The Missile That Missed

Posted: December 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 92 Comments »

Tommy and I will be discussing solutions in the days to come. But first, I want to dwell for a moment on the mess that we have.

I once heard the CEO of a major company tell the following story. His first job was as an engineer at a defense firm, and he was assigned to a team that was designing the guidance system for a long-range missile. After a ton of work, they took the missile to the desert and tested it. Bang, the missile hit the target exactly. A perfect hit. There was much celebration.

They then moved on to the next phase of development, another component to the missile, and added that on. This time, the missile missed the target. Literally by miles. Only then, following the disastrous test, did they go back and really look a the test data from the first launch. The guidance system had been a total failure then too, and it was sheer luck that they had hit the initial target.

The lesson from that story is clear: we are easily misled by the end result. Long term success requires being as critical of apparent successes as you will be of apparent losses.

As we go through the rubble of this epic disaster of a season, there is a great deal of evidence that this team’s figurative guidance system has been broken for some time. More bluntly, the team’s front office philosophy and personnel appear to be fundamentally flawed. And when we think about how to fix this franchise, it is the front office that needs the most immediate attention. Even before we think about what the implications are for the coaching staff.

This isn’t the first time I’ve ranted about this particular subject.  There are a lot of difficult questions to answer. But to help us identify the magnitude of the problem, let’s catalog some flaws that have been long-standing — flaws that are immune to the “it is just one bad year” line of thinking.

Cutting Corners. This has been a team flaw for years. And it is inexcusable. The Eagles are notorious for strategically ignoring positions. The list is exhausting. In 2008, it was fullback. In 2009, it was free safety. In 2010, it was right cornerback and right guard. In 2011, it has been linebacker. I could go back earlier as well, but it isn’t worth it. Every year, there seems to be at least one position where the team inexplicably just hopes things work out. And every year, it doesn’t work and in fact winds up hurting us pretty badly. If we were really worried about salary cap constraints, I would understand; you can’t have anything. But we had tens of millions of dollars worth of cap space in every year but this one. This is a systematic problem. If you can get everything right, you do so. You don’t intentionally make your team weaker.

Injury Risk. I don’t think I need to dwell too long here. The team counts on players coming off of injuries too frequently and gets burned too often. From signing Stacy Andrews and steve smith to drafting Cornelius Ingram and Jack Ikegwuonu to counting on Stewart Bradley and Nate Allen, someone is not doing their job and honestly assessing the medical risk of players coming off of injury for this team. And it costs us on the field and financially. Big time.

Self Scouting Failures. More than cutting corners, the thing that shouldn’t happen but does with alarming frequency is failing to properly assess the ability of players who are on your team already. The team thought Quintin Demps could succeed Dawk in 2009. Not even close. In 2010, they thought that Ellis Hobbs and Stacy Andrews, veterans who couldn’t get off the Eagles’ bench the year before, could start at CB and RG, and paid a lot of money to let them do so. Fail. They thought they had LBs capable of starting in the NFL in 2011 in Moise Fokou and Jamar Chaney. That has not worked out at all.

In all of those cases, we are talking about players who the coaches and the team’s front office saw day in and day out. There is nobody in the whole league that you have studied more than your own players. There is no way you can justify missing so badly on your own guys.

Wasted Defensive Drafts. One of the scariest realities is that in 2013 — just two seasons away — there is nobody on the entire defense who we can point to and say, “I know that barring injury, that guy will be an above average NFL starter.” You can do that on offense, for sure. DeSean Jackson, Maclin, McCoy, even Peters and Herremans because of how long OL are usually able to play at a high level. If you were generous, you’d throw in Celek and Vick, though both clearly have their issues, and maybe even Kelce, who should keep getting better if we keep this OL system in place that long.

But on defense? Our best talents, Trent Cole, Asante Samuel, and Nnamdi Asomugha, will all be on the wrong side of 30, when age can jump up and bite them. Babin and Jenkins are already on the wrong side of 30, and looking forward, the chances of them being good decline sharply with each passing year. DRC is a free agent after 2012, so even if he is actually better than he looked this year, it is hard to count on him being here. In fact, if I had to place actual money on one player on defense being here and playing well, barring injury, do you know who it would be? It would be Mike Patterson, who would turn 30 during that season. Think about that for a moment. For every other player on defense, I’m less sure that he is going to be starting the NFL in 2013 barring injury, let alone being above average.

But that isn’t what is scary. What is scary is that only two of the names I’ve listed on defense so far were drafted by the Eagles. Why? A succession of defensive drafts that have left the team without young, ascending talent. A quick count shows 25 defensive players drafted between 2006 and 2010. Only 8 of those guys are still with the team, 5 of whom were drafted in 2010. The other three (Trevor Laws, Victor Abiamiri, and Moise Fokou) represent the remaining defensive haul. And none of those three guys seem too likely to be on the team in 2012 (two free agents and, well, Fokou).

They’ve done far better on offense. From 2006-2010, 22 offensive players were taken, and 10 of those guys are still with the team, including 3 taken in 2010 and 7 taken in prior years. Three of those seven guys are now on their second contracts (Avant, Justice, and Celek) and three more are among the team’s best players (DeSean Jackson, Maclin and McCoy).

Now, let’s place a little blame for this where it is due. There are five defenders (Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley, Joe Mays, Andy Studebaker, and Brodrick Bunkley) who have moved on and are either starters or significant contributors to their team (or are Stewart Bradley). Those guys are gone because either they weren’t developed well here, were drafted into a system that subsequently changed and they were no longer fits, or have never been the same since an ACL tear. The latter could also be said for Brandon Graham and Nate Allen. So there is bad luck and changing defensive schemes that are partially to blame. That said … when right now, the best player on that list is probably Chris Gocong … it is hard to argue with credibility that our defensive drafting has been adequate.

Talent Retention. One of the hallmarks of Joe Banner’s tenure has been that the team has identified its top young talent and signed players to long term contract extensions before they hit free agency. The franchise kept the vast majority of its best players for their most productive years, from when they were drafted until they hit the wrong side of 30.

That philosophy has disappeared in recent years. In 2006, we extended a number of young players that we had drafted and developed (Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Reggie Brown, and Shawn Andrews). However, between 2007 and 2011, we have extended just two guys that we’ve drafted: Brent Celek and Winston Justice. (You could include Kolb’s one-year extension, but it seems to miss the point, especially since I’m talking about long term extensions; I also exclude Vick because he was on the franchise tag, which is not really an early extension as much as free agent negotiations with leverage. We’ve also extended, um, Jon Dorenbos. Yawn.) Part of that is a product of rules in the past two CBAs that have limited the ability to extend guys. But a larger part of that is that we aren’t getting deals done anymore.

Why not? Well in part it’s tied to drafting, as I discussed. But in part, it is a failure to deal. And I’m not talking about just DeSean Jackson. There is nothing keeping us from extending LeSean McCoy, as far as I know. There is nothing keeping us from extending Jeremy Maclin. And prior to his injury, Antonio Dixon. Yes, the list of candidates is short. But that makes the failure to extend these guys even more puzzling: there just aren’t that many guys worth extending. Who exactly are they saving the money for?

Leadership. I will admit up front that this is more wishy-washy. I’m going to start in with hyperbole. I hate myself for it, but can’t resist. So, with that caveat:

There used to be guys who represented how the Eagles did things; they played the right way and had little patience for guys who played any other way. At one firm I worked for, we called those guys “culture carriers” and they were considered to be very valuable. The Eagles have ignored that value, and it has cost them. Brian Dawkins was allowed to leave because we wouldn’t commit to him for two years. Or he might have been overpaid by a couple million (aka steve smith money). Either way, gotta draw that line because his play might not be worth it. Sheldon Brown, nope, can’t give him a raise because he might decline. Nobody wants a CB who plays his heart out. Quintin Mikell, see ya. I understand, those guys aren’t going to play as well as their contracts anymore. They are old, declining. But anyone think they would be as despondent as the defensive players we have now?

Maybe the formula for worth is missing a variable, is all I’m saying. But because we didn’t retain those guys, and because we didn’t do a good job drafting defensive players to succeed them, our defense is a terrifying combination of inexperience and free agents. Of the 29 guys on defense, just 9 are in at least their third year in Philadelphia, which includes three guys on IR (Dixon, Abiamiri, and Fokou). Only four are starters: Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Akeem Jordan, and Asante Samuel. The only one of those guys who seems to have any leadership skills is Samuel, and he seems to be happy to lead the team in the worst possible direction.

To counter this, the team drafted guys who are “high character” and self-motivated, guys who were team captains and high-motor players. That hasn’t seemed to help much. Collectively, this team sure doesn’t play like a high-motor, self-motivated bunch. Leadership is a difficult quality to bring to a new team, whether it is from college or another NFL team. So much of it is situational, based on long-standing relationships and standing within the team. Which is why it is so important to value it when it exists on your team. Again, see Dawk, Brown, and Mikell.

Assistant Coaching Failures. Until 2009, the Eagles under Andy Reid had never fired a real assistant coach that I am aware of. Since then, they have fired (or “allowed to leave”) a slew of them. From Otis Smith to Ted Daisher and Brian Stewart to Sean McDermott, Rory Segrest, James Urban and Bill Shuey, there have been more coaching missteps than we can count. And surely there will be more to come following 2011 even if Reid is retained.

