The Eagles are done. I have accepted that. Now is the time between when we suffer through the rest of our season and when the playoffs begin and we can enjoy watching some great football without the stress of seeing yet another Super Bowl dream end in Philly.
I have gone over some things about our football team in my head and I think I have learned some things over the past couple months, mainly that we don't have enough football players. I'll explain after the jump.
I think I've heard this term from John Madden several years ago. A football player is a player who does everything he needs to at his position. Let's say he is a linebacker then he is more then a speedy linebacker. He tackles well, good in pursuit and doesn't get blown out of every single running play. Someone like a Nick Barnett or maybe even a Brian Rolle. You don't have to be 250 lbs or run a 4.45 40, but you have to be able to tackle well and find ways of making an impact on defense.
The Eagles are loaded with players that are talented on paper. There is speed everywhere. I have to come to realize that speed is a great weapon to have in football but it is not the most important thing to have. You gotta have actual FOOTBALL PLAYERS. Guys with great instincts and great football IQs. Guys that tackle well and guys that can catch the football and protect the football. I am going to analyze players on our team that are what I would call football players and some of our players who aren't.
Jason Avant vs. Maclin/Jackson- Avant is a flat out football player. We need more receivers like Avant that can catch the football and make blocks down field and on special teams. Remember that final block that he set on the "Miracle Punt Return". Yeah, he suffered a concussion on that play. This is a guy who will donate his body for the good of the team. Good hands and great route runner. Size at wideout is overrated, remember Hank Baskett and now Riley Cooper? Speed is as well. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson have great speed. They also don't come back to the ball, run crisp routes or consistently catch the football. They also have fumbled the ball at unopportune times this season. I would like to see us go out and draft at least two wide receivers with great hands and route running ability. I don't care if they are 5'5, 150 lbs and run a 4.8 40. Howie, go out and get us some players who can actually catch the football. You want to know why we don't score more touchdowns in the red zone? Well our two best receivers are undersized and can't catch the football. Speed doesn't help you when the field is shortened. Get us some pass catchers.
Michael Vick vs. Mike Kafka- Quarterbacks should be able to do two things well. One is throw the football accuractley on passes under 25 yards 90% of the time. Every quarterback will have those throws that get away from them every now and then but you should be able to put a good throw on a 10 yard crossing route just about every single time. You also have to be able to read a defense. You should be able to read a defense and know what the type of coverage is. You have to be able to read blitzes and be able to get rid of the football properly instead of just blindly throwing it into double coverage.
Mike Kafka can do those two things. We saw it in preseason. It wasn't a matter of playing against a bunch of scrubs, the guy can read a blitz and gets rid of the ball very quickly. He throws an accurate ball as well. He doesn't posses great arm strength though, and that will hold him back.
Michael Vick has great arm strength. It takes him little effort to throw the ball down the field at times. He has great speed as well. That's all fine and dandy, but as a QB you have to be able to read a defense and you have to be able to throw the ball accurately on intermediate routes. Vick has not proven he can do that. It would be insane to say that Kafka is more talented than Vick but he is differently more of a quarterback then Vick ever has.
Cullen Jenkins vs. Jason Babin- Cullen Jenkins was our best move of the offseason. He is a beast at both defensive end and tackle. Jason Babin is a pass rushing specialist. He will get his sacks. However running backs will get their yards running to his side. The Wide 9 has failed to succeed in Philadelphia not because of Jim Washburn but because of Jason Babin. The Wide 9 is about wreaking havoc in the backfield, not just about getting the quarterback. Babin doesn't play the run well and he commits stupid penalties over and over again. You can't be a one dimensial player on defense. You will get exposed and he has. Jenkins is a beast. When he hits you, you feel it. Not just for the next play or two, but the next day or two. He plays the run and pass very well. He is a complete defensive linemen. Babin is not.
Greg Lloyd vs. Jamar Chaney- Let me start off by saying that I personally like Chaney. He is a good guy to have in your community and a good role model. However, he couldn't tackle Chuck Bednarik's wife(if you don't get that, study the fucking history of the Eagles, as in 1960). Chaney missed four tackles last night which is unacceptable. Chaney has good speed at the postion but he takes awful angles on ball carriers and even when he is in the right positon he misses far too many tackles. He also looks lost in coverage but that may be more on Castillo then Chaney.
We don't know much about Greg Lloyd but I think he is the type of player we need at MLB right now. He is a physical player and a solid tackler. He doesn't possess great speeed but so what. He is a 2 down linebacker which is great for us. We have plenty of nickel linebackers like Brian Rolle, Keenan Clayton and Jamar Chaney. How about someone who can actually make a tackle? Lloyd is that type of player and I really hope he gets a chance to start before the season to see what he can do.
Jaiquawn Jarrett vs. Asante Samuel- Asante is hilarious. He is a very likeable guy but I don't care anymore. He can't tackle and he can't cover inside the 20 to save his life. I don't care how good a player is on defense and what he can do for your defense, if he can't tackle the entire defense will suffer because of it. This defense has become incredibly soft and Asante is the poster boy for softness. It was hard to come up with a corner to counter with Asante so I just threw in rookie strong safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. He is a pretty solid tackler. Nnamdi Asomugha, DRC, Jose, they all have made tackling average players in the open field look like Max Jean-Gilles trying bring down Darren Sproles in the open field. These guys friggin' stink.
New rule on defense, if you can't tackle, then get out. Simplify the game. It all comes down to the basics. Tackling. Blocking. Pass and Catch. Protecting the football. Sticking to your assignment. Composure. Any of this sounds familiar? Didn't think so.
The problem with the Eagles over the last 3 seasons hasn't been the loss of the late great Jim Johnson as much as the love affair Andy has had with speed and only speed. The passing game has taken over our offense but not the entire NFL. The Packers can get away with being a pass heavy team because they have about 7 or 8 good receivers who are always on the same page with Aaron Rogers and outside of Finley, they catch everything. Oh and Rogers' accuaracy makes Peyton Manning look like a blind Rex Grossman.
The Saints went out and drafted Mark Ingram and signed Darren Sproles while keeping Pierre Thomas to really bolster their running game. Now they have a very dangerous offense. The 49ers running game has made life so much easier for Alex Smith. The Houston Texans keep on winning despite the loss of Andre Johnson for a big chunk of the season and now without any of their top 2 quarterbacks. All because they are incredibly balanced on offense. Those teams also tackle very well.
In 2012 the Eagles have to get back to the basics. Keep It Simple Stupid -Michael Scott.