the defense into some great unit that should be worshiped.  This defense has had some horrible moments this year.  But…BUT…you cannot ignore the success it has had as well.

The front office can’t solve every issue in a given offseason.  That’s not reality.  Andy Reid and Howie Roseman focused on the DL and the secondary.  The results have been good.  Jim Washburn’s DL is doing a great job of rushing the passer.  They actually play better run defense than most think.

The secondary struggled early on as very talented players adjusted to new roles.  They have done that now and Samuel, DRC, and Nnamdi have played their best football in the last month.

The Safeties are better than people think.  I know Kurt Coleman has missed a couple of key tackles.  I know Nate Allen stunk up the joint in the Patriots game.  I also know that Kurt has had some good games and made some key plays.  Nate was lights out a few times (Bills game, recent Dallas game).  The jury is still out on Jaiquawn Jarrett, but he did look good when he got on the field.  Sunday will be a good test for him.

Juan, Andy, and Howie knew that LB was going to be the weak spot on defense this year.  They felt comfortable with Jamar Chaney moving outside to take advantage of his speed.  They threw Casey into the fire as MLB.  It was sink or swim.  Obviously both those moves blew up in their face.  Jamar struggled at OLB and Casey was overwhelmed as a starter.  The Eagles deserve criticism for the moves not working.

The LBs were a major issue for a long time.  Castillo finally got them to play reasonably well in the last few weeks by changing roles to be as specific as possible.  This has taken pressure off some guys and gotten everyone involved.  The LB corps still needs a lot of work, but they are playing better than any other time this year.

Castillo is doing a better job of coaching than at any other time this year.  He and the players are feeding off each other.  The numbers are good and the team does pass the eye test.  They look like a good defense.

I’m not asking everyone to hop on board and kiss Juan’s butt or send the players to the Pro Bowl.  I do think the blanket criticisms need to stop.  The Eagles aren’t 7-8 because of Juan Castillo.  Or the LBs.  Or the defense as a whole.  The Eagles are 7-8 because the entire team was addicted to mistakes earlier in the year.

How many shootouts have we won?  ZERO.  That’s not on the defense.  That’s on Vick, Shady, DJax, and the crew.  GB and NE have won several shootouts this year.

STs blunders were costly in the SF and CHI losses.

The blown 4th quarter leads weren’t huge leads.  The only big lead was in the SF game.  The defense fell apart in that game, but the offense had plenty of chances and couldn’t make a key play or hold onto the ball.

In the other games the defense did blow leads, but small ones.  Losing a game where you were up on the Giants 16-14 in the early 4th Q isn’t exactly what I would categorize as a blown lead.  Technically, yes, but reality tells you that being up 2 points in today’s NFL is nothing.  The offense failed to score in the 4th Qtr of several of the games where the Eagles did have the lead.

Turnovers have been a huge problem all year long.  That’s on the offense, mainly the skill players.

The Eagles got to 7-8 as a team.  The whole team needed to get better.  And it did.  The defense is playing great football right now.  The offense is still hit and miss, but is getting the job done in the Red Zone and has eliminated some turnovers.

You can fault the Eagles for not doing what you thought was right, but based on the overall numbers you can also argue the Eagles did the right thing by concentrating on DL/DBs.  If there is part of the defense to put on the back burner, it is the LBs.

Feel free to be critical of the Eagles in some way, shape, or form, but you can’t blame everyone. Is it Castillo for not being smart enough?  The players for not playing well?  Roseman for not getting the enough talent?   When you are 8th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed that means that more is going right than wrong.

If Castillo is the problem, then you better start heaping praise on the players.  Overcoming bad coaching isn’t easy.

If it is the players, then you better praise Castillo for being able to deal with such mediocrity despite making the change from offense to defense.

If it is Roseman, then you better praise Castillo for coaching his butt off and the good players who are carrying the underachievers.

You just don’t have a lousy GM, lousy DC, and lousy players and get to 8th/12th.  That’s not reality.


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AHVR5EZERRCZSD77DMKWAEEPLA Steve H

    Haha Tommy, I take it peoples ceaseless negativity is starting to get to you? :) I think the biggest thing clouding peoples minds right now is the disappointment from having such high expectations this year. The hardcore haters will never let up but I think most of us more wishy washy types will adopt a more measured approach.

    That being said, I hope we still go after Spagnuolo if he becomes available, regardless of how Juan has improved.

    • Anonymous

      We’re 7-8 and that sucks. I’m as miserable as anyone. No one is happy with the team. Not me, you, Andy, or Juan.

      I just get tired of the same criticisms over and over. People spread blame so quickly and widely that it is overwhelming. How about let’s be smart and figure out specific issues?

      Jamar Chaney sucks vs Jamar Chaney doesn’t diagnose plays well. He also misses too many tackles and struggles in zone coverage. See how much fun that can be?

      • Anonymous

        Tommy

        Insightful article as always – I’ve been sitting on the fence as to where to pinpoint the biggest share of the blame for this season and it still IMO has to lie with Big Red. As the man who put Juan in the unenviable situation of cobbling together a talented yet untested group of players with no off-season to speak of while other more experienced coaches were potentially available (who knows which ones but Jauron would no doubt have stayed it he’d been offered the post), the team as a whole suffered.
        I would’ve liked to have seen Juan ‘cutting his defensive teeth’ as LB coach and that’s what I think should happen next season with Spags maybe coming back.

        One other point which concerns this weekend’s game. Play the starters for the first have and then put in people like Dion Lewis, Kafka, Vandervelde, etc. to see what we’ve got going forward and if we win so be it (although the more wins the Skins get the more difficult it will be for them to get RG3)

        • Anonymous

          “I’ve been sitting on the fence as to where to pinpoint the biggest share of the blame for this season”

          That’s what’s been baffling about the Eagles this year. Expectations were high and not met, a lot of things that needed to go right went wrong, but also … you just can’t pin the tail on the donkey, so to speak.

          They lost a lot of winnable games for a variety of reasons. One to two of those, and they’d be a division winner and playoff dark horse.

