Misc Monday

Posted: December 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 73 Comments »

Family stuff is over.  Time to return to football obsession.

I think the Andy Reid discussion has been put to rest.  Big Red will be back in 2012, barring a showdown between him and Joe Banner and/or Howie Roseman.  For those hoping for a situation like that, I’m sorry to report that Joe, Howie, and Andy get along better than most would like to believe.

There is going to be one critical decision facing the Eagles brain trust.  Does Juan stay on as DC?  I’m not ready to have the full discussion yet.  I haven’t made up my mind.  This is a really complex subject that is critical to the future of the team.

It is easy to say “Fire him”.  It was an awful decision and he’s been overmatched.  The team blew a record number of 4th quarter leads and continues to struggle with Red Zone defense.  The counter to that is that we are currently ranked 8th in the NFL in yards and 13th in points allowed.  The defense has made great strides from September to now and is showing the potential to be pretty special.  There are strong statistical arguments to make for both sides.  I’d rather wait til the whole season is over and let’s deal with final numbers.

The one thing I’ve tried to point out all year is that the numbers don’t exist in a vacuum.  Compare the Eagles situation to other teams.  New England is 32nd in defense.  Bill Belichick gets a pass from many because he lacks good players.  Green Bay is 31st.  And Dom Capers has plenty of talent (Matthews, Raji, Woodson, Hawk, etc.).  Gregg Williams and the Saints are 25th.

Part of my point here is that you have to admit that the Eagles have good defensive talent or that Juan Castillo is a better coach than you thought.  There is no way the Eagles are up where they are if Castillo is clueless and the Eagles have no talent at S or LB.

What will the Eagles do?  I don’t know.  The case for keeping Juan was very thin (think Olsen twins) just a month ago.  Since he made some personnel adjustments and schematic tweaks, things have been wildly different.  It also helped having DRC get back on the field and Nnamdi healthy.  The blitzing and pass rush stuff doesn’t work if you can’t cover.

I’m sure Andy will push for Juan to return.  Howie and Joe are the tough ones to read.  Heck, I’m still surprised they went along with the idea to start with.  Juan and Andy must have done one hellaciously good sales pitch.

I mentioned an idea to a friend on the phone recently and it was also discussed in the comments section as well.  Steve Spagnuolo seems very likely to lose his job in St. Louis.  If so, you wonder if he would be open to coming here as Assistant Head Coach/Defense.  Let Juan remain the DC, but have Spags as part of the staff.  He can gameplan.  He can coach.  He can advise on calls and adjustments in games.  This is what we brought Marty in to do when Brad Childress was still the OC.  The sales pitch for Spags is that he would be a HC candidate here when Reid leaves or is fired.  AR isn’t going to be here 20 years.

This would be a solution that would appeal to just about everyone.  Juan is popular with the players, so that relationship would remain intact.  Andy would be happy.  Joe/Howie would get continuity, with some change.  Fans would know that a veteran coach was now helping Juan and the defense.  Spags might prefer to go back to flat out being a DC.  Heck, the Giants might be looking for a coach.  Seems like Tom Coughlin’s time in NY is winding down so maybe Spags sees that angle and wants to be there to take over.  Interesting food for thought.

* * * * *

Should Juan lose the DC spot I do not (NOT) see him going back to the OL.  The line has been rebuilt with a completely different style of players.  The line has been good this year (very good for much of the season).  There are 2 rookies starting and both fit the Howard Mudd style of blocking.  Evan Mathis fits the new style.  Todd and Jason Peters fit any system.  The thought of rebuilding the OL just to fit Juan’s style makes no sense.

Plus, the new style of blocking also ties into the running game.  Shady has thrived this year with some new running plays that tie into Mudd’s blocking scheme.  I don’t see Reid changing that.  I fully expect Mudd to be back next year.  Eugene Chung will take over for him at some point in the future.

Should Castillo lose the DC spot, I think he stays on the staff in some other capacity.  I bring this up because Troy Aikman said the other day he could see Juan going back to being the OL coach.  I just can’t see that happening.

* * * * *

Should the Eagles rest players this upcoming game?  This is another tricky subject.  I certainly understand the fear of some star tearing an ACL in a meaningless game.  At the same time, I tend to believe in playing your players.  Resting them for the playoffs is one thing.  Sitting them down in this situation wouldn’t feel completely right to me.

That said, it would be interesting to see Mike Kafka and Dion Lewis get a lot of playing time.  The problem we have is that we already play a lot of young guys.  There aren’t a ton of veterans to sit so that we can evaluate young guys.

I also don’t know if many guys have incentive clauses that are reachable.  Players keep up with that stuff.

* * * * *

Can we start to ease up on Alex Henery now?  He missed 2 critical FGs in the SF game and Eagles fans haven’t trusted him since then.  He mostly made a bunch of short FGs, but on Saturday was good from 51 yards out and the kick had plenty of distance.  He’s 22 of 25 on the year.  He has the SF misses and a 60 yard miss from early in the year.  That’s it.  I know he needs to make a clutch kick for us to really buy in, but so far the kid’s been pretty good.

73 Comments on “Misc Monday”

  1. 1 Scott Buchanan said at 1:16 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Easy decision…you make Spags the DC and give Juan the asst job

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 1:52 PM on December 26th, 2011:


    I will say one thing for you: You are very positive. I just hope whoever is in charge makes the hard decisions this team needs to go over the top and be winners again. I am happy the team is playing better and for that I think Reid saves his job but I think if the right DC is out there the Eagles should bring in a veteran presence at Defensive Coordinator. I wouldnt be objected to moving Juan some where else but would he want to “step down” from being chief of the defense to just being one of the squad leaders? I think there are no guarantees in coach hires but I think someone with experience will help this defense in game and out and give us a better grip on who to take in the draft for our defense.

