In order to bounce back from a down year, the men in charge of the organization need to do a good job of player evaluation. Just how bare is the cupboard? They must figure out who can play and who can’t. This is easier said than done. Fans are overly-emotional. A player who is having a down or inconsistent season suddenly “must go”.
Reality is that some of those type players are worth keeping. They are simply having a down season. Some are guys that are worth cutting, but not as many as the average fan would lead you to believe.
The trick here is getting a true evaluation of the player. If you go strictly by results, then yes…a lot of Eagles should be cut. The good coach, good GM, and good scouts will study the players carefully and figure out which guys have the talent to succeed and which ones aren’t worth keeping. It is then up to the coaches to figure out how to get the struggling players to perform at a higher level.
Let’s talk about Nate Allen for a minute. He’s been very up and down in the last 2 years. No reasonable person would dispute that. Is he good enough as is? Not really. The Eagles need better play from him or to replace him.
One guy I’d have interest in is a young Safety that might be available. He has good playmaking potential. His best season:
Solid numbers, especially since they came in less than a full season. So who is this guy?
Nate Allen, the 2010 version.
Nate looked like a very good young player in 2010. He played the ball well down the field. He was an effective blitzer. His tackling was up and down, but not a major problem. He did get hurt late in the year and that affected him in 2011, but not this season. Nate’s inconsistent play this year is all on him. And his coaches.
What I mean by that is that Nate has never looked “right” in the current system. He did look that way when playing for Sean McDermott. How much of Nate’s play is affected by the system that he’s in?
If the Eagles hire a DC who runs a different system, Nate might become a much better player. We know he’s got the size you need. He runs pretty well. Has good hands. Can be physical. He is what you want in an NFL Safety from a physical standpoint. Unlike Jaiquawn Jarrett, Nate deserved to be a 2nd round pick. He was a very good college player and pro prospect.
For those who think this sounds like I’m dreaming or making excuses or whatever, go ask Jermane Mayberry about the difference a coach can make. Under Ray Rhodes and Juan Castillo, he was a major disappointment. Andy Reid and Juan Castillo turned him into a Pro Bowl player. They figured out the spot to use him (RG) and let him develop there.
Do you remember Jeremiah Trotter’s rookie year? No one does. Basically didn’t exist. He played in 8 games and had 3 tackles. Trot was sitting behind James Willis, a mediocre player, and doing so on an awful 3-13 team. I’m sure Emmitt Thomas had no idea what to do with a MLB like Trot. Jim Johnson took over in 1999 and unleashed Trot. He let him attack downhill all year and the C’s and OGs of the league paid a heavy price as Trot slammed into them at full speed repeatedly. Trot went to the Skins as a free agent in 2002. The coaches there liked to play a lot of Cover 2 and that meant Trot needed to drop 25 yards downfield on pass plays. He was out of place. In 2001, Trot had 3.5 sacks and 12 TFLs for the Eagles. In 2 years with the Skins, he had 9 TFLs and 1.5 sacks. He went from being a star to getting cut. Trot came back to the Eagles in 2004. In less than a full season of starting, he had 1 sack and 10 TFLs. Scheme vs talent.
Nate wouldn’t change positions, but Safety can be wildly different based on the scheme. I think Nate is more of a true centerfielder type. Play him in the box at times, but mostly put him back deep. Castillo had other ideas. Watching Nate play in the box against the Steelers late in the game was painful. That’s just not his forte. Get him in the right system and with the right coach and I do think Nate can be a good FS.
Nate could be a player that the new coaching staff won’t like and does want to get rid of. That is absolutely possible. Just don’t be so quick to assume that because he’s inconsistent this year. Nate has the potential to be a good NFL player. It isn’t happening now, but that can change with a new scheme and better coaching.
I’m focusing on him in this particular case, but you have to use this same mentality when judging the whole Eagles roster. One commenter said the other day that “bad players play badly”. That isn’t necessarily true at all. You need to identify who is talented and worth keeping and who isn’t. You can’t simply look at results. That can give you a false positive or a false negative. You must study the players natural talent and skills to see if there is the potential for him to thrive in a different system.
I still see a lot of talent on this team, but you don’t fall apart like this by accident. There are going to be changes and it might involve some popular players. It will be up to the new staff to look at the 2012 Eagles and to figure out who should stay and who should go. Andy Reid and Tom Modrak did a great job of this in 1999 and it helped them to keep some good players and lose very little. I think the job is tougher this time around. I sure hope the new staff can come close to what the guys in ’99 did. That will be key to the turnaround.
* * * * *
For PE.com I wrote about the game and state of the team. I should have the DGR posted tonight.