The Broncos make me sick, absolutely sick. Why? Because they’re so inferior to the Eagles in terms of talent and yet they have a better record, that’s why. The contrast between the Broncos and Eagles highlights everything that is wrong with the Eagles.
Just to start, look at the decisions they made regarding their coaching staff this offseason. John Fox didn’t hire his old buddies from the Carolina Panthers coaching staff, instead he hired Dennis Allen, the secondary coach from the New Orleans Saints. Some of you might recognize that name, why? Because the Eagles interviewed Dennis Allen. You also might remember that guy because Sean Payton, one of the best coaches in the NFL, was singing his praises. Somehow, Dennis Allen was good enough for John Fox and Sean Payton, two established NFL coaches but he isn’t good enough for Andy Reid.
So, while Dennis Allen is doing work up in Denver, we’re stuck with Juan Castillo because Andy Reid is intent on creating some bastardized, incestuous team that only promotes from within. Almost all of Andy Reid’s coaching assistants get promoted to position coaches. That, is a flaw. Is it arrogance? It sure looks like it. Or maybe he only wants to work with people he is comfortable with? Still a flaw.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Denver staff is actually using their players effectively and putting them in the best spots to be successful.
Tim Tebow can’t effectively run an offense from the pocket, so they let him run an option offense. This is a perfect example of effectively using the talent you have. He has poor receivers, an offensive line that struggles to pass protect, a powerful option QB, a deep stable of running backs, good blocking full backs and tight ends and an offensive line that is very good at run blocking. So what does John Fox and company do? They put together an offense that plays to their strengths.
Another example of playing players to their strengths is Von Miller. Von Miller was a dynamic pass rusher and athlete at Texas A&M but he was too small to be an on the line defender. Instead of passing on the best player on the board, they drafted him. And now, they move him around the defense, they line him up at linebacker and have him put his hand on the ground on obvious passing situations. Now, Von Miller is the best young defender in the game with 38 tackles, 8 sacks and 2 FF in 10 games.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia…
Michael Vick breaks his ribs unbeknownst to the coaching staff but it was very apparent that he wasn’t throwing the ball effectively. The Eagles are missing their two best receivers. What does Andy Reid do? He throws the ball and completely ignores LeSean McCoy, the best 4th quarter runner in the game who at that point was leading the NFL in rushing.
Juan Castillo is putting DRC who does not have the route recognition skills or toughness to play the slot in the slot.
Juan Castillo is playing the premier press man corner of our generation in zone coverage, at safety and in the slot.
But what stands out most to me when you compare the two teams is the way these teams are built. The Broncos are filled with team oriented, unselfish players with strong leadership.
The Broncos have Tim Tebow who takes the game into his hands when the game matters most. When a receiver was in the wrong spot against the Jets, he walked up to him and explained where he should’ve been and clapped his hands to tell him to do better next time. Every player on that roster believes in him.
The Broncos have Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey, two aging hall of fame players with strong leadership qualities. I don’t really feel the need to explain what these two bring to the table. Both are strong veteran presences who know the game and inspire confidence and belief in young players.
The Broncos have unselfish players all over their roster. You cannot find a player that is as selfish as DeSean Jackson, Michael Vick, Jason Babin, Asante Samuel or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on their roster. Their receivers don’t ask for the ball, they’re committed to the team. Their defense plays tough football, they play the run and they don’t freelance.
Meanwhile, Michael Vick mopes off the field with his head hanging down. Tim Tebow heaps praise on everyone imaginable. Michael Vick says you can’t design a defense to stop him.
The Eagles have no veteran presence that inspires confidence and belief in their young players. Just to make a point here, the vocal leader of the defense last year was Ernie Sims. Ernie. Sims. And now even he is gone. Ernie Sims was the guy in the middle of the pre-game huddle. Ernie Sims was the maniac throwing himself into people and bringing energy to the field. He was terrible but the defense sure could use a guy like him.
One of the other vocal leaders is Juqua Parker but at this point, how can you take him seriously? He hasn't played, he has been dinged up all season, he is probably the 6th string DE at this point and he was the guy who jumped offsides when the whole stadium knew the Bills weren't going to run a play.