    (a good MLB and linebacker corp would be a nice upgrade and wouldnt mind a GOOD veteran signing at safety (not talking page type player) )

  3. 3 Anonymous said at 2:15 PM on December 26th, 2011:


    I really think your asking the wrong question about Juan. The real question should be if Marty M deserves to be here. Too many times he’s been outmanned on offense, which, in turn has caused major issues for the defense. If Marty does his job in simply 2 of the games they lost, the story is very different this year. I really think he’s the one who needs to go. Can you imagine another season with a series such as this: run, run, run, run, pass with 3 wideouts and no one in the backfield? Its really wrong that Juan has taken the brunt (granted he’s had major issues early and was out-coached a LOT) but that was to be expected. Marty falling on his face time after time was not and should be addressed.


  4. 4 the guy said at 2:37 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    There’s some truth to this. I’ve believed all year the offense was under-performing, with far less to excuse them than the defense.

    A lot of people were talking about Castillo’s inability to make adjustments or call good plays, but how many times this year did the Eagles start out hot offensively and then totally disappear? How many times did we complain about the run-pass ratio, especially when the Eagles had a (big) lead? How did the Eagles manage to be 30th in the league in 4th quarter points/game, considering how many games were lost late?

    Some of these are hardly new problems either. The run/pass thing has been done to death, but RZ offense hasn’t been great either. Check this out:


    For a team with a top 5 RB (top 2?), an extremely mobile QB, talent at WR and TE, and a good run-blocking line, 18th is a disappointment. More so when you notice that while the Eagles were about 50% in RZ scoring (TD), they were 70% in the last 3 games, meaning before the late win streak they had to have been worse. Before December, they were 24th in the league, behind offensive powerhouses like the Redskins and Browns.

    Aside from the offensive line, nothing really changed on the offense this year. On defense, there was massive personnel and coaching turnover, and lots of 0-2 year starters. Yet it’s looking like the Eagles will finish the year with about the same DVOA rank offensively and defensively.

    I’m not saying ‘fire Marty’, but the way the offense played is something to think about.

  5. 5 Mac said at 2:51 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I think Marty is a good guy, but I’m tired of his play calling as well. I’d like to see a team like the Dolphins or Jags pick him up.

  6. 6 the guy said at 2:37 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    There’s some truth to this. I’ve believed all year the offense was under-performing, with far less to excuse them than the defense.

    A lot of people were talking about Castillo’s inability to make adjustments or call good plays, but how many times this year did the Eagles start out hot offensively and then totally disappear? How many times did we complain about the run-pass ratio, especially when the Eagles had a (big) lead? How did the Eagles manage to be 30th in the league in 4th quarter points/game, considering how many games were lost late?

    Some of these are hardly new problems either. The run/pass thing has been done to death, but RZ offense hasn’t been great either. Check this out:


    For a team with a top 5 RB (top 2?), an extremely mobile QB, talent at WR and TE, and a good run-blocking line, 18th is a disappointment. More so when you notice that while the Eagles were about 50% in RZ scoring (TD), they were 70% in the last 3 games, meaning before the late win streak they had to have been worse. Before December, they were 24th in the league, behind offensive powerhouses like the Redskins and Browns.

    Aside from the offensive line, nothing really changed on the offense this year. On defense, there was massive personnel and coaching turnover, and lots of 0-2 year starters. Yet it’s looking like the Eagles will finish the year with about the same DVOA rank offensively and defensively.

    I’m not saying ‘fire Marty’, but the way the offense played is something to think about.

  7. 7 Anonymous said at 2:42 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I’m certainly not Marty’s biggest fan, but he’s not going anywhere.

    I don’t think he deserves to be fired. I do think he needs to adjust the offense more to playing small ball, as he’s done in recent weeks.

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 3:30 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    If they keep MM, AR needs to focus on offense next year. and emphasize the need to focus on execution, not big plays. They aren’t using the weapons they have, Harbor is grossly underutilized, Cooper has great athleticism but is never used in the red zone. the FB has disappeared in the offense (if they don’t trust Schmitt, find someone else), the #2 RB is an afterthought.

    DeSean shouldn’t be on the field in the red zone, McCoy needs a lot of work on his passing skills (both blocking and receiving, he’s not a natural receiver and needs lots of reps this offseason), and a decision has to be made on Avant, who’s pretty much flatlined and for your “reliable” receiver has made too many key mistakes the last two years.

    This offense should be among the top 5 in scoring, and they should be able to get their turnovers back to their norm, which is more like 20-25 over a full season.

  9. 9 Anonymous said at 4:31 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    As I said a few weeks back, I’d like to hear Mudd’s counsel on this. Washburn was clearly upset by the way that Marty sometimes seems to make calls in a vacuum, such as Young’s 1st INT against the Pats.

    What I’d really like this offseason is consolidation, so dumping Marty is going against that grain somewhat. A couple of years ago we bought a coach in an OC advisory role (Mark Whipple?), I got very excited about it, but he left for the college ranks I believe. I’ll have another one of those please. Is that less likely to happen if we also have a defensive version?

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 4:51 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I just wonder if the right OC came in, whether he could have a similar effect on this offense as Bud Carson had on the ’91 defense.

  11. 11 the guy said at 2:19 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I’ll ease up on Henery next year, when I’ve forgotten that making either one of those 30-40yd FGs in the SF game would have essentially put the Eagles in the playoffs. I really believe that they could have done something if they had managed to make it in.

    I will admit he has looked more like the guy we were expecting after the draft, though.

  12. 12 Mac said at 2:43 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    A lot of folks seem a little fuzzy on that game… I seem to recall a certain other field goal kicker who missed two relatively easy ones that day playing in red and gold.

  13. 13 the guy said at 2:55 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Missing from 44 and having one blocked is a lot more acceptable than missing from 39 and 33.