          The one counter argument is it turns out we had an easy schedule this year, at least in regards to dodging most of the NFL’s juggernauts. We played the Patriots and 49ers and Falcons. That’s about it. Next year doesn’t look so easy, but if we clean up the little things that got us in trouble this year, and avoid the temptation to blow it up and start over, we could be very good from jump.

          In hindsight, this year was a miscalculation, IMO … the issues were clear and present, but those in and outside the organization thought we’d have enough talent to paper over them, or that there might be some struggles early followed by a rally into the playoffs.

          The issues that got the Eagles were different in many of the different losses, so it’s still hard to pinpoint a main culprit, especially with the way those potential culprits (defense, turnovers) have not been present in some of the more impressive wins.

      • Anonymous

        İ fully agree that fans, including myself, have gotten over the top with some criticısm, but at the same time, 90% of what you write is very positive about the team. The fact remains, we are 7-8. So far, your arguments on how to improve the team have been get rid of Asante, get a stud LB, and get a DC, the last of whıch you’re also starting to argue is questionable. In other words, we are basicaly minus a starter and plus a starter away from being set for next year based on what you I have gathered from your posts thıs season. So while I fully understand your defense of the Eagles, I would appreciate it if you would at least present one of your well thought out posts on what you feel the strengths and weaknesses of this team are and how we can be better than .500 next year and also a potential contender (granted, this is a post I imagine you are planning to write anyway at the end of the season). I just don’t see how losing one of the leaders on this team (and I’m not saying I necessarily disagree with the idea of getting rid of Asante) and signing a single player will really put us over the top after a 7-9 or 8-8 season.

        • Anonymous

          Good topic.

          I think we’re mostly set personnel wise. I don’t see the need for much change.

          I do think current players must improve. Vick’s INTs have killed us. Vick getting hurt and missing games hurt us. Bonehead mistakes by the whole team (was it Pete King who called us dumb and sloppy?) hurt us. That stuff isn’t about talent.

          We had a discussion recently about how the team needed to be more clutch. That’s true. I’m not sure how you do that. Deserves lengthy discussion to hear a variety of ideas.

        • Anonymous

          They are 3rd? in the league in offensive – defensive yards.
          That matters because it says mistakes, not athleticism, is the problem, and that’s easier to fix, if you can’t pass, block or defend, it requires a lot of work, if you just have to tighten up some areas that usually can be done with a few tweaks.

          QB: Vick has to be more efficient and consistent, and stop trying to make big plays, instead, make all the plays

          RB: McCoy has to understand that blocking and catching are as important as rushing yards, 60% of plays are pass plays in today’s NFL

          WR: Either DeSean learns to run 15 yard routes and catch the ball or find someone who will.

          OL: Let the kids grow up, this is already one of the top OL in the league with two rookies starting, oh yeah, pay Mathis.

          DL: Sacks, Sacks, we don’t need no stinkin’ sacks.

          LB: Right now they’re playing well, replace Chaney at MLB and you can live with the rest, upgrading Jordan is a lower priority.

          DB: DRC at LCB will be an improvement over Asante, Asante gets overrated b/c those ratings don’t account for the safety that has to cheat to his side or the WR screens thrown in front of him and the runs to his side.

          They should have a very good draft, they can sign a starting FA if Asante is traded/cut, but most of the improvement is what we’re already seeing, players finding the right role and not trying to do too much.

        • Anonymous

          From Reuben Frank courtesy of BountyBowls reading:

          The Eagles scored 20 points on 387 yards Saturday in Dallas, becoming only the second team in NFL history to have five games in a season in which they gained 375 or more yards, but scored 20 or fewer points. The 2005 Arizona Cardinals also did it.

          This has a huge part to play.

      • Anonymous

        You’re preachin’ to my choir.

        Went through the list of DCs who were actually available when Juan was hired, and that explains a lot, Pittsburgh blocked Butler, GB blocked Perry, Trgovac didn’t want to go anywhere. Eagles wanted to talk to a number of other secondary coaches (note everyone they wanted was a secondary coach) but were blocked.

        So we’re talking Jauron, Mora, Allen, Hoke, Horton and Winston Moss. Those were your options.

        Now dig deeper and realize that hiring Washburn wasn’t a whim, it was a statement – this is the kind of defense we want, a 4-3 one gap system which bring heat on QBs, with a fast athletic back seven. In other words, what they ran back in the early 2000 era with JJ and Brasher, but updated to take into account the 2004 rule changes (Emmons couldn’t mug TEs today, Trotter would be attacked ad nausem in coverage and so on). Given that decision, you have to find a DC who is comfortable running that sort of defense. Why this change in philosophy? I believe the 2008 NFCCG shook up Reid, a top 3 defense shredded by Warner. To get to the SB in the NFC you’re gonna have to beat Brees, Eli and/or Rodgers in the playoffs, and you might get to the SB and face Brady or Payton. In other words, you’d better be able to play pass defense.

        They knew Jauron and could have hired him.
        Mora is a retread they also knew.
        They interviewed Allen, Hoke and another DB coach. Didn’t like them.
        Winston Moss was a LB coach 2001-2005 in NO, 2006-2011 in GB, no one hired him as a DC after a decade, that’s telling.
        Horton was a coach from a 3-4 scheme who went to another 3-4 scheme.

        I think if someone like Greg Williams or Spags or someone else who’s run an aggressive 4-3 one gap scheme was available they would have hired them.

        But their choices were assistant coaches with no DC experience, retreads who would insist on their systems, or Juan. They figured Juan could learn with Washburn (they knew his intensity, work ethic and intelligence) faster than some assistant coach from a totally different system. Juan at least had been hanging around JJ for a decade and knew the current personnel. Either way, there were going to be growing pains this year, there was no “sure thing” DC to bring in.

        • Anonymous

          I believe the 2008 NFCCG shook up Reid, a top 3 defense shredded by Warner.
          They were a top 3 ranked offense for a reason, which is more incredible when you take into account that they had the 32nd ranked rushing offense.

          Reid should have been more concerned on why his 6th ranked offense came up small against the 28th ranked D.

