What Could Go Wrong?

Posted: May 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 30 Comments »

I tend to be a glass half-full guy.  I don’t put on blinders and pretend problems don’t exist.  I just happen to focus on the positive side of  things.  This bothers some readers/Eagles fans.  I get that.  I’ve talked before about my buddy Dan from the sportsbar in 1995-97.  He just knew something was about to go wrong.  And this was our pre-kickoff discussion.  Dan just came at things very differently than I did.  It was a good lesson for me.  Plus, he was a nice guy and fun to talk to.  Those games were not always pleasant to watch.  You needed someone to yell at/with.

While most of my posts here tend to be positive, that doesn’t mean I don’t from time to time wonder about troubles that could come our way.  What could go wrong?

The first thing people go to is injuries.  You could run through a ton of scenarios here and all would be negative.  I will say this…a really good team will overcome injuries.  We saw this last year with the Texans and Giants.  Houston lost DE Mario Williams for the season after just a few games.   QB Matt Schaub started 10 games before going on IR.  WR Andre Johnson never went on IR, but only played in 7 games all year due to nagging injuries.  The Texans still had their best year.  They beat Cincy in the playoffs and then put a serious scare in Baltimore.  Both those games had #3 QB T.J. Yates as the starter.  The overall team was so good that they were able to overcome injuries.

The Giants had a lot of guys go down for a few games here and there.  It didn’t matter.  As long as Eli Manning and JPP lined up, the team found a way to win.  The team didn’t play great football, but the key players did.

Back to the Eagles.  What are the concerns?  Michael Vick is the first guy to discuss.  He was a revelation in 2010.  Vick caught us all off guard with his great showing.  “This is the guy from the Falcons and prison?”  He delivered big plays with his feet and arm.  He was efficient with small ball.  Vick avoided turnovers and made clutch plays.

All of that is what made 2011 Vick so frustrating.  Turnovers were up and TDs were down.  The big play disappeared for long stretches.  Small ball was inefficient.  Vick only ran for 1 TD all year long.  That was down from 9 rushing TDs in 2010.

I think there were a variety of reasons for the drop-off.  But…what if Vick simply lost his mojo?  QBs are weird creatures.  They can lose “it” with no rhyme or reason.  What if 2010 was the anomaly and Vick is back to being the guy from the Falcons days?  Like it or not, we have to admit this is a possibility.

The hopes for the 2012 season would be greatly diminished if Vick is no longer the guy we thought.  Can we still have success with him as a less efficient, more erratic QB?  Sure.  I just think the Super Bowl hopes at that point involve a lot more luck than likelihood.

The offense would become very hot and cold.  Shady, DJax, Mac, Celek, and Avant are all good weapons, but if no one is getting them the ball consistently, they become frustrated spectators and that would be a major problem.

I have high expectations for Vick in 2012, but a major drop-off from him would be devastating.

* * * * *

We’ve talked a lot  about the Safeties.  I think Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman can both have good years and be a solid part of the defense.  What if one or both guys don’t do that?  What if Nate’s sloppy tackling becomes a regular problem?  What if Kurt’s size/speed limitations are exposed on a regular basis?

As I’ve written, I don’t think Nate/Kurt need to be stars for the defense to have a good year.  They just need to do their jobs:  be in position, take good angles, limit big plays, make tackles.  If one or both guys struggle, that changes things.  Blown assignments by Safeties can be game changers.  Safeties are the clean up guys, tackling players that get by the DL/LBs/CBs.  When Safeties miss…uh oh.

Kurt could be a guy that opposing offense target.  If they can get the right player against him, the offensive guy could have a serious advantage.  How will Kurt respond to this?  If teams are burning Kurt over and over, then he’s got to get benched.  I don’t anticipate this happening, but slot receivers and TEs are getting more athletic each year.  QBs/coaches love getting a WR/S matchup when they can.

If someone is making mistakes or getting beat, he’ll get benched.  That’s not ideal either.  Safety is a position where continuity is a good thing.  Shuffling guys in and out of the lineup isn’t the best way to get good Safety play.