    A kicker can have a bad day, and usually does. But to take a kicker that high in the draft with a reputation for accuracy and clutch kicks and have him miss a 33 yarder in a game you lose by 1?

    For me it’s more about looking at the weaknesses of the other playoff teams than any fair assessment in his responsibility for that game or the season as a whole.

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 5:43 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    Couldn’t help but think of the irony on the day we are officially knocked out of the playoffs that David Green Akers sets a single season record for FG’s. But I also have to put the Henery 2 missed field goal game in the context of Aker’s 2 missed field goal game IN the playoffs against Green Bay last year. It kind of makes it easier to forgive the rookie Henery.

    Akers was one of my favorite Eagles so I’m very happy to see him have a great year. Now that we’re eliminated I’ll start rooting for him to kick the winning FG against GB..

  15. 15 Anders Jensen said at 5:41 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    The problem for Henery, have been that Akers have had a really really good year.
    Henery have actually outperformed the avg rookie kicker and his leg strength should be better next year when he have a full off season with an NFL team.

  16. 16 Anonymous said at 2:24 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    The idea of Spags coming in to help the D and then hang on as HC in waiting is brilliant.

    Is there someone in place to take over for Jim Washburn and still keep his system? I’m still not entirely sold on the Wide 9, but I’m wondering if this is something that will just end when Wash leaves or if there will be continuity.

  17. 17 Anonymous said at 2:43 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    There is no one behind Washburn. He’s the DL guru for now and the next several years.

    He’s younger and healthier than Mudd so he isn’t a guy likely to retire soon.

  18. 18 Anonymous said at 8:20 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    What kind of contracts have Washburn and Mudd signed? Are there indicators they want to be here long-term?

  19. 19 Anonymous said at 10:27 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I know a big reason that Washburn didn’t go back to Tennessee wasn’t just that Fisher wasn’t back but it was because he wanted a brand new shiny long term ride out into the sunset contract. The Titans told him he was a DL coach and he should chill. I would imagine he probably got paid when he came here.

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 2:27 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I don’t know where I stand on Juan. In a perfect workd I’d like to hire Spags & let Juan get a couple years coaching on defense. But I could be convinced to kerp Juan if he was helped by clearing up the Asante sitch ar CB and getting better players.

    This brings me to my real issue: Howie Roseman…YOU’RE FIRED!! His 2 drafts have been horrible. The money rounds 1-3…x gets a square my friend. Yeah 31 yr old Danny Watkins looked solid. Not great but solid. But 2010 was jusr flat out bad. 2011 the jury is still out and right now this little 2011 piglet only looking good after a 12 pack and some beer googles.

    7-8! Merry Holidays fellas.

  21. 21 Mac said at 3:50 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    2010: Graham, Allen, Clayton, Kafka, Harbor, Cooper, Chaney, Coleman.

    2011: Watkins, Jarrett, Marsh, Matthews, Henery, Lewis, Vandervele, Kelce, Rolle, Lloyd, Henry, Thornton

    Orchestrated the Kolb trade for DRC and a 2nd

    Picked up Landri, Mathis, Hall

    You have a lot of starters who have come to this team over the last 2 drafts and free agent signings. And personally, I like the talent on this team.

  22. 22 Anonymous said at 3:57 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Howie has had some successes, but I too feel like his job could be turned over to somebody else. Just too many failures. He seems to me to be a downgrade from Modrack, Licht, or Heckert based on the totality of his work.

  23. 23 Anders Jensen said at 5:48 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Look at the list Mac made. Its not pro bowl selections, but good solid players for the most part and Mac even forgot the Babin and NA FA signing and the Kolb for a 2nd and DRC (that trade favor Eagles so much right now)

  24. 24 Anonymous said at 7:03 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    He did so mention Kolb for DRC, but you’re right, the two FA moves plus Cullen Jenkins (hasn’t been mentioned) I think are all great moves.

    Like any GM, some moves have worked, some haven’t, and a lot have worked but just not with flying colors. The injuries to Graham and Allen really color his tenure here.

    I don’t think there’s any chance he’s gone. He was the hero this past offseason, and as much as I think Reid stays, I think Howie’s got the stronger case to say “I put together what should have been a winner this year and the coaches couldn’t make it happen” rather than vice versa.

    Plus there’s a lot to play with this offseason with the three picks in the top 45 or so and looming deals for DeSean (maybe) and LeSean (most definitely).

    I don’t think it’s an offseason of wholesale changes for the Eagles. It’s improvement, it’s continuity, it’s accentuating what we already have. We did the wholesale changes thing last year. Now let’s get everybody on the same page, plug the holes and go win it all for fux sake.

  25. 25 Anonymous said at 9:06 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Look at the list? He just named all of the draft picks. It doesn’t mean they’re good because you write their name down.

    You can’t argue that the last 2 drafts have been anything but average. He listed Graham and Nate Allen. That’s our first two draft picks and we moved up like 10 spots to get Grahamn. Before his injury he was not making an impact. Since his injury he has not made an impact. He suited up and couldn’t get on the field this year. Allen has been inconsitent, but he’s also been injured. Either way, the first two picks in 2010 have not been IMPACT players yet. He left off Teo a flat out bust. He wrote down Kafka, Chaney, Harbor? They’re backups at best.

    Let’s stick to the 3 money rounds though (1-3). You’ll get your nice players in the mid-later rounds like a Kelce who can be good, but you’ve got to hit your high picks. 2011 Watkins was decent and he’s 27. Jarrett and Marsh showed up absolutely ZERO this year. We know nothing about if they can play. Kurt Coleman had a good year, but he’s not a true starter in this league.