Reid has suddenly developed a problem in terms of identifying and hiring quality coaches. And even when he picks experienced hands, they seem to struggle. Jim Washburn’s and Marty Mornhinweg’s tussle was most appalling for that reason: veteran coaches who can’t seem to show professional respect for each other. Experienced secondary coaches Brian Stewart, Dick Jauron, and Johnnie Lynn have been disappointments to say the least; Stewart was shown the door and Jauron wasn’t good enough to beat out Juan Castillo for the DC job. Lynn’s experience as DC in New York hasn’t helped Castillo, and he doesn’t seem to have helped the CBs play effectively. [By the way I still don’t understand why Jauron isn’t the DC with Castillo as LBs coach. If you want Castillo to take his talents to the other side of the ball, that’s the most rational answer, right? Not saying Jauron is a guru or anything, but compared with Castillo …]

On-Field Coaching Failures. And now the lowest hanging fruit of them all. Reid has struggled for years on game day. I think my current view of him is still that he is the best offensive coach in the league from the moment the last game ends to the moment the next game begins. He comes up with good game plans, creates mismatches, keeps his players practicing and playing at a high level throughout the year, and has strong relationships with difficult personalities on the team. He protects his players as well as any coach in the league.

But during the game, he’s a mess. The wasted time outs. The frequent failures to adjust on the fly. The sideline confusion. The lack of situational awareness. The hated run-pass balance. It’s been equally maddening for 13 years.

He also has shown no ability to improve the defense. He couldn’t help McDermott enough to keep the defense on track. He can’t help make Castillo better. So he seems great on offense but useless on defense. He requires a defensive head coach to be teamed with him, like Jim Johnson was. There’s no shame in that; not everyone can be Bill Belichick. But most coaches are aware of their short comings. Andy Reid does not appear to be aware of this. Or at least, he wasn’t prior to this season.

This season, even some of the strengths are eroding. Players are taking advantage of Reid’s protection rather than using it to take the time to get better. Players don’t seem to be a whit more motivated by Reid than they otherwise would be willing to be. But this seems to me to be the effect of things snowballing. I don’t necessarily consider these to be the long-standing flaws, though they factor into any ultimate decision.

Conclusion. My point here is that there has been a lot going on with this team for a long time that was not working. It was masked by success, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a problem. These problems have a way of building and exploding. And I’m sure I missed several others.

These problems are not one year issues, or just bad luck. They represent long-term, systematic flaws in the Eagles organization. And they require a significant intervention in terms of the organizational philosophy and decision making process in order to correct.

As I said two months ago, Mr. Lurie has a really big job in front of him. And in truth, he now has just five weeks to figure out how to fix it. I don’t think the answer can be merely “fire Andy” though. Too much needs to be rethought.

My biggest concern is that, faced with such a difficult problem, Mr. Lurie will punt and take one of the easy ways out, and limit his decision to the head coaching job. Such action — or, more accurately, inaction — is clearly insufficient.

92 Comments on “The Missile That Missed”

  1. 1 Dewey said at 5:06 PM on December 2nd, 2011:


    You wrote this:


    I find that (your point to look in terms of specific problems and specific solutions) totally off-base. That’s where I was, but the Seattle game and Tavaris’ performance led me to come around to the contrary position.

    Every week a handful of players make different mistakes. That’s somewhat to be expected, but the constancy of the general defensive problem is the over-ridding and superseding concern. Every QB we face has no problem picking the defense apart. Even Eli had WRs and TEs open. He was misfiring. The only exception I can think of is that Dallas game. Perhaps, sadly, it was just an outlier.

    It’s easy to determine and problem solve in specific. You speak with the player, you bench the player. You change up the coverage in response to specific situations. But the problem we have is systemic. Our system cannot win. I am speaking of the defensive system and, by proxy, the system which empowered the defensive system. This is MUCH, MUCH worse than specific issues. Those can be appeased away by analysis.

    It’s regressive analysis 101. Game in and game out Castillo is unable to stop QBs. It’s not a specific solution (quarters coverage, communication breakdowns) it’s a general one. It’s also an insurmountable one.

    How we got here? That’s the depressing part.

  2. 2 Anonymous said at 9:23 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    they should have benched desean jackson and asante samuel after week 3. i’ve been saying it until i was blue in the face…

  3. 3 Anonymous said at 5:18 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    “However, between 2007 and 2011, we have extended just two guys that we’ve drafted: Brent Celek and Winston Justice”

    You should add Avant here

  4. 4 Anonymous said at 8:22 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Can’t speak for Sam, but I think he meant what he wrote there. Avant was re-signed, not extended. Not the same thing.

  5. 5 Anonymous said at 5:21 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    I’m not sure there will be major changes, a few things here and there but the roster is still pretty talented. It’s a matter of getting this team to gel, and of course the defense could still use some work at LB. I just don’t think there will be fundamental changes as Sam is saying maybe needed, at the end of the day I feel Reid and the front office will remain in tact.

  6. 6 Keith Petres said at 6:01 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    “rant” is the correct way to describe your October 3rd article. You criticize the Eagles for not having a backup plan for LB, and then you turn around and criticize the Eagles for signing Steve Smith as a backup plan. After a mere 4 games, following a severely shortened off-season, you rashly announce that rookies Watkins and Jarret were, and henceforth will always be considered, awful picks. You criticize Reid for promoting Castillo from outside the defensive establishment, and conveniently forget that Reid got burned when he promoted the “inside the establishment” McDermott. And to top it off, you frame the analysis by only considering this single season, when the relevant people have been here for far longer than that.

    Are you really the best person to be heading the analysis of the big picture?

  7. 7 Anonymous said at 6:20 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Are you being facetious with this post? It sounds like you are criticising him for getting everything right and accurately predicting the problems with this team in early October.

    (except for the points on Watkins and Jarrett – the jury is still out on rookies)

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 6:27 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    I kind of agree with the orginal comment, I mean Sam’s two main blog posts have been negative. I didn’t see him on at all when there was some optimism, the fact is he had an overreactionary post at the start of the season and now his next big blog comes at another down point of the season? Seems like it is fair to question his potential bias here.

  9. 9 Anonymous said at 6:42 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Can a post be “overreactionary” if it’s fundamentally correct?

    What is his potential bias, watching the Eagles?

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 6:55 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    It was way too early in the season to write that post, that was so early on we didn’t know if the Eagles would turn it around or not. And look at the timing of his two blog posts, he was no where to be found after the wins against Dallas and Washington when Tommy asked are people starting to beleive in this team? But sure enough when the Eagles are all but mathematically elminated from the playoffs he comes back with another post that criticzes the Eagles. His two main blogs are negative that’s why I say he maybe some what biased because he has been writing the Eagles off since the slow start.

  11. 11 Anonymous said at 7:13 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Sam’s writing about fundamental, long-term issues.

    Who cares if he was around after the, now, 4-8 Eagles beat Dallas and Washington? Would that make the Eagles 8-4?

    You think he’s biased against the Eagles?

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 7:29 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    I think it’s possible he sees things as more dark and gloomy than they are.

    Like his earlier post this reads a lot like a fire everybody post. The whole Eagles system is fundamentally flawed and everyone involved should be replaced.

    Let’s take the example with the missile, they had one hit and it was by luck and the system didn’t work. Now the Philadelphia Eagles since 2006 have had how many good seasons and how many bad ones?

    If you have multiple hits it can’t just be by luck every time, you have to do something right, which tells me that the Eagles are not rotten from the core all they way out.

    Are they perfect? Hell no. Am I saying that Reid should definitely not be fired? No.

    Finally it really annoys me when we start calling rookie or 2nd year players busts, way too early, they haven’t even been in a full off-season program yet

  13. 13 Anonymous said at 8:30 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Ask Tommy who the very best poster was on the Eagles Message Board for the past 10 years, give or take. My $ says that he says “Shlynch”.

    He’d be more positive if there were more things to be positive about.

    And as for Watkins being a stupid pick from the get-go, it was. Stupid, stupid, stupid. For a number or reasons.

    What I can’t believe is that he didn’t mention Howie at all. He’s the worst GM we’ve had in the Reid era.

  14. 14 James Wann said at 8:56 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Based on what?

    I’d believe you more if Tommy promoted this “shlynch” guy from regular commentator on EaglesBlitz to co-blogger. More so if Derek at IgglesBlog did the same.

    Oh wait, heh heh, they did.

    My bad.

  15. 15 Anonymous said at 9:10 PM on December 2nd, 2011:


    1. Stimpy
    2. MDS
    3. mr hunt
    4. gbee
    5. Baltimore Bob

    Wait…was the question best EMBer or most insane EMBer?

    shlynch definitely smartest.

  16. 16 Sam Lynch said at 11:26 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Not true. JustRelax is way smarter than I. And AFan has a doctorate rather than an MBA, so is smarter by definition.

    I am, however, the handsomist. As far as you know.

