There Will Be Changes

Posted: July 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 54 Comments »

Over the years, we came to expect certain things. The Eagles mostly had the Giants number in recent years. For some reason, Andy Reid knew what to do to win against them, whether a shootout or an ugly defensive battle.

We knew Tony Romo would be awesome or awful. Two of his 5 best games came against the Eagles. I prefer the other way, where 4 of his worst 8 NFL games came against the Eagles. When the defense worked, it really worked.

We knew the Eagles would have at least one horrible loss each season. Arizona 2011. Minnesota 2010. Oakland 2009. Cincinnati was just a tie in 2008, but that sure felt like a loss.

We knew the Eagles were going to win coming out of the bye week. 2012 was Reid’s only loss in that game.

We knew the offense getting to the Red Zone meant that there was likely going to be a FG in our future.

And so on.

Andy Reid is gone. His staff is gone. His systems are gone. Lots of change. This means that some of these trends will change as well.

I’d love to tell you that the changes will all be good, but that’s not reality. The goal for us is for to have the changes involve more good than bad. We want to keep being a winning team after the bye, but we want to quit losing games to bad teams every year. We want to keep beating the Giants, but we want to quit struggling in the Red Zone.

All the national media are talking about the Eagles as a mystery team. They focus on the offense, defense, QB and obvious stuff like that. As Eagles fans who know the team inside-out, we’ve got a whole other level of mystery to deal with.

Jimmy Bama and I were talking about the upcoming season the other day. We penciled in the game vs Denver as a loss. Peyton Manning has owned the Eagles in his career (3-1). The only loss came when the Colts were in a down season. But now the Eagles are going to be running an odd man front.

Last year Peyton and the Broncos lost 4 games. They lost to Atlanta, a 4-3 team run by a Mike Nolan, who mixed in some 3-4 concepts. They lost to Houston and Baltimore, 3-4 teams. They also lost to the Patriots, who are hard to classify. Maybe, just maybe, the Eagles and their new defense will give Peyton a much harder time. I still think you favor the Broncos to win, but maybe the new system gives you more of a sense of hope.

Part of the fun of having a new coach is the sense of mystery. It was interesting to see how Chip Kelly handled free agency and the draft. Some of his moves were predictable. Others caught me off guard. I didn’t see Matt Barkley as an Eagles target at all. Lesson learned.

We still have a lot to learn about Chip. Heck, Chip has a lot to learn about Chip. The NFL is a whole other world than college football. He’s never worked with this staff or coached these players.

As long as you keep your expectations realistic, 2013 should be a fun season. We’ll be watching new systems. That means that even Eagles we know very well (like Trent Cole) could look very different. There will be new players. There will be young guys that we hope are getting better. I’m sure that Chip and the players will still give us plenty to be mad about. That’s just life in the NFL.

Eagles fans were happier with Andy Reid in January 2000 than January 1999. He got the team to finish hot. He beat Dallas. And there were enough flashes from his young QB Donovan McNabb that fans got excited.

Chip Kelly is a much bigger name as he takes over the Eagles. Fans love him now. If he is more popular next January, things will be looking very good for the Eagles.

* * * * *

Over the last couple of weeks we looked into some Eagles history. Some of it was good, some depressing.  A few of you wondered why I would talk about some of those subjects since they were depressing.

You learn your biggest lessons in life from the toughest moments. Don’t ignore those moments. Embrace them.

Every summer, Tom Brady looks into the mirror and reminds himself that he was only a 6th round pick. That keeps him humble. That keeps him focused and driven.

Part of the joy of being an Eagles fan is that we don’t have Lombardi Trophies. I bumped into an Eagles fan yesterday at the grocery store. We just spoke for a moment, but he saw my Eagles t-shirt and made sure to say something. Being an Eagles fan means something. You didn’t choose this team for the glory.

All the tough moments through the years will make it that much sweeter when we do finally win the Super Bowl.

And until then, I’m going to keep talking about the fact that ND Kalu missed that punt vs the Rams in 2001 by inches or I’ll wonder about the 1991 team with a healthy Randall or what would have happened if…you get the point. No need to torture you on a Friday.

