Now What?

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning is a habit, unfortunately so is losing.” After appearing to be on the verge of another run at the Super Bowl the Eagles have now lost three in a row. They have definitely picked up some bad habits. This time, however, the Eagles were not beaten by a last second play, they were just beaten. The Jaguars controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage, not because they have more talent but because they have more discipline…and heart…and character. Fred Taylor must be 56 years old and yet he looked like Barry Sanders in his prime the way he was breaking tackles. I don’t remember how many times an Eagles defender got his hands on a Jaguars offensive player and failed to wrap him up. It seemed as if it happened every play. Every play in a very long and frustrating game.

When the season started, I was pissed that the Eagles were not getting enough respect. Why were so many of the pundits predicting a NFC East last place finish for them? But the truth of the matter is, despite their offensive prowess, the Eagles have yet to prove themselves as anything more than what they are. A .500 team. There is obviously a lot of talent but it is talent devoid of emotion, discipline and confidence. Greg Gumbel said that in an interview with Brian Westbrook, he asked the Eagles running back how they were reacting to the heart breaking losses. He reported that Westbrook said that they approach it very business-like. I have always downplayed the importance of emotion in a football game saying that it will only carry you through the first few minutes of a football game. Even accounting for my watered down theory, the Eagles have given up points on six out of eight of their opponents opening drives, They have also scored more points in the third quarter than in any other quarter of the game. Can lack of emotion be blamed for their slow starts?

What about lack of concentration? For the second year in a row, the Eagles lead the league in dropped passes. Discipline? They are among the leaders in penalties as well. I wonder if they lead the league in game altering stupid penalties. Effort? Will to win? I already mentioned the missed tackles. What about those defensive breakdowns late in the game? You can’t teach talent. Either you have it or you don’t, but discipline, character, emotion, technique, these are things that fall directly on the coaching staff. Coach Dick Vermeil was the master of inspiring exceptional performance from otherwise mediocre players. Bill Belichick can fit any player into his system or, and this is a major point, modify his system to get the most out of his players. The Patriots lose their two starting Super Bowl receivers and yet are 7-1 and look unstoppable, again. So, on one hand you have a great motivator and on the other hand you have a great tactician. Where does Andy Reid fit into this?

Reid has proved himself to be a great coach in many facets of the game and clearly his players like playing for him. But is he capable of sustaining success? As The Honorable Michael Howard Smith has asked in the past. Is he a Marty Shottenheimer who plugs in the same system wherever he goes and has consistently good teams but never wins the big one and never stays very long in one place? Or, is he a Bill Belichick who consistently wins by adapting and overcoming obstacles. This season, or should I say, the remaining eight games of this season, will go a long way in determining that about Andy Reid. Last year was a mulligan. If the Birds cannot turn it around, then the Philadelphia faithful will start calling for Andy Reid’s head.

There is no line out yet on the Eagles Redskins game so I will chime in later on the prognosticating front. I will pass on the statistic that Andy Reid’s Eagles are 7-0 after the bye week (but 3-5 going into the bye week…Hmmm…).

I’m looking forward to some more lively comments. I know a lot of you are hurting. Maybe, this week, we’ll be lucky enough to receive some comments from The Edge. I always can use a dose of his cynicism when times are tough in Eagle Land.

Enjoy the bye week. I think we all could use it.

Go Birds!

Eric Written by:

4 Comments

  1. November 3, 2006

    Given the parity in today’s NFL, emotion and coaching count more than ever before. On the coaching front, being a great coach requires 2 things: getting your team ready to play (preparation), and then adapting on the fly with in-game adjustments.

    Historically, Reid has been excellent at preparation, but weak at game-day adjustments.

    One big problem for the Eagles now is that teams know exactly what the Eagles want to do offensively, and are prepared for it. So, when Reid scripts his much-talked-about first 15 plays of the game, the key question is, what do you do if the defense is in a scheme specifically designed to stop those plays?