          Fire Marty!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Coe/749860957 James Coe

            Now there’s something I can get on board with. If I had to choose one of Reid, Mornhinweg or Castillo to get fired, Marty would be the man to go.

          • Anonymous

            James may I call you kin?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1514128048 Kristopher Cebula

            nah, that game was mainly the D getting shredded. warner ripped us early and our offense started slow. offense brought us back to take the lead but the D couldn’t make a stop

          • Anonymous

            You misunderstand the point. The Cards had the 3rd ranked offense in the NFL and the leagues best WR and WR tandem. They shredded more than us.

            Their defense on the other hand should have been by us all game long and twice on Sunday.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=47904149 Liam Garrett

          Excellent points. I’m not sure we didn’t like Allen as much as he didn’t like us, but your basic sentiment is correct: Our options were limited.

          I think your point about Reid’s focus on pass defense is also why the Eags’ weren’t more aggressive in dealing Asante after the Nnamdi signing. (Something to chew on: If I have my facts correct, Stephen Tulloch signed with the Lions the day after we signed Nnamdi. Can you imagine if we had dealt Asante and used the cap-space to sign Tulloch, too? That thought makes my eyes watery.) I think Reid dreamed that by having 3 Pro-Bowl CB’s, he could figure out a way to play them all and make it work. I think this might be a little too ambitious (i.e. to have all 3 Pro-Bowlers on the field, one has to play slot and, simply put, they’re just not Pro-Bowlers in the slot) and severely limits the money we could spend on other things (e.g. linebackers and re-signing Desean or his replacement), but I have to say that it would really be somethin’ if he pulled it off.

      • Anonymous

        Patience grasshopper.
        Other than NE, even the top franchises have off seasons,
        Pitt:
        2003: 6-10
        2006: 8-8
        2009: 9-7
        Balt:
        2004: 9-7
        2005: 6-10
        2007: 5-11
        2009: 9-7 (snuck into playoffs)
        GB
        2005: 4-12
        2006: 8-8
        2008: 6-10
        NO
        2005: 3-13
        2007: 7-9
        2008: 8-8

        So the fact they were disappointing in 2011 is one of those things, however, if they don’t bounce back in 2012, THEN get worried.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AHVR5EZERRCZSD77DMKWAEEPLA Steve H

        Yeah I hear ya Tommy. I think the thing thats bugged me the most this year is that there was something just off about the team. We were being sloppy, and making so many mental errors, and it really didn’t seem to have much to do with the talent of the players themselves, because even our best guys were goofing up on a regular basis. There was just something not right with the team and I’m not sure we could really figure out exactly what the cause was. It’s not like a few years ago where we’re like yeah Dimitri Patterson is pretty much toast over there at corner, he’s a huge problem for us, and it was easy to see that an upgrade there was an instant fix.

        Plus everyone has a favorite whipping boy and whenever things go wrong people are going to try and heap as much of the blame on that person as possible, so that doesn’t help any kind of interesting discussion.

  • Anonymous

    the pro player signings on D (Babin, Jenkins, Aso) improved over last year.. (Tapp etc). The problem with the pro player signings is that they emphasized the positions that Andy wants and ignored the positions Andy doesn’t (LB, S).. netting Page for S, and the coaches couldn’t adjust to the fact that teams would attack the LBs and Ss in coverage and run plays.

    The draft picks for the past two years on D have been awful. The only good picks (Kelce, who I said would start back when a certain someone was saying AQ Shipley, and possibly Watkins who has retained high second round value) may have been Mudd’s doing. One bright spot of ’11 is giving Castillo something else to do so that Mudd can run the OL.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Coe/749860957 James Coe

      The other way of looking at that is that he took good players that were available (Babin, Jenkins, Aso) but ignored the positions where there were just average guys around in FA (Safety, LB). The only good LB we could’ve picked up would have been Tulloch; maybe we called him but he wasn’t interested…

      My point is that we’ve got average guys at safety already, so going out and getting more, older, average guys isn’t going to help. The same goes for LB – our guys have shown that they’re pretty average, so how is getting more average guys going to help us improve?

  • Daniel Suraci

    I think Juan made some bonehead playcalls in the beginning of the season and really looked clueless out there, i.e. when to play zone and when to play man. That killed him forever in the eyes of the fans, no matter what the statistics say now.

    In my opinion, it’s all Roseman. No one has been able to figure out this front office in a long time. Who was our last good D draft pick (that we can judge)? Cole?

    The reason we’re stuck with such a young defensive squad is because almost zero of our D picks worked out.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t totally agree with your final point. I’m working on a post on that subject. More complicated than people realize.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

      Graham, wounded but a damn fine D-line

      Allen and Coleman are minimally solid at safety and Allen will be better when healthy

      Jarrett is an unknown quantity at this point

      Marsh is also unknown but physically gifted

      Rolle has the look of a guy who will be very good with seasoning

      I’m not sure I understand your complaint?

      • Daniel Suraci

        I think you just made my point. I’m sure Tommy will have a great reply for why I’m wrong, but many defensive positions require discipline and study and most young players don’t come in with it. We’re a young team on defense. We may have all the potential in the world, but we are a) leaderless b) undisciplined and I think the reason is the youth. And the reason we’re so young is…. :: waits for Tommy’s post ::

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

          Well, then placing the blame on Roseman is illogical.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

          But I do agree that the defense needs leadership.

          Guys I believe will emerge as leaders include: Jenkins, Asomugha, and hopefully one of our 3 young safeties.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=47904149 Liam Garrett

            I really value Aso’s maturity and character. I think it’s a great thing for our locker room to have, especially going into next season.

        • Anonymous

          Good point on youth.

          If you look at top defenses, they rarely have rookies or second year players starting, or even as top backups.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

            I am willing to say that letting “Q” walk may have been a mistake, but it may also have been a greater mistake overpaying him…

            Other than that, where on the defense did we intentionally get younger?

            I’m certainly not willing to say that any of the previous generation of LBers needed to be held on to.