* * * * *

What if DRC struggles?  In 2008 he was a solid rookie.  In 2009 he was a Pro Bowl CB.  In 2010 he had a bad year.  2011 was all over the place.  He looked good at times, bad at others, and lost in the slot.  So what of 2012?

I’m expecting a bounce-back year, but there are no guarantees.  CB is a strange position.  Confidence is huge.  If you get beat, you must act oblivious to that.  You need the mentality of The Black Knight.  DRC didn’t lose any talent from 2009.  His play got sloppy and his confidence was an issue.  A good CB must have a short memory.  Forget what just happened and play the next play.

DRC will have some outside factors that could affect him.  He’s replacing the talented and popular Asante Samuel.  That’s not easy.  DRC is also in a contract year.  Sometimes that brings out the best in guys.  Other times it can put extra pressure on them.

With Nnamdi on one side, it would be easy for opposing QBs to force the ball DRC’s way.  If he loses some confidence and if  he lets the outside factors affect his play, DRC could be in for a rough 2012 season.  That would hurt the defense because we’d have to either bench him or roll coverages his way each week, which would help offenses know what to do.

* * * * *

What if Demetress Bell struggles at LT?  I think we’ve all wondered about this.  The coaches can help him out with TEs and RBs.  They can use mis-direction plays to slow down his DE.  There is a lot that the coaches can do to help this situation.

That said, you don’t want Brent Celek staying in to block instead of going out in a route.  You would rather have Shady going out in the flat or staying in the middle to look for blitzers rather than having to go to the left and help Bell.  Bell needing extra protection would hurt the offense.

* * * * *

I don’t want to get into micro-managing these ideas and how each one would specifically affect the final record or chance for making the playoffs.  I’m just trying to present some ideas of things that could go wrong and hurt the Eagles in a serious way.

I still have very high hopes for 2012 and expect the players listed above to be a big part of whatever success the Eagles do achieve this year.

* * * * *

Good article on Trent Cole.  He wants 18 or 19 sacks this year.

Domo put up a good column on the Tom Donahoe hiring.

NFL Gimpy has his latest MAQB column posted.

30 Comments on “What Could Go Wrong?”

  1. 1 Mike Perrie said at 12:50 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    As long as Vick can manage the ball, and stay healthy skys the limit.

    It would be nice if DRC plays out like we hope and is a ball hawk, things could get fun.

    I have been a Coleman guy for a while. He has been very solid since being a starter. I still wish the eagles would have brought in Pollard. He would have helped the run defense last year by a lot. Sure he isnt the fastest cover guy, but in the box hes very good

  2. 2 Kevin_aka_RC said at 1:05 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    We avoided #1 what could go wrong: Accept Hard Knocks

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 2:15 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    It would be so interesting to see Andy “behind the scenes”. And that’s just why he’ll never do it. Likes to stay a mystery to us.

  4. 4 iskar36 said at 1:10 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Great article Tommy. I have to admit, while I am generally an optimist, when I read your glass half full articles, I can’t help but think about the “what if” scenarios. This article does a great job of articulating all the significant weak points I see on the team. Having said that, I think it should be pointed out that every team is likely to have a few weak points. The challenge is to be able to account for those deficiencies and overcome them.

    The one thing you didn’t directly address in this article that I would love to read from you (and probably it would be better once we have a little more information from TC and preseason games) is what are the dream/nightmare scenarios for Kafka and Foles? We are very likely to see at least Kafka play a couple games this season, so we will need him and the rest of the offense to make up for Vick being out.

  5. 5 miked718 said at 1:49 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    I gotta disagree, you’re right to focus on the positives because ANYTHING could go wrong. These are NFL players. They let their friends run dogfighting operations, shoot themselves in the leg, get arrested for assault/DUI/sexual assault in college bars, fall off of funny wheeled objects that make them look like bears on tricycles. And also an injury/non-football related issue allows others to step up and play their asses off and that gets fans more excited (think Feely, Garcia, Vick, Cruz, Any Given Sunday etc) than just ho humming through the season and ending up where Peter king said you would in August. I say keep that glass half full or chug it and fill it all the way up, it’s May, our team looks like it’s gonna be a beast and I want to keep hearing about how many sacks Cole wants and how great of a DC Juan Castillo is.