    If Jarrett was blowing them away in practice we’d know about it. We haven’t heard anything. We’ve made some good moves in free agency. He was part of bungling the Asante situation. We ended up with 3 CBs who couldn’t play the slot. DRC was horrible there. Should’ve traded Asante. Also, you win through the draft. I get it that it’s shortsighted to judge a draft after one or two years, but it’s also safe to say that when you get a player right off the bat you usually see signs. There are tons of 1st and 2nd rd picks from 2010 and 2011 making impacts around the league. You can’t say that for any of our players from those 2 drafts. Maybe Nate’s year will be next year. Maybe Graham and Jarrett.

    Look at Heckert’s last draft from 2009. How long did it take Maclin and Shady to show that they may have something special or be very good players. I’d argue they showed flashes almost immediately. So far Howie has not represented himself well and should be on thin ice.

  26. 26 Anonymous said at 10:02 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    PFF had Graham as the best rookie DE before he was injured, ahead of JPP. If he can come back 100%, he should be a star in the wide 9.

    Allen has been up and down due to injury, but the last few games he’s looking like a 2nd rd pick.

    As far as Jarrett, Watkins and Marsh, go check how few players out of this year draft are starting, note that the only CB to make a splash is Sherman, NOT Prince, J Smith, Dowling, etc. No safety after the first two has done anything of merit, only a few LBs and none after Matthews other than Rolle.

    Howie has only missed on two picks, Teo and Lindley. He’s got two starting safeties, a WLB, C, RG, K in two drafts and a lot of quality depth (Kafka, Lewis, Cooper, Harbor, Vandervelde, Thorton, Chaney, Clayton, Matthews, Jarrett, Marsh),. While he could have done better in 2010, it’s hard to fault his 2011 draft. Henry at P might be replaceable.

    Howie signed Babin and Jenkins to great contracts (less combined than Ray Edwards), Hall, Mathis, Landri, Hunt, Tapp, Hughes, Anderson. He missed on VY and Page, Harris went on IR, Hargrove is playing elsewhere. I don’t credit him with Aso, that had to be a team decision. Traded McNabb for a 2nd and 4th, Kolb for a 2nd and DRC.

    I’d say all in all, a pretty good first two years as a GM.

  27. 27 Anonymous said at 9:22 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    Ironic that Austinfan cites PFF having B. Graham as the “best rookie DE” last year ahead of J. Pierre-Paul. I wonder where PFF has JPP ranked this year (not worthwhile to bring up Graham this season)? JPP is head and shoulders the better DE.

  28. 28 Anonymous said at 1:04 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    First off almost any credible source on the draft or the NFL period will tell you that you have to have 3 years before you can make a fair evaluation of a draft class. You can shit on Graham and Allen next year. Until then breathe.

    Also you seem to be straight up in love with Heckert. What did he do in his first two years?

  29. 29 Mac said at 2:50 PM on December 27th, 2011:

    * didn’t name all the draft picks, though I did focus on the draft rather than free agent moves (some of which were amazing, but i do think can be attributed as much to playing for coach Reid and with Vick as anything)

    I DID name the players from the last two drafts who have made it onto the roster. And they are forming a solid foundation for the team to build on in the future.

    What we have here are a pile of potential, some of which got nicked up playing a rough game. Allen and Graham both have the potential to be great in this defensive scheme once they’re healthy.

    We have no idea what the team has with Jarrett at this point.

  30. 30 Anonymous said at 2:31 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I think Castillo has earned another year, because it is all in which arguement you weight heavier. What they are doing now speaks much louder than earlier in the season. Cut the guy some slack, it was his first time coaching defense in the NFL, and on a short offseason. So you would expect some struggles, but now the defense is playing great. He deserves one more year. Also it’s not like the McDermott situation where players just didn’t like him, Castillo seems to have a good reltionship with the team. Finally I have to say I disagree with the Spags idea, if you’re going to bring in Spags make him the DC and demote Castillo, I don’t see why(even if he was suposedly the HC in waiting) he would take an assitant’s job over a cordinator job he could get elsewhere. I’m not opposed to the idea but I don’t think it would work.

  31. 31 Anonymous said at 2:46 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    8th in yards, 13th in points…..and they’ve had to defend over 30 extra drives this year….sounds pretty good to me. Imagine if the offense just had a normal year as far as turnovers…what would the rankings be then?

  32. 32 harsha said at 2:50 PM on December 26th, 2011:


    Do you think wins against Moore, Sanchez & Mcgee are sufficent/warrant Juan’s return? Doesn’t the team need a reality check?
    I wish in this last winning streak, we had a good D performance against a legit QB to support Juan w/ confidence. Yes, at the same time I know we lost to Skelton & Tarvaris, so I agree the D improved but not sure if Juan should be DC 4 the next season. Only a cautious optimism at this pt of time.

  33. 33 Anonymous said at 7:14 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    You don’t lose to a QB though, you lose to a team. We lost to Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Brady too. And beat the crap out of Romo, Eli and Bradford. Kind of means a hill of beans when you mix it all together.

    I understand what you’re suggesting, but since we didn’t play the Packers or Saints or Steelers, really only the Patriots game was the elite QB yardstick. And we failed miserably, but that’s kind of a small sample size.

    Would have been nice if the Eagles played really well against Brady … but yeah, these last few guys we played is all we have. And if we judge it only by that, it’s kind of missing the bigger picture.

    Eagles’ issues this year were complex, intertwined and not the same in each game, which makes it hard to pin the blame on one guy and assume all will be well.

  34. 34 the guy said at 10:30 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Also, the Patriots are pretty much tailor-made to beat the Eagles defense as it currently is.

  35. 35 Anonymous said at 3:16 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    If the Eagles were able to vastly improve the offensive line by bringing in someone to take the job Castillo held for years, somehow I think that the Eagles will be able to do the same for the position Castillo has only held for a year.

    It’s a shame Castillo doesn’t hold multiple positions so we could improve across the board by firing him repeatedly.