  • Anonymous

    Right on, Tommy! There is way too much irrationality on many of the blogs. Unfortunately there are many angry people out there who won’t let facts get in the way of their opinions.

  • Anonymous

    Curious to get your thoughts on whether we’re on a hot streak right now, just like the Dolphins a few weeks ago, the Bills early on, or the Jets mid-season. If we can definitively establish that this improvement is going to actually continue to next season – and wasn’t just a result of us playing Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Moore, Mark Sanchez, and Stephen McGee – then it’s worth giving Castillo a lot of credit, because I’d be happy going into next season with an overperforming defense like we currently have. You can only play who you have on your schedule and we did beat the last few opponents pretty convincingly, so maybe we have actually taken that step forward.

    But frankly, I would have no confidence in our defense if we were to play any of the following offenses:
    -Green Bay
    -New England
    -New Orleans
    -Detroit
    -New York
    -Chicago (with Cutler)
    -Dallas, the way Romo had been playing up to his injury last week.

    I can see people arguing with Dallas, New York, and Detroit (cases to be made on both sides), but I can’t see anyone saying they’d feel confident in a rematch against Brady or trying to knock out the Saints / Packers / Cutler-led Bears in the playoffs; and ultimately, that’s my benchmark for who I want leading the D and who I want playing for us. I don’t want to be good against Sanchez, bad against Brees. Good against McGee, bad against Rodgers. Good against Moore, bad against Brady.

    I want the D that’ll play well no matter whom we have and the coordinator who can outwit the offensive juggernauts that you end up facing in the playoffs. Is Castillo that coordinator? Could be, but if so, I’d lose a lot of faith in the supposed complexity of the game of football. One O-line coach needs one season on the other side of the ball to outsmart guys who have been running offenses their whole careers?

    • Anonymous

      Cutler is our kryptonite so he scares me as well. Everyone is scared of NE, NO, and GB.

      Hot streak or serious change? I don’t know. I’m not sure we can definitively know. And that’s the hard part. I fully acknowledge that there is some guessing involved, no matter which way you come out on the subject.

  • hhaidari

    Hey Tommy, been reading your blog forever and just decided to recently sign up. Big fan.

    Anyway, Brian Soloman from McnabborKolb said the following:

    – Danny Watkins is awful. I want to really emphasize this point. After watching him fairly closely the whole game, it’s clear that he didn’t deserve to be on the field.

    Tommy Lawlor wrote of Watkins, “Solid game. Got driven back in pass pro a time or two, but did stick with the blocks.”

    I wish that were the case. In reality, Watkins needs to make a big leap in the offseason to be even an average NFL starter. –

    What do you think?
    P.S. — I love your selection of sunglasses. Great stuff.

    • Anonymous

      Brian is a good writer and very smart dude. You don’t write for Forbes by accident.

      He and I don’t always agree on players. He hates Kurt Coleman. I love Kurt. We watch the same games, but see different things. Clearly he’s wrong and I’m right. (don’t tell him I said that though…I let him think he’s smarter)

      In a normal DGR I post notes on several plays to back up my opinion. This week I didn’t do that because of the holidays. I did re-watch the game. I did focus on Danny plenty of plays. Is it possible I missed something? In this case, yes. I don’t think I did, but I re-watched part of the game on a computer monitor and OL play is tough to judge on a smaller screen.

      If Brian had specific plays, I’d be glad to go back and check them to see if I missed anything.

      Aside from that, I’m going to move on from the game because I’ve got so much bowl game tape to study to cover draft picks. I’ll closely watch Danny this Sunday and will cover him in detail in the upcoming DGR.

      For another valid opinion, go read Sheil Kapadia:

      http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/moving_the_chains/Man-Up-Which-pieces-fit-in-2012.html

    • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

      Hey Hose-head , lay of the Canuck!
      PS, I too love the sunglasses here, polarized is a must on the tundra.

      • hhaidari

        Haha I was just surprised that he thought he was “awful” and not worth even being on the field.

        I like reading his stuff to get a more critical perspective on the team, but sometimes his criticism is just a bit too negative and often comes off of as spiteful of the team.

        I don’t know, maybe it’s just me and I like to read about how our team can bounce back and might just be set up well for next year, and not “Andy is the worst” or “Babin is a sellout” or “Juan eats babies”. Not that Brian says unsupported claims like that, but that theme can sometimes resonate in many of his posts.

        • Anonymous

          My bad. I’ll try to tone down the “Juan eats babies” angle.

          • hhaidari

            Haha I’m not saying you have that angle, but like Tommy said, a lot of Eagles fans have the mentality that “he just sucks”.

            I guess the problem for most people is that there are pretty compelling and supported arguments from both sides optimist vs. realist, you know?

            I don’t know, this offseason looks like it has the potential to make or break this team for a long time. I think a lot of fans just wish there was a consensus about what this team should do. Every year there’s controversy, whether it’s McNabb, Vick, Castillo, Kolb, JJ, Andy’s job, etc. We’re in for another roller coaster ride this offseason as well.

            That being said, both you and Tommy do your best to put things into perspective and help us understand the team and decisions better, and I, and a lot of other Eagles fans, really appreciate that.

  • http://twitter.com/Jason_A_Hines Jason A Hines

    Thank you Tommy, thank you.

    As I said here last week (I think), the problem is not so much the reality, but our expectations going into the season. What’s interesting is that while the FO (Banner really) was the one talking parroting the “all in” mantra started by the media, and the players were comparing themselves to the Dream Team and the MIA Heat, Reid himself was in the media at the same time trying to ramp down expectations, almost like he knew this was coming or something.

    I just wish we as fans could be more balanced (although that goes against the very root of the word). The issue with this team, at least this season is that it has too high a ceiling and too low floor. So when they look good they look very good, but when they look bad they look very bad. And those periods can sometimes come within the span of a game.

    I think the brain trust is very aware of the deficiencies (LBs, vet S, OL depth) and hopefully we’ll see those addressed during the draft and free agency. I’m over this understandably disappointing season. I’ll get mad again if they don’t make the seemingly necessary personnel improvements.