_


  • Mitchell

    Tommy,
    I was listening to the last podcast when you were two were talking about losing to Denver and I was thinking why would we lose? This is a whole new system maybe we will be the opposite and be Manning’s worst nightmare. Also I was laughing so hard when you where talking about DRC’s comments as how they were something a teenager would say. Favorite part,”or why you have to tell your parents why there is blood on the front of the car.” What!?!? Lol

    • TommyLawlor

      I was surprised Jimmy let the “blood on the car” comment go. I figured that was an over the top joke sure to provoke a response. Instead, he gave me crickets.

      For the record…never blood on the car…unless you count the time in high school when my friend chugged Mad Dog and puked some blood on the side of the car.

      • Mitchell

        holy Jesus! That sounds like an epic night. The night before I proposed to my wife I threw up all the way home all over the sidewalk. Good times. That’s what I thought too but I didn’t know if it was an inside joke between you two or if he knew you were serious.

      • A_T_G

        Wow, you triggered some memories. In high school I was in an accident when a car pulled out in front of me. I had to explain to the officer that arrived that the blood on the outside of my windshield was from a bird that flew in front of me, clipped the hood ornament on my ’79 Regal and splattered on the windshield 5 minutes before the accident.

        Also, Mad Dog was how I learned that just because an alcohol is referenced in a song that I like doesn’t mean it is an alcohol that I will like.

        • TommyLawlor

          Awesome.

  • Mitchell

    I am really excited about the changes. All I have ever known is Andy and how he ran the Eagles. I like what Chip has to say but I want to like what he actually executes as well.

  • knighn

    As mentioned in previous article:
    Was taking a late lunch and got to hear you on 97.5 (The Fanatic). Pleasant surprise. As mentioned on the radio, you didn’t pause when you took the over on the 7.5 wins! I love your optimism!

    • Mitchell

      Times like that I wished I lived close enough to hear the Fanatic in the radio.

      • TommyLawlor

        You can get it online.

        http://www.975thefanatic.com/

        • Mitchell

          Is it too far to call you and Eagles prophet? Thank you

        • GvilleEagleFan

          Do you know if there’s a way to pull down your segment after it’s aired? Would be cool if you could link it on eaglesblog.com for those of us who missed it, or perhaps just a synopsis. As an out of area fan, always interested to hear what’s on the mind of the local media.

  • McNabbulousness

    Hopefully we can reverse that trend of horrible 2min offense/ just the most god awful clock management. Exhibit A: the last 7mins of SB XXXIX.

    • TommyLawlor

      Andy’s clock mgmt got better over time. The Eagles actually led the league in points before the half either once or twice late in his tenure.

      • MediaMike

        Can I double down with ill-timed challenges. We seem to have suffered a bad combo of lost challenges due to foolishness or blind replay officials. I cannot remember the exact game / season vs. Dallas, but McNabb rolled over a pile without getting touched, we got a bad spot, but they didn’t give us the first down. For some reason Reid seemed to cause blindness / mental deficiency on challenges we should have won.

      • GEagle

        Better, Yes….but I still think we would have to label it…Bad!

    • Mitchell

      And perhaps better redzone offense and defense.

    • P_P_K

      Arguably the worst 7 mins of Eagles football.

  • Dizzie_D

    Tommy’s story about being seen by another Eagles fans reminds me of a few weeks back: I was out in my Eagles t-shirt and got stared at by a guy in a Tedy Bruschi Patriots jersey. It’s not often you see one guy with NFL gear on in Western Ireland, never mind two.

    • TommyLawlor

      That’s great. You guys take it to a whole other level. You’re just excited to find other NFL fans.

      • GvilleEagleFan

        No lie, I wore an Eagles T-shirt on a backpacking trip two summers ago and got stopped in the street by someone saying “Go Birds!” in Berlin AND Amsterdam.

        • TommyLawlor

          Very cool.

    • GEagle

      a cool memory for me was being in Rome( one of the famous piazza) and I saw a couple wearing eagles shirts, so I bust out in ” Fly Eagles Fly, on the road to victory….” while these random strangers in Italy started singing along, with all the Italians watching us…
      good times

  • Weapon Y

    The key to the Eagles’ success boils down to one word: turnovers. To do this, we need better performance from the QB and the defense.