  36. 36 Anonymous said at 3:16 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    As I pointed out in the previous thread, the last 10 games Eagles are playing defense at a level which would be 5th in points and yards allowed, that’s pretty darn good! Some weak teams, but Giants, Dallas (with Romo), Miami on a hot streak (before and after), etc. In other words the usual 10 game stretch. They laid an egg against NE, but that’s an offense that’s putting up 400 yards and 30+ points on everyone. Skelton had his best game against them, but Hanson and Jarrett were literally inches from making that game a blowout. And Juan has done this despite an offense and special teams that seems hell bent on helping the opposition.

    Another point, if you look at Allen and Horton, the two candidates who were the most likely alternatives, they also struggled their first 4-6 games before turning it around. Horton went to a 3-4 team so he had a small learning curve. There is no reason to think they would have come here and had an immediate impact given the post lockout circumstances. Would Juaron have accepted Washburn? If not, Babin and Jenkins don’t have nearly as good of seasons.

    Juan has done what a young coach can do, show steady growth in his first season with elevated responsibility. I don’t know what more you can ask. If they lay an egg against the Redskins (who are playing well offensively the last 6 games, 23 ppg, 350 yards per game), I might have second thoughts, but overall the improvement is for real. The young safeties are playing much better, the LBs seem to have defined roles that is getting the most from their skills. The FO didn’t do Juan any favors by not trading Asante (hard for a young DC to bench a star) and obtaining a better MLB. That should be rectified in 2012.

    I think they have to stick with Juan/Washburn on defense, Mudd on offense. If it works, don’t change it, and it’s working on both sides of the ball. Upgrade MLB and SLB, move Chaney to the bench, keep Matthews and Clayton in the nickel, DRC at LCB, upgrade Hanson, add another young CB and a young DT. Easily done in one offseason.

    Bringing Spags in as an assistant HC could work for everyone, Juan would have cover, Spags would have a good spot to look for his next HC gig, Andy could focus on offense.

  37. 37 Anonymous said at 7:34 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Valid point on Allen/Horton and slow starts.

    One of the reasons that Juan has this job is that there weren’t a lot of top guys available. There are better choices this year, which will certainly play into the thinking of Andy and the front office.

  38. 38 Anonymous said at 10:57 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Good point on your fantasy offseason, and I don’t even think these three are really necessary: “upgrade Hanson, add another young CB and a young DT.”

    After the major ones you listed (I would like two LBs as well, any position, and DRC to the outside) I think we’re gonna need another developmental/Future QB as Kafka likely becomes the No. 2, and another RB, perhaps if Lewis becomes the 2.

    Besides LB though and a future QB if they fall in love with anyone, I think they’re mostly BPAing.

  39. 39 Anonymous said at 3:22 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I really hope they sit McCoy. No need to risk his injury. To many bad things can happen to RB’s in a pile.

    Let’s give Ronnie Brown a chance to get a starting job next year and also see what Dion Lewis can do for us. Chad can be the 3rd guy.

  40. 40 Mac said at 3:53 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    McCoy’s shot at the rushing title may mean that he wants to play this Sunday.

  41. 41 Anonymous said at 7:16 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Also he’ll be looking for a contract extension and “led the league in rushing” would be a nice negotiating chip.

    I’m not really sure why we’d want to save McCoy unless you fear a career-altering injury. Even with a major injury he’d have 9 months to recover before Week 1.

  42. 42 Sjampen said at 5:40 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Tommy, I respect your opinion as much as it possible. Your’e my go to guy for the Eagles. I get that you don’t just fire Any Reid. Im absolutely fine with that. Reid created this team as winners, and a his second losing season isn’t gonna chance that, especially when you shorten the off-season where Reid shines. I get that Howie Roseman is here to stay, and frankly I think he did a pretty good job at drafting. Graham, Allen got hurt, no way to know that. We draft late. Howie earned his chance.

    I can’t accept if we bring Juan Castillo back as our DC. Juan is a good guy, good coach and teacher and works hard for the players, the team and Andy Reid, but he is NOT a DC. Under a real DC for some years? Maybe then, but Castillo have been outmatched, outschemed and outperformed by everyone else. I know we got injuries, i know we have a new system and new players, but the recent good games did not save his job. Now, if we can’t get Spags or any other DC with experience, and decide to keep Juan. OK, then the mistake was hiring him, nothing we can do about that now. But this defense needs a reel defensive coordinator. It need better safety play and a linebacker with actual talent, but it desperately needs a DC.

  43. 43 Anonymous said at 7:08 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I have mixed feelings on Juan. However, you must be fair when assessing his performance this year. Saying …”but Castillo have been outmatched, outschemed and outperformed by everyone else”. That isn’t true. That isn’t anywhere close to true. You don’t get to 8th in yards against by luck. Juan has done some good things.

    There are definite concerns and we’ll discuss both sides of the issue starting next week. Just do be fair with your comments so that your opinion comes off as reasonable and not close-minded.

  44. 44 Sjampen said at 2:11 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    I agree Tommy, you get 8th in yards by having 3 Pro bowl DL men, and one heck of a solid player in Patt creating the most sacks in the NFL. Asomugha might have been playing bad, but his one heck of an upgrade over Dimitri Patterson & Ellis Hobbs. We have good players, and Juan have done good things. Maybe even consistently good things the last couple of games. Lets not forget how much we improved our stats the last 3 games. Could a proven DC get the same out of our players? I think so, and I think they could have done better. There other stats were we suck. Turnovers for instance. And lets not forget that we have struggled to stop the run all season, and in our last there games, we been in front pretty quick against mediocre QBs. Did we shut down their running game. Yes the team did, but if anyone wants to send flowers, send them to the offense.