  • Benjamin Superfine

    Tommy’s right that the whole squad deserves blame, and I think there’s far too little blame assigned to the offense. We all know about the turnovers. But I’m sick of all the drives that stalled, especially at critical times. Last season we had enough feast to make up for the famine. This season, way too much famine.

    Given how pervasive the mistakes were, I’m laying blame on Reid. I’ve never wanted him gone until now. But I’d love to see a new DC AND OC. I’ll take a little less explosion on offense for some more consistency. And the truth is that more consistency would probably yield more explosion anyway.

    • Matthew Butch

      Its amazing how after half time this offense can’t do anyting- even recently. I don’t get it. If the other team is making adjustments, why aren’t the Eagles?

  • Anonymous

    Now that we can look at the season in its entirety, I’m all for giving Juan another year. I love the wide-9, I love our players, and I’ve always been a big supporter of Juan. He lost me about midseason, but he’s changed my mind. My problem with this team, is the same problem I’ve had with them since week 3 or 4 (1 or 2?). Offensive turnovers and a lack of production in the second half of games. I went into the season thinking that this defense was constructed to play with a lead. That’s hard to do when your offense turns the ball over everytime they hit the 20. I mean, we had 486 turnovers on offense this year. How much better might the D have been had the offense not put them in terrible positions? I say we regroup and try again next year. I still like this team and this coaching staff, I don’t want to see it blown up yet. If we get the same results next year, then fire everyone. Right now, let’s see how these guys do in year two.

  • Anonymous

    Off topic but anyone watching RGIII? Drool. Would be awesome to see him sit behind Vick and learn from Andy and Marty for a couple years.

    • Anonymous

      Great game so far by him (except for fumble). I’m sure Andy Reid is drooling if he’s watching any of this game.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Coe/749860957 James Coe

        Reckon he tries to trade up for him?

  • Anonymous

    No. Its nobodys fault that this team failed expectations. Juan being asked to coach defense when in his pro career he only coached offense was “normal” and a precedent in the NFL. Having 3 low round rookies manning our linebacker corps is normal in the NFL. Having a GM with no NFL background is no reason for alarm. And allowing Nate Allen (someone recovering from major surgery) to be counted on the be effective as well as the fact he is still mainly unproven as a rookie when the season started is nomal. Are we trying to “protect” and “circle the wagons” those involved or are we trying to win football games? Do we want to add the pieces to win a Super Bowl? Stats are nice. I like stats but stats dont mean anything when you dont win. New England has horrible stats on defense but they are on pace to win the number 1 seed and if they somehow find a way to win the Super Bowl their defensive stat sheet wont mean anything. The Eagles always try to play footballs verson of Moneyball. Sometimes it works for them many times it doesnt. Dawkins even in his hobbled part time playing mode would still look nice in Eagle green right now.

    • Anonymous

      Eagles cheap.
      Eagles dumb.
      Eagles hopeless.

      Got it.

      • Anonymous

        Tommy I love the Eagles. Nothing would make me happier to see “what they try to do” work. I would have loved to see their “out of the box thinking” come through for us. But I would also love to see them make sensible moves in key areas that would help this team win. For example wide 9, Eagles didnt realize the linebacker was one of the key positions for this style of defense? And with Juan — if we were Carolina or some team not expected to contend sure take a chance on an inexperienced coordinator. But we recently had Jim Johnson, and we have had a recent history of overall aggressive good defenses, its no time when you are expected to win to do an “experiment” with a defensive coordinator. And no not hopeless!! I just want them to think things through. Now after this season, they will have a chance to address the problem areas of this team. I dont want “reaches” I want guys that have done it before with the rookies waiting in the wings to “fight” to contribute. No positions handed to them because they are hoping they will work out. I wanted THESE Eagles to win and believe all the hype the management was telling us. I wanted them to succeed but they didnt. And now its time to look realistically at this bunch without rose colored glasses. Whatever their stats say overall, they have lost to good teams consistantly this year. They have lost games they should have won. Their inexperience at DC did cost us especially early. Blowing consecutive 4th quarter leads was not the offense’s fault. And Vick is Vick love him or hate him. I hope this offseason he works his but off to be a “thinking” quarterback as he was last season. I am excited about next season! I am just hoping everyone looks at this team realistically and “upgrades” it with “known” commodities and leaving “wishful thinking” players a little further away from playing time. I want to win Tommy just like you do. I am not going to change teams: Its Eagles or bust.

        • Anonymous

          The LBs will be upgraded this offseason. Again, not all areas get fixed in one year. Football isn’t a short term deal. It takes years to put together a good offense or defense. Tampa’s great 2002 defense was built starting in 1995. The Rams great O was built starting in the mid-90s. Takes time.

          Eagles concentrated on DBs/DL last offseason. Doesn’t mean LB will be put off forever. Old system needed different kind of LBs. W9 needs guys we don’t have. That will change.

          Eagles plan meticulously. Problem is that not all plans work out. Logic goes into all the decisions. You may disagree with the logic, but there is thinking there.

          • Anonymous

            Agreed Tommy. But you have to admit going to a wide 9 without the right linebackers is kinda stupid. I hope you are right and we will be so proud of our linebacker corps next season.

            As for their evaluation process, I think they like to play Moneyball and if they dont find “value” in a player they wont bring him in even if it would have been an upgrade on what they have. (value meaning what they think a player is worth vs what he is demanding/ age etc) = doesnt always work.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Coe/749860957 James Coe

            Going to a wide-9 without the right LBs wasn’t stupid; it was a necessary step towards the new defensive system. As Tommy has said above, you can’t change everybody in a single off-season – we either have a DL without the right LBs or we have the LBs without the right DL.

            I would agree with your comment that the Eagles won’t bring a player if they don’t think he’s good value, but I disagree that this is a bad thing.

            It might mean that the team is a little worse in the short term, but the long-term result is that the team doesn’t have a bunch of overpaid players that are past their prime – and that’s how you stay competitive for years.