    We need consistent QB play. While I would be thrilled to get a Rodgers/Brady/Brees kind of performance out of Vick/Foles/Barkley, we simply need the QB to keep the ball out of the defense’s hands and score a reasonable amount of points to win most games. Neither Vick or Foles did this last year. Yes, they are somewhat to blame, but it wasn’t completely the fault of either. The Andy/Marty playbook simply didn’t work: the run game was under-used and the receiving routes took too long to develop. The offensive line lost 3 starters to injury and Watkins melted down. Foles had to play without Shady and DJax most of the time. Even if the QBs don’t improve, but all of these things change, the offense will be better. If the QBs do improve, however, this offense could be good enough to win a weak NFC East. The number one thing that has to change from the QBs is turnovers: Vick needs to stop holding the ball so long and so recklessly. Foles needs to cut down on the arc on his deep passes and stop staring down receivers. Barkley needs to adapt to the speed of the NFL game. We don’t need Joe Montana. We just need a guy who won’t screw it up for the rest of the offense.

    Billy Davis is the other big x-factor. While I don’t think he’s the next Dick LeBeau or Jim Johnson, I do feel way more comfortable with him as DC than Juan Castillo. His time at the 49ers and Cardinals was not pretty, but one thing the defenses did well was forcing turnovers. The Eagles were pathetic in this aspect of defense last year, among many others. If the new secondary, with at least 3 and possibly 4 new starters, can get more interceptions, that will be huge. As a proponent of the 3-4, I am in favor of many schematic ideas Davis seems to employ. Having two edge rushers standing up is better at disguising who the blitzer(s) is/are. If (another big if) the combo of Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, and Trent Cole can be effective edge rushers in Davis’s scheme, the secondary will be more successful at getting turnovers. I don’t expect the 2013 Eagles defense to resemble the 1985 Bears or 2000 Ravens any time soon. If we can even go back to the level of the 2010 Eagles defense (not great, not an abomination like its successors) this year, the team has a chance to make the playoffs as long as the offense plays well.

    The key is to temper our expectations. The QBs and defense don’t have to be at the level where we’re ready to go to the Super Bowl this year. Although that would be outstanding, that’s just not reasonable in a rebuilding year. We just need to see that the pieces we have are moving in the right direction and that it is reasonable to see them reaching Super Bowl-level potential in the future.

    • P_P_K

      I’d be more comfortable with Betty Davis than Juan Castillo.

      • Weapon Y

        Haha I’d have to agree.

      • TommyLawlor

        What about Mrs. Paul, Mrs. Butterworth and Duncan Hines?

        • atb124

          Nah, too many chefs in the kitchen.

    • GvilleEagleFan

      I just had a thought about Davis’ past defenses (when he was DC) ranking badly in terms of yards/points: what if Chip doesn’t care? We know his ideal plan is to be scoring tons of points; Oregon didn’t care whether they won 55-49 or 42-14. His past success with coaching players to get turnovers could have been the primary attribute Chip looked for amongst available DC candidates, along with the ability to be flexible in scheme to accommodate personnel.

      Not to suggest that Billy D is an ideal DC by any means, but just another angle to possibly explain Chip’s preference for him. Thoughts?

      • Weapon Y

        I think you’re dead on. The Saints and Packers are two teams that have been deadly almost entirely through their offense. My bet is Chip is going to try to emulate them that way.

      • OregonDucker

        Your right. At Oregon, Chip wanted an opportunistic D that blitzed and took chances for the sole purpose of turnovers. Their primary mission was to slow the opposing Offense down – make ‘em take time to score. He wanted D players who were in shape, and 2s and 3s that played with intensity, players who would not give up the BIG PLAY.

        • atb124

          Isn’t that kind of contradictory?
          Took chances for the sole purpose of turnovers
          vs
          would not give up the BIG PLAY

          • GvilleEagleFan

            not necessarily. If you’re the first guy to the RB at the line, you can go for the strip instead of assure the no-gain tackle by knowing someone behind you will be coming in to stop him for a 2-3 yard gain. Also, if you have safeties actually playing the pass, your corners can feel slightly more comfortable contesting the catch than if they feel like there’s a wide-open freeway to the endzone behind them.

