Reid era - when did things start to go wrong?

1999 - Reid's 1st year.  Rebuilding year, McNabb's a rookie, we finish 5-11. 

2000 - McNabb is opening day starter.  We go 11-5, crush Tampa 21-3 in wildcard game, lose to Giants in divisional round.  Regardless of the loss, we are all excited about the Reid era.   In weeks 10, 11 and 13, we win by 3 points against the Cowgirls, Steelers and Skins.

2001, We were 9-5 in week 16.  We beat the Giants 24-21 (we also beat the Giants 10-9 in week 6), then Tampa 17-13 to finish 11-5.  We lost to the Rams in the NFC championship. 

2002 - 1st of the McNabb injuries, but the backups are ready to run the system. Not many close games this year, lots of blowouts.  We outscored teams an average of 26 - 15, and had 34 or more in 6 regular season games.  Our 174 point differential was 1st in the NFL, and the 241 points allowed was 2nd.  We had a 1st round bye and home field throughout, lost to Bucs in NFC Championship.  bummer.

2003 - 12-4 again, with 1st round bye and home field throughout.  Notable close wins - week 5, beat skins 27-25.  Week 7, beat Jints 14-10.   Week 10, beat Pack 17-14.  Week 15 in Miami, we were tied 24-24 in the fourth, Eagles win 34-27.   Divisional playoffs, beat Pack 20-17.   Lost to Panthers in NFC Championship.  bigger bummer, but after the 1990's, and 3 consecutive NFC championship appearances, Eagle fans are still genuinely upbeat. 

2004 - 1st round bye and home field throughout, again.  But, we beat the Falcons and finally go to the SB, but lose to Patriots 24-21.  We allowed 260 points, second in the NFL.   We beat the Browns 34-31 in week 7, the Ravens 15-10 in week 8, the redskins 17-14 in week 14 and Dallas 12-7in week 15.  At this point, we were 13-1 and already secured home field throughout.  What a season... if only  :(

2005 - We finish 6-10.  McNabb hurt again. Mike McMahon starts 7 games.  Reid has to take blame for not having a competent back up QB.  We were 4-4 when McNabb got hurt and would only win 2 more the rest of the season.  To see what a competent back up can do, see the 2006 season.  This was a miserable season for us fans.  We were coming off of the SB loss, but still had high hopes. 

2006 - McNabb hurt yet again in week 11, Garcia comes in and leads a 5 game winning streak over the last 6 games.  We finish 10-6 and beat the Giants 23-20 in the wildcard game.  We lose in the divisional round to the Saints.  With the 2005 season a wash, this was the last time I really enjoyed the Eagles season.  However, the 2006 season was not all good, as signs of what was to come started to surface.  Before McNabb got hurt, we lost to the Saints 27-24 in week 6, the Bucs 23-21 in week 7 and the Jags 13-6 in week 8 for a 3 game losing streak.  Statistically, McNabb was having a great year, but that losing streak does say something, and makes you wonder... had McNabb not gotten hurt, would we have made the playoffs?

2007 - We go 8-8.  We go 1-6 in games decided by 6 points or less.  We go into the season with no return man, and lose a game because of it.  We had ample talent, but just seemed to underachieve.   We had a sickening loss to the Bears in week 7, where we were up by 4 with 1 minute to go, the Bears had no timeouts and had over 90 yards to go - we lost 19-16.   We were sitting at 5-5 in week 11, then in the next 3 games, lost to the Patriots by 3, the Seahawks by 4 and the Giants by 3.  At 5-8, we were basically out of playoff contention. 

2008 - We go into the season with no real FB on the roster.  We have a light D that is built on speed rushing in a conference where The Giants and Redskins have big O lines and power running games.  So far, we are 0-4 in games decided by 6 or less, and the underachieving that plagued the 2007 season is ever present.  

Summary - It is hard to pinpoint exactly where and when things started to go wrong, but I have to say the 2005 season.  With the exception of Garcia's tremendous 2006 finish, the 2005 season seems to be where things started to go downhill.  We were all high coming off of the superbowl appearance, so 6-10 stung hard.  Not having a competent back up QB seemed to set a trend of roster inadequacies to to follow.  The 2006 finish gave us a glimmer of hope, but the losing streak between weeks 6-8 displayed some serious flaws. 2007 quickly brought us back to reality.  Now, halfway through 2008, we are 5-4, and 0-3 in the division.  The NFC East is probably the toughest in the NFL, and it is likely that the 2 NFC wildcard teams will need to be 11-5.  And with upcoming games against Giants, Redskins, Ravens, Cardinals and Cowboys with a healthy Romo, things do not look good for the birds.  Realistically, at this point, I am not confident we can even go 5-2. 

Roster issues - besides the issues noted above, we still have a guy just for long snapping, and we still have Greg Lewis.  Nothing against Greg, who does make the occasional decent catch, but if we are even going to carry a 6th WR (a waste in my opinion), then shouldn't he be a young guy with high potential?  If and when Lewis is off of the Eagles roster, he will be out of the NFL, joining other Reid gems such as Reno.  Why does Reid continually carry players on his roster that no other NFL team would even consider giving a job?

Defensive vs power run - We know JJ defenses have always been based more on speed than big, run-stopping guys, but the way the Giants just seemed to move our line back 5 yards every time they ran has to be an eye opener.  We need to stop drafting these small school ends who put up great sack numbers against DI-AA or DII talent, but weigh less than Bradon Jacobs, whom they will face twice a year for the foreseeable future.  Also, we should stop trying to change players natural position.  Josh Parry, Klecko, Gocong, etc.  Gocong is particularly interesting, because in college he played mostly defensive end, and seemed to have a good arsenal of moves out of the DE position.  And at 6'2 265, he had decent size, and it is not out of the question that once in the NFL, he could have bulked up to 275-280.  His skillset seemed to be tailor made for a pass rushing DE. Yet, we take him and make him an LB, which has been mostly a failed experiment so far.  We draft another small school sack guy, Brian Smith, who is barely 230, and we keep him at DE.  Gocong's natural position seemed to be end, and I would be willing to bet that had another team drafted him, they would have kept him at DE. 

Where do we go from here? -  I am not sure.  I am not calling for Andy's head just yet, but this seasons problems are nothing new, and something has to be done.  Regarding McNabb, I think he is still one of the top 10-12 QB's in the league, and if we put in Kolb, even next season, he will most likely have to go through some growing pains.  The play calling needs to be fixed asap.  I know Reid would never do this, but perhaps we should replace Marty as the O coordinator, and let whomever comes on have a bit more control.  Man, I miss Childress.  There is no doubt the D line needs to improve against the run, and the only way I see that happening is with personnel.  I could go on, but this is getting long winded, so I will end it here.

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