            It’s worth bearing in mind that between 2000 and 2010, the Eagles had the best win %ge in the NFC and were ranked 3rd in the NFL (behind the Patriots and the Colts). We also went to the playoffs 8 times over that period, more than anyone but the Colts who managed 9 (The Patriots went 7 times, Steelers, Packers, Ravens went 6).

            You don’t have that kind of sustained success without considering the value of the players that you bring in.

          • Anonymous

            It is stupid to not consider the linebacker position when you are trying to win games. (we had ample opportunity to acquire veteran linebackers before this season started) Are we rebuilding or trying to win a Super Bowl or just majorly confused. I wouldn’t compare us to any franchise that has had continual success over time and has won multiple Super Bowls.

            There comes a time when you have to play for today and not for tomorrow and that’s why the Eagles fail.

            Super Bowl is the goal not just playoff appearances. I think its been over 50 years (of waiting) since we won our last championship.

          • Anonymous

            There were not a lot of suitable LBs available, Posluszny was the only viable candidate, but he signed for $7M a year, probably worth it, but obviously they didn’t want to pay.

            Tulloch isn’t that good, note his old DC wasn’t willing to give him a long term contract, smart, tough but athletically limited.

            Guys like Durant, Lawson, etc. weren’t significant upgrades and had flaws, Durant is similar to Jordan, Lawson was a 3-4 OLB.

            The Eagles miscalculated on Matthews, and did not favors to Chaney by putting him at SLB, to me he’s looking more and more like a WLB where his mediocre instincts won’t be as much of a liability because he can use his speed in space.

            On the other hand, the young LBs have improved, the last ten games they’re only giving up 4.0 ypc, and that includes some garbage time performances like Bush to balance the walking wounded like Dallas. So Juan has figured out how to put his young LBs in a position to succeed.

          • Anonymous

            We need to aim to play more for today than try to make sure every season in the future is covered. The players on this team arent getting any younger and who knows what will happen with injuries. Lets try to put a team together to win now and actually win a Super Bowl with this coach and the best of this current group of players.

    • Anonymous

      Do you even get the irony of your comments?

      I talked about how you can’t blame everyone for the struggles. Your response to my post is to…blame everyone.

      I’m pretty sure we all get your frustration with the season. How about trying to be reasonable and focusing on whoever/whatever you think is most to blame?

      You say “Stats don’t mean anything because NE finds a way to win”. They have Tom Brady. He outscores other teams. If you want to use this logic, Michael Vick is most to blame for the 2011 struggles. A star QB like him should help out the D when it struggles. I already mentioned above that we have not won a shootout this year. Either the defense is outstanding or we lose. Sorta interesting.

      • Anonymous

        Its a team sport. If the Eagles found a way to win despite their shortcoming like New England has, yes there would be criticisms at certain parts of the team but we would be like “hey they are winning!” (Like New England). Blame has its place on where there can be blame. Its not everywhere its just where this team has failed. Now its time to realize where we can make changes and where we can improve. We have to cut our losses and move on. Go Eagles!

        • Anonymous

          I agree that the whole team deserves some blame for 2011 and that’s what I’ve written. Everyone has a piece of this pie (turd pie, to be exact).

          • Anonymous

            You are a good man and good Eagles fan. We all bleed Eagle green and this season hurt alott.

    • http://twitter.com/Jason_A_Hines Jason A Hines

      I’m not even sure if I want to respond to this, but I think everybody on here has made it clear that the Eagles have to improve. The point is that the Eagles are not as far off as many want to make it sound. I think Tommy would agree that there needs to be an upgrade at at least 1 of the LB positions. If he didn’t think that, he wouldn’t be talking about the kid from BC as much as he does. Everyone in the world, including Tommy, questioned the Castillo move. But he is at the helm of a defense that is statistically in the top half of the NFL in yards and points. Does that warrant that he be fired? There are worse defenses on better teams in the league (as you pointed out). Lawlor thinks we have our future safeties in house already. Is that such an egregious opinion? I don’t think so. I think we all would admit that out offense is pretty set (if they can just avoid mistakes and occasionally get better playcalling). The point is that the doom and gloom and everything is horrible and everyone must go line of thought is kind of silly. This is a good team that took about 5 games to get their act together. It is possible that if the team stays the course, they will show marked improvement next year. Now that seemed pretty far-fetched in week 5, but not as much now.

      • Anonymous

        Its ok to disagree with the community thinking on here right? I personally think we need to add a veteran safety at least and 1 probably 2 linebackers esp (in agreement with Tommy) a stud aggressive smart middle linebacker. I also think changing DC with the right experienced coordinator is needed. It will make a world of difference in overall game calling and I believe in our overall defensive drafting (which for the most part has been horrible).

        • Anonymous

          Disagreeing is important. We need a variety of opinions. The key is to have a smart opinion or an interesting one.

          The last thing we want is everyone agreeing. Speak your mind. Just give quality thoughts, like the last few sets of comments you’ve offered up.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

    Eagles losses

    4
    13
    1
    7
    6
    4
    18
    17

    Average loss 7.5 points

    Average loss in a close game 4.4 (5 of them)

    Average loss in a blowout game 16 (3 of them)

    All of the sudden… this team could have easily been 13-3 at this point, and that is why we’re all frustrated, and also why mhrinda’s “points” are irrelevant.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

      Oh and the weeks we won, our “smallest” margin of victory was 7 points which did happen twice out of 7 wins.

    • Anonymous

      The only issue with this is it’s the story of *every* Eagles season? How do I know … because I’m usually the guy typing this post.

      Even in their other bad seasons, they only get blown out once or twice. They do, however, have a penchant for losing close games, and the only constant over that time frame is Reidhinweg and the style of offense.

      I suppose you could argue that most losses in the NFL are close losses, and that perspective helps us realize that the Eagles might not be the only ones with this problem.

      On one hand, even the stats are a little misleading … that 13-point loss to the Giants was a very winnable game, maybe moreso than some of the closer losses.

      I’m glad most of us fans, even perennially optimistic ones like myself, are saying this team deserved to lose eight games and not running around saying how close we were to 13-3.