  17. 17 Anonymous said at 6:39 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Sam, Tommy, et al…..I have never posted much but I was reading EMB since I had dial up Internet…..a solid ten years ago. I would say this list of EMB guys is accurate but we still need to add in justrelax ….he was always one to provide some serious thought provoking material.
    On a aisde note, I’m thinking of changing from eagles1991 to PBRisKing?

    Its going to be a busy Saturday

  18. 18 Anonymous said at 10:12 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    My list was a joke. Those guys were friends and/or some oddball guys.


    I could go on and on about some of the great EMB posters.

  19. 19 Anonymous said at 6:50 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Despite my firm belief that people who identified the problems early on when most of us were still buying into the hype should be allowed to remain consistent as more people come over to their point of view, let’s look at some specific problems with Keith Petres’ comment:

    The criticisms of the LB/WR backup plans are not comparable. Sam criticized the Eagles for not having any backup plan for linebackers that were mostly unproven. He criticized the Eagles for signing Steve Smith as a potential backup plan for Maclin because Smith is a slot receiver, not an outside guy. And guess what? he was right on both issues. Maclin’s been out… did we see more Steve Smith in there to fill in for him? A supposedly now completely healthy Steve Smith? No, we did not. Maclin’s been hurt and Smith remains on the sideline because he is a slot receiver.

    The criticism of Watkins is valid. Now it looks like he might not be a total bust, but we used a first round pick on an offensive guard. Unless that guy becomes one of the best offensive guards in the league that’s a bad pick. And Sam’s original point was that when you hire a coach famous for plugging in any journeyman at guard why do you waste a first rounder on a guard? I’d say the strong performance of Evan Mathis confirms this point very well.

    The jury is still out on Jarrett. But if he doesn’t work out, it’s not a good pick that didn’t work out, it’s a bad pick. It was a reach. They took a guy from a crappy program (sorry Temple alumni) who was expected to go much later. When you make a pick like that, you better know something everyone else doesn’t. Again, the jury is still out, but one thing we know for sure: he was not good enough to get on the field during his rookie year on a team that desperately needed help at the safety position.

    I don’t even know what to say about the Castillo/McDermott comparisons. Is the commenter really trying to say that because one coach didn’t work out that the proper response is to hire guys with absolutely no experience? Really?

  20. 20 Anonymous said at 7:05 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Well Steve Smith was a bad signing that’s true, a waste of a contract that could have been spent on a LB. As far as Watkins being the first pick I’m sure Mudd had a lot to do with that, they really needed a guard and fell in love with the prospect of Watkins. So I can’t fault that pick but he’s right about Steve Smith no doubt.

  21. 21 Anonymous said at 9:46 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    A crappy program? Yeah, that’s why Jarrett played on two straight bowl eligible teams prior to graduation and for a head coach who was hired away to coach Miami (another crappy program that never turns out NFL players). The mass suicide in the Jets front office over how much of a bust Muhammad Wilkerson has been really helps drive home your point too.

    It’s really hard to take someone’s criticisms of football seriously after a comment like that.

  22. 22 Anonymous said at 8:34 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    “Are you really the best person to be heading the analysis of the big picture?”

    In short, yes.

    If you haven’t read Sam’s stuff from IgglesBlog, he is THE authority on anything financial and a great analyst of organizational structure and leadership. He is definitely someone you want to read.

    I don’t agree with everything that he says, but I assure you he is not just an eloquent version of Morton. His logic and insights are well worth your time.

  23. 23 Derek / IgglesBlog said at 11:49 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    I don’t agree with everything Sam says either. It’s just that those are usually the times I’m wrong.

  24. 24 Anonymous said at 7:44 PM on December 5th, 2011:

    Sam’s stuff, like Tommy’s, is always sound and well thought out. Even if you happen to disagree, you can follow his thinking and decide for yourself.

    You might or might not agree that the Eagles have systemic flaws that were masked for years by winning, but you can’t agree that Sam poorly stated his case for such.

    Which is why I bother to read it at all. I crave that in-depth thought that goes beyond what is echoed by most fans.

    Appreciate the post and the well-thought-out comments.

  25. 25 Scott Mather said at 6:11 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    No one has really mentioned the defensive position coaches, outside of Washburn, being at fault for some of the woes – namely the two “rookies” in Caldwell & Zordich come to mind.

    I think the two spots on D, Safety & LB, are the weak-links because not only do we have young players, but we have young (read inexperienced) coaches at those positions.

    Add a DC with literally zero experience running a defense and it’s a recipe for a crapfest.

  26. 26 Corry Henry said at 8:48 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    I’ve been wondering about the position coaches myself. How much of the blame do they take in all of this if any? Is it just because they’ve got new players learning a new system on the fly or is it just really poor coaching? Or both? Or neither?

    I also have to wonder if it isn’t their fault at all and they just don’t have the talent they need. Case in point: Dave Culley. For years he drew the ire of Philly fans for the shit sandwich that was the Receiver Corps. Na Brown, Reggie Brown, FredEx, Pinkston, etc…Yeah he had early pick draftees, but they were still REALLY terrible. Now you give him guys like Maclin, Avant, and Jackson (contract drama notwithstanding) and you rarely hear a bad thing now.

    So do you heap some blame on the position coaches or write it off as the front office having no clue in how to draft LBs and Safeties?

    I do not know what to make of Johnnie Lynn though. He’s got A LOT of talent to work with just in his starting three, but they can’t seem to pick up or won’t pick up zone defenses and in the case of Samuel, press man coverage. In this case, I’m not sure if you put the blame on Castillo for calling a crappy defense or blame Lynn for not getting his guys coached up.

  27. 27 Sam Lynch said at 11:30 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Funny you should bring up Culley. Great minds think alike:

    My main problem with Johnnie Lynn is that he is the only guy on the staff who has any experience coordinating a back 7. So I see the failures back there as, in large part, his responsibility. But I don’t know a thing about what he actually does, which makes that really speculative. That is true.

  28. 28 Anonymous said at 6:15 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    This really echoes my thoughts particularly when you raise the points on retention and leadership. It is shocking and I am so glad that i am not alone in my thoughts.

    Of the players mentioned, we only extended Winston Lazarus Justice because the fix to replace Runyan failed. No one else in that time frame who has been extended was a high pick, we have seen them all leave. The trend it seems is set to continue and the hallmark of the Banner years, is no longer so evident, particularly to those young players on the team. Disgraceful.

  29. 29 Anonymous said at 6:18 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Perhaps one of the reasons they have altered that philosophy is because it bit them in the butt with Lito and Sheldon.

  30. 30 Anonymous said at 6:33 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Sheldon did not bite us in the butt, he did not let his contract situation affect his play. When Sheldon restructured his contract with the Browns, he was (I think) paid the money he was never likely to see at the end of his long contract with the Eagles at the start of his Browns contract. They then immediately drafted a corner, they paid him to be a ‘culture carrier’ more than to be a top echelon corner-back.

  31. 31 Anonymous said at 7:49 PM on December 5th, 2011:

    And I think “culture carrier” is the best point made in Sam’s entire post.

    Lest you think that’s a BS phrase made up to support an otherwise weak argument, look at the teams who have been successful:

    Patriots, when they won, always had guys who set the tone. The Steelers, the Ravens, the Colts when Peyton is healthy … there is a value to leadership, although it’s hard to quantify, and in turn, hard for a cap-conscious front office to bite the bullet and pay for.

    I thought that perhaps, seeing how Dawk and Sheldon were missed, they would overpay for Mikell … but they did not, and again, they’re left needing a guy like that back there.

    Overpaying isn’t overpaying if your mediocre player makes all of your other players better.

  32. 32 Anonymous said at 6:16 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Great work Sam. While I normally lean more towards Tommy’s eternal optimism, there’s plenty there to think about.

    Is there any way to get a copy into Lurie’s hands?

  33. 33 ninja rabbit said at 6:31 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    January 6th, 2006: Marty Mornhinweg is named the offensive coordinator.
    After that: downward spiral.
    Just saying.

  34. 34 Anonymous said at 7:01 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Bring back Chilly? (His nickname in Minnesota, Childress + Philly)

    And no, that is not an endorsement.

  35. 35 Mac said at 8:46 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    And yet… the ninja rabbit has a point.

  36. 36 Anonymous said at 12:07 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    you can point to the superbowl loss as the point everything started going downhill. or mcnabb’s injury in 2007, or (most likely) loss of jj+bdawk in the same offseason.

  37. 37 Joe Hinchliffe said at 1:45 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Chilly has been his nickname since he was in college. Ask his buddy, Pat Kirwin (CBS/Sirius).

  38. 38 Sam Lynch said at 11:31 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    That sort of ignores our losing record in 2005, don’t you think? Or am I missing something clever?

  39. 39 Gaylord said at 7:34 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    lol, when I Googled Negadelphian, I was brought to this article.

    You could name every modern coach from the past 15 years an come up with a similar list as this one (substituting one major flaw for a different one).

    As for Bill Belichick, this dude is probably the luckiest coach ever (the Tuck Rule, Adam Vinatieri clutch field goals, video taping others teams walk throughs, and the emergence of Tom Brady) otherwise he would have been fired years ago.

    I guess we can’t all be Besserwissers.