    • Ark87

      Turnovers are a difficult subject. They came from everywhere but our defense last year. There were a ton of flukish turnovers but there were some patterns.

      Both QB’s suffered from getting blind sided in the pocket. Both QB’s made a bunch of bad decisions and Foles actually lucked out on a bunch of his. Foles mainly made rookie mistakes like staring down his target and committing physical no no’s that you don’t get away with in the nfl (throwing across your body, underthrowing deep routes, throwing into traffic when your pocket doesn’t allow you to step into the throw, etc). Vick had a ton of batted balls. In the end the RB’s had bad ball security, the line put up bad protection, and the WR’s didn’t exactly help either. Turnovers were endemic. There are a dozen places we can improve to decrease our turn overs

      But this is the flip-side. Foles makes anticipation throws. Without elite arm strength, mastering this is his only path to being a stand out QB. Unfortunately with this style of passing, while being wildly successful at times, picks come with the territory. Vick on the other hand is a play-maker. He puts heroic effort into every play and can turn a busted play into magic. Of course this also opens him up to taking a serious beating and bad decision making.

      The point is this: would you have traded for Alex Smith this off season? His style of play was effective with a strong run game (we have that). But i would argue that the 49ers offense was only good enough (efficient, effective, but meh). Why? Because they have the best defense in the league (we are a few seasons from that being even remotely possible). My point is: Chip’s teams have the offense carry their defense. In the nfl, to be a prolific offense, you need to take risks. The better we get, the smaller the risks and bigger the rewards.

  • MediaMike

    There are some changes that I don’t care for.
    1) Ruining the training camp experience by moving things from an open environment at Lehigh to a clamped down environment at Nova Care. This doesn’t impact me in a direct personal way, but a lot of kids grow up on being able to see their favorite Eagles up close. I really think this move is a cheap shot to the fans.
    *2) IF and only IF they run any read-option, I won’t like it. Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan, Mike Tomlin, Aaron Rodgers, and now Gunther Cunningham have spoken at length about the gimmick / JV / flavor or the month / QB killing nature of this system. I really don’t want it here.
    Changes I like / will like.
    1) Competition! – go out and earn it!
    2) IF and only IF they run New England Patriots south as our new system. Play fast, call a lot of runs, get in different formations, but don’t risk injury to our starter (Foles or Barkley) via unnecessary ball handling and running by the QB. Aaron Rodgers does it best; only run if they turn their back to you on a called pass.

  • P_P_K

    “Arizona 2011. Minnesota 2010. Oakland 2009. Cincinnati was just a tie in 2008…”

    Good God, man, have you no decency?

  • ohitsdom

    Great point, interesting to think about. All those things that made me shake my head and yell “Classic Andy!” at the screen may be gone now… What will Chip have us yelling about?

    • OregonDucker

      ohisdom – “What will Chip have us yelling about?”

      Fourth down and 20 on our 30 and you run a fake punt – are you crazy Chip?

      Fourth down and 5 on the Cowboy’s 6 yard line and you go for it Chipper – are you nuts?

      Why keep running the same running play over and over and only gaining one yard each time – is the Chipper out of his mind?!!!

  • Weapon Y

    There are times when we’ll love Big Balls Chip. If there’s anything we won’t like, it’s going to be that he misses a 4th down attempt, 2 point conversion, fake field goal, or fake punt that costs us a game. We won’t have to deal with a repeat of the punt with 2:00 left against the Saints in 2006, at least. I’m going to welcome the newly aggressive decision making even if it does cost us sometimes.

    • GvilleEagleFan

      It’s much easier, at least coming off of 14 years of Reid, to forgive mistakes due to over-aggression. I wonder if as his tenure goes on, however, if that’s still going to be true. I actually think Chip has much less of a chance of becoming a media ‘villain’ like Reid due to his ability to handle press conferences. You look at Belichek in the postgame pressers, he gives less explanations than Reid ever did but deflects the questions with charm and/or a firm refusal to answer. My problem with Reid’s media persona is that he attempted to seem like he was answering questions but always came off so insincere.

