Marty Mornhinweg has got to vacate the offensive coordinator position. I agree with Phil Sheridan of the Inquirer that re-hiring Brad Childress as OC would only improve this team. He was a dud as head coach (like Morn), but you can't deny what Childress did here with inferior weapons (I'll take Vick and our current receiving corps over McNabb, Reggie Brown, and Pinkston any day) Allow me to explain:
The Eagles will always be a pass happy team; unless Andy Reid joins a Mormon mission and moves to Samoa, this won't change. But Mornhinweg took this gameplan to insane levels this season. In the Childress era, the Eagles called about 60% passing vs 40% running plays. This year (including Vick's scrambles and sacks-- ie, passing plays) the Eagles called passing plays nearly 70% of the time. That's simply too imbalanced to beat a good NFL defense. Especially considering that the Eagles have never been blown out all season-- they've never HAD to pass every play to stay in the game.
In the Bears game as well as the Vikings game, Mornhinweg called about 55 passing plays out of 70 total-- a ratio that approaches 80/20. The Bears were playing their safeties 15 yards deep, their linebackers were taking two steps back and keying on Vick at the snap, and yet Morninwheg refused to run, even on first down. 10 carries for McCoy, even at 6 yards a piece. Vick's first interception of the season? It came on first and goal, and the playcall formation was shotgun, four wide receivers, empty backfield. This is a formation to stretch defenses, but by definition it's impossible at the goal line. Your open field speed is negated down there, and you almost force your QB to either throw it away, take a sack, or throw a pick. Mornhinweg doesn't understand this; he runs the spread offense ALL THE TIME in the red zone! Still wonder why we settle for so many field goals?
Yet after the game everyone is so stupid to complain that "DeSean Jackson had trouble getting open deep!". OF COURSE he had trouble getting open deep, an Olympic sprinter won't beat a safety with a 15 yard head start. But if you mix in a few running plays, those safeties start creeping up to the line, AND THEN you throw it deep when they don't expect it.
Mornhinweg doesn't take what defenses give him, is his problem. Watching him call a game is like watching a toddler trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. Childress may have been pass-happy, but he had enough sense to adjust his gameplan to the realities of the defense he was facing.
The thing is, I don't even really see Morninwheg as a "West Coast" offensive coodinator, even if that's what his pedigree says. The Packers (as well as the Giants and Cowboys, etc) ran the very same screen plays with OL convoys we pioneered years ago very effectively, while this year Morninwheg's lesser screen calls got blown up for negative gains more than ever. He doesn't run the ball, he isn't a master of the screen game, Morninwheg's philosophy seems to just be "chuck it deep and hope the defense is sleeping". That won't work against the better defenses in this league. Even an excellent fastball pitcher has to mix in other pitches to keep the hitter guessing; having one pitch is useless, no matter how good it is.
Without Michael Vick's late game theatrics, or McCoy bailing us out by FINALLY getting carries late to seal close games (first Cowboys game, first Giants game, Texans game, etc), this team could very well have had a losing record. Besides the second Redskins game, we didn't blow anyone out, though we should have. If Childress had the current roster, he'd be running option plays, he'd be setting up the same great screens with McCoy as he did for Westbrook, he'd be hitting the running lanes off tackle and calling counters instead of the same damn shotgun handoff up the middle that Mornhinweg loves. And there's no doubt in my mind that the downfield passing game wouldn't suffer one bit.
Let me say that the Eagles defense certainly contributed to the failures this year. The red zone defense was absolutely inexcusable, but it's literally impossible that it can be worse next season. With Jamar Cheney (I think we should use Stew Bradley as trade bait--sorry) and Nate Allen returning next season, the difference between a rookie and second-year player is immense--especially at a leadership position like MLB or FS. McDermott also deserves scorn for not adjusting his immovable cornerback scheme, which allowed the Titans and Packers (among others) to negate Asante Samuel and pick on Dmitry Patterson all game. His blitz schemes seemed amateur and easy to identify-- but I think Brandon Graham was sorely missed. The DL looked exhausted by the end of the game, and that's one symptom of an offense that doesn't eat clock on the ground.
But in his favor, McDermott tends to improve and ADJUST as the game goes on, something that Mornhinweg has never done in his career. In the miracle comeback against the Giants the D only allowed 7 points in the second half, allowing the offense to come back (on Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson's legs, NOT on Morninwheg "figuring out" the defense). They allowed just 7 in the second half of the Packers game, but the offense never woke up. I think if we pick up a lockdown corner (JJ, let's be fair, ALWAYS had two great corners) opposite Samuel, this defense will be allowed to play more man-to-man and blitz more effectively, rather than the soft zone we've had to use to protect Patterson, which good QBs like Rodgers can and have picked apart playing "small ball" all season.
I won't lose sleep if the Eagles fire McDermott and hire a renowned defensive coordinator like John Fox, but at least McD had as many legitimate excuses as any coach this season to explain away his underperformance. The offense had no such excuses. Even with a hobbled Jackson the Eagles offense has plenty of weapons with Vick, Maclin, McCoy, and Celek. But Mornhinweg doesn't seem to call plays geared towards the tight ends or running backs, and so we fought with one hand tied behind our backs all season long. Our young defense will get healthy and better next year no matter who's in charge, but it'd be dangerous to leave Morninwheg calling the shots on offense. He's just too predictable.
Mornhinweg has GOT TO GO. Hopefully somebody is stupid enough to hire him as a head coach again.