Philosophical Question

Posted: December 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 48 Comments »

We all agree that the goal is to win the Super Bowl.  Where many of us differ in opinion is how to get there.

One of the things a good organization will do is have a plan, usually based on another organization that had success.  When Andy Reid came here his plan was based on what had worked in Green Bay, where he was an assistant.

Who should the 2012 Eagles be studying?

You could look to the Saints, who won the Super Bowl in 2009 and have been good in recent years.

You could look to the Packers, last year’s champs and the best team in 2011.

You could look to the Steelers, the champs in 2008 and losers in the SB last year.

The other idea that fascinates me is studying the 2004 Eagles.  Andy Reid finally broke through and got to the Super Bowl that year.  What was different about that team?  Or is it crazy to look back to that group since so many things are different.  The game of football is always evolving and 2004 is forever ago.  Did they even wear helmets back then?

The point of all this isn’t to study the teams to copy them in terms of specific players or scheme.  After all, the Saints, Packers, and Steelers are very different teams.  You want to study trends and traits.  What did those teams do/not do?

So what lessons can be learned?

And what about the 2004 Eagles.  Waste of time or something that should definitely be studied?

48 Comments on “Philosophical Question”

  1. 1 Anonymous said at 1:19 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    We can begin with drafting better, just like those teams. Though u can argue a bit with the saints draftees.

  2. 2 Kammich said at 2:03 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    A common thread between the Packers and Saints is that they were two teams loaded with offensive firepower who did not take the next step until they hired seasoned defensive coordinators. For Green Bay, that took a defensive scheme change and some savvy drafting from Thompson to make it work. For New Orleans, they just found the right mind who was aggressive and knew how to use their in-house personnel. That is clearly the “easy fix” for us. If only, if only.

    One thing I want to see from this Eagles team, moving forward, is absolute certainty when it comes to our “identity,” whatever that may be. No wavering. It was really fun to see the Eagles spend willy-nilly in free agency to upgrade the team. But that also showed a lack of confidence and an IGNORANCE towards what we already had in place. You spend big on a 3-4 DE(Cullen Jenkins, who has admittedly worked out), a press specialist corner in Nnamdi, a wildcat RB in Ronnie Brown… a bunch of square pegs to our round holes. We were trying to win the ultimate game of chess by throwing money at fancy checkers pieces.

    My 2012 hope: Find a coaching staff that can ideally utilize what we have in place. Let the coaches and the players do what they do best. Find the things you do WELL, and do them until your eyes bleed. That is what the Packers are doing. That is what the Saints are doing. They are a finely-tuned, well-calculated bunch of Swiss watches. We’re a group of cheaply made Italian super soakers.

  3. 3 Anonymous said at 3:29 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    Adapt our system and schemes to fit the players we have — bring out their strengths and stop trying to force players to fit a scheme that makes them worse football players.

  4. 4 Mac said at 9:45 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I think you can argue that one of our misused talents is Vick. In my opinion, part of the reason we see great Vick games and terrible ones is related to play calling.

  5. 5 Anonymous said at 3:26 AM on December 16th, 2011:


    I think you got look at the “great organizations” that have constantly been good throughout the years and constantly draft well (overall). A team like the Steelers you should look at head to toe. What do they look for in players? What is their draft philosophy? What kind of people do they like to employ to be coaches and decision makers? Green Bay is another. Time and time again they put together winning teams and Super Bowl winning teams with different Head Coaches Qbs players and teams. Again look heavily to what they do and how they think. No we dont have to be these teams carbon copies like running their style of defense or offense but accept that they may have some abilities we need to acquire adapt and incorporate into our franchise (with our own indentity) that will make us constantly great.

  6. 6 Anonymous said at 3:32 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    ’04, we revved up a fundamentally sound offense and team, and we were very resilient based on 3 very successful seasons. That team reminded me of the present 49ers who have had victories delivered by all three components of the team this year. In particular, they don’t (we didn’t) beat themselves and play as a team. The revving up helped though, no doubt. I would love for a major tinker (coaching wise) on O, move Marty back upstairs like ’04.

  7. 7 Anonymous said at 5:10 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Doubt there’s a change with Marty. Say your prayers every night before you go to sleep, but I don’t see Andy replacing his good buddy who has an above average track record. If Marty was a clear failure, he’d go. You and I don’t dig the way he does things, but Big Red seems to like it.