  40. 40 Sam Lynch said at 11:39 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    My point on Belichick was merely that in spite of being viewed as a defensive coach, he has been his own offensive coordinator at times in both Cleveland and New England, and with success. He is currently extensively involved in offensive playcalling, as the media here in Boston reports it. He was also served as the quarterbacks coach in 2001, if memory serves. So my point was that Reid has not been someone who can shift sides of the ball effectively, as Belichick has. But then, who has?

    Whether or not you think Belichick is a great head coach is interesting, but not the point I was trying to make.

  41. 41 Anonymous said at 7:39 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Wow – outstanding analysis, Sam – you need your own blog.

    I’d just add one thing under “cutting corners”: Ignoring WRs when #5 was QB (except for our one year of TO, of course).
    Nothing like running a “pass-first” offense w/ 3rd-string talent WRs.
    Just as crazy as running a Wide-9 w/ 3rd-string talent LBs – and who’d ever be stoopid enough to do such a thing? /s

  42. 42 Anonymous said at 8:48 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Sam is not a Negadelphian. Far from it. I’ve always found him to be quite reasonable.

    The fact he was quick to be disgruntled with this year’s team means that he’s likely had frustration building for a year or two.

    As for Sam having his own blog, he’s an active member here. He can post as much as he likes. The reason he doesn’t is that I’m so perfect and brilliant. At least that’s what I tell myself.

    I value the fact that Sam and I don’t always see eye to eye. I think any organization (whether blog or football team or lingerie models union) is better off when the members don’t always agree. Multiple viewpoints are good. They are healthy. The point of a good discussion isn’t to win, but to find the truth. Talking to smart people who see things a bit differently is a great way to do that. And Sam swears his IQ is definitely higher than Ryan Moats’ (Ryan wants to know how to spell IQ).

    The world would be awfully boring if we all agreed. Morton can’t be the lone voice of dissent. He’s just one man for god’s sake.

  43. 43 R G said at 9:25 PM on December 2nd, 2011:


    At worst I think Watkins is going to be an OK starter but if we could redraft the 2011 draft, who would we take? Im trying to remember who you thought we were gonna take? My Vonn Miller or AJ Green man-crushes would have been nice. (On a side note, I hope you stop defending Nate Allen. What does he do well?)

    There are several reasonable facts in this article..#1 Andy Reid is a HORRIBLE gameday coach. #2 the Eagles do not draft good defensive players for their system. #3 The Eagles ignore obvious holes on their team. In no way do I construe this article as negative but rather a pretty objective view of reality.

    These reasonable facts ultimately point to the fact that Andy Reid is extremely stubborn, almost as if he is trying to prove everyone else is wrong. A bad throwing QB is going to throw the ball 50 times and he is not going to run the ball with the hottest RB in the league. He is not going to spend a high draft pick or spend big money on LBs. He is gonna hire a OL coach to be the new DC with no experience. We can go on and on. Great coaches adapt and overcome. Andy seems to stay the course was the occasional tweak.

    I don’t know if Andy Reid should be fired but I do know that some major changes need to be made. My disgust is more with Marty and Castillo.

  44. 44 Anonymous said at 12:22 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    i say keep everyone except castillo. sorry man–be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. well you got the DC job and soon you’ll be unemployed for the first time in a long time. tough break. the team should get chuck cecil. heck, let washburn hand-pick the new DC..

  45. 45 Anonymous said at 8:04 PM on December 5th, 2011:

    Miller and AJ Green went in the top 4 picks. We picked 23rd. How can you even compare the two? Of course they would be nice to have.

    The better argument is draft Jimmy Smith, then don’t make one or both of the CB moves.

    But if you’ll recall, coming out of last season, CB and RG were the gaping holes, and we addressed those. We were hopeful about LB and S, and our worst fears have been realized. I don’t think the guys we have are fits for our system, and you can almost buy the idea that we give this staff a pass for not having an offseason to properly get everyone on this same page.

    Still, with so much talent and so many close games early, it’s easy to wonder what difference a little leadership and/or coaching expertise would have made.

  46. 46 Anirudh Jangalapalli said at 11:06 AM on December 4th, 2011:

    What about the Shakespeare theory for Morton? He’s actually 26 different anonymous posters, hiding behind the same name? What if Morton actually wrote Hamlet?

  47. 47 Adithya Pugazhendhi said at 9:44 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, fire Marty and Juan. That’s the start. You have to keep Reid, unless you really want to start over from scratch, because he is one of the best Monday-Saturday coaches out there (alright, maybe not last Thursday, but that’s besides the point). Like you said, he’s great and all, but he’s got an insatiable appetite for the pass, and sucks at gameday management.

    I think the Eagles need to bring in young and motivated guys, quite similar to the assistants Reid brought with him when he took over. Like Tommy posted a few months ago, the organization’s gotten a bit stale. We need people who are young and intelligent, with vim and vigor. Think a Juan Castillo type with actual defensive experience, for defense and offense.

    For defense, I’d love someone like Tom Bradley or Mike Zimmer, though I doubt either are going anywhere. No matter, there are plenty of assistants out there who fit the bill, no-namers like Reid was before coming here. Oh, and bring in an executive who’s actually good at talent evaluation. Roseman may be a cap whiz and all, but playing fantasy football isn’t getting this team anywhere.

    If the Eagles can try to bring back some of the characteristics that once made them the most feared team in the league, then maybe we’re getting somewhere.

  48. 48 Matthew Butch said at 10:42 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Very interesting article that made me really think about this team.

    Ever since the Super Bowl year, things haven’t really been the same around here. I think what hit home is the talent evaluation failures. Prior to 2005 almost never did a former Eagle do well with his new team. Now? There are a bunch of examples. And when those players left, the replacements were just a good- and they turned into leaders too (think Vincent/Taylor to Brown /Lito). Now they suck.

  49. 49 Anonymous said at 10:43 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    There was just that article about whether the Eagles might pick a QB since it’s a strong class and they may have a high pick. That’s critical as to whether Andy returns or not. There’s a chance to draft a defensive impact player, plug the holes and replace the DC, in which case it may make sense to have Andy overseeing Vick and the offense for a playoff run next year, if the locker room is behind him. If it makes sense to pick a franchise QB (which usually means a rebuilding year), then the head coach who will be working with him should pick him, in which case it may be curtains for Andy.

    The Eagles have been praised for their stability, but the problem with stability is that people get into patterns that no longer involve trying to figure out how to match the best practices elsewhere in the league. There’s the Reid way of doing things and the Banner way of doing things, Reid bring in his guy Castillo who’s not a defensive coach, Banner brings in his guy Roseman who’s not a player evaluation guy, the two battle over turf and loyalists. Lurie has a strong bond to both Banner and Reid, both have showed him in their way how to put a team in the playoffs and sell tickets.

  50. 50 Sam Lynch said at 11:23 PM on December 2nd, 2011:

    Thanks everyone for the comments so far, both supportive and less so. I do appreciate them. One thing I will say is that I don’t think of myself as a Negadelphian. I think my track record at IgglesBlog and the EMB would support that. Histoically I think that I have been generally pretty neutral, and even biased towards optimistic. I want to see the team win and look for reasons to believe that they will.

    However, I have had a pretty negative view of where this season has been headed. Tommy has been more optimistic throughout. As he wrote, that doesn’t make either of us right; in fact, both of us hope that he is.

    However, I think both of us also agree that this is going to be a hard offseason. Even merely deciding to keep the status quo will be a significant decision for the first time in 13 years. As such, it is important to think about what decision is really going to be made.

    This post has laid out my view of what the long term problems are. If we are going to make any sort of change, I believe that we should keep in mind all of the flaws and think about how they could be fixed. If you believe, for example, that most of these would not be fixed by a new head coach, then it doesn’t matter if you resurrect Vince Lombardi, they will still stand in the way of the team’s success. If you believe they are directly related to the head coach himself, then they get cleaned up.

    As I said in the opening of the piece, Tommy and I will have more on what we think the best decision for the team would be — the one that puts them in the best position to be successful in the future. I am pretty sure that neither view will necessarily be what we think the team is most likely to do, which is still, in my view, to keep Reid, Banner, and Howie in their current jobs, with a big time defensive coordinator coming in with a staff of his choosing (except for, of course, Bobby April III, who we may be commited to as long as his dad is in charge of special teams). Other outcomes are increasingly possible, though.

    Also, as far as why I post so infrequently, it is for a few reasons. First, I’m just not a frequent blogger. I wasn’t at IgglesBlog, I’m not here. Reality intercedes. Second, my main topics are really salary cap related stuff and how teams/rosters/franchises should be built. The former has been pretty moot this year once the lockout ended because the cap just hasn’t been a huge issue, and the latter is more of an offseason subject. Third, my view on the team right now is pretty gloomy. My opinion about where we were headed has been pretty constant since the October post. I haven’t felt much call for repeating myself. It’s just depressing, even for me. Finally, and most importantly, Tommy is awesome at what he does, which is to share what he sees and interpret how the game is played. I have no interest in diluting his fine work with more frequent work of mine. When I have something that is worth contributing to the mix, I will do so.

  51. 51 Anonymous said at 12:26 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    every comment is supportive, if you look at it that way. just like eagles fans… when we boo, it’s not that we’re unsupportive (no matter what jason avant and #69 say), but it’s because we’re being clear about what we want. i dont agree with the negative comments above, i liked the article, and heck, any time someone talks about the eagles, me-likey.