      • Weapon Y

        I’ll be a little more forgiving of Big Red regarding his press conferences. He just isn’t comfortable with them and that’s ok. Not everybody has the charisma of Buddy Ryan or Jon Gruden. He delivered a good product on the field from 2000 to 2010 and that’s all I care about. Maybe Chip will be more entertaining at a press conference, but that’s not really what Lurie is paying him for. If Chip can be charismatic in a way that doesn’t damage the team (as opposed to Rex Ryan), I’ll welcome this change too.

        • GvilleEagleFan

          I just meant that the media will (potentially) be less hostile with him because he seems to know how to play off questions he doesn’t want to answer. I think the media can help define a coach’s image for the fanbase, at least in a limited way. I know the ultimate judge will be his on-field product, but having the media on his side can help earn some forgiveness or tolerance from some fans.

          With Andy, I didn’t dislike him because of his awkwardness, but I do think it was somewhat indicative of his attitude in general. It showed (to me at least) that he didn’t feel a great obligation to explain himself to anyone questioning his methods, which I think was reflected in his refusal to run a balanced offense and compensate for personnel limitations with schematic adjustments (i.e. run the ball more with injured OL, etc.).

          • Weapon Y

            That’s possible. I will agree that Chip places a bigger emphasis on explaining his ideas. That might translate better with his players than it did with Andy. It also might translate better on the field.

            After listening to some of Chip’s Oregon press conferences, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that some of his NFL post-game press conferences will end up on a beer commercial.

          • GvilleEagleFan

            It’s just a lot easier to support a guy when he may be struggling when he comes off as honest. It also makes it easier, for me at least, to believe that he will turn things around if they’re not going well. I was always a die-hard Reid supporter, from the time I went to Jacksonville as a middle schooler with my dad and his best man for the Super Bowl. He needed a new city as bad as we needed a new coach. Luckily my wife is a Chiefs fan, so I can keep supporting him.

          • GEagle

            That’s cool that your wife is a KC fan, worked out nicely for you….I’m with you on respecting honesty…
            ..
            A problem I had with Reid is he took ALL the bullets And never thrw anyone under the bus. Now that’s admirable, and players will love you for it…but to Never call a play out in the media is not taking advantage of all the motivational tools at your disposal. Some players respond to being called out, and Andy never took advantage of that….which is an example of a bigger Rid problem…Being Too stubborn. YOu might believe that it’s best to take bullets for everyone, but you can’t tell me that you never came across one instance, where you were dealing with a player that would have responded to your public call out….Refusing to EVER call someone out means you aren’t taking advantage of All the motivational tools at your disposal.
            ..
            9 Days left for the bills and Jarius to reach a long term deal..PFT reports NO progress!! I’m still waiting for Howie “Splash” Roseman to strike!

  • Flyin

    Tommy, I want to give a thanks to bringing up personal matters about your father and his smoking. I thought of what you have been going through brought back many memories.

    My mom passed away a little over 2 years ago. Age 61. Cause of death COPD best’s the top of the list of her health issues. She was on oxygen and continued to smoke. Obviously, she didn’t smoke the last year of her life in hospitals and care facilities.

    It only took me me a year to quit smoking after my mom’s death…

    • TommyLawlor

      Glad you made the change. Eagles Nation needs crazy fans like you.

  • Eagles1991

    Tommy, excellent work as always. Question, any interest in Jairus Byrd via trade? Curious to hear your thoughts.

    • GEagle

      Bills have 9 days left to reach a long term deal with Byrd, and no progress is being reported. That kid would be such a big time addition…Hoping Howie has a surprise for us!!!

  • A_T_G

    I can’t help but notice that your three most recent titles, read chronologically, present a (secret? hidden? prophetic? subliminal programming?) complete thought. Very clever, Tommy, very clever.

    • TommyLawlor

      That is kinda cool.

      I was trained by the Illuminati.

      • Warhound

        Re – A championship is better after suffering. An old German saying: “those who have never tasted the bitter cannot truly appreciate that which is sweet”.

  • Dominik

    “He’s never worked with this staff or coached these players.”

    Nitpicker mode on: he already coached Matthews and Dixon.

    Just kidding, of course. :)