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 7:45 PM on December 17th, 2011:

    Don’t go around thinking your club is quite that exclusive.

  9. 9 Steve H said at 3:49 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I think its about attitude. Those teams leading up to 2004 were full of veterans who were hungry for a championship. They’d been so close for so long there was no way they were going to let 2004 slip through their fingers, T.O. or no T.O.

    Studying other recently successful teams, you need to have either a truly elite QB (Brees, Rodgers) or at least a very good QB (Manning, Roethlisberger) paired with a very good defense.

    I honestly don’t believe that Vick ever going to be that top tier, truly elite QB like Brady or Rodgers or Brees (or Peyton Manning, when healthy). He’s really good, at times spectacular, but he’s also inconsistent.

    The biggest problem I think holding us back has been drafting. We’ve been pretty middle of the road in that department, and it seems like every time we’ve found a guy who can play, he regresses (Chaney, Coleman, Allen, Laws, Bradley, etc.) I don’t know why but we just can’t seem to find a guy who breaks out and then consistently plays to that level. I mean I know you like to talk about how a few years under a players belt could mean a world of difference Tommy, but for us it seems like players are once a shlub, always a shlub.

    Oddly, it seems like a lot of our guys move on to other teams do worlds better.

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 7:55 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I think what is keeping Vick from that elite QB status is his complete and total lack of leadership skills. His physical talent is truly amazing but he isn’t the kind of guy that can motivate others around him to raise their game. Ironically, Donovan had less pure talent but was an outstanding leader. He may have pushed it a bit near the end (what in gods name was he thinking with that guitar thing?) but in general he knew how to push his teammates buttons to get them to play harder and how to crack a joke to lighten things up when everyone had gotten too uptight. That just isn’t Vick. I think this also results in Vick’s lack of ability to come through in the Clutch. Instead of motivating those around him to step-up and make a play, he takes it all on himself and that just doesn’t work very often – not in football anyway. As a result, we all sit and wait for him to throw that final interception that decides the game instead of holding out hope for that 4th and 26 completion that keeps the season alive.

    This issue is, in a nutshell, one of the main problems this team has – a lack of leadership, a lack of ownership for the product on the field. There is a ton of talent but nobody or no group of guys willing to step-up and say, “This is my/our team and you’ll have to drag me/us out of here dead if you want to take one from us.”

    The draft has been an issue for us. It would be nice to see us getting more consistent talent and developing it better – that’s for sure. However, I don’t think you are going to see leadership come from first year players. I hope they can develop into leaders because were gonna need some in four to five years but Andy is going to need to find a few guys – Vick, McCoy, Celek, Namdi, Asante(?), Trent that can really bring this group together. Otherwise, blow it up now because I can’t do this again.

  11. 11 Mac said at 9:55 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I think leaders are, first and foremost, big heart and big effort guys.

    I would peg: Jenkins and Landri as the two defensive guys who can be leaders. I would think that Rolle and Coleman may grow into it. Sadly, I think leadership is less tangible on the field when it is at the DT position.

    On offense: I would point to Celek, Mathis, and Avant… and hope that McCoy and Kelce and possibly Watkins could grow into it (though I kind of doubt Danny will).

    All of the other guys give me a look in their eyes that they are giving their all, but for themselves, not necessarily for the team… not in the way a true leader does.

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 11:18 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    its funny that mcnabb is now getting praise for some of these things after most of the fans (not pointing the finger at you) hated him for most of the things that you listed in this post.

  13. 13 Anonymous said at 1:21 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    You’re right and it is kind of ironic – particularly with DMac now watching the Sunday action with TO at the local bar. I think it is a solid cautionary tale to those currently outside the Novacare Complex with pitchforks though. The grass is not always greener.

  14. 14 Anonymous said at 5:43 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I think the biggest difference between the 2004 and 2011 Eagles team is experience and veteran leadership! In fact is there any leader on the current roster compared to guys like McNabb, Runyan, Hugh Douglas, Sheldon Brown, Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dakwins?!

    When comparing those two teams nobody should ever say again that leadership is overrated.

  15. 15 Anonymous said at 6:31 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    + TEAM chemistry.

  16. 16 Zachary said at 7:57 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I think if you do compare us to teams like the Green Bay Packers, the New Orleans Saints, the New England Patriots, it’s obvious where we come up short.