    How many games did our defense cost. I just took a quick look on our schedule. We scored 31 points against the Falcons and still lost. The first Giants game was not lost by the defense, but ours gave up the big plays that won the game. If they haven’t, well we saw that in the second game. We were up by what, 20 point at halftime vs. a weak San Fran offense and threw that down the drain because the D forgot to tackle. The Pats only stopped scoring because they felt bad and the Seahawks humiliated us.
    Im not saying that the offense have been playing good, because they definitely have not. This is the most explosive offense in Football? I think we have to refigure that phrase. Im not saying that the defense haven’t won games because they did in both Dallas game, the one Giants game. But i don’t think its unreasonable or close minded to say that during this season Juan have been out coached and outperformed(Pats game come to mind instantly). We have lost games due to mistakes from this defense.

    Now, as I also mentioned. Lets say Spags, Del Rio or any other proven NFL DC isn’t willing to take the job. Lets say that there arent a college DC who might be the next big thing willing to take the job. I won’t claim the off-season is a success/failure just by the DC spot. I just think a better and more experienced DC could have done more with a defense that might miss some LBs and suffer from bad safety play at times, but overall is pretty darn good on paper. Last year we saw Chaney perform very well and we got sucked into thinking this might be a pro bowl MLB. the team did next to nothing to counter that they might have been wrong. Im not making that mistake again, and i hope Reid won’t either. Keep Juan, let him learn what it means to be a DC from someone good. Don’t let him figure it out along the way, while Mike Vick, Jason Peters gets old, McCoys contract runs out and Jenkins, Cole and Nnamdi retires.

  45. 45 Anonymous said at 5:28 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    Against New York, San Fran and Atlanta I not sure we can blame the D for redzone turnovers given away by our offense. Special teams had hand in those losses too. There were more than enough errors to go round. We beat ourselves more times this season than we ever lost.

  46. 46 Anders Jensen said at 5:51 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Tommy, if the Kolb experince for Arizona fails, do you think other teams will begin to be scared of AR trained QB? We got Feeley, McNabb and Kolb there all have failed at other destinations after leaving in a trade or do you think teams will still trade for a potential star QB trained by AR?

  47. 47 Anonymous said at 7:09 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I think teams are officially scared of Reid QBs. Mike Kafka won’t be netting us any high picks anytime soon.

  48. 48 Anonymous said at 7:18 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I’m not Tommy of course, but my answer to that question would be yes … and yet, each QB would likely be judged on his own merits. Even though Vince Young didn’t look great here, if your alternative is Colt McCoy or whoever, you might give Vincey a shot. And likewise for whoever we train up in the future.

    Andy-as-QB-guru might be more of a media-fueled perspective than something that strongly influences GMs anyway.

  49. 49 Anonymous said at 8:13 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    It influenced Vince though, right?

    Frankly, I was very surprised that teams weren’t hesitant on Kolb based on history. My armchair analysis, though, is that opposing GMs see a QB growing and performing for us and tell themselves that it doesn’t matter what those other guys did for those other teams, this is the guy to lead our team.

    By my count, there are still 26 teams we HAVEN’T fleeced in a QB trade.

  50. 50 Anonymous said at 8:39 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Good to see the other side of the coin. 26 teams left to trade with.

  51. 51 Anonymous said at 10:56 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    ANy thoughts to McNabb coming back and being a backup? Seems logical at first. I am guessing it would be annoying if there were McNabb story lines throughout the year, but it could be a viable option.

  52. 52 Anders Jensen said at 9:03 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I think people around the NFL acknowledge AR as an QB guru, as he have helped coach up Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck, McNabb and Vick. He also resurrected Garcias career and made Kolb look like a future star.

  53. 53 Jason A Hines said at 5:55 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I think part of the problem here is our own expectations, not necessarily the reality of the situation. Now those expectations were stoked by management (I think it was Banner who parroted the “all in” phrase that was started by the media), and by the players (with the MIA Heat and Dream Team foolishness). But isn’t it possible that we should’ve seen this coming? Can you bring in this many new players, put them under a DC who’s never called a game, and expect an elite defense? When you say it like that, doesn’t it sound foolish that we ever expected anything more than what we got – which was a defense that couldn’t hold leads down the stretch and made silly errors at the worst possible time? I’m as upset as everyone else, and I’m really not trying to give anyone a pass per se, but now that things have gone the way they have, it seems much more realistic that this was the result instead of “this defense really came together with all these new parts, young and mostly unheralded safeties and LBs, and a DC who was the O line coach last year.”

  54. 54 Anonymous said at 7:13 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Very right with the fact expectations were sky high. Fans called our secondary the No Fly Zone back in August. Way over the top. A team with 3 clones of Deion Sanders in his prime isn’t going to completely shut down modern passing teams.

    I’m sure that I’m guilty of over-hyping things so as punishment I will ban myself from watching American Idol this year.

  55. 55 Anonymous said at 8:15 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Wait a minute, it is December 26th, you are not going to fool us with that “…this year” crap.

  56. 56 Anonymous said at 8:48 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Wise words, my dude:
    “I think part of the problem here is our own expectations, not necessarily the reality of the situation.”

    In hindsight, the lack of an offseason and experienced up-the-middle defense was quite a major factor, given that we changed the defensive and the O-line schemes and brought in 15 free agents.

    But as people mentioned above, we also fell victim to our own expectations in that the hype forced the team to press after they lost close games early, in that players felt the need to live up to those expectations, and the fact that they thought all the early losses were merely flukes. In that sense, maybe it’s good that it happened so the team could really humble itself and get their noses to the grindstone rather than think they were just a play away from the Super Bowl.

    The other truism that these Eagles embody is that there’s a thin line between 6-10 and 10-6 in the NFL. And as we all know, you just need to be 10-6 and playing well when you get in to have a chance to go on a SB-winning run.

    Given how many close games the Eagles lost, and the two that they won but could’ve lost (Redskins I, Giants II), it’s fair to say that if they finish 8-8 they weren’t all that far from 10-6 or 6-10 …

    The optimist in me says they underachieved to the point where if they played another random 16 games they could go 10-6 without making any major changes.