  52. 52 Anonymous said at 10:13 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Sam, I don’t think your post is negative. I think it is an intelligent and balanced look at why the missle missed. One could perhaps argue that with a bit of tweeking and tad of luck the team could stand at 8-4. I don’t think so and this is why I agree with you. I feel there is a systematic problem with the Eagles organization, it’s culture, and the decision making process. I also think we may be looking at a situation which will not turn around quickly. We may be seeing several years of recasting and adjustments before the eagles are again contenders.

    One more note. You say you don’t post frequently because reality intercedes. I’d argue that anyone who has made a commitment to be an Eagles fan has no right to reality!

  53. 53 Mac said at 1:25 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    What does it take to win in the NFL?

    1. Physical ability
    2. Toughness
    3. Mental ability
    4. Willingness to accept/love your role
    5. Communication
    6. Trust
    7. Commitment

    It’s late, so I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m sure the rest of ya’ll have ideas on this.

  54. 54 Steve H said at 2:49 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    One thing that I think could make Reid much more effective is if we had a really sharp gameday guy who could help him with those in game and spur of the moment decisions. I can’t really see Reid deferring to anyone, but it really would be in his best interest to do so.

    I think in order for Reid to remain an effective coach for this team, Lurie’s going to have to come in and force some things on him. Even if he doesn’t want to surrender any control or power, its going to have to happen, otherwise I think Reid’s going to have to hit the road.

    One thing that I was thinking about on my drive in to work this evening, how weird would it be to see Reid coach for another team? Thats even more bizarre to contemplate than it was to see Donovan in Redskins red.

  55. 55 Anonymous said at 6:55 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Let me share a fine example of why I am merely an obsessed, crazy member of Eagles nation…..I was sooo pissed off the year we drafted Shady McCoy as I thought Donald Brown from Uconn was the best back in the draft…..that shows I was meant to be a fan and not a talent evaluator.
    However, I’ll spend all my free time reading, watching, and arguing over the best paths for the birds to get their hands on a Lombardi trophy. It’s what eagles fan do….that and drink PBR here in Jacksonville while I poke fun at Jaguar fans……

  56. 56 Anonymous said at 10:14 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Good post. I’m in the same boat. I thought the Steve Smith signing was great.

  57. 57 Miguel de Maria said at 11:37 AM on December 3rd, 2011:

    You better be careful—Andy Reid may be coming to a stadium near you!!! 🙂

  58. 58 Anonymous said at 12:47 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    shlynch was one of the brightest blog posters, even if he is a mere MBA (MBAs tend to have a wide variance, I’ve worked with some real bright ones, and some real losers, all from top programs). However, I think he’s overreacting right now.

    The problems aren’t as severe as they look, though they do reflect two serious trends since 2005.

    On offense, the departure of Childress and the arrival of MM shifted the offense from a balanced ball control WCO to a big play offense. Even in 2004, TO really didn’t change things that much from 2002 once McNabb’s thumb healed, he completed 64% of his passes, just that TO was a nicer target than Thrash. But starting in 2006, we saw the WRs play a bigger role, and the RBs/TEs a smaller role in the offense, the pass/run ratio became more unbalanced, and the deep pass became a staple. However, this kept backfiring, but MM never learned:
    2006: 5-4 when McNabb goes down, Garcia comes in and back to ball control WCO
    2007: 5-7 when they go back to ball control WCO, go 3-1 rest of the way
    2008: Baltimore fiasco, they go back to ball control WCO, go 6-1 to the NFCCG, when they have to open it up the second half – note that in those 7 games DeSean had exactly one big play, he was running routes similar to Curtis, those quick NE type routes
    2009-2010: the deep pass rules, 1 and out in the playoffs
    2011: they try getting Vick to play more ball control, up and down, works to perfection against Dallas, boding well for 2012, but a lot of turnovers and dead drives.

    I like Mudd’s OL, the ability to run if they’d just find a #2 RB they’d actually use (McCoy shouldn’t carry more than 15-17 times a game, that’s 240-288 carries plus playoffs and those 60 receptions and pass blocking, he’s too good to beat up, you need a #2 who can carry 8-10 times a game to get up to 25 rushes by RBs).

    The questions for 2012:
    a) DeSean – I’ve wanted to dump him, get a bigger veteran, Cooper and a rookie or two and let them fight it out, Vick needs targets he can see on 3rd down and the red zone
    b) Harbor – two TEs are a great edge, use him, he’s got size, speed and is a former WR
    c) Vick – can he learn to play QB by 2012, do they need to draft the next QB?
    d) Lewis – is he the #2 or should they draft a big RB to complement Shady
    e) FB – this offense works best with a Turner/Weaver FB who can run out of 2 TE sets, pass block and catch the ball, adding flexibility

    Now defense:
    The problem on defense, and the problem with drafting and free agency, has been a total lack of consistency in scheme and vision. And it’s all JJ’s fault for dying. It’s not right that reality intrude on a mere game.

    2008: two gap DL, big LBs, veteran secondary. Lack of speed at safety compensated by bringing in Demps on passing down to play CF, and Dawk moving to nickel LB. It all worked together, even though Warner exposed the lack of speed in coverage in the NFCCG.

    Still some issues, while Bunkley has turned out to be a solid two gap DT, Patterson was a poor choice for NT, he simply a much better “3” or one gap slimmed down. Never anchored well bulked up and lost his quickness.

    2009: Sean comes in and starts mucking everything up but to be fair, it was a tough situation all around. Too smart for his own good, and his performance in Carolina confirms his incompetence (Juan is actually an improvement). Sticks to two gap scheme, but starts playing LBs off the LOS, Gocong goes from tough run stopper on the LOS to lost in space . Bradley and Gaither get hurt, so they trade for Witherspoon, who’s not physical enough for MLB. Jordan is physical but straight line. Dawk is allowed to walk, this was complicated, truth was he was slowing down, and Dawk and Mikell really played the same position, but they miscalculated on both Demps and Sean Jones.

    2010: Sean totally mucks it up. Dumps Clemons because he doesn’t fit the system. Puts Bradley 5 yards off the LOS where his lack of MLB instincts were exposed (the knee wasn’t the issue, watch him, he got stuck on blocks as much as Chaney b/c he was slow to read), Fokou is handed the SLB job, Sims is brought in to play WLB. Hobbs and Dmitri are a disaster at RCB. Allen is up and down as a rookie FS.

    Here’s the key problem, what scheme are they running?
    2008 they had an identify, 2009 Sean sticks with two gap, but wants to move to faster, quicker LBs playing off the LOS, that hurts the blitz, and picking Sims as your prototype fast LB shows an appalling inability to judge talent. 2011, they go to an aggressive one gap system but with young, fast two gap LBs (i.e. guys who might be effective if protected from blockers).

    Which is why the personnel guys should get a pass on defense (Heckert, Rosie) – what the heck were they drafting for?
    Gocong – fine if you play a 5-2 with the SLB on or near the LOS
    Bradley – physical SLB who could play an attack MLB but not in space
    Mays – physical two down MLB who’s done fine in Denver
    Patterson – a one gap DT forced into a two gap system
    Laws – one gap DT forced into a two gap system
    Bunkley – overdrafted because his great athleticism was negated by his inability to locate the ball, but solid two gap DT
    There was some bad luck with injury (Graham – ACL, Allen – PCL, both rushed back this year, which raises serious questions about the team doctors), but the real problem is you can’t draft smart if you don’t know what system you’re drafting to fit.

    For 2012:
    Then revamp your roster so your players fit together.
    I’d stick with one gap, find a DC who’s comfortable with 4–3 one gap schemes, then get 2 LBs (one draft pick, one veteran FA) big enough to play behind the DL, dump Asante, get a press CB if you think DRC lacks the cojones, draft another rookie to develop with Marsh, and think about a veteran FS.
    On the DL, get a young DE and a young DT, let Laws walk, trade Dixon (he’s a bad fit for a one gap, has no burst off the snap, would be good fit as a NT if you want to go more conventional 4-3 with NT and “3”).

    I don’t think the sky is falling, this season is a lot like what the Steelers and Ravens have gone through, question is do they clear cap room, spend wisely (focus on a couple FAs in their prime years who are a good fit, not necessarily the best FA available), use their great draft position (6 picks in the top 110 or so) and bounce back?

    To me, this is an “addition by subtraction” offseason, dump the guys who won’t pay the price (Asante, DeSean, maybe DRC), dump the mercaneries, the complacent and rebuild the core. If they don’t bounce back in 2012, clean house and start over.

  59. 59 Mac said at 1:43 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    It’s nice to hear someone point out the fact that we weren’t making “radical” changes from 4-3 to 3-4 base personnel, but there were obvious paradigm shifts on defense resulting in a mismatch of parts. It would be nice to see a good DC come in here and stick around for a few years really putting his mark on the team.