    We’ve had medicore, good and very good QB’s in Reid’s tenure (a few bad ones as well). But those three teams have “great” QB’s. Those three QB’s make guys who are 7th round picks – like Marques Colston look like Super stars. When their #1 WR goes down, often times the next guy behind them shows up.

    We spent a 1st round pick on Malcin, who didn’t do as much as Colston did as a rooke drafted in the 7th round, in his rookie year.

    I think end of the day, we can always be medicore to good, as long as we have a medicore to good QB, then maybe get really luck and win a Super Bowl, but until we have that “great” QB, we’ll always be second teir.

    Anyone who watches the three teams I mentioned, knows they aren’t winning because of a Steelers esque defense. They aren’t winning because of a Emmitt Smith or Barry Sanders kind of running game. They aren’t winning with Randy Moss & TO at WR. They are winning because everytime they aren’t facing each other they have the best player on the field at the most important position on the field and most games it’s not close.

  17. 17 Eric Weaver said at 8:58 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    CHFF chronicled it that year and continue to do so but it defines the idea of bend-but-don’t-break defenses. 2004 was a great one at that. That’s what separates teams. While the 2004 team gave up its fair share of yards, they didn’t allow much scoring. And that was done year after year under Jim Johnson as they were usually near the top in the league in points given up.

    The other area those teams shined in were in turnovers. Something the 2008 Saints’ defense was great at. It’s one of the reasons the Bills had such a great start earlier in the year. The Bills, of course, are more an example of luck than the 2008 Saints defense, but still.

  18. 18 Eric Weaver said at 9:03 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    This team drastically needs someone that will scare receivers when they go over the middle. Whether that be a safety or a linebacker, this team has lacked that since Dawk and Trott have left.

    It’s one thing that worries me about Kuechly, he’s fundamentally sound and will always be around the ball, but will teams fear him? I doubt it. He’s not known for being a lights out guy.

  19. 19 Mac said at 9:57 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    The league may be transitioning away from those “lights out” hits. Just ask James Harrison.

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 11:22 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    i dont necessarily view urlacher as the kind of guy who is going to lay a devastating hit to knock a guy out of a game, but if i’m on offense, i’m sure as heck going to know where he is lined up before we snap the ball.

  21. 21 Anonymous said at 9:39 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    The bottom line is a QB with extraordinary football IQ, that is what all the great teams always have. Vick will never be the guy no matter how physically gifted he is or was. Nobody is going to like this but if there is a huge upside QB sitting on the board when they draft they need to take him. Barkley or RG3 might be there and if they show the ability to understand the game I want one of them.

    Would you like to see your QB come to the line, change the play based on defensive alignment, direct the blocking scheme, run a 2 minute drill effectively, snap a ball early enough to catch the D with too many men on the field, call 2 plays in the huddle, etc.? Rodgers, Brees, Manning, Manning, Brady can all do these things. I loved Donovan but he was never that guy either. QB is where it starts and where it ends, AR might even look like a better coach with the right QB. Ask Belichek or Dungy or Payton or Coughlin.

  22. 22 Anonymous said at 10:04 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    If the Eagles draft a QB in the first round it better be RGIII. Do not want Barkley in Philly.

  23. 23 Anonymous said at 11:05 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    RG3 would be great but it looks like the Eagles will draft to late to get him. Its going to be a problem because it now seems like we do not want to pin our hopes on Vick.

  24. 24 Anonymous said at 10:22 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I agree with you about needing an elite football IQ QB. But I also believe a bunch of the things you pointed out have to fall on Reid’s shoulders. We have had a bunch of different QBs during his era here and not one of them ran an effective 2 minute drill and all of them had problems which caused us to use TOs early on to avoid delay of games. We’ve also had a couple OCs during that time. The one constant is AR. It just seems that he doesn’t have an offense capable of functioning effectively in two-minute or hurry-up situations.

  25. 25 Anonymous said at 9:54 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    Having a top 5 QB solves a lot of problems. Ask the Packers or the Patriots this year or the Eagles last year. Once Vick came down to Earth, we struggled. That’s not a coincidence.