Jason Babin and Asante Samuel are only in it for themselves. Just look at Jason Babin in run defense, he is a complete one trick pony. He refuses to line up over an offensive tackle. He throws a fit anytime someone suggests the Wide-9 scheme isn’t effective. He is in it for the stats. And Asante Samuel is hanging people out to dry on hunches, he won’t play press coverage and he still won’t defend the run. Both of these players are perfect examples of what is wrong with the Philadelphia eagles. When teams run at the left side of our defense where Jason Babin sees a vast majority of snaps, they average 5.31 yards per carry. That is the second worst mark in the NFL. He has been exposed as a one trick pony and running to his side works almost every time. Meanwhile, Asante Samuel can be blamed for the loss against the Cardinals because of his selfishness according to Tommy Lawlor.
Asante absolutely is to blame. Asante decided to freelance on the play. Rather than sticking with Fitz, Asante hung his teammate out to dry. And the team. Skelton hit Fitz for a gain of 37 and they scored a TD to take the lead.
The Eagles are filled with selfish, egotistical players that are enabled by the softie Andy Reid. Denver is filled with tough guys who just want to win and has a coach that knows how to utilize the talent he is given. Brandon Lloyd of the Broncos started being a diva because he wasn’t getting the ball and the Broncos shipped him off.
Jeremiah Trotter, one of the infamous tough guys of the Andy Reid era hit on a very interesting and valid point. Essentially, he says the Eagles are a business over everything else, that they have a price-tag on all players and the players know it.
Do you think DeSean Jackson is going to give his all when Joe Banner is up in the front office trying to shake him down for all he’s worth? Why would DeSean Jackson sacrifice himself for this team when he knows he could be somewhere else at the drop of a hat because the Eagles franchise doesn’t think he is as valuable as he thinks he is. Why should he sacrifice himself? All he has done is make plays for this franchise but guys like Jason Avant and Brent Celek get paid and the Eagles throw money at Vince Young, Steve Smith, Jarrad Page, Ryan Harris and other useless free agents.
A report from Gary Cobb stated that Gaither had turned down a mid-season long term contract extension and that the organization was making him pay for it with less playing time. All sides denied the rumor, but the story persisted to hover around Gaither.
The Eagles let some of the best leaders the Eagles had walk because they didn’t value them. Brian Dawkins, Sheldon Brown, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Lito Sheppard, Michael Lewis, Jeremiah Trotter, Stewart Bradley, Quintin Mikell, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent are all striking examples of this.
And Joe Banner is an asshole, look at what he has done and is doing to some of the most dynamic talent we have. He nudged T.O., the best offensive player to ever wear an Eagles uniform, off the edge because he didn’t want to pay him. He ruined Lito Sheppard’s career because he didn’t want to pay him. And now look at what he is doing to DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos are more than willing to pay valuable veterans like Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey. And it shows on the field, the players play harder and they put it all on the field for their team and organization.
Watching the Broncos play only made the Eagles’ flaws that much more apparent.
1. Joe Banner and Howie Roseman are dehumanizing the players and penny pinching on contracts while they play Madden football up in their offices, failing to account for team chemistry. If you don't think that matters, I don't know what team you're watching. Because the DeSean Jackson I'm seeing this year, the disgruntled guy in the last year of his contract, is not the same guy I saw in other years. And I know that at the very least there are rumblings in the locker room of this because Asante Samuel, the most vocal player on this team came out and said "A couple people upstairs might not want me, but who cares. They probably never played football, it's a business, they run it like a business, so they're going to do what they need to do. So they're upstairs playing with a lot of money, playing a little fantasy football, so they’re doing their thing."
You can't tell me that knowing you've got a price tag wouldn't make you a little upset. To know that no matter what, you're only worth this much to the franchise and if you disagree, they'll pack your bags for you. If you knew that was happening, would you give your all?
2. Andy Reid’s stubbornness, he refuses to adjust to the circumstances at hand and he typically avoids bringing people in from the outside. Egotism, stubbornness, complacency etc. etc. Andy Reid has them all. No coach in the NFL has done less with more than Andy Reid in his tenure.
Look at some of his former coaching assistants: Sean McDermott, Rory Segrest, James Urban and Bill Shuey. All 4 of those guys were shown the door this past season. Clearly the promotion of all of Andy's "hand trained" guys wasn't working and yet he was still allowed to promote Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator. Umm... What? You can't tell me that ego didn't play a part in this, that Andy Reid didn't on some level feel more comfortable with the guys he brought up because he was overconfident about his ability to groom these guys and/or thought the way he brought them up was the best way and didn't want to hire any outside guys who wouldn't be as effective as his "hand trained" guys.