  60. 60 R G said at 2:49 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    This post is so on point. You clearly articulated my problems with the offense and defense. Mike Vick is not Drew Brees. We need a more balanced attack. In addition, a bruising running back would really compliment Shady. I may be in the minority but I think Ronnie Brown can still be that guy. When Brown has had the opportunity, he has produced. Jerome Harrison was also solid. Clay Harbor could be a weapon if they utilized him.

    A motivated Jackson, a healthy Maclin, and a balanced attack make the Eagles alot more consistent than they have been this year. It would also enable the Eagles to run more 2 tight end sets.

    I am not going to restate what you said on the defense. You clearly highlighted the problems and the most logical solutions.

    Tommy, austinfan and sam were in charge.

  61. 61 Sam Lynch said at 3:05 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    I don’t have that much argument with many of these points. I think you fail to mention a key part of the Marty story, which is that Reid called the plays for the whole pre-MM era, and part of the early MM era.

    That said, I don’t think the personnel guys get a pass on defense. It doesn’t matter what the scheme was — none of those players have become very good players even outside of Philly. Gocong is the ONLY one who is a full time starter this year. That we haven’t drafted any other legitimately solid starters in ANY system, let alone a top starter, let alone an All-Pro type, on defense since taking Cole and Patterson in 2005 has nothing to do with scheme. It has to do with the players that were chosen. There is no excuse for that. Every draft has players that get hurt. We haven’t suffered any more than other teams in that regard, as far as I know. The absence of good defenders is … unsettling to say the least.

    I think to isolate the analysis problem on the performance of the players and coaches is missing a large part of the picture. Especially since it misses half of Reid’s alleged job, and the hardest part to fill if he were to be let go.

  62. 62 Anonymous said at 3:47 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Mays is the starting MLB on Denver, hmm, could we use a hard nosed run stopping MLB instead of a 6th rd pick?

    Bunkley is starting at DT for Denver, and at least according to PFF, doing a fine job as a run stopper.

    Bradley is on the bench in Zona.

    The serious misses (ignore anyone after #150):
    VA – 2007, late 2nd, good pick, bad luck with injuries
    Trevor Laws, #47 – 2008 (could have taken Calais Campbell, Jason Jones)
    Bryon Smith, #80 – 2008 (could have taken Avril)
    Quiton Demps #117 – 2008
    Jack I #131 – 2008
    (though it was thin after 110 or so, Red Bryant, Josh Sitton, Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Tim Hightower were the only guys who panned out over 30 or so picks)
    Other than 2008, they really didn’t put many resources into defense between 2007-2009.
    More telling, they didn’t sign a major FA on defense other than Asante (to me a starting player in the 26-27 year old range) during that period. Sims, Sean Jones, Clemons, Babin, were not guys you bring in to build your defense, at least not running that scheme. No UDFAs other than Jordan, and Dixon the only guy off the street.

    Reid depended on JJ to build a defense without giving him a lot of resources.
    It worked because of good coaching, no JJ, no defense.

    The problem this last off season is they let Zona dump DRC on them (I wanted Toler, yeah, he blew out his ACL, but hindsight . . .), signed 3 30 year old FAs on defense, passed on Whitner and Posluszny (two FAs in the right age) so the core is in no better shape.

    One reason I want to clear out Asante and DeSean is that would free up about $15M or so (they have to extend Maclin and McCoy) to spend on a couple defensive starters (in the right age group), combine that with a good draft and Graham and Allen hopefully 100%, along with Rolle, Jarrett, Marsh, and suddenly you may be able to put together a core of players in their mid-20s or so to play together for 3-4 years. Guys like Coleman, Hughes, Chaney, Landri , Tapp become your bench, and you have a pretty solid unit.

  63. 63 Sam Lynch said at 10:00 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Mays and Bunkley are starters in Denver, but only play two downs. They both are off in nickel situations (when Denver goes 3-3-5). The only one of the old draftees who has started every game he’s played in this year is Gocong. Again, that’s not exactly hitting a home run.

    In terms of resources (and using your standard of pick 150) I must have missed the massive influx of drafting on offense between 2007 and 2009, when picks were evenly split between units. The only major offensive free agents I can recall were Kevin Curtis (29 when signed), Stacy Andrews (28), and Jason Peters (27, trade). Maybe you throw in Leonard Weaver (27); he wasn’t big dollars and was only on a 1-year deal, but for FB, it is what it is. think that Peters = Samuel in terms of quality; I think Curtis and Andrews don’t fit your criteria. The additional investment in Weaver isn’t exactly the panacea that creates an imbalance. Oh, and Vick. I’m pretty sure we can thank Roger Goodell more than any one in Philadelphia for that one.

    So unless you are arguing that the entire team was starved between 2007 and 2009, we are back to “they just did a crappy job investing”.

    I agree with the clear out Asante and DeSean idea, to some extent (though I worry that replacing them is far easier said than done, especially if we expect the current FO to be the ones figuring out who their replacements will be).

    The core of young defensive players that you list, setting aside the hope that is the draft, would easily be the worst, least talented defense in the NFL even with some improvement over expectations. Graham, Allen, Rolle, Jarrett, and Marsh ALL have to be significantly better than they are this year to be starters in the NFL, let alone someone you would call a “core” player. Very wishful thinking. I’m not saying throw them away, but really, don’t count on them. If you can get a decent player at any of their positions, not one of them should make you think twice.

  64. 64 Anonymous said at 11:02 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Sign two starters, SLB and ???, CB/S?
    Bring back the front four. Draft two DL prospects
    Draft a MLB high, draft a CB.
    Now you have a solid DL, with young depth behind them
    A veteran and young LB, Rolle will look better with a real MLB next to him, Clayton, Matthews on the bench
    Aso and a real CB, Marsh and a rookie on the bench.
    Three young safeties and a real vet (i.e. not a throwaway like Page).

    So only one rookie starts (MLB), three backup (CB, DT, DE)
    Two maybe three veterans, one can be an older patch, SLB, CB, S.
    Now guys like Allen, Jarrett, Marsh, Graham only start if they step up and beat someone out.
    With six picks in the first 110 or so, and plenty of money, not out of reach.

    On offense, you sign a veteran WR patch for #2, draft a WR or two (one earlier, one later, look at Antonio Brown), and look for a FB prospect (and sign Reece if he springs free of Oakland). On both sides of the ball you want rookies and second year (and in this case, due to no OTAs, 3rd year) players to work their way into the lineup, not be forced in (Matthews).

    Eagles also have a 5th and 3 6ths, you can package to trade for a veteran if need be. And I’d spend aggressively on UDFAs, tell them every roster spot is up for grabs.

    This doesn’t require miracles, you’re only looking at one or two starters from the draft, a couple prime time FAs, a couple solid veterans on reasonably priced deals. SF added Rogers and Whitner. Jax rebuilt their LBs in one offseason with less resources.

    Can it be done? Sure, it doesn’t require a complete overhaul, more addition by subtraction.
    Will it be done? Stay tuned.

  65. 65 Anonymous said at 3:27 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Austinfan, did you used to go by ‘Arlingtonfan’ on the EMB?

  66. 66 Anonymous said at 3:49 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Yep. That’s why a lot of people just refer to me as AFan or AF.

  67. 67 Brian said at 10:56 PM on December 3rd, 2011:


    I couldn’t agree more.

    Great post overall. The point about mismatched parts is especially true.

  68. 68 Mac said at 1:50 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    With a short article up on today… Cullen Jenkins is proving me right that he has the right “leadership” type mindset that this team needs. I hope the guys look at him as a cornerstone for next season.

  69. 69 Anonymous said at 2:48 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    Reid will ride his contract out. Laurie won’t dump him just yet. But Juan has to go. It’s painfully obvious he can’t out game plan most OC. He has vs players out of position all the time. I know hes a players coach and all that BS but we need an Xs and Os guy. Someone that won’t be afraid to pull an Asante off the field and place a DRC in so we can actually have someone press. I wouldnt mind a new OC too MM is way to predictable. And seems to run the same 20 plays every game. Not even changing the formations too much.

  70. 70 Anonymous said at 3:19 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    I took a little more time to think about this before posting. My key questions

    – Who wields the “hammer”, ie the final decision-making ability: Howie or Andy?
    – Is Ryan Grigson, director of player personnel (scouting), the problem? Or is it his ability to coordinate with Howie/Andy?
    – Is Andy “overwhelmed”. JJ has passed away. Heckert is in Cleveland. Reid hasn’t had a legitimate vacation in 13 years to “refresh”. If you think he can coach and is overworked, find a defensive mind (Spags) and stripping his personnel duties (Roseman, other) would be a solution

    Without knowing that, it’s difficult to make a decision.

  71. 71 Thorin McGee said at 4:51 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    As you’ll see in my comment when it posts, I’m starting to think Andy might be overwhelmed too. A lot of this stuff seems to trace back to lack of supervision in that football management role.

  72. 72 Thorin McGee said at 4:50 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    In general, I agree with some of the things you says and disagree with others. I feel like this is a rebuilding year, whether that’s what the team wanted it to be or not. The Eagles changed a lot of stuff in the coaches and players. Some percentage of it still seems like goo moves, some of it doesn’t and needs to be changed again.