  26. 26 Anonymous said at 11:28 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    to expand on your point, a top 5 qb can also mask a lot of a team’s deficiencies. Tom brady is running a high scoring offense with not much talent at WR (ignoring TE). Their offensive skills are covering the fact that their defense is so terrible.

    i think its a matter of ‘where do you allocate your talent’. do you go all in at one or two positions? or do you spread the talent pool a bit so that other positions have more talent?

    more than anything, i think it comes down to drafting and leadership, as corny as it sounds. when the vets get injured, you have to rely on the younger guys, maybe even rookies. heck, you might be counting on the rookies to start the season. the point is, you need these rooks to play at a high level. That means you need to draft guys that can play soon. they dont have to be all-pro or pro-bowl quality guys to start. they just have to fit in to the scheme and be another cog in the machine. Then, you need to reply on the veteran leadership on the team to help these young guys to fit in, to cover their asses on the field. to let the rest of your team know, and the other team, that just because such and such guy is hurt doesnt mean you can’t do what you came in there to do.

    i realize i’m rambling a bit here so i’ll just stop now. haha. i think y’all get the point.

  27. 27 Anonymous said at 10:12 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    For a team that drafts so many players and went on a huge spending spree in the off-season adapting schemes to players seems like a fundamental failure from top to bottom. This was a team who’s schemes have been in place for many years. They should’ve been adding pieces to complete the team, not adding players and changing schemes to fit what they bring in. If you are well run and have a good personnel department you shouldn’t need to fundamentally adapt your schemes.

    Of course you should always tinker here and there to add new looks and plays to fit your personnel. However, teams that are at the top of the league aren’t overhauling their schemes based on the drafts they have or free agents they bring. Pitt may be the closet team that runs contrary to this with success, but I think what they did was protect Ben and limit the play-book, instead of completely over-haul their scheme. Even when Ben was first in the league they threw the ball down field. They just didn’t do it with much frequency because their running game was so strong. In their drafting they’ve acquired better WR options and Ben has grown so they’ve opened up the play-book and now will throw the ball down-field with greater frequency.

    The problem with this team on defense is that they didn’t know what they wanted to do, and Castillo didn’t know what the personnel’s strengths and weakness were. If he did, he sure as hell hasn’t figured out how to minimize them. Plus, they are soft in the middle of field; LBs and Ss. You can only hide so many sub-par players. That’s part of the reason why, I believe, they struggle so mightily in the red-zone. When push comes to shove, their personnel in the middle of the field is some of the worst in the NFL. None of them have a killer instinct, none of them are supreme play-makers. None of them are superb tacklers. They have lots of talent on the edges, but none in the middle. If Jenkins, Landri, Patterson, and Laws don’t play great, the back end falls apart.

    Even with that fundamental flaw, it’s the turnovers that have truly killed the season. If they were atop the league in turnover margin, ie GB, NO, NE are the top 3 by no coincidence, this team would probably be atop the NFCE and control it’s own destiny. They may not be the best team in the league because of their other flaws, but they wouldn’t be 5-8 and fighting to have a .500 season.

    That’s where personnel and schemes have gone awry on offense. Reid, for some reason, likes mobile QBs, with strong arms, but below average awareness and accuracy to run his pass-happy offense. Reid’s schemes would be wonderful with an elite QB. The problem is that the rest of the offense is built on this scheme with the exception of the QB. So do you waste all the other personnel you’ve acquired to run your modified WCO and change to fit your QB, or do you just hope that QB doesn’t turn the ball over and you are efficient enough in scoring opportunities that it balances out? That would be ok if the defense could stop people from scoring ala NE, or force tons of turnovers, ala GB and the Saints of 09.

    I think small, speed based defenses are so hit and miss, and depend so much on turnovers and the success of the offense that its a special case when they truly succeed. I’d much rather have big, physical in your face defense, anchored by a thumper in the middle, and a hit-man in the secondary. If the current eagles D had a early Trott in the middle and Dawkins roaming the secondary, they’d be very good. Teams would still press the edge at Babin/Fokou/ Samuel because that is a very week run-stopping trio, but Trott and Dawk would clean up the mess and limit the exposure. Now you have Chaney and Nate Allen trying to clean up, and those two miss tackles it seems like every play.

  28. 28 Matthew Butch said at 10:33 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    I have to agree with a bunch of things said:

    Top line QB play. In 2004 McNabb was a beast and at the top of his game. Same goes for the Saints, Colts, Packers, and to a lesser extent the Steelers. The one thing those QBs don’t do is turnovers. Sure they’ll throw an interception, but its not in either Red Zone.

  29. 29 Anonymous said at 11:01 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    Yes. Say what you will about McNabb he rarely threw interceptions and he extended the play with his legs to great benefit. He may not be Hall of Fame quality but he was close. I hope the Eagles find a great QB to replace him but so far it is not Vick and the way things go in this league it could be a long time before we find his equal.