    What New England did to Minnesota in the first half of the MNF game was Exhibit A of what good game-day coaching can do. Brady came out, saw the Vikings’ defensive scheme, and the Pats spread the field and ate the Vikings for breakfast. They ran an offense specifically designed to take advantage of the Vikings’ defensive scheme at that point in time. With a WR corps that is laughably bad and a rookie RB, Brady is having 300-yard games and the Pats are well on their way to the playoffs. With parity in the NFL, more than ever, those types of dynamic game-day adjustments are what separate great teams from good ones.

    Reid and his coaching staff need to give the rest of the league much more credit. Other teams prepare just like the Eagles. Other teams now know what the Eagles like to run offensively. It’s more important than ever for the Eagles to dynamically adapt their offense, within the flow of the game, to take advantage of the defense’s vulnerabilities — instead of being so arrogant as to believe that their plays are so good that they will work no matter what the defense tries. Success on this front, by definition, will require Reid to give even more leadership responsibility to McNabb. No-huddle is something they should be using on a regular basis, given that it provides McNabb with much more time to survey the D and make adjustments if necessary. It should become a staple of the Eagles offense.

    Have a good weekend,
    Mike

  2. November 6, 2006

    Very disheartening loss. It is over. Very mediocre team, very mediocre defense/coaching/special teams.

    When 5 and 36 play well, they apparently cover up a lot of average players.

    If you cannot stop Fred Taylor, you will not be able stop Clinton Portis.

    It is going to be ugly.

    Go Sixers!

    DAWZ

  3. November 6, 2006

    I submitted my first message to Comcast SportsNet’s PostGame Live show immediately following last Sunday’s debacle:

    “I don’t understand what has happened to this team. Don’t they even care anymore? It sure doesn’t look like it: missed tackles, dropped passes, blown assignments, off-target throws, penalties, poor coaching, etc. Do they think their season ended with the Dallas win?”

    I invest a lot of time and emotion watching each game. Why should I continue to do so when the players and coaches don’t show any effort and intensity? They are the ones getting paid, not me, so why am I the one who cares more?

    I need the bye next week more than the team. I really can’t afford to spend a whole day on this team any more and find myself in a bad mood for the week to come. I have too many other things to do right now.

    And then there was Any Reid’s first post-game news conference of substance. He shocked me! So, now I’m thinking I want to see the drastic changes he will make. Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in!

    Ray Didinger made a comment that describes one of the major frustrations I have besides the lack of effort and passion. He pointed out that there were certain things you could count on in the past from this organization, but these things no longer seem to apply. I can’t remember the entire list right now, but I do know one thing he mentioned was that they would always be prepared after a loss and never loose 2 in a row. We’ve now lost 3 in a row.

    This is what is so alarming… The organization seems to have regressed back to 2001, but nobody in the organization seems to be concerned about it. Last week, how many coaches and/or players said, “We should be 7-0, and we are the best 4-3 team in football.”? Ooh, that smugness KILLS me!

    I really hope the anger I heard in Reid after the game is for real, and I hope he is successful at turning this thing around. But, I am going to just keep a peripheral glance on this team for the next few weeks. They have some work to do in order to earn my full attention back.

  4. November 12, 2006

    I thoroughly enjoyed the bye week. It was nice to take a break from the mayhem that is the 2006 Eagles season. I must admit that it also gave me hope regarding the Eagles play off chances. Chicago loses to Miami, Atlanta loses to Detroit, T.O. continues to hurt the Cowboys, chaos, destruction, dogs and cats living together. What we have, in a word, is parity. Parity, which is a nice way of saying mediocrity gives a potential 9-7 Eagles team a chance to make the play-offs. It begins this Sunday against Washington.

    The Eagles are a 7 point favorite over the Redskins. I find that intriguing because many of the “expert analysts” have given up on the Birds but apparently Vegas has not. I agree with the line this time as Andy Reid teams are 7-0 after the bye week. Look for the Eagles to try to run the ball more and attempt to prove to the world that they are the best 4-4 team in the NFL. They’ll win and barely cover giving us hope that they will turn the season around.

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