Conflicting Agendas

Posted: July 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 7 Comments »

I mentioned last week about reading John Feinstein’s book on the 2004 Ravens called Next Man Up.  You find out about all kinds of situations from behind the scenes.  As an Eagles fan, it is hard not to compare the various situations to the Eagles, past and present.  I’ll go over the comparisons in the next couple of weeks.

The first one to start with is separate agendas.  Coach Brian Billick could tell that the 2004 Ravens had a problem with too many agendas.  Some assistant coaches were trying to save their jobs.  Others wanted to get head coaching gigs.  There were front office guys hoping to get a GM gig.  There were players hoping to get big deals on the free agent market after the season, so playing well meant even more to them.  RB Jamal Lewis was dealing with an arrest on trumped up charges so he had a chip on his shoulders for a few reasons.  There were veteran players getting big extensions and that always makes you fear them letting up and getting sloppy.  The team had a young QB, Kyle Boller, who wanted a chance to show what he could do.  Unfortunately the offense was brutally conservative and lacked weapons.

As you can see, that team was being pulled in a lot of directions.  The players got along with each other.  They also liked the coaches.  There was no animosity.  The problem was that too many guys were just pulling the team in different directions because they were focused on self and not team.

You can see this in the 2005 and 2011 Eagles.

In 2005 you had TO going nuclear on us.  That split the locker room and forced Donovan to act differently than he ever had in his career.  Brian Westbrook wanted a new deal.  Brad Childress wanted a head coaching job.  Marty Mornhinweg was trying to find his niche.  Brad was the OC.  Andy called the plays back then.

The defense also had issues.  Trot had just signed a long-term deal.  Lito and Mike Lewis were young DBs coming off Pro Bowl seasons in 2004.  Neither one of them handled the success well and both stunk up the joint.  Steve Spagnuolo was hoping to get a DC job somewhere.  Jim Johnson was still somewhat interested in HC jobs.  Corey Simon was dumped late in the offseason when the team could not trade him.

That team had a lot of talent.  The team struggled through the issues, but still was 4-2 at one point.  Think about the Dallas MNF meltdown.  The Eagles led 20-7 in the 4th Qtr.  If they hang on and win, chances are Donovan doesn’t get hurt.  He tried to make a tackle on Roy Williams on his ill-fated INT and that ended Donovan’s season.  The team could have been 5-4 coming out of that game and who knows what might have happened.

Instead, Donovan did get hurt.  Other injuries piled up.  The team looked so good for parts of the Dallas game, playing like a true team.  We never really saw that again.  The rest of 2005 was just bizarre.

So what about last year?

Lots of different agendas, once again.  Asante Samuel wasn’t happy starting the moment he heard that the team signed Asomugha.  Asante knew he was no longer part of the long term plans.  DeSean Jackson was frustrated with his lack of a new deal.  Jamaal Jackson didn’t like being a backup.  Prominent veterans were brought in for backup roles (Ronnie Brown, Vince Young, Steve Smith).  You had a bunch of new coaches trying to work together.  I’m sure that made for some tough moments.  There is no natural hierarchy when everyone is new.

There were other agendas at work.  Some we know about, some we don’t.  Who wanted Casey Matthews at MLB…Castillo, Reid, or Roseman?  I’ve never gotten a clear indication on that.  Was Nate Allen rushed back because a coach or FO person was pushing for him?  I know there was some disagreement between the staff on a young player and whether he should/shouldn’t start.  The initial decision left some disappointed, but it turned out to be the right move.  No names on that one.  Who was pushing for DRC in the slot?  Was that just Castillo?  If so, might have bugged others on the defensive staff who could clearly see that playing in the slot was a terrible fit for him.

Back in 2004, Billick talked to people around his Ravens team to try and read the situation.  He did what he could to appease people, but in the end that team was a talented mess.  Andy also did what he could with his players/coaches.  Injuries and TO made 2005 beyond saving.  Last year was quite different.  Just change a handful of plays and the Eagles would have won the division, which makes it all the more painful.  Even with a 10-6 or 9-7 record and the NFC-E crown, the 2011 Eagles would have been a highly flawed mess.  It just would have been nice to keep the Gmen from the postseason.

None of this is new or groundbreaking info, but when you can look at another team completely objectively and see them going through many of the same things, it can help you to put the pieces together on the Eagles and some failed teams.

The most interesting aspect is that everyone assumes people with differing agendas can’t get along.  That really wasn’t the case on the Ravens.  It was more of an issue with the Eagles last year.  Still, it wasn’t as if the Eagles were team turmoil.  None of this played out in the press.  No bridges were burned.  Reid kept a lid on things and has worked through the issues this offseason.  Many of the agendas are gone and the Eagles are back to being one happy family.