    The problem with Vick is is lack of awareness. His throws get blocked at the line and he throws into the middle with little sense of the risks he is taking. That’s the way he has always been except for that amazing stretch last year. Vick has to learn to be a bit trepidacious in throwing down the middle without it daunting his natural competitiveness. Similarly he has to learn to create the passing lanes or throw over the defensive front so his passes do not get blocked. It may sound simple but it probably is far from simple for Vick.

  30. 30 Anonymous said at 10:41 AM on December 16th, 2011:

    Sure it never hurts to evaluate the things that other teams do which might be worth copying. But in my view the two major flaws with the Eagles are:

    1. Talent evaluation. As the Eagles have gone from Mondrak to Heckert to Roseman it seems that while we used to be as good as average in our draft success we have now fallen to an all time low. While Roseman seems to be cleaver in accumulating draft picks and at managing the cap he does not seem to be good at picking talent. Further he never had any credentials to suggest that he knows what he is doing in that regard.

    2. Andy Reid has a tendency to plug in inexperienced or marginal players at certain positions and assume that the Eagles will be OK there. When in fact all too often he gets burned during the season with glaring weaknesses in key positions. This year he hit the trifecta with safety, linebacker, and kick and punt returners. And by the way when is he going to tell DeSean to stop running sideways and backwards?

    The Eagles do not have anybody higher than Reid in the organization who is really a football expert. The Eagles need a serious talent evaluator in Roseman’s place and someone high up who can put Reid through his paces to make sure he has really thought out his strategy for any given season.

  31. 31 Eric Weaver said at 10:59 AM on December 16th, 2011:


    I bought into this whole good character and team leader concept when drafting guys. Have we come to the realization that that is probably not the best strategy? I know I have. I think it’s better to get a bunch of guys that were good players in college, but not really leaders. You just need a few good players that are strong leaders then you need a bunch of followers. If you have too many team leaders, then you have a problem.

  32. 32 Anonymous said at 11:50 AM on December 16th, 2011:


    The 2004 Eagles? The NFC was maybe its weakest that season.

    The key to success is the 1999 Eagles — when they drafted McNabb. He was THE key piece to the Eagles’ puzzle. (See 2011 Colts for importance of great QB.)

    As remarked earlier, what counts is a great QB, and a top D.C. — points I’ve argued in commenting on prior posts.

    If I’m the Eagles, they should spend whatever it takes to add RGIII (if he comes out) — even if that includes two 1st rounders and two 2nd rounders — or even three of both. Considering the hit-or-miss quality of the Eagles recent drafting, I’d have no problem giving up a boatload for a QB who looks like “The Franchise” for the next 10-12 years.

    And without a franchise QB, the Eagles are heading to the kind of mediocrity that plagued Denver post-Elway and, for example, Jacksonville the past few years w/ Garrard.

    The Giants pulled the trigger and won a SB three years later. The Jets did it and have been to two straight AFC title games.

    Who do you think is closer to a SB, the Eagles or the Jets?

    Also, if you want to take Andy Reid’s “we’re a young team” seriously (something you’ve also said), then get the young franchise QB and let him grow with all that young *talent* the Eagles have accumulated under Reid and Howie.

    Throw in a good D.C. and this team’s back on track.

    Play it “conservatively” because 1st round picks are too valuable to trade, and the Eagles will continue being the Eagles of the past 50 years.

  33. 33 Anonymous said at 12:02 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Identity is key, on both sides of the ball. Dance with the one that brung ya.

    There is no common theme to teams that win SBs, Ravens, Bucs, great defense, ball control, mediocre offense, NE, good defense, ball control, good offense, Pittsburgh, great defense, power football, Giants, mediocre defense that got hot, QB that got lucky, Saints, aggressive, mediocre defense, high powered ball control offense, Packers, good aggressive defense, high power ball control offense.

    On offense, I think big play offenses don’t work, Saints, Packers and Patriots are all built around the short passing game, not the deep throw, they make big plays off their little plays, i.e., getting the safeties to cheat then hitting you with double moves. I think MM got infatuated with the deep ball and forgot everything Walsh taught him. Problem is whether Vick can run a short passing game, he has the arm, quick release, accuracy, strength to make the sideline throw, but does he have the mental acuity to consistently find the open receiver and make quick decisions. DeSean doesn’t fit that kind of offense, he’s not tough enough to catch 90 passes underneath like Troy Brown or Steve Smith, and has too big of an ego to accept a role as the deep decoy. Maclin will be fine once he gets an offseason in the weight room, Avant is a good role player, can Cooper be the big possession WR or do they need to find a veteran. And I want a Weaver type FB to balance it all out. And keep the zone blocking scheme and the current OL.

