Many of you want to focus on Andy Reid. Listen, the team is 3-5. He will need a miracle finish to keep his job. If he pulls off a miracle finish, he deserves to stay. If he doesn’t pull off that miracle, he’s heading to San Diego (just a strong guess).
Talking about Reid isn’t a big deal for me right now. I’m more focused on the players. To me, that’s the tougher discussion. Who stays? Who goes?
Player evaluation is tricky. Remember how excited everyone was about Dennis Kelly after last week. Will Danny Watkins ever get his job back? I didn’t write about that because I wanted to see a second game. I’ve been burned in the past by a guy that steps in and plays really well for a game, then disappears or flattens out significantly.
The best non-Shawn Andrews game I’ve seen a G play for the Eagles was Artis Hicks vs the Giants in 2003. I was ready to put him in Canton. Didn’t last. Our buddy Brian Baldinger was ready to marry/adopt/worship Jamar Chaney after 1.5 games in 2010. Back in 2009 Will Witherspoon made a spectacular debut as an Eagle with a sack, INT, and FF on MNF. He then was useless for the remainder of the season. Bobby Hoying of 1997 was good. Hoying of 1998 was torturously bad. (“Please, turn off the tape and waterboard me some more!!!”)
One game can give you a false-positive or a false-negative. You need a bigger sample. You need to see how the player performs for multiple games. You need to see how much of his success is due to his teammates or the scheme. You need to see how teams adjust to him and how he adjusts to the adjustments. Just because a guy hits a home run in his first at bat doesn’t mean he’s going to be Babe Ruth.
When the season is officially over, someone will need to evaluate the roster and decide who stays and who goes. Clearly Nnamdi Asomugha is a goner. He’s lost a step and it sure doesn’t look like he’s consistently physical enough to play Safety. He’s not worth big money, so he’s gone.
What about Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins? Fans will scream loudly to cut Babin, understandably so. The personnel guys/coaches who study him have to be a bit more careful. They have to recognize that he had 18 sacks in 2011. Was that the anomaly or is 2012 the anomaly? As fans it is easy to scream the answer you want, but as a team employee your job rides on the evaluation. Get it wrong and you can lose your job. Much tougher.
We all love Trent Cole to death. What is the deal with him? Last night he had a chance for an easy sack and ran right by Brees. That makes me think Trent is in a slump of some kind. He’s pressing and playing out of control, not a usual trait of his. But it could be that time has caught up to him and has robbed him of half a step of quickness. That’s all it takes to go from sack machine to pressure machine.
There are 3 big questions on offense. The most important for the whole team is what to do at QB. I think there is very little shot for Vick to return. He is due big money next year and I don’t think the organization believes in him long term. Is Nick Foles the guy? It really would be great to get him 4 to 6 starts this year to take a look at what he can do. If there are legit doubts about him, you have to bring in serious competition.
The problem at QB is that the draft class looks weak. If you cut Vick and don’t like Foles, you need plan C. Foles really is the logical way to go for 2013, but it will help whoever is the key decision-maker if they can watch him in action. I don’t believe you bench Vick right now, but it’s getting closer and closer.
The other questions on offense are whether you count on Jason Peters coming back and then deciding if Jeremy Maclin is the right guy to keep. I think Mac is an above average player. The problem is that he doesn’t complement DeSean well. Mac has size, but plays small. He’s a finesse WR that runs well. DeSean is smaller, faster, and explosive. You’d love the guy across from him to be bigger and more physical.
It is important for the players to bust their humps in the final 8 games. What they show can help decide who stays and who goes. Players need to have the right attitude in the classroom, practice, and in games. This is why it is important for Reid to keep a steady and not just start benching players en masse. You need to maintain a professional atmosphere, even if you’re losing. Dave Spadaro talks about the end of the Rhodes regime and how players would sit at practice and talk on their cellphones. Reid will never let things get to that point.
You must be careful in talent evaluation to make sure players are done or have proven to be busts. Justin Tuck was injured and unproductive for his first 2 seasons, but then got healthy and was a perfect fit for Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme in 2007. The rest is history. Roddy White was an underachiever after 2 years. He was better the next 2, but then got better the last 3 seasons. A proven vet like Charles Woodson left Oakland as a huge question mark. He wasn’t signed until late April of 2006 and only Tampa and Green Bay showed interest, but he’s been a force for the Packers ever since. A change of scenery did him a world of good. He also got healthy and stayed healthy.
It is easy to play armchair GM and call for the Eagles to be blown up. “Cut ‘em all”. The reality is that the roster has talent right now. The trick is to figure out which players are underachieving this year and which ones just aren’t good anymore or were overrated in the first place.
The final 8 games may or may not be important to the final record, but they can have a big impact on the careers of some players, coaches, and personnel guys.
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NFL Gimpy has a new MAQB column up. He covers the playoff race and has his usual rookie QB update. It really is amazing to track the careers of these young guys so far. Amazing group.
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In case anyone missed it, Jimmy Bama and I did a show last night after the loss. We started off angry, but then I got Jimmy to laughing and he got me to laughing.
Just because the season is in a free-fall (or Skyfall starring Daniel Craig!!!) doesn’t mean the coverage will let up. I’ll be doing a ton of writing. Jimmy and I’ll do regular shows to discuss the Eagles, the draft, the impending coaching search, and so much more.