    The pessimist in me says we dodged the best teams in the NFC (Packers, Saints) for the most part and the best division in the AFC (North) schedule-wise, and stayed relatively healthy most of the way, and can’t count on that to be the case next time around necessarily.

  57. 57 Anonymous said at 6:53 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    My main argument for Juan is that now that the players are catching on, it would stink to have to start over again this offseason.

    Assuming we jettison Asante and draft some young LB talent, it’s not that difficult to see — with the benefit of an offseason — a defense that knows what it is doing and is in lockstep with the DC.

    All bets are off if Spags wants the job. I would bring him on staff any way he wants to be on staff. If he would do what you proposed Tommy, everyone comes out a winner. Question is would he do it? Eagles have shown a propensity to pay big dollars to assistants, and Spags as HC-in-waiting is appealing actually.

    But assuming Juan is wanted back, I think I would prefer the continuity than starting over, especially given that whoever comes in is going to have to work with Washburn’s Wide 9 stuff, or have the DL start fresh after an extremely successful changeover.

    Juan in Year 2 + LB talent in draft – Asante (so that we don’t have to build the scheme around a corner that wants to do his own thing) = good enough offseason for me to be optimistic.

    DJax is the other big offseason variable.

  58. 58 Anonymous said at 7:14 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    Lots of good points. Continuity is one of Juan’s big selling points. And that is more valuable than some fans realize.

  59. 59 Nicholas Hill said at 9:51 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    I’m very close to being in the ‘Juan’ more year, camp. These last 3 games, this team has played GREAT defense. If you want to chalk it up to sub-par competition, that’s fine. But, at the same time, I challenge you to find just TWO, three game stretches since the Buddy Ryan Era ended in which the defense was definitely better. I’m willing to bet, in terms of yardage + points allowed, there aren’t too many.

    The ‘Juan is over-matched, and can’t make adjustments’, meme is lazy posting, IMHO. Was he over-matched against the experienced OC’s in the first Dallas game, second Giants game, San Fransisco game (believe it or not, the defense really didn’t cause this loss)? Was he over-matched when Juqua Parker inexplicably jumped off-sides and cost our offense a shot at winning, or when Jeremy Maclin fumbled away any chance of winning, or Jason Avant fumbled a ball straight into the hands of an opposing defender? It’s very easy to blow leads when the offense is on the verge of scoring touchdowns, and turns the ball over on the 1 inch line (cough, cough, Ronnie Brown, MIke Vick).

    That said, I’d have to think long and hard if Spags is available, if I were in Banner/Reid/Roseman’s shoes. He’s a “Super Bowl”-winning DC, with strong ties to the organization. But, this season’s failure needs to be laid on those to which it properly belongs…the offensive skill players who repeatedly failed to take care of the football in BOTH red zones. They handed teams the ball inside our 20 yard line, and as we were driving to score an historically obscene amount of times, this year. Basically, these turnovers gave teams points, and also kept us from scoring points in almost EVERY single loss, this year.

    Blaming Castillo, just for the sake of having a fall guy, is absolute laziness, and stupidity of the highest order. He should get a chance to build upon what has clearly been a defense headed in the right direction, unless a no-brainer, DC candidate is available and truly wants the job. As far a Andy goes…please, just stop, already with the “13 years already, so it just time for a change”. That locker room is indisputably in his corner, and still playing for him with everything they’ve got, there aren’t too many people whose careers do not rely on stirring up the ignorant with “Fire Andy” discussions (WIP, philly.com, etc.), that will admit that that the evidence that he should go is overwhelming. Yes, there is a case to made that a change would push this team over the hump. But, I’ve yet to here one suggestion on a replacement that is better than Reid.

  60. 60 Nicholas Hill said at 10:15 PM on December 26th, 2011:

    edit…evidence he should go isn’t overwhelming, and “I’ve yet to hear”

  61. 61 Gary said at 1:13 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    SPAGS!!! http://www.csnphilly.com/blog/eagles-talk/post/Sources-All-but-certain-Spagnuolo-will-b?blockID=619518&feedID=704&awid=7381461185167024758-711

  62. 62 the guy said at 2:31 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    Why is a San Diego newspaper I’ve never heard of breaking a story about a St. Louis coach being fired and going to a Philadelphia team?

  63. 63 Anonymous said at 10:16 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    I’m skeptical of this report as well, a San Diego newspaper referring to league sources. I just wonder if they can really have a strong beat on the Eagles.

  64. 64 Anonymous said at 7:10 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    Tommy, nice site–I was just browsing when I caught this. Talking about the Eagles blowing 5 4th qtr leads–I didn’t see any of those leads as being ironclad–10 points in ATL, 2 points to the NYG, 6 to the 49ers, 6 to the Bears and 3 to the Cards. Meanwhile, in those same games, you had turnovers that everyone forgets about. But, if everyone thinks Juan is a goner because of that, what does that say about someone like Rob Ryan of the Cowboys? His unit has also blown 5 leads, including 3 DOUBLE DIGIT LEADS–including 2 at home–14 points to the Lions and 12 points to the Giants–and I saw plenty of posts on the EMB saying the Eagles hould have hired Ryan.

  65. 65 Zachary said at 8:17 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    I think it would be a sham if the Eagles sit their starters. It’s a NFL game. It’s their last game of the 2011 season. And they’ll “rest” their starters because the game is meaningless?

    That is a awful trend to start and if they did it – it would show they don’t view this season as the failure they should.

    I can’t believe people/players are talking about this. If this happens, the NFL should fine/suspended Eagles front office and coaching staff members. It’s one thing to do this if your team is in the playoffs. It’s one thing do to this at a position or two where you have some young talent. But I can’t think of a time that Drew Brees didn’t play because his team was eliminated. I can’t think of a time where the Steelers pulled Big Ben when they were eliminated. You don’t bench your “stars” just because they sucked on the year and have nothing to play for playoff wise.