    On defense, I think they’re building a group that can win championships. Aggression seems to be a key, because solid defenses (think 2008) are vulnerable to top QBs, who you’re certain to meet most years in the playoffs. Aggressive defenses will also get beat, but they’ll make big plays, giving your offense a chance to respond. Aggressive defenses tend to be more inconsistent during the season, but can come up bigger in the playoffs (see the 2007 Giants or 2008 Colts).

    This scheme is aggressive, they have speed at LB, press CBs, they need a SLB and someone to challenge Chaney, and most of all, to develop the hybrid wide 9 blitz package that confounds QBs. Miami gave hints of what you could do with this system, whether they stay with Juan or get another DC, I want them to stay with a one gap attack system with speed in the secondary and the ability to press cover and force QBs into quick decisions. And run defense that swarms to the ball, I’ll give up 10 yard runs in return for stuffs (that was always JJ’s philosophy) but don’t miss those open field tackles and give up the big plays.

    In effect, I want JJ married to Washburn, something similar to what they ran from 2000-2002 but adopted for the new passing rules.

  34. 34 Anonymous said at 1:58 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    When was the last time a mid-career improvement could really be tied to that one summer a player spent in the weight room? We need to throw that explanation out the window, just as we need to ignore the times we hear that a player reported to camp in “the best shape of his life” or that a rehabbing player reports that he’s well ahead of schedule. There are no magic cures. At this point, these guys already are the athletes they’re going to be. And they’re all subject to the same rigors, recovery timetables and offseason conditioning programs. Hitting the weight room hard is for marginal JV players to report for their junior season ready to contribute to the varsity team. It isn’t what allows an NFL player to become a better NFL player.

  35. 35 Anonymous said at 5:57 PM on December 17th, 2011:

    Depends on the player.

    If you’re talking a 24 year old OL from LSU or Ohio State, yeah, they’ve maxed out their bodies.

    Maclin came in the league as a lanky 21 year old, he’ll naturally fill out and add muscle, and that tendency will be accelerated with good weight training. Last off season he thought he might die, that tends to interfere with your training regime, and you can see the impact in the dings and lack of strength. This off season he’ll be able to follow a proper training regime.

    Kelce is another who may add a bit of strength, appendicitis and the lockout didn’t help his quest to break 290 lbs. Deion Lewis came out young, and could add a little strength.

    On the other hand, Watkins is a finished product.

    Someone like Dixon needs the training staff to supervise him in the off season, he came to camp too heavy and it showed in a lack of burst before he went on IR.

  36. 36 Anonymous said at 12:50 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    BTW…I will be posting a Jets preview shortly. Just had this subject pop in my head last night.

  37. 37 Anonymous said at 12:54 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Recent history has very much shown that the SB winner is not the team with the best record at the end of the regular season, so we aren’t talking about building a team that wins 16 straight, but one capable of winning in Jan & Feb, along with around 10 or so during the season.

    This is the differentiation that has to be made, we aren’t seeking perfection, we want ultimate winners.

  38. 38 Anonymous said at 1:24 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Here’s a philosophical question for you. Considering more and more players are saying things to the effect of “Juan is hitting his stride,” hypothetically IF the defense dominates these last 3 games (or comes close to it)…is Juan going to be back next year as the DC? I know most of us have him written of…but what if?….

  39. 39 Anonymous said at 1:44 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Man this is a tough question. Blanket statements like draft better aren’t enough. Tons of teams passed on Aaron Rodgers in the first round allowing GB to scoop him up and be in a constant position to go BPA in a lot of situations. Heck look at Brady in NE. Bellichick has had some terrible recent drafts but the main thing is Tom Brady. Heck look at Indy. With Manning that is at least a .500 team. I may have rambled but what I am getting at is the game has evolved to where top 5 QB play more than offsets a good defense. This is why I feel the rules of the game create a imbalance of sorts. If you have a top 5 QB, sure there are going to be struggles against good defensive teams but with regard to the rest of league without good to great D’s, you are going to win a higher percentage of those games. I feel like the rules of play impact how you plan for the team in the future, not so much by modeling out against other franchises with greater success than the Eagles. Right, who we want to be is an explosive offense with a good enough D which fits in with current play. The real question that needs to be answered, is that guy at the helm AR and Howie?