    A couple things, though, really jumped out to me while I was reading.
    1. Injuries, especially on defense: I was shocked by just how many of the names you mentioned around the defense were victimized by major injuries. The bad picks you mentioned, the inadequate replacements, obviously the guys the relied on coming off of injury. This team’s defensive talent has been ravaged by career-altering injuries over the period we’re talking about. I mean, McDougle, Allen, Graham, Bradley … even go back to Corey Simon (whatever happened to him) and on the other side of the ball Shawn Andrews (who by all rights should still be playing at a pro bowl level) … I don’t think any other team has had the variety of career-changing injuries, often right in the beginning of their careers, to players they were counting on. I don’t know what you do about that, but it has certainly had an impact on the successfulness of their drafting and personnel.

    2. How much bad play does leadership offset? Both Dawkins and Brown became bad enough on the field that they were being exposed by other team. Even in Denver, I don’t think Dawk has played well on the field. People were upset to see Dawk go, but I remember him getting torn up in game reviews. he just couldn’t do what JJ’s D asked him to do. If he’d stayed abother year, it would’ve been a whole year of us saying “he’s done, get him out of there.”

    3. Player development stinks: Even with the injury issue, the Eagles have clearly had a problem with player development. Just look at Babin and Clemons, both of whom did nothing here, and went on to become stud DL on other teams (now Babin’s back as a stud DL here, who never learned to play the run).

    4. I have no idea how Roseman and Banner wor, or any other piece of personnel evaluation: With all the info we have on the Eagles schemes and coaching, we really know next to nothing about how the organization works, and that seems to be where some of the rot lies.

    5. Andy needs a defensive guru ont he team: I very much get why they tried to let McDermott and Castillo take over the D. They were company guys who deserved “a shot.” But with Andy as HC, you need an equally strong DC. Sam’s right, Reid don’t know D.

    It seems like the team needs another guy like Tom Modrak who just makes sure everything works together and take some of Reid’s football management responsibilities, because it looks like the talent eval of players and coaches is getting left to the bean counters. Andy is involved, but I bet he doesn’t have the opportunity to pay it enough attention. Coach and head of football opps is harder than it sounds, andAandy probably isn’t getting it all done.

  73. 73 Sam Lynch said at 10:22 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    As you will see, I agree with your solution. The problem is, I don’t think you can practically implement it without firing both Reid and Howie first; you have to ask Reid to take a demotion and the new Modrak to work with Howie, neither of which seem likely to go down easy. While I could see Reid taking a HC job under a GM elsewhere, but I don’t know if he agrees to it here, it is too much of an ego blow. It’s like a vet who would rather be cut and play as a backup elsewhere than be demoted for his current team. There is a pride thing that makes you make an illogical choice.

  74. 74 Thorin McGee said at 12:37 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    Yeah, I realized after I wrote that that it is pretty much the conclusion you’re setting up. 😉

    In the new atmosphere, I wonder how much power Andy Reid actually has, though? If you can’t adequately supervise an area under your responsibility, then you don’t really have power over it, you’re just leaving it to run itself. Even he has to see that there are issues in the talent scouting and defensive. It might be the same with Howie. And when you bring in someone new, you don’t have the personal issues the old trio surely developed. If you bring in someone very respected (like our new line coaches) that can mitigate the pride issue.

    What worries me as well is that I don’t think scouting organizations are built over night. If ours has gone wrong, it’s going to be wrong for a few years.If you bring in someone from another org, I have to think his scouting notes and network belong to the old team.

    Here’s a different thought: Given all of this, is there a good enough reason not to give the current regime one more year, then blow it all up if that doesn’t work? It seems like there’s so much work ahead, that one year isn’t going to be much of a setback.

  75. 75 Anonymous said at 8:32 PM on December 5th, 2011:

    I think I’m in the “keep the front office” camp even though those are the guys a fan really should have no attachment to.

    Reason I say it though is because I don’t think the scouting is as broken as the last few posts say it is. I think they looked at this offseason as a smash-and-grab and thought they could paper over the LB weakness and the S youth because they were so talented at CB and on the DL. Turns out they could not.

    Anyone who works in the front office should be able to see this. So it’s not that they’re incapable of building something more sound, they just gambled and lost.

    There’s definitely been some unfortunateness re: injuries and defensive picks they invested in, as in Allen, Graham, Bradley and Abiamiri. They have whiffed a lot to, like on Teo and Bryan Smith, but I wonder if they whiff more often than an average team. With 3rd rounders it sure seems like it.

    Also the year they traded back and took a bunch of guys in the 5th: Macho and Cornelius Ingram are out of football.

    I think though with three top-45 picks, assuming they use them this year, and really just the one major weakness (LB) to focus on, with other minor ones (S, 2nd RB, backup QB, new WR, etc.), that they can build a contender even if Asante and DeSean both walk.

    It might require a new ride-Shady offensive mind-set, it will definitely require defensive personnel that fit the scheme, and it will certainly require an offseason where they are humbled and drilled in the new scheme.

    I wonder why more people don’t point the finger at Washburn, in that maybe the reason Castillo was hired is that a more experienced DC wouldn’t want a DL coach and system forced upon them.

    I want Spags.

    That is all.

  76. 76 Thorin McGee said at 12:40 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    You know, many of the flaws you’re sighting fall into the overly optimistic category. Continually seeing the glass as half full.

  77. 77 Cliff Hall said at 6:12 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    I think this a great analysis of what’s gone wrong in our favorite football organization. My only problem is, as someone else mentioned, these are all points you could make about any organization. The Eagles are far from being in a state of disrepair. We could very likely win the NFC East next season after a few minor adjustments.

    In some way, this is sort of like Americans worrying about our economy. It’s bad – but we could be Greece (Jags) or Spain (Cards) right now too. Everyone wants to point at China (Pats) or Germany (Pack) and say, “Look, that’s where we need to be!” But then ignore our own history of success and those other teams’ years of rebuilding and failure.

    My metaphor sort of ran away from me there, as metaphors often do. The point is this: let’s relax, root for our team to beat our rivals, and look forward to the Draft and Phillies.

  78. 78 Sam Lynch said at 10:33 PM on December 3rd, 2011:

    I agree that perfection is impossible. Certainly that’s true. But, as Reid would say, you make corrections and move on.

    Look, it’s just like on the field. It doesn’t bother me that Jamar Chaney had a bad game tackling Thursday. What bothers me is that he has a bad game tackling EVERY game. If you aren’t correcting your mistakes, learning and improving continuously, that’s a problem.

    Go down the list. Cutting corners should not happen. That’s a choice being made with no good rationale and is persistent for no good reason. The injury risk means you need to get better medical advice. That has been clear for a long time. But they don’t. There is no tradeoff there. The inability to draft defensive players requires significant questioning about what is causing that. It should lead to changes in scouting. I haven’t seen that; in fact, the changes that have been made seem to have made matters worse: the Licht drafts appear substantially better than the Roseman ones.

    Contract extensions and leadership are choices with flip sides. Those are the two where the team is making a choice about how it spends its cash. There’s a trade off. I think the choice is wrong and leading to problems, and the evidence is increasing that they should seriously reevaluate how they approach this issue, but they are making a conscious trade off. Fine. It should be reconsidered but isn’t a sign of failure. But the rest of them are.

    Self scouting is on AR, as are the coaching failures, and those go to a different question. The whole question about whether what AR does well as a head coach still exceeds what he does poorly is really complicated. My point here is to show that the balance seems to be tipping and why I think that. What’s harder to know is whether it has actually fully and permanently tipped yet.

    Every organization has flaws. The ones that correct those flaws quickly are the ones most likely to be successful. That is where we should be striving to be. We don’t seem to be correcting the flaws quickly anymore.

  79. 79 Anonymous said at 11:37 AM on December 4th, 2011:

    “The whole question about whether what AR does well as a head coach still exceeds what he does poorly is really complicated.”

    I would phrase the question differently. Do AR’s stregnths outweigh his weaknesses enough to allow him to be a successful coach in the NFL? I believe the answer is “no.” If we Eagles fans are painfully aware of the consistency of Reid’s weaknesses, I’m betting opposing coaches are joyously aware of the same.

    “Every organization has flaws.”

    My sense is that the problem with the Eagles organization is that the leaders are unwilling to acknowledge when a flaw is present. Remember Banner’s quote about the defintion of insanity? He’s right, and the continuation of the same problems season after season demonstrate there is little sanity around him.

  80. 80 Anonymous said at 12:16 PM on December 4th, 2011:


    An really thoughtful piece.

    My reaction is that a great QB can forgive (read: cover up) the sins of an entire organization.

    The Eagles had one for 10.7 seasons. Now they don’t.

    And the rock’s been turned over.

    Look at the Colts. Who knew they were the 2011 version of the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs w/out Manning.

    Look at New England. Their drafts and their defense have been substandard the past couple of years. But w/ Tom Brady, they win.

    New Orleans and Drew Brees. Same as New England.

    Then there’s the Packers and their bottom quartile defense. Only Aaron Rogers keeps that team afloat. (Sure, he has great receivers . . . who look great because Rogers gets them the ball.)

    The Eagles need a durable, long-term QB to start the resurrection.

    (Why not take a shot at trading up to get Luck? My own preference is RGIII. Some like Barkley — but he’s not as big or as mobile as the first two.)