And the game against Arizona was a perfect example of Andy's stubbornness. He has a QB with broken ribs and both of his top two receivers are missing and what does he do? He keeps on throwing the ball. That, is a tragic flaw. When Riley Cooper is seeing extended playing time and you keep throwing the ball despite the fact that you've got the most productive back in the NFL behind you, that is stubbornness.
3. The selfish players on this roster are a problem; I think you would come to find that very few of these teams put the team above themselves. I'm talking about Jason Babin, Asante Samuel, DeSean Jackson, Michael Vick and other players who aren't playing within the scheme and going out to get theirs and not doing what is best for the team. Former NFL scout Dave Razzanno points out that this is one of the flaws on the team:
They also need to steer clear of ”character” guys. I know WO Desean Jackson has talent but he has always been considered selfish, going back to his days at Cal-Berkeley. RB Lesean McCoy had some history of immaturity as did Free Agent OT Jason Peters. And talented QB Michael Vick was a guy nobody wanted just alittle over a year ago. These are all talented athletes but if you have too many selfish guys on your team it can catch up to you, taking away from team unity when the chips are down.
And the Beat Writers agree:
That was a long time ago now. Reid has let his program drift away from the high-character standards he set early on. He now has a team that plays soft and that seems more interested in contracts than contact. His ship appears rudderless, and there's no one to blame but the captain
Veterans such as Samuel and Jason Babin have acquired big reputations and matching paychecks with individualistic play.
4. The lack of leadership on this squad; who on this team can lead? Who will put the team above themselves? Who can inspire confidence in the young players? Last year it was Michael Vick, this year there is nobody who has stepped up. I'm going to refer back to the Jeremiah Trotter interview really quick where he weighed in on the DeSean Jackson contract dispute. Trot said:
"These guys are young and they've got agents to take care of that but that's where you need veteran guys to say "You know what? Listen, just keep playing hard and if you don't get a contract here with Philadelphia you're going to get it somewhere else." I think that's what this team is lacking, it's lacking that type of leadership. I remember going through my situation and Troy Vincent sitting me down and saying "Hey Trot, don't worry about all that. All you have to do is go out and make plays and your game will speak for itself.""
Who on this team will do that? Michael Vick with his 100 million dollar extension in hand? Seems kind of hypocritical, no? It certainly won't be any of the new guys like Nnamdi or Jenkins, they're too new. Brian Dawkins could've done that. Brian Westbrook could've done that. Sheldon Brown could've done that.
We need a house cleaning from the top down; the fish rots at the head. Jeff Lurie needs to grow a pair and fire Andy Reid, Joe Banner and Howie Roseman. But lord knows he won’t do it. But until he does, nothing will ever change with the Philadelphia Eagles, ever.
Look at the gold standard teams in every sport. The Yankees, Steelers, Packers, Celtics and Lakers all operate the same way, the opposite of the Eagles. They don’t lowball players, they don’t let valuable veterans walk away and they don’t deal with selfish players. Did the Yankees let Derek Jeter walk? Did the Steelers let Casey Hampton,Aaron Smith, Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward just leave? Did the Packers deal with Brett Favre’s egotism? Did the Packers dump Donald Driver? Did the Celtics take a steaming dump on their greatest players? Are the Celtics going to get rid of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen anytime soon and then lowball Rajon Rondo? Are the Lakers going to dump Kobe when he isn’t an all-pro player anymore? Of course not. But the Eagles will let Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook and Sheldon Brown just walk out the door. And the old Eagles owner did the same thing to Reggie White.
The Eagles need to change, end of story.
And thinking about all of this just makes me realize how great Jim Johnson was. Not only was he an incredible schemer but he was a respectful and spectacularly effective communicator.
"He was an awesome coach, man. He always inspired guys to go out there and play hard and that's why I liked him. He didn't have to come out there and yell and stuff like that. He would just go out there and talk and have respect for you. So I always enjoyed him. I always miss him. He was an awesome coach."
Jim Johnson was the reason we were so close so many times, not Andy Reid. Jim Johnson inspired his players to go out and play hard for the team despite Joe Banner.
The Eagles issues are so much bigger than they appear. Things are only going to get worse if we keep the current status-quo in place. The structure that the Eagles have set up is crashing down and watching Tim Tebow and the Broncos made that sadly apparent. Yes, I realized these things as I watched John Fox, Tim Tebow and the 5-5 Broncos, it’s that bad on the Eagles.
We’re a talented team but bad coaching, demoralized players, selfish players, no leadership, no toughness and little continuity are biting us in the ass. This is a big mess, last year was an anomaly.