  40. 40 Miguel de Maria said at 12:34 AM on December 17th, 2011:

    It is interesting, that a league that markets teams, not individuals, also (somewhat arbitrarily) has elevated QBs to be the most important individuals in any sport.

  41. 41 Anonymous said at 1:52 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Don’t think the Saints and Packers are that different. Both have Really Accurate Quarterbacks who Read Defenses Very Fast. Who compensate a lot for other shortcomings.

    Steelers are a nice balance of being very good, not great, at all positions.

    If your QB is Mike Vick, you need to use the Steelers model. He will not get to the Brees / Rodgers level. But he could maybe be a Roethlisberger.

  42. 42 Jason lowery said at 2:52 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    problem with the Vick/Roethisberger comparison is Ben can get run over by a truck and still scrap together 3 TD games while Vick will just play bad hurt (Cards game) or miss 3-4 week chunks of time

  43. 43 Anonymous said at 4:51 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Understood. Notice I didn’t say he was equivalent to Roethlisberger, but that he “could maybe be a Roethlisberger”. My point was, of the three models Tommy laid out, two depend on super-accurate quarterbacks so only one could be a realistic choice for the Eagles who haven’t had a super-accurate quarterback in a very long time.

  44. 44 Anonymous said at 2:55 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    I think Vick gets too much blame here.

    Of his play regressed compared to last year but if you still have a historically bad red zone D it’s not a real surprise that the Eagles are struggling.

    I happen to believe that with two more playmakers and difference makers on D, respectively we will be in the playoff hunt again. And protecting Vick more would help as well.

  45. 45 Anonymous said at 5:46 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    Lots of good points made in here.

    “Draft better” is the kind of stuff I was trying to avoid because that isn’t an answer. Nice phrase, but what does it mean? The Eagles have liked all the draft picks they made. What you have to study is why some guys aren’t working out and why others are. You also have to identify who is a bust and who’s “incomplete”. Nate Allen gets a ton of grief, but he’s not as bad as people think. Nate is having an inconsistent season, but I believe part of his problem is the fact that he’s not Brian Dawkins. Fans are holding him to that standard. Even Dawk wasn’t Dawk in the middle of his 2nd year. We don’t yet know what Nate will be.

    DE Brian Smith was a clear bust. Tony Hunt is a clear bust. Those are guys we factually know didn’t pan out. Other players we’re waiting to see what the story is. This really is a complex topic that deserves good discussion. I want to avoid a full-on draft discussion until the offseason when we don’t have games to talk about.

    * * * * *

    I think identity is a key point for improving. We ran one kind of defense in 2008. McDermott changed that in 2009. Now we’re on a new scheme in 2011. We need to commit to a scheme and stick with certain kind of players so guys have time to develop. Chris Gocong didn’t forget how to play after 2008. McD wanted different things from the SAM. Gocong no longer fit.

    Babin and Jenkins have been terrific because they do fit. Jason is perfect for the Wide-9 and CuJo is a 1-gap DT. Great signings.

    Jason Kelce is a perfect fit for Mudd’s style of blocking. Great pick.

    LB/DB is an area where we still seem to lack identity. Castillo talked about wanting to play like the Bears. That means great effort and tough guys. How the hell did he not push for trading Asante? You can’t try to copy the Bears style of D with Asante out there. That’s like having me perform in a ballet.

    We drafted 2 MLBs…Casey Matthews and Greg Lloyd. They couldn’t be more different as players. Casey is a blitzer and guy with some cover skills. Greg is a run-stuffer who might not have the speed needed for the NFL. Kind of odd to take these guys. Is Juan trying to cover all his bases or does he simply lack vision?

    * * * * *

    Elite QB factor is huge. Rodgers and Brees to cover up other areas of the team that lack talent. The old joke is that winning is the great deodorant. Winning covers up problem areas. Well, great QB play does the same thing. We have a good QB, not a great one, and Vick hasn’t been able to cover up for deficient areas. He’s contributed to the problems with some of his turnovers.

    The next time things are quiet I’ll see about writing out some more thoughts in a post.