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RE:  comments to old topics

You can share comments to a previous topic in the current post.  Old posts don’t get much action, in terms of back and forth.  This post has nothing to do with which teams you hate, but you can still share your list here.  The comments section should be open to any good discussion.  Fire away with opinions and questions in there.

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In case anyone has been on vacation or away from the computer for a while, I wanted to mention Eagles Almanac again.

I was part of an all-star group of Eagles writers who put the publication together.  Look at this list and tell me you aren’t blown away:

Mike Tanier: The New York Times, Football Outsiders, The Philly Fan’s Code
Tommy Lawlor:, Iggles Blitz, Scouts Notebook
Sheil Kapadia: Moving the Chains –
Jason Brewer: Bleeding Green Nation, SB Nation Philly
Jimmy Kempski: Blogging the bEast, Bleeding Green Nation, Washington Post
Tom McAllisterBury Me in My Jersey
Derek Sarley: Iggles Blog
Sam Lynch: Iggles Blitz, Iggles Blog
Gabe Bevilacqua: Iggles Blog, Bounty Bowl
Brian Solomon: McNabb or Kolb, NBC Philadelphia

Most of those guys are talented writers.  I’m just the eye candy, sort of the Erin Andrews of the group.

Eagles Almanac sells for $4.99.

We can’t offer hard copies, just the downloadable version.

The Eagles Almanac is a half review of 2011, half preview of 2012.  This isn’t your typical summer preview mag that has an 80% chance to be irrelevant because of all the changing news.

Sheil Kapadia’s piece on Mike Vick is very good.

Gabe’s piece on living with the Giants and their 2 SB wins is hysterical and the highlight of the EA for me.

Those of you who love charts, graphs, and stats will enjoy the work of Derek, Brian, and Mike Tanier.

Eagles fans who want to know about the past should enjoy my piece on the 1992 team.  I’m no AC Viking, but I do know a bit of Eagles history.  That was an amazing season and the end of an era.

Check it out, if you haven’t already.


7 Comments on “Conflicting Agendas”

  1. 1 Jack Waggoner said at 8:47 PM on July 9th, 2012:

    Now I realize that Dion is not making the huge bucks but he still gets paid rather substantially compared to most people. So why the hell is he staying at a Hampton Inn? He can clearly afford to stay at a hotel that has an actual lobby and stays open all night.

  2. 2 Jack Waggoner said at 8:54 PM on July 9th, 2012:

    Here’s a thought for a topic: Eagles one game wonders. The most obvious one is Bobby Hoying. These are guys who had one outstanding game and got the fans expecting more, but these guys didn’t come through.

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 9:24 PM on July 9th, 2012:

    I wrote about Bobby recently. He was more like a 1-month wonder.

  4. 4 Jim McCadden said at 10:20 PM on July 9th, 2012:

    I feel like Ryan Moats was another flash in the pan. I don’t remember how many games he was effective (I think it was more than one) but he certainly didn’t last long with the Eagles. Too bad what happened with him in Texas.

  5. 5 Jack Waggoner said at 11:29 PM on July 9th, 2012:

    Yeah…we had a few guys we got our hopes up for, based on one or a few performances. I thought we really had something with Kevin Curtis in ’07.

  6. 6 Kevin_aka_RC said at 10:13 AM on July 10th, 2012:

    Question for the group: What Eagles on THIS team are on the outside looking in? IE, which Eagles are most likely to disrupt this harmony?

    IMO, #1 case is Jason Babin. What happens if Graham or Tapp or Hunt outplay him and he gets his starting spot taken away/reduced?

  7. 7 austinfan said at 9:22 AM on July 11th, 2012:

    I never got the impression that 2011 was “team turmoil,” more like “team confused and unsure.”

    They had some fluke losses, like dropped/deflected passes/fumbles in key situations that weren’t “normal.” They also had defensive breakdowns that were to be expected given the changes on defense and no off season.

    They were burned by the veteran backups (ironically, Babin, Jenkins and Aso, the big signings, pretty much worked out), VY, Brown, Smith, Page, though Mathis and Landri balanced them out.

    There was a learning curve on the OL and a lot of inexperience and players out of position on defense.

    All in all, it probably should have been a 10-6 team that went one and out in the playoffs like the previous two seasons, or maybe got to a second game, the 2010 Eagles were a far better playoff team than the 2009 version, and by the end of the season this would have been a respectable, though not intimidating group. But by going 8-8 they managed their best draft in a while – and that often is the key to a big rebound – if Cox, Curry, Kendricks and Boykin set this defense up to approach elite status, we’ll look back at 2011 as the season that set the foundation for future success.