  6. 6 Mac said at 2:43 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    I am looking forward to Feb 2013 (after the Superbowl victory) when we have to debate which defense is the greatest in Eagle’s history ’91 or ’12…

  7. 7 Ben Hessel said at 3:13 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    “I think there were a variety of reasons for the drop-off. But…what if Vick simply lost his mojo? ”

    The one thing I always think back to is how Vick had that ridiculously long streak of no INTs thrown… And everyone seemed to ignore the DROPPED picks during that time. I remember seeing a few specifically.

    Basically what I’m saying is that there was some luck involved in his great no-turnover streak and that his TOs could have easily been up a few in that time, but yes Vick did in general look better that year and play better, smarter ball. I just don’t think we can hold Vick to standards THAT high, because I think his stats weren’t quite accurate with the game tape during the no-TO streak.

    Regardless, if he plays close to that form, we’ll be in great shape.

  8. 8 iskar36 said at 3:31 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    I remember what you’re talking about. The quick retort to that comment at the time was “well every QB has defenders drop potential INTs.” It would be interesting (although likely way to much work) to go and look at how “lucky” Vick was during that streak compared to other QBs in general. This year will certainly be a very interesting one for Vick. Either he proves that 2010 was a sign of true progression towards an elite QB or was an anomaly in a career that would ultimately be labeled as highly inconsistent. He certainly has the physical skills to be a top 5 QB in the league, so hopefully things come together this season and he is able to eliminate some of the mental mistakes.

  9. 9 D3Keith said at 11:18 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Interesting you say that, because my first thought for a reply to this post was about the three instances where I saw DRC drop interceptions last year, including one that was a pick-6 early in a game. I agree with the theory that the game tape often reveals something the stats don’t, but I was going to use it to suggest DRC could have a good year.

    He still has his quicks. He still has the instincts. And being comfortable, anywhere on the football field but especially as a DB where there’s no one to clean up your mistakes, is a huge advantage.

    I think DRC is capable of having a 5-interception season, but interceptions aren’t the only way to judge. I know there’s not always rhyme or reason to why you make a play on the ball but don’t hang on to it. Like in poker, sometimes you make the right play but don’t get the outstanding results.

    For as bad as DRC was trailing WRs in the slot at times, he still impressed me with his ability to jump routes. I think he is going to make a lot of plays this year, even if he’s boom or bust overall.

  10. 10 the guy said at 3:37 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    You covered most of my worries there. My primary worry is Vick. I have to think this is the season that will determine whether he’s the franchise QB we all hope he is, or if the Eagles need to go QB hunting.

    Hard to imagine Kafka (I’m thinking career backup) or Foles (3rd rd rookie, too early to tell) being ready to start week 1 next year, so if Vick can’t put it together this season, the Eagles may need to go shopping.

    One thing though: were the linebackers so obvious you felt it didn’t need to be said? I have big hopes for Ryans and Kendricks, but there’s a lot that can go wrong there.

  11. 11 TommyLawlor said at 4:17 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Actually, I figured that since the LB play was so mediocre last year we would be better this season with talent upgrades and a full offseason of training. And the LBs weren’t the reason we didn’t make the playoffs. That would be turnovers and coverage mistakes/missed tackles. The LB play was a problem, but didn’t kill us.

  12. 12 the guy said at 5:34 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    I generally agree that the LBs should be better and they weren’t all that was wrong, but a lot of the coverage mistakes and missed tackles were by the LBs, forcing the great Jarrad Page to address the situation.

  13. 13 TommyLawlor said at 6:13 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Darn it man, there is a moratorium on that name around here!!! I promised D3Keith. I swore on an unopened bag of Funyons.

    To your point…the poor LB play did hurt us last year. I guess my feeling is that even if things go wrong and the LB play is mediocre again this year, it won’t be the end of the world. DRC/Safety/Vick are all much more important.

  14. 14 D3Keith said at 11:19 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Someone must pay for this!!