  46. 46 Anonymous said at 11:09 PM on December 17th, 2011:

    The problem has been that Vick isn’t a good QB this year, and VY isn’t even an average QB.

    With McNabb and Feeley we won 12 games
    With McNabb and Garcia we were 10-6 and a false start from teh NFCCG
    With a fading McNabb we were one bad drive from the SB.

    You do need better defense, somewhere around top 5 or so, but with the ability to raise their game when needed. You don’t need the 2000 Ravens or 2002 Bucs. This defense right now is marginal top ten, add a MLB, SLB, and some depth, subtract Asante, and a full off season, and maybe a new DC (Juan has 3 games to make his case to stay) and it could become a top 5 defense.

    You do need a QB who can make the routine plays, and play well in the 4th Q under pressure. You need a running game, good STs and skill players who’ll get the YAC so that little plays become big plays.

  47. 47 Jay Ernst said at 10:23 PM on December 16th, 2011:

    The more I watch football…and I’ve been a fan for 20 plus years at this point…the more obvious it becomes that games are won and loss at key moments that often do not show on the stats sheet.

    Everyone will point to turnovers as the one stat that truly affects winning, and that is true, but as far as stats go it’s really the only one that consistently matters in the win/loss column.

    The amount of yards you pile up, completion percentage, big plays, pass defense, run defense, sacks…I’d argue that none of these are true indicators of success. Rather, it’s the 3rd and 7 play that goes for 8 yards instead of 6 and half and keeps a drive alive that really matters. It’s the run play that scores rather than being stopped inches from the goal line or the tackle that turns 7 points into 3 or new set of downs into a punt that truly matters.

    All great teams, regardless of what scheme they use to acheive that type of success, convert clutch plays like that routinely. They don’t need to get cute, they don’t need trick plays, they simply drop back and complete the 8 yard pass when they need to with near perfect precision and reliability. To do this you need smart, tough players that know that that very thing is the key to victory.

    And, the Eagles, as constructed right now, simply do not have those types of players. Asante does not consistently sell out to stop that extra yard…in fact, he embrases the idea that interceptions (big plays) are all that matters. He plays off on 3rd and 5 and gives the other team those crucial first downs. He plays 5 yards deep in the end zone and allows TDs looking for a pick-6. Desean, for all is glorious and fun to watch big plays, drops easy first downs, only rarely fights for those extra yards when needed and isn’t big enough to be a consistent threat in the redzone. Maclin isn’t the best clutch receiver either in that regard, although worlds better than Desean. Vick plays with that fight for every yard mentality, he just plays the wrong position for it, he fights when it’s dumb to fight. The QB needs to be the patient pace setter than distributes the ball and gets 8 when you need 8 yards and doesn’t force the ball down field when it’s not there.

    On offense, we’re a fearsome big play jaugernaut that can’t consistently make the small plays that are needed and can’t punch the ball into the endzone consistently. On defense our biggest stars are soft stats generators that rarely do the dirty work that’s necessary to win the game of inches so pivotal in every NFL contest.

    Where are the consumate professionals, the clutch players that deliver the first down/touchdown when it’s most needed, the defensive players that strike fear into opponents by punishing them/driving them backwards when they dare to try to pick up those last few necessary inches.

    Dawkins, Staley, Westbrook, TO, Sheldon, Trotter, Runyan, Chad Lewis – they were those type of players. Where are those types of players these days? We don’t have a Hines Ward (an unflashy dirty work player), we don’t have a Plexico Burress that can consistently out muscle in the redzone, we Jerome Harrison or Brian Dawkins or Clay Matthews that physically strikes fear into opposing players. We don’t have a Sheldon Brown or Charles Woodson that’s fundementally sound in all parts of the game and makes the little plays that matter.

    Big plays are sporadic, you can’t count on them when you need them. And, for as good as we are at big plays and highlights we can’t do anything reliably. And, thus you have an unreliable team that always seems to come up short. We need to focus player acquisition not on playmakers so to speak but more hard nosed fundementally sound technicians and more physically imposing players on defense.

    Schematically, we need to focus on having an identity. Instead of always trying to out smart everyone and “trick” our way to success, we need to have things that we can just do well. We need to know we can get a yard when we need it, not because we out schemed, but because we have a hand full of plays and a few players you can just consistently deliver those things.

  48. 48 Anonymous said at 11:46 AM on December 17th, 2011:

    Good stuff. Agree with a lot of what you say.