Andy Reid said “This is fixable.”
Many of you said…great, why isn’t it fixed already? If you know the problems…if you know the solutions…why the friggin delay? Do your thing, Big Red, and fix it.
If only it were that easy. There are times when a team has an obvious problem. Back in 1993 there were some DL injuries and the Eagles could not stop the run. Guys like Lewis Tillman were running up the gut for 150 yards. So the Eagles went and signed Refrigerator Perry. The run D got instantly better.
The 2012 Eagles don’t have holes quite like that. The problems here are about performance and execution. Solving them is much trickier. I don’t know what the solution is, in terms of specifics.
I can tell you that the team is missing “it”. Back in 2003 the defense suffered a lot of injuries. I remember a game vs the Skins where UDFA rookie Rod Hood was covering Lavernaeous Coles 1-on-1 on several plays. Complete mismatch. And yet…Hood found a way to get it done. Had nothing to do with talent. Had everything to do with “it”. The Eagles were winners back then. Players were expected to play to a certain level. When someone got hurt, the next guy stepped in and usually delivered. The players believed in the system. They believed in the coaches. They believed in each other. The Eagles did things a certain way and it showed, even when the players changed.
Jason Williams was a freshman point guard for Duke in 2000. The team was coming off a 37-2 season where they lost the title game. Most of the talent left, but a junior named Shane Battier was still around. Duke started the 2000 season in a tourney in Madison Square Garden. They lost both games and were 0-2, the same amount of losses as the previous year. Williams was getting on the team bus after the second game and laughed at a joke someone made. Battier got up and went nuts. He let Williams know that this was Duke and losing was unacceptable and not something to be taken lightly. Battier knew the Duke way. It was his job to teach it to his young teammates. They had tons of talent, but didn’t know what it took to live up to the Duke standard. The Blue Devils won the national title the following season, in large part due to the play of Battier and Williams.
Who has been teaching the Eagle Way to young players? Does it still exist?
As recently as 2008, the Eagles had leaders like Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, Sheldon Brown, Brian Westbrook, Quintin Mikell and David Akers. All are gone. Some of their replacements are darn good players, some even better. I just don’t know that the new guys get the Eagle Way.
This isn’t about fiery leadership. That stuff is overrated. This isn’t about heart or effort. The Eagles have played hard this year. This is about getting the job done. Players held each other to a standard back then. New guy in the lineup? So what. He’ll find a way to get it done.
2000 – Duce Staley was the offense early on. He got hurt and was replaced by Darnell Autry. Big drop-off. Autry didn’t post good numbers, but he was good enough that the team went 8-2 in games he played.
2002 – Donovan got hurt in the 10th game. Koy Detmer won his only start. Then AJ Feeley took over and went 4-1 (with overtime loss).
2003 – We had OL injuries. Artis Hicks started at LT vs the Dolphins on MNF and kept Jason Taylor under control. Eagles won 34-27. Hicks played a lot of LG as well and had some good games. Bobbie Williams was pressed into duty at RG. He was a very good run blocker. He wasn’t a good pass blocker, but was good enough.
The great secondary had all kinds of injuries. Clinton Hart started at FS vs the Packers on MNF and we held them to 14 points. Hart was the FS for 9 games, Dawk for just 7. Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent combined for just 20 starts. The defense struggled, finishing just 20th in yards allowed. However, Jim Johnson and his players found a way to turn lemons into lemonade and finished 7th in points allowed. They got the job done.
2004 – There was a game in December vs the Packers when the starting OGs were Steve Sciullo and Alonzo Eephraim. The Eagles won 47-17 and put up 542 yards of offense.
2006 – McNabb got hurt and Jeff Garcia had to take over. Jeff went 5-1 as a starter and even won a playoff game. Jevon Kearse was hurt in Week 2. Juqua Parker took a lot of his snaps and had 6 sacks.
These are just a few examples of the Eagle Way. Good players went down. Backups stepped up and did the job. They did it well. It wasn’t all about the backups, though. The starters who were healthy raised their level of play. Playing well mattered. Winning mattered. Guys totally bought in.
Some of that seems to be missing these past couple of years. Did the previous generation not do a good job of teaching these players? Is this because there are so many new coaches that they’re not doing their part?
I don’t know the answer. Big Red doesn’t know the answer. If he did, as pointed out by many, he’d have done it by now.
What Reid will do is keep trying to push buttons to see if he can find the right one. This could involve any number of things. He could change the lineup. He could yell more. He could beg and plead. He could bring in a motivational speaker. He could try some gimmicky stunt. He could make schematic adjustments.
Reid normally does a good job of figuring out what to do. The problem is that he’s up against it, time wise. He needs results now. Last year Reid got things solved in December. That won’t work this year. 3-4 doesn’t sound bad, but 1-3 in the NFC means the team has very little wiggle room if they want to have a realistic shot at a Wildcard berth.
Do I have confidence in Reid fixing things? After Sunday’s showing, confidence isn’t exactly the word I would use.
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Jimmy Bama and I did a lengthy podcast (1:20). We covered the Falcons game. We also talked about a variety of subjects. One of the topics was possible coaches who could take over if Reid is fired. That came in the final 25 minutes or so. The show isn’t depressing. It is a mixture of rants, analysis, and bad jokes.
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Howard Eskin reported that the Eagles could be making a QB change. I’ll put some thoughts on that later. Just a rumor at this point.