Why does everyone have to be so mad?
I think everyone needs to calm down and just relax. We are losing, but I don’t think y’all should be so angry about it. I was mad when I thought we were a 14-2 team and we started losing winnable games. But by now it should be obvious that even with the dumb mistakes corrected we are still not the dominant team that we expected to be at the beginning of this season. That might be something that is hard to swallow for a lot of you guys, but face it, juqua parker jumping offsides and Jeremy maclin not being able to hold a football properly is not the only thing keeping us from being 16-0.
In other words, we have fundamental problems with our offense, defense, and coaching. I might sound like captain obvious here. But the point is, I’m not sure why everyone is so mad. We’ve been lucky to have a good team for so long and when things go wrong, I’m not going to rage and stop watching Eagles football. I’m going to be back next week and I believe every single one of you guys should as well. It’s not our year. We take winning for granted. It is a privilege not a right to win, and our team has clearly demonstrated they aren’t worthy of winning [and making the playoffs]. I’m not mad anymore, I’m disappointed, and hopeful for next season. We will never win every year and I’ve come to appreciate the fact that teams need bad years to eventually reach greatness. Maybe, the front office have become too enamored with continuing to win that they have not undertaken the measures needed to turn us from a winning team into a championship team.
That said, let me get down to the meat of this, my first fan post. No I’m not a bandwagon fan I’ve been following the Eagles since ’98 and only just joining this site that I have been reading for several years now doesn’t make me any less of a fan or any less qualified to evaluate the Eagles than all of you other Monday morning quarterbacks out there (before the inevitable ‘O’)
I want to talk about personnel. I started this post wanting to talk about everyone, but decided to stop after I finished writing about the offense. After all, so many people have talked about the defense in their own fan posts that I can save my thoughts for later. The defense is clearly more complicated and likely will require a total overhaul – on the other hand my proposed changes to the offense are mostly scheme adjustments rather than vast personnel changes.
Desean Jackson – Like many of you guys, I do not believe Desean Jackson should be resigned. We run a west coast offense, and we need to return to our roots. That means quick, shorter passes, and less vertical bombs. Why the hate for long throws? Because you can’t win games when your offense has a 1 minute drive. You need to give your defense as much rest as possible by conducting 10+ play drives that wipe out a good six minutes plus of clock. Therefore, Desean’s primary strength (the deep ball) conflicts with our scheme and the offense ideal for us to use (again my opinion). He is not a good red zone target, as we all saw clearly yesterday. He provides a good punt return presence but obviously not one worth the high contract he demands. His hands are ridiculously bad, and that’s another huge no-no in a West Coast system where we run quick outs, come back routes, and slants – you gotta be able to get two hands on the ball (no chest catches Desean), reel it in, and absorb almost immediate contact.
I am not convinced that Riley Cooper or Steve Smith is a suitable replacement for Jackson, so I would certainly advocate the Eagles looking into free agents and even the draft for a WR. While at first Steve Smith and his 100+ catches two years ago might seem like a great fit for us, I don’t know if he still has that kind of ability in him. A good prototype for this WR would be one with height and length and great hands. A lot of you guys have written about the need for a tall receiver – but the main criteria are just route running and hands. Greg Jennings isn’t tall but he’s got the hands and route running to fit the role we need, and if we can strike gold in the draft and find a comparable receiver, that would be just as good as someone like Larry Fitzgerald.
Jeremy Maclin – But you must still always have a deep threat, and on at least half the teams in the league, Maclin would be considered the fast receiver that can go deep. The thing with Maclin is that we have seen an equal ability to be a possession receiver, the kind of receiver that flourishes in a West Coast offense. Just go back to the Atlanta game, where he caught 13 passes. Maclin is the best receiver we have and a great fit for us, extremely versatile with the 4.4 speed (clocked with a foot injury at the combine) and solid hands. He offers almost everything that Jackson offers in terms of vertical passing, he’s just a little bit slower. I don’t care, I’ll take that minor disadvantage for all the other elements he offers to the offense.
Jason Avant – Don’t need to say much here. Despite the fumbles he’s been dependable and has everything I emphasized – hands and routes – to remain entrenched as the slot receiver.
Brent Celek – Doesn’t have blazing speed and has a bit too many drops but TE is far from the biggest need on the team and I think Celek’s short routes are good enough. I love his energy after the catch, his physicality brings something to the Eagles offense that we lack given all the fast players on our offense. All we need is him to continue running those short routes that get us three quarters of the way to a first down.