      One of the major rarely referenced themes of this season was how much they pressed to live up to the hype. I really think an offseason of little FA movement, no scheme changes and coming in under the radar will really help them focus on making those little tweaks that turn close losses into wins.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

        I’m still pinning this season primarily on the lack of off-season. Reid is a great coach given the proper time to work his magic. This off-season should have been a red flag. Especially with the crippling effect it had on rookies, 2nd year guys, and newly signed FA.

        All that said, I am willing to agree there was probably too much of the “wow, we’re stacked we can just show up and win games” attitude from the team.

        But we can’t know any of these things for certain.

        For my part, I am willing to say that I enjoyed watching the pass rush, McCoy, a Mudd o-line, and Colt Anderson. Was it hard to watch? Yep it sure was at times. But I think this is a talented roster and the coach I would consider replacing is Marty. But that’s just me… I don’t call any of the shots.

  • Matthew Butch

    The one thing that annoys me is that people keep pointing out we beat up on crappy teams. Well, so? Isn’t that what is supposed to happen? If Juan and the players do their job, they SHOULD kill the bad teams. Not that I agree that all of them are bad, but regardless they did what they were supposed to. That’s a good start.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Buchanan/1557343118 Scott Buchanan

    We are 7-8 and thats the only thing that matters…

    • Anonymous

      Not true. You need to understand how and why you got to 7-8. What went right? What went wrong? What changes need to be made?

  • http://twitter.com/Noah_Becker Noah Becker

    “You just don’t have a lousy GM, lousy DC, and lousy players and get to 8th/12th. That’s not reality.”

    You can have a GM whose drafted personnel has been mostly inadequate, to this point, and has banked on a decade of success in order to attract big-name, talented, mostly-overpaid free agents with less than ideal returns.

    You can have a coach that leads a unit that’s, according to Football Outsiders, 31st in Defensive Variance and, the last time they ran their numbers, 29th in 4th quarter defensive DVOA.

    You can feature players at nearly every LB spot who probably shouldn’t be starters on a team with championship aspirations and a starting safety (till this week) who was described, on this site as, “ideally…#3 Safety and STs demon.”

    They’re 8th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed because the offense is really good at holding the ball (8th in average time of possession, 4th in first downs/game, 10th in 3rd down conversions/game), they’ve played over half their games against bottom half NFL offenses (by DVOA) and, yeah, they’ve had a few games where the defense has totally clicked and been successful.

    Being 8th in yards allowed and 12th in points does not invalidate that the GM has done a poor job of adding adequate, young, defensive talent, the defensive coordinator has done a poor job of consistently, successfully coaching defense and that too many starters are not championship quality players.

    • Anonymous

      Some interesting points.

      Mostly overpaid FA? Totally disagree with that. Babin is worth every penny. Same for Jenkins. Hunt is a great deal (and young). As for Asomugha…we signed him for less than what everyone anticipated.

      DVOA stuff…can’t address that because I don’t fully understand it. Derek/Gabe/Sam got that stuff, but it is over my head.

      Offense has helped the defense out by sustaining drives. One of the stats that used to be bad for the Eagles was yards per play. Team was down in the upper 20s at one point. Now the defense is 13th. That tells you that it isn’t just the fact the offense is keeping them off the field.

      Your line ” the defensive coordinator has done a poor job of consistently, successfully coaching defense” is misleading. No one questions that Juan had struggles for part of the year. Juan got better as the year went along, as did his players. It took too long, but they are all finally on the same page and things are clicking. If Juan was a veteran DC or we had a veteran defense (guys had been together for years), this point would definitely be on the money. Problem is that you had a DC and players learning on the job.

      “Too many starters are not championship quality players” is another point I’d disagree with. DBs/DL are set as far as I’m concerned. LBs…need help. Must add MLB. Would like to add MLB and SAM.

      A defense must function well as a unit. Go back and study GB’s starters from last year. The D was 2nd in the NFL. They had 2 UDFA rookies starting for most of the year. That was helped by impact players in other areas. The sum was greater than the parts. You are now seeing the Eagles play like that. Everyone is doing their job well (okay, maybe not Jamar Chaney). Casey and Keenan didn’t find talent a month ago. They finally were put in position to succeed (blame Andy for making me say that). Both guys have looked good as Nickel LBs. Casey struggled as a starter. Chaney struggled as a Nickel LB. Both guys lost the jobs they struggled with and now are playing better football.

      This defense is hot now, but trying to put that in context is definitely tricky. I don’t know how you determine hot streak vs truly changed unit. And I’m still not sold that Juan should return. Every time I start to lean one way, I get a nervous feeling.

      • Anonymous

        DVOA isn’t rocket science, they’re trying to do something similar to replacement value in baseball, combined with weighting plays by importance (i.e. discounting garbage time yards, etc) and by strength of schedule. Not fool proof, but darned imformative.

        Eagles are 6th in weighted DVOA on defense, 12th overall, weighted DVOA puts more weight on recent games and shows trends (since strength of schedule is included, it’s not fooled by weak opponents), example, in 2009, Eagles were 6th overall but 9th in weighted DVOA at the end of the season, evidence of a downward trend which continued through 2010. Juan is showing an sharp upward trend, and DVOA just confirms what we’ve seen in other statistics.

        People just hate to admit Juan is doing a pretty darn good job (or someone is really giving him some good help) after a rocky start, just like Allen and Horton, the two other young DCs that were hired. The young safeties have improved, the LBs are more comfortable in their assigned roles, Aso looks more comfortable playing a different role than in Oakland. This improvement also is hopeful concerning Zordich and Caldwell as position coaches.

      • http://twitter.com/Noah_Becker Noah Becker

        You’re right, my wording with regards to free agents was imprecise. They’re not overpaid, for the most part, in the sense that they aren’t worth their contracts. Rather they’re overpaid vis a vis resource allocation team-wide (especially when you add the price the Eagles have paid for DL and DBs in the draft, 6 picks in the first 4 rounds over the last 2 years).

