With the season now (un)officially over for the boys in Midnight Green, I thought it might be a good chance to look ahead to the offseason and putting together some extra pieces to compete for the title next year. We'll look at the draft, free agency, resignings, as well as the coaching question, or rather: to Reid, or not to Reid.
Within the confines of picking up new players, the Eagles needs have been identified as: ILB (Interior Line Backer), OLB (Outside Line Backer) and WR (Wide Receiver).
Additionally, a number of names that have been brought up to fill the void of coaching include: Bill Cowher, John Gruden, Jay Gruden, Dick Jauron. Those will all be assessed after the jump...
The Coaching Situation
I can still, funnily enough, hear the Fire Reid chants in Australia, and to be quite frank, I don't really know how to go about addressing those concerns. Yes, I believe he's coached some stinkers this year. Yes, I believe he's let the ego of a number of players get in the way of chemistry. Yes, I believe he made one or two hiring mistakes. But let's be serious here and look at the facts and the system that Andy is working with here...
On Offense, Andy's preferred side of the ball, we're running an appoximate 40/60 run to pass ratio with the majority of passes being medium-deep/deep balls to get our overly atheltic receivers mixed into the thick of it. The Running plays are designed to maximize the athleticism of our offensive line, a line that has only really come together this year and that has gelled beautifully.
The Problem lies not in the system, nor the man running it, as Andy has shown in years past. I think that a key component is missing, especially in the deep ball game: Desean Jackson. Twice in the last three weeks 'Fraction' Jackson has been benched for poor work ethic, and lets be honest, Reid has been more than fair in that regard. Jackson has refused to turn up to play (or, in some cases practice) until a new contract has been worked out, and as such needs to go for the benefit of the team and the system they're attempting to run.
Jackson's poor work ethic effectively means the team is playing at 10.5 men on the field in a base offense. It also takes away the player the entire structure is built upon - with Jax not running his routes or finding ways to get deep, it effectively creates a nothing play where the opponent can simply put a slightly above average corner on Jax and the field is no longer stretched - goodbye, gone, kaput. That's when the Eagles have to nickle and dime a team down the field - a system they still need a lot of practice at.
Defensively, I think that the blame game needs to fall on different heads. Shouldn't it fall on Reid, as many of you are saying? Maybe, but I tend to view Reid as more of an offense coach than a defensive one, and ever since JJ (RIP) has let his D coordinator do his own thing. No, I think the blame has to fall on Castillo for this.
We know the story well enough, a guy well known as an O-line Co-ordinator gets promoted out of the blue in the offseason to the position of Defense Co-ordinator. This is done so that a new, far more experienced and decorated O-line co-ordinator may come in. Not knowing it at the time, we start saying how Juan's knowledge of how an O-Line works can make sure our blitzs actually produce results. And then, surprisingly, we got hit with another announcement: Jim Washburn and his Wide 9 System that had us jumping up and down, and why not? Our blitzes were going to be unstoppable this year, right? RIGHT?
See the problem is that when you look at what was happening, you can now kind of see that Washburn and Castillo are trying to do the same thing - They're both focussed on line work and getting to the QB. Washburn's system is suppossed to support Castillo's knowledge of O-Lines in breaking everything down. It hasn't done that. Instead, Castillo still looks as if he's trying to figure out what to do if the D-Line don't succeed. Put Simply, we have two men in different jobs doing the same thing.
In this regard, Castillo has to go. He's not a D Co-ordinator right now. I have a feeling he will be in a few years, but for now, get him what he's best at: Teaching the Lines how to move properly.
The Question then becomes: Who do we get who could succeed Castillo as our D Co-ordinator?
Bill Cowher is a favourite for a lot of Eagles fans, but I really don't believe he'll come to Philly. For a start, he likes tor run a 3-4 system. Do you really think our players would fit a 3-4 style? I don't, and I don't think Cowher would be a good fit for the Wide 9, either.
Maybe one that could work out well would be Dean Pees. Pees is the Linebacker coach for the Ravens as well as a former defensive co-ordinator for the Patriots. Pees is a definite linebacker guy that could have him and Wash fitting in perfectly. Pees also has the experience to be able to co-ordinate a defense (four years). It's unknown whether we could pry him away from baltimore, but if I wanted anyone available to coach the D on this team, it'd be Pees.
The question, however, still remains of whether we should fire Andy. My answer? Not Yet. I'd be making a few calls and telling Andy if we finish any worse than 6-10, he's out of a job, but I wouldn't be firing him now. Put his ass on the grill first - if he can't step up then, then he's done.
Fire: Juan Castillo
Cut: Desean Jackson
Warn: Andy Reid
Hire: Dean Pees
That time of the year where its impossible to tell who is a winner and who is a loser. That time of the year where every team thinks they can get the five star player who just came off contract. That time of the year: Free Agency.
I think that the Eagles will target a Wide Receiver in Free Agency to shunt Desean Jackson out the door. A Personal fave of mine, who could easily fit the jackson bill is:
If ever there was a guy I thought who could replace Desean at the same size, skillset and (almost) speed, then it'd be Eddie. Has been criminally underused in Denver for the last few years. Would be my pick for the Eagles if they wanted a good cheap option to fill the Jackson void.
An LB in Free Agency would also be nice, but there really isn't one that would be an instant upgrade.
For the purposes of this draft, the Eagles will be picking at #10.
Round 1, Pick #10: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College, 6ft 3, 237lb
Luke Kuechly NFL Draft Analysis - 2010 Season (via TMBDraft)
I know a lot of people want the flashy player in Burfict, but I went for the solid 'mop-up' LB in Kuechly. The reason I say mop-up is Kuechly really would be just that in our system - a guy who use his tremendous instincts to tackle a running back that gets through the wide 9, or attempt to break up a pass to a tight end.
Whilst not athletic or flashy, I feel Kuechly is what this defense needs, a guy who trades flash for substance, and continues to make tackles and plays for our defense.
2nd Round, Pick 8 (Cardinals Pick; Pick #40): Janoris Jenkins, CB
Asante could be done in Philly. Reid also loves giving chances to guys with character issues. Its a perfect match, and Jenkins is very talented,
2nd Round, Pick 10 (Pick #42): Danny Trevathan, OLB Kentucky, 6ft 1, 232lb
Danny Trevathan vs Auburn (via JPDraftJedi)
Really, really rate this guy. Good Speed, good tackling, takes nice angles to the ball. Also not bad in coverage. With him and Kuechly together it would solve a lot of the linebacking difficulties that we have. Could start at SAM straight away.
Round 3, Pick 10 (Pick 74): AJ Jenkins, WR Illinois
Maclin-type player. creates Seperation with good first gear and cuts, but doesn't really have that extra gear to keep going.
More rounds to follow....