Clay Harbor – Good player, but is he capable of an increased receiving workload? I don’t know, and I’m not sure, I haven’t seen him in that role enough. Although, when he has been asked to receive, he’s gotten the job done. It would be a good idea for us to consider using him more, a la Gronkowski and Hernandez or Pettigrew and Scheffler. But far from a deal breaker if we don’t. Two tight-end sets are effective for running the ball, and a chip and run route (on the DEs or OLBs) would help with pass protection.
LeSean McCoy - The key to winning games, in my opinion, is to run off as much clock through running the ball frequently. This is why many coaches in the league rely so heavily on a run game despite its limited effectiveness. Most running backs will not always convert the first down given three downs; that is, the average YPC is probably around 3 or less when excluding outliers. A good YPC for a game is considered 4 to 5, but 99% of the time this is achieved by one or a few long runs that bump up the average. To get back to my main point, our offense needs to return to its roots and stop being too much about the big play. Because it’s looking too much like big play or bust, and consistency, the one word that has haunted us all season, becomes scarce in a big play offense. So even though we might not be able to score at any point on the field or any time during the game with an offense that runs the ball more, we become more consistent, more solid against a variety of defenses, and we retain possession, which is perhaps one of the biggest if not the biggest factors in why we are 4-7. It is amazing how much time of possession can affect a defense’s performance. The goal is not to convert a first down every single time, but to just lead a balanced attack that takes time off the clock. Tom Brady dropped 38 on us and at least one factor in that is that we gave them the ball too often and with more time on the clock, this leads to more opponent possessions. P.S. I realize that the WCO is a passing offense but we do not run a pure WCO right now and it is important to understand what I am supporting is an offense built around the shorter yardage plays and long sustained drives.
Ronnie Brown – If we are to run the ball more, we definitely need a second running back and one that is more of a bruiser would be a great complement to McCoy. I thought Brown was going to be that guy this season, but he hasn’t been utilized enough, and the jury is still out on whether he can fit that role. No matter, we need someone – the Ricky Williams to Ray Rice, the Lance Ball to Willis McGahee, the Woodhead/Ridley/Vereen to Green-Ellis, etc. Remember when we had the three-headed monster of Duce, Buckhalter, and Westbrook? Those were the days, when we had a consistent offense that controlled the ball.
Michael Vick – I will defend this guy to the death. Vince Young may have won that Giants game, but Vick knows this team and is a very capable quarterback. We saw him at his best during the Cowboys game – what changed? – Obviously we stopped being about the big play. We ran the ball early and often, and we used Celek and all of our receivers in a traditional West Coast style of play. This is what we ought to strive for, and Vick can accomplish this. I just feel like at the end of the day, he has more skill, more talent, than Vince Young or Kolb or Kafka. He moved the chains very effectively in several of our losses and as ProFootballFocus wrote about, he was playing like a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback. His arm strength is ideal for the WCO.
Offensive Line – The only change that should be considered is Kelce, and depending on draft options, we may find a replacement. Kelce’s athleticism is great but if we institute the changes I suggested getting to the second and third level becomes less of a priority, and per-play pass protection prevails. A center with more push would help if we run the ball more. Lesean McCoy has to cut back too often and I feel a lot of it is because we cannot create the run lanes initially – who cares what happens down the field? Regardless, it’s a great line that has only looked bad when Vick has held on to the ball too long. And why does Vick hold on too long? Because we are foolishly running vertical plays that take too long to develop and straying too far from the WCO – a word I have repeated about a million times so far in this post. As long as we have Vick get rid of the ball quicker, our offensive line is one of the best in the league.
In summary, we need to transition from an explosive offense to a consistent offense. This is done by using the West Coast scheme to throw short and intermediate routes to receivers with the hands and route running to catch the balls thrown to them and pick up small chunks of yardage. We run the ball often to take time off the clock, keeping in mind that not every run will be a 10 yard gain and that even a two-yard run can still be beneficial. Drives are long, consist of many plays, and they let the defense rest and give opposing offenses a limited number of possessions. We do *not* play to get way ahead early and then have the other team throw on us, we play four quarters of good, solid football.
Oh – and stop being mad. Stress isn’t good for you, anyways. It is what it is, we aren’t a good team this year. Just keep on Tebowing for progress.
First fan post, hit me with all ya got.