  66. 66 Anonymous said at 8:29 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    I hope the report is right and we have Spags as our DC. Experience playcalling and an aggressive defense!!
    And it should definitely help our defensive picks in the upcoming draft.
    This team is not rebuilding and needs experience at the DC position.

  67. 67 Anonymous said at 10:17 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    For those wanting to play all the starters, please watch this: http://www.nfl.com/videos/minnesota-vikings/09000d5d8255fd8e/Peterson-down-and-out
    I’m all for playing Vick (Practice), Maclin (confidence for next year), Jackson (contract show-off). And if you play Vick, you HAVE to play the entire OL.
    What on earth does Shady have to prove/learn from? The only thing he needs to improve on is receiving. Shady has 273 carries: let’s not hit 300.

  68. 68 Anonymous said at 10:22 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    Is spags really that great, or are we basing our opinion of him on a handful of games? The numbers from the 2007 giants defense are okay, but by no means do they suggest that he is an elite DC. And keep in mind that those numbers were skewed by the Winston justice game.

  69. 69 Anonymous said at 11:05 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    Spags had a great run during the ’07 playoffs — buffeted by a red-hot QB.

    Other than that, it seems to me the Giants were a fairly mundane defensive team during his tenure with a couple of great pass rushing DEs.

    The questions for me are: (1) is what JC’s defense did since game 6 a mirage; (2) did JC improve in his game calling or is something else the explanation — it certainly wasn’t MM’s 2nd-half play-calling that bailed out the defense; and (3) is starting over with Spags’ system, adjusted for the W-9, worth the stumbling that’ll take place early next season.

    Either way, I’d really just like to see Nnamdi line up at RC and not wondering to spots all over the field.

  70. 70 Anonymous said at 10:17 PM on December 27th, 2011:

    I was waiting for the “Is Spags really that great?” post.

  71. 71 Eric Weaver said at 11:13 AM on December 27th, 2011:

    The Eagles are currently drafting 13th. The best they can theoretically do is drop to 9th, but the SoS makes that seem near impossible. The only teams ahead that may possibly draft Kuechly are Cleveland and TB. 5th and 6th are a little too high to draft him though.

  72. 72 Anonymous said at 12:19 PM on December 27th, 2011:

    yards given up is probably the most useless of the “useful” defensive stats available on which to judge a defense’s effectiveness. As we all know, it’s all about keeping the other team from scoring. Your defense can give up an extra 10yd on avg per drive through out the course of the year and not give up any more points. That would come out to about 70 yd per game on avg. The difference is if you stop your opponent from getting inside the 35 for a legit scoring opportunity. Then from there do you keep them out of the end-zone and just hold them to a field goal? In other words, you can have defenses that give up significantly more yards than another and still give up fewer points, or only marginally more, rendering the total yards pretty meaningless.

    Use everyone’s favorite guinea pigs, GB, NE, and NO. Those teams give up 80, 90, and 60 more ypg than the Eagles, yet they are all within .3 ppg difference in scoring. So what really are those fewer yards given up by the eagles doing for them? If you stop a team from on their own 40 versus your 40 two or three times per game, you cut your yardage down by roughly 60 yds, yet the scoring opportunism are virtually the same for both defenses.

    As scoring become more to the forefront of the game, fans and analysts will eventually come to realize how useless yards are becoming and efficiency is really the key. You only need 5 scoring opportunities per game for score close to 30 points if you are efficient. The same holds true on defense. If you can’t stop the opposing team when it matters, it only takes 5 possessions for your defense to be a real hindrance to the team winning games. This is where the differences between NO, GB, and NE came into play. NE was pretty good in redzone D. NO and GB force alot of turnovers. That’s why they all are very low in yards, but still decent everywhere else.

    That said, I really wish we could’ve seen the Eagles against Romo, and Stafford/Ryan, then Rodgers in the playoffs. That would’ve been a much better measure than Sanchez, Moore, McGee, and Grossman. They seem to have improved , but you have to beat the best QBs to have a chance in this league.

    In terms of Juan and talent, I don’t see how anyone could argue they don’t need an upgrade at S and LB, especially MIKE. This defense is great when the offense is clicking, but lets see that hold up in a tight game when the opposing team can still mix in plenty of runs and play-actions. They’ve been fortunate to battle some weak offenses with very limited explosiveness that have fallen behind big, and early. Having a relatively week LB and S group limits the potential of the defense and what they can and can’t do. I like Coleman and actually think he’s a pretty good player, and can easily be a good starter in this league, contrary to what others think. Same for Rolle. I think he can be effective at what he does. Jordan has actually stepped up a made a few plays over the past few weeks.

    I’m still not convinced on Allen and Chaney. The both seem to make too many mistakes in against the run. Chaney gets out of position too easily; Allen is too hesitant to step up and attack the ball carrier, and leads with his head down and tries to throw a “blind” shoulder tackle far too frequently. Plus, for a ball-hawking S, what ball-hawking has he done besides the first three games of last year when opposing QBs gingerly laid 2 balls into into his chest? If he were making plays in the passing game I could forgive his horrid tackling, but he’s very rarely in the right position to stop big plays. He seems afraid of getting hurt again, and that’s not a mental aspect you look for in a defensive football player, imo.

  73. 73 Gregory Post said at 12:54 PM on December 27th, 2011:

    I see this last game against the Redskins as a pre-preseason game. Playing your starters against another NFL team is valuable experience that can’t be simulated in training camp. It will help Andy and co. figure out who needs to stay and go in the offseason, and what needs to be fixed. If a player gets a little banged up (like Shady pulling a hammy last week) then pull them because the game has no playoff implications anyway.