  15. 15 P_P_K said at 4:23 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    I read the interview with Trent Cole. I’m a huge fan and have garnered respect points from my buds because I predicted his success (had to point that out). His comments about adjusting to to the Wide 9 are revealing. Seems clear it was (is?) something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to him. Perhaps now he really is on board with the scheme, perhaps he’s just accepted the reality of the situation. Regardless, this could be a huge year for Trent and the D line. I believe we were tied for the lead in sacks last year, and I anticipate this year being even better. A strong rush up front will make everyone else look good, and that would make up for any of the potential shortcomings of DRC and the safties that you mention.

    Even if Vick isn’t the 2010 verion, he has so many weapons at his disposal that I expect even the Falcons version can lead the team to great things. If he plays at a professional level, if he manages the short game, if he avoids the unnecessary interceptions, if he can hit DeSean long and in stride, and if remains a threat to run, the Eagles should find themselves in the post-season. Now, how many ifs was that?

  16. 16 ACViking said at 4:32 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    RE: 2 picks for a DE in the Wrong System


    Just catching up. So I apologize for commenting in this post about the great trivia question in your previous post about a DE whom the Eagles acquired for 2 picks after being rendered obsolete by the system being run by his prior team. The player you ID’d was Hugh Douglass.

    I think the great (and HOF-deserving) DE Claude Humphrey may also meet the criteria you set.

    Humphrey, at age 34, “retired” four games into the Falcons 1978 season.

    In ’77, Humphrey had an All-Pro season, as the Falcons set an NFL record for allowing only 129 points in 14 games (9.2 per game). But he told the team in early ’78 that he’d lost his desire to prepare and play.

    Before the 1979 season, Falcons HC Leeman Bennett moved to a 3-4 defense under D.C. Jerry Glanville. Humphrey, a dominant pass-rushing 4-3 DE, was no longer in the Falcons plans. Nor did he fit the new 3-4 being installed by Glanville.

    At some point shortly after the ’78 season, Humphrey let it be known that he would come back to the right situation.

    Enter Coach Vermeil. The Eagles packaged a pair of 4th-rounders (’79 & ’80) to acquire Humphrey’s rights.

    He, of course, joined the Eagles in 1979 as a predominantly 3rd-down pass-rushing specialist, when the Eagles would shift from their base 3-4 to a 4-3. Humphrey and Hairston were the DEs. Dennis Harrison slid inside from LDE to LDT. And Kenny Clarke replaced NT Charlie Johnson at the other DT spot.

    Humphrey was not just a great locker-room presence. His play also moved the Eagles defense into the *elite* category from ’79-’81.

    Maybe his best game as an Eagle came on November 23, 1980.

    The Eagles ran their record to 11-1 after a bruising 10-7 win over the Oakland Raiders. The D-line put up 8 sacks that day. Humphrey had 3.5 of them.

    The following week’s Sports Illustrated ran a lengthy story by Dr. Z called “PREVIEW OF SUPER BOWL XV?” http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1123997/index.htm (Here’s the magazine: go to page 20 for the photos and article as they appeared in that issue. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/edb/reader.html?magID=SI&issueDate=19801201&mode=reader_vault)

    Anyway, just thought I’d toss this out there.

  17. 17 TommyLawlor said at 5:03 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Great story.

    Claude Humphrey is a guy I don’t know nearly enough about. In the late 1970s and early 1980s I was a football novice and just figuring things out. I knew the star players and skill players, but it wasn’t til the mid 80s that I got older and began to truly understand/appreciate real football.

    Always love the history lessons.

  18. 18 TheRogerPodacter said at 5:25 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    nice story, man. thanks!

  19. 19 LiamGarrett said at 5:47 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Wow. Now THAT’S a comment! Good stuff.

  20. 20 Jack Waggoner said at 8:20 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    I remember that 10-7 game vs Oakland… rarely has such a low scoring game been so entertaining. Tough yards in that game.

  21. 21 pjxii said at 11:45 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Wasn’t the House of Pain game also 10-7 in the Eagles favor? Now THAT was entertaining!

  22. 22 TommyLawlor said at 1:23 AM on May 30th, 2012:


  23. 23 ChaosOnion said at 5:38 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    “What if Demetress Bell struggles at LT?”