        The line “the defensive coordinator has done a poor job of consistently, successfully coaching defense” is about the Eagles incredibly horrible variance ranking. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde squad that’s feasted on some very low-level QBs (and been picked apart by some other very low-level QBs). The standards for Juan have gone from “Wow! This defense could be really good,” in the offseason, to “Wow! Juan’s defense finally manage to stop a guy who is about as good as John Skelton!”

        I’m fine saying the DL/DBs are set (even assuming the safeties will be a minor weakness but they have developmental upside) but in the same breath you suggest the Eagles need upgrades at all 3 LB positions (assuming typing MLB twice was a typo). Not only will they need starters (which Roseman’s track record on the DL and DB portions of the draft suggests they will need to sign as free agents), they will need depth and developmental prospects or the team will become old, brittle, stagnate and continue backsliding.

        I think it’s less controversial to say all three phases have experienced a large degree of failure, and serious consideration must be given to making changes in all three phases, than it is to attempt to pin the entirety of the blame on one specific person/aspect.

        • Anonymous

          I think Rolle at WLB is okay. He needs competition.

          MLB is priority. SAM is less so, but would be nice to have long term answer.

          I’m fine with Casey as backup MLB. I’m fine with Jamar staying on as competition at SAM or WLB.

          Keenan Clayton is good role player. Not sure if he could challenge Rolle for WLB spot.

          One impact starter would make a world of difference.

          * * * * *

          I can live with saying there were breakdowns in the 3 phases as long as you acknowledge there were successes as well. I guess that’s part of my point. We treat this D like we’re 30th across the board. Watch a Giants game. They have huge problems on D. Pass rush is highly inconsistent. LB play is iffy. DBs can’t cover. That’s a group that has serious issues. I feel like some Eagles fans think the Giants have a better defense. That’s nowhere close to being true.

          There is plenty to be critical of, but we need to keep things in context.

  • Anonymous

    Juan Castillo is terrible and has no idea what he’s doing. Agreed.

    The Wide-9 is a dumb system. Disagree

    All the DL care about is sacks. None of them can play the run. Disagree.

    The Eagles have the worst LBs in the league. Quite possibly. Can we say “among the worst in the league”?

    The Eagles have awful Safeties. Disagree. They made mistakes, but that’s expected of young players. I think they have a lot of potential and upside.

    Howie Roseman is awful at acquiring players. Disagree. Drafting is a group effort and you can’t judge drafts so close to draft day nor write off injured players before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves.
    ______

    Most defenses have some holes, but overall I believe this defense has the talent to be great.
    coaching
    I think the Juan Castillo hiring was disrespectful to the memory of Jim Johnson. Johnson bailed out Andy’s butt numerous times throughout his career, and then Andy takes an “any rah-rah guy can handle that job” approach to filling his role with the team. Is it too much to ask for an NFL defensive coordinator with years of experience as a defensive coach? The NFL is supposed to be the top level of the football profession, right?

    • Anonymous

      Andy didn’t take Juan because he’s a “rah rah guy”. Andy had some logic behind his thinking. It might be twisted logic to the other members of Earth, but I guarantee you that there was a specific train of thought.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Coe/749860957 James Coe

        I think Andy’s logic was that Juan spent a lot of time discussing D with JJ (there were reports that he even used to help draw up some of his blitzes). Combine that with his people skills and the lack of decent veteran coaches available and it was worth the risk. Sure, it was a controversial decision, but it seems to me like it was a good one.

  • Anonymous

    Damn, Tommy! This is the best thread of the year. Before I get started I just wanted to say that this is the best blog out there for passionate Eagles Fans to get together and discuss the good and the bad of the team. It is hands down better than me filtering through all the crap on TATE years ago when I would look for the threads that you started or had comments from you or Sam. To that I want to say thanks and Merry Christmas. Also for the most part, people commenting on this site is way way way even light years ahead of the brain dead morons that need to be endured over at TATE. So look on the bright side, that which you complain about (or criticize) could be oh so worse. I will be back later to post some thoughts about the year. Right now all I can say is 7-8 describes who we are; not a good team; on offense or defense. While statistically speaking there are some good things to be happy about when looking at the cumulative performance, those successes (a term I use lightly) were just not there at critical situations within a game too often; whether it be on O or on D. Not having “it” when it counted the most allowed teams to prevail against us within those critical moments or that 1 game. Also, we need to look at the year for those “Karma is a Bitch” moments. We have certainly been on the short end of the stick on so many fluke plays that favored our opponents.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=47904149 Liam Garrett

      Great points. I regularly read Garry Cobb’s posts at GCobb, but their comments section is unreadably terrible. On Igglesbltiz, the comment threads don’t devolve into flame wars.

      Also, I wanted to point out the flukes, too. No one wants bring those up because it sounds like we’re making excuses, and there’s always someone quick to reply “But good teams find a way to win despite flukes!” And while that’s true, there were some crazy moments earlier this season with Vick getting concussed after hitting his head on (I think) Herreman’s helmet, and players with great hands (like Avant) suddenly dropping passes and fumbling. (I repeat: AVANT!) I think Vick astutely attributed it to players trying too hard to make game-changing plays. The expectations at the beginning of the season were ridiculous, and, to put it simply, this team panicked in a big way.

      Personally, while I’m dying to get Spags and am troubled at the the thought of Juan returning as DC, I think the Eags are primed to have a great 2012 season, either way. I think a couple new pieces (i.e. time to break the bank on a proven stud MLB) and a full off-season of Reid ‘n staff’s fevered mania in developing and preparing our players, will put us in a great position next year.

      Here’s hoping!

      • Anonymous

        Part of me will always wonder what would have happened if the Eagles had somehow won the Falcons game.

        They would have been the same flawed, developing team, but would have been playing with confidence, which might have changed the SF outcome, etc.

        In the end, they weren’t top 3 in the NFC material anyway so even if they’d played a little better earlier, we’d be looking at a playoff exit most likely.

        But I think confidence, and lack of it, and trying to live up to expectations had a lot to do with how they got so far behind the eight ball, and it will be interesting to watch this team next year play without the weight of such great expectations.