    Like I said, whoever that kid turns out to be, he’ll fix — read cover up — many problems on this team. If he’s great.

    NOT ALL the problems, like D.C. Just a lot of them — like many you’ve described.

    It’s not the entire answer. But I submit a QB (who’ll watch Vick next year) is the first part of the answer.

  81. 81 Anonymous said at 1:53 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    I think Reid tied his fate to Vick as QB with that giant contract. Bringing in a slew of 30 year old FA’s screamed ‘win now’. I think the only way we draft a QB in the 1st is if Reid is gone. Otherwise, they continue to patch holes (LB, S, DL) and hope for success within a 2 to 3 year window of opportunity.

  82. 82 Anonymous said at 8:46 PM on December 5th, 2011:

    Vick looked MVP worthy last year. He was one dogtrash game against Minnesota on Tuesday night in snow away from seriously challenging Brady for the award.

    So by this logic — which I follow, and believe the Eagles might have operated under this offseason — that a great QB covers up flaws, they simply misjudged Vick’s ability to paper over the defensive weaknesses.

    I think this season is more one of misjudgements than utter failure. I think they knew they were playing with fire rolling with inexperienced RBs and letting DeSean play out his current contract, etc., and they just got burned.

    They needed a certain number of things to pan out, but aside from Mathis, Babin and Jenkins … and Mudd … almost everything else has gone wrong. Not even unexpectedly wrong, just too many I-hope-that-doesn’t-go wrongs and not enough whew-that-went-rights = a bad team.

  83. 83 Anonymous said at 1:09 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    Very good detailed piece of analysis Sam. I wish you were a more regular contributor. Yours is a needed voice in the discussion. I’m not smart enough to talk about different systems and where which players fit which system. But you nailed my #1 pet peeve about our FO, and I don’t for a second exempt Reid from this since he is the final say on our personel moves, and that is what you call “cutting corners.” This willful blindness bespeaks an arrogance – the “we know better” mentality – that I think also manifests itself with the infatuation with trying to find ‘diamonds in the rough’ and accumulating late round picks. For every great Trent Cole 5th round pick, how many Ricky Sapp’s have we picked? For that matter, how many 3rd round projects have we picked that have fizzled? (What is it about the 3rd round that shouts: “Fun time!”??) There is nothing wrong with trying to find value in late round picks and injured player picks, there is something dreadfully wrong in repeating the same behaviors over and over again when they aren’t working. I think it’s fine to pick quantity when you’re concerned with filling out special teams but to do it consecutive years makes no sense to me. I agree that coming into this season with the hole at linebacker that we had is inexcuseable wishful thinking. And it makes you wonder which position will they choose to ignore next season??

  84. 84 Mac said at 3:01 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    I’m gonna go ahead and make a prediction…

    If Reid is fired, and Howard Mudd leaves with him, then this team will fold like a cardboard box. I do not believe this will energize the players, I think it will dishearten them. I believe young talent may wait on resigning with the team to check the waters first, that old veterans will question the new coach’s methods and that the franchise as a whole will have less respect around the league from players, coaches, and GMs.

    You never want to be the coach that follows the beloved and successful head of a franchise. I believe that goodbye Reid may very well mean hello Rich Kotite.

  85. 85 Kammich said at 3:34 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    I have not delved into the Reid situation very much, but I will keep it brief…

    I think management has to be extremely, extremely careful with this situation. It is very easy to say “Fire Andy,” without thinking of WHO might replace him, and what kind of job that person is capable of doing. Great head coaches have proven to be extremely hard to come by. Not every franchise has the good fortune of the Steelers, to replace a Noll with a Cowher, and a Cowher with a Tomlin. If we go off half-cocked and fire Reid, and replace him with an inadequate coach, it could set this franchise back 10 years instead of the 1-3 years we’re looking at right now.

    If you can get a Gruden or a Cowher to offer their services, essentially in writing, then I’d feel more comfortable with the prospect of letting Reid go. But if you tell me that someone like Marty M. would be the Eagles coach in 2012, I’d be liable to go postal.

  86. 86 Anonymous said at 1:09 AM on December 5th, 2011:

    AR is an exact duplicate of Cowher if you look at winning seasons, playoff appearances, conf. championships, SB appearances, etc. The only difference was Cowher finally won the SB in his 14th yr and like AR didn’t have a great yr. in his 13th. Look both names up in Wikepedia and compare there 13 seasons and maybe you’ll realize it is extremely likely AR if given the chance will win the SB next yr. Discruntaled, upset and confused players, due to Howie and obviously a poor DC combined with a lockout that was due to hurt the Eagles more than any other good team and all the changes have us looking great for next yr.; not 2011. 2 great man CB next yr headed by a DC that’s been a DC b4 unlike the past three yrs. An elite off. & def. line, RB, a QB that really needed the offseason, improved TE play, WR’s that know where they are and are headed, improved S and LB’s due to an experienced DC who will know which players and pos. coaches it takes and you’d be shocked how easily this team will succeed next yr under AR. Give AR the offseason to get to know the players, coaches and the chemistry will change like night and day. These things are right there and will improve drastically if AR is given a chance. Hopefully he wouldn’t object to just teaching and coaching like his 1st 6 yrs or so in Philly where there was more success. Mike Holmgren didn’t do to well when he went to Seattle and took on larger roles than he should’ve; can’t think of any coaches that have.

  87. 87 Anonymous said at 9:32 PM on December 5th, 2011:

    Yeah it always cracks me up when people say we need a winner like Cowher in here.

    Bill’s attitude is different than Reid’s for sure. But his track record is virtually the same.

  88. 88 Kammich said at 3:30 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    A well thought out, thought-provoking post. I appreciate the food for thought.

    A lot of these variables are nigh impossible for us fans to quantify; how much do we REALLY know about the job that the assistant coaches are doing(or even what some of their jobs entail), or what the leadership situation is in the locker room? We don’t. We’re judging the product that is on the field, and making the (seemingly reasonable) conclusion that these are problems. Leadership and assistant coaching might be like offensive line play: the less you hear about it, the better the job that they’re doing. But I still think all of this starts at the top, and if Reid wants to be the all-controlling head honcho, he has to assume responsibility for every single person under him.

    Rewind back to July and everyone, EVERYONE was singing our front office’s praises as being “ahead of the curve” and getting the beat on every other team in regards to the abbreviated off-season. Was it actually a gigantic, fundamental misstep to use the team’s winning pedigree, healthy cap space, and coaching reputations to herald in all the top-tier free agents? It seems like no one stopped to think about what could go wrong in the situation. For a team that was unwilling to spend an extra $1.5M to retain one of the franchise’s greatest players(Dawk) to now be throwing millions upon millions of guaranteed money at ancillary role players like Ronnie Brown and Steve Smith?

    As much as the 4-8 record hurts, and as much as the prospect of an upcoming “re-building” phase hurts even more… you know what hurts the most? We pulled a Dan Snyder. And we proved all of the naysayers right: you can’t buy a championship.

  89. 89 Anonymous said at 4:05 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    Sorry to say but Dawk was on the decline….everyone could see that…yeah he could have provided locker room leadership but on the field Dawk was becoming a liability…I love Dawk and think he was one of the greats to played in an Eagles uniform but it was the right thing to do

  90. 90 Kammich said at 5:24 PM on December 4th, 2011:

    I was okay with the move initially, because I was a big fan of Demps coming out of UTEP and thought that Dawk WAS on the decline.

    But he made the Pro Bowl in his first year with Denver(off of reputation? perhaps), and even in a more limited role this season, I still see him flying to the ball and making secure, open field tackles… which is more than I can say for any of the Safeties on our roster right now.

  91. 91 Anonymous said at 9:36 PM on December 5th, 2011:

    We did not throw millions upon millions at Ronnie Brown (1 yr/1 mil) or Steve Smith (2 yrs, 4 mil/2 guaranteed). Those were bargain bin buys.

    The guys we threw big money at (Babin, Jenkins, Asomugha) have worked out for the most part.

    Re: not stopping to think what could go wrong, even with hindsight I applaud the agressiveness. I wouldn’t want them to not make the moves because they fear failure.

    In hindsight, this was still a good offseason haul for us. Aso, DRC, No. 2 pick should be around for a while. Mathis, Jenkins and Babin maybe will be.

  92. 92 Anonymous said at 9:28 AM on December 5th, 2011:

    Sam, thank you! This was one of the best articles I’ve read on the Eagles situation. You hit the nail on the head in great detail. You make a great point, one that often gets overlooked – that these issues have been around for years and are just now showing up in a big way.

    The defense has actually been a mess for years. Even when JJ was still here. I keep saying that the defense hasn’t really been “good” since 2004 and has declined each year since. This year the defense has reached absolute bottom, which is really saying something after last year’s record-setting defensive futility.

    Never really realized the position coach carousel that has been taking place over the last few years. AR has not developed a good coach probably since John Harbaugh left. The current coaches (OL, DL, DB, OC) have all come from other organizations. The few “home-grown” coaches don’t seem to be getting the job done.

    The futility in drafting quality defensive players is astounding! To only have 8 defensive players from 2006-present is one of the major reasons this team has not won a playoff game since 2008.

    Great points all, Sam!