    I think Bell being ordinary-to-good is much more likely than Bell struggling. Unfortunately for Bell, ordinary compared to Peters performance last year will appear to be struggling. The Eagles are losing the “special” that Peters brought. How will that affect the offensive game plan? How will that affect Shady?

  24. 24 Cafone said at 7:38 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    I’d agree, but when you look at the lineup of DEs he will be facing he won’t have much margin for error. “Ordinary” could get Vick killed.

  25. 25 Steve H said at 7:02 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    You’re asking Eagles fans what could go wrong? Isn’t that dangerous?

  26. 26 Cafone said at 7:42 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Tommy, much is being made of this being “Vick’s first full off-season as the Eagles starter.” How much do you think this affect Vick’s performance this year? Do you see it as a major difference maker or are we all just looking for reasons to be optimistic?

  27. 27 austinfan said at 7:50 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Forget 2010 that was a fluke. But I’d contend so was the first half of 2011.
    I think the real Michael Vick is the QB of the last 4 games, still a work in progress, but progressing. I’ll take 4400 yards, 9 YPA, 28-12 any season, but that means he has to stay on the field. The good news about those games is he threw the ball away, dumped it off to Celek and only ran 11 times.

    The key with Vick is understanding he doesn’t have to make every play a big play. If the defense plays as well as I think it well, he can start to play like Eli, Eli has played well in the playoffs only when the defense has played well, taking the pressure off him to make plays (and mistakes) because he knows he’ll get the ball back. Vick needs that confidence in his defense.

    When Vick stops trying to do everything every play, he’ll be more dangerous, because if he only runs when there’s a wide open lane, every run becomes a potential back breaking play for the opposing defense. If he throws the ball away, is willing to punt instead of force plays, tires and frustrates the defense, it only takes one letdown for him to explode with his arm or his legs.

    He can save the desperation for 4th Q comebacks, when his Jake Plummer imitations will cause heart attacks for DCs – because imagine a defense trying to contain a gambling Vick in the 4th Q after he’s played small ball control offense on you, and your legs are like lead while he’s still fresh. That’s when Steve Young became great, when he learned to bottle his talent and use it when needed.

    I’m not worried about the safeties, as long as they don’t tackle like Page or cover like Lewis, really, with this front seven, how many QBs are gonna be vertical after 4 seconds? And it takes that long to beat a safety deep.

  28. 28 D3Keith said at 1:21 AM on May 30th, 2012:

    My line of thinking on Vick is not unlike yours. I’ll try to keep it brief since I get the sense a new thread will go up early tomorrow and not many people read yesterday’s threads.

    I don’t think he’s the guy he was on the Falcons (remember the I-never-watched-film admission to Mora?), or the 2010 no-turnover guy. I think it’s fairly clear when he’s pressing, and if he can continue what he started at the end of last year in terms of dialing it back, I don’t see why he can’t be one of the best QBs in the NFL.

    I do think he tends to press; not unlike a baseball player who tries to win the game with a home run instead of extend the rally with a base hit. Because Vick is ultra-talented, he can try to do it all on every play.

    It seems to me now that he gets two things: 1) That his health is paramount. Part of protecting himself means making quicker decisions, even if it means throwing the ball away occasionally. When he does that for the first time, I’ll be overjoyed. 2) That ball security is imperative.

    The other part of not pressing is trusting the rest of the team; having a good defense this year means the offense shouldn’t feel it has to carry the team. Trusting that you can just get the ball to our offensive playmakers and not feel like you have to win the game yourself. The game is long. If we fall behind, don’t fall further behind pressing to get back in front. Remember that we can score in a hurry.

    Ah, well so much for being brief.

  29. 29 TommyLawlor said at 1:23 AM on May 30th, 2012:

    Good stuff Keith.

    Lots of truth.

  30. 30 Flyin said at 11:02 PM on May 29th, 2012:

    Juan’s pe.com video could have been wrong? But…

    No fundamentals, no Matthews bloodline talk.

    This in itself, makes the glass more than half full.