Two days ago, Sal Paolantonio did an interview on Mike Missanelli's radio show, in which Paolantonio violated my biggest pet peeve when it comes to football coverage... and that's journalists that pretend they understand the intricacies of play calling, gameplans, offensive/defensive schemes, halftime adjustments, etc; and micromanage in-game decisions made by coaching staffs, because it's... you know... extremely easy after the fact. The sickening aspect, and the reason it caught my attention in this case, is that Paolantonio essentially suggests that the Eagles should be looking to replace defensive coordinator Sean McDermott midseason with defense backs coach Dick Jauron in the wake of the defense's 4th quarter collapse last Sunday in Tennessee. From Paolantonio:
I don't know how much input Dick Jauron has in the defensive gameplan. I'm sure he has quite a bit, but you know, uh, you know, uh, uh, eventually (the Eagles) may have to make a switch there.
Paolantonio made his bones as a political reporter, and in 1993, published a book about Frank Rizzo entitled "The Last Big Man in Big City America." I'll never question Paolantonio's ability to get to the bottom of a legitimate news story, but he should probably leave the defensive scheming analysis to some of his peers that actually do know the intricacies of the game - guys like Ron Jaworski, Merril Hoge, or Brian Baldinger, before he starts calling for coaches' heads.
Pro Football Talk even picked up on Paolantonio's interview, and irresponsibly entitled it "Sean McDermott could be on his way out in Philly," even though it was just the opinion of one man, who didn't have any evidence whatsoever that the Eagles could be thinking about making such a drastic move. That's all it takes, I suppose, and I suspect this "story" will snowball from here. Hell, it already has - After all, I'm now writing about it.
Now, I'm not going to claim that Sean McDermott has been a great defensive coordinator for the Eagles since he took over last year for the late, great Jim Johnson. Personally, I think McDermott has done a below-average job thus far. With that caveat in place, it's completely unfair to throw the blame all on him, particularly for the reasons Paolantonio is giving. At some point, shouldn't we take into consideration the performances of the guys that are actually on the field? When asked by Missanelli what McDermott should have done against the Titans, he responded with the following gem:
More after the jump...
Well they definitely should have blitzed Collins a lot more than they did. They were afraid of over-committing to Collins and getting beaten on draws by Chris Johnson. I mean, when you face that team Chris Johnson is your first goal. But, once it became clear, that, you know Kerry Collins was going to sit back there and pat the ball and find the open receiver, and Britt was the guy he was going to, you gotta change what you're doing on defense, and you know, you gotta double team a little bit more. They were playing off Kenny Britt too much, there were a lot of things they did poorly and I'm telling you right now in the 4th quarter is where you earn your keep as a defensive coordinator and right now Sean McDermott is not doing it. He is not.
One - I think we can all agree that the Eagles shut down Chris Johnson as well as can reasonably be expected. McDermott's scheme contained arguably the best player in the league.
Two - Paolantonio suggested the Eagles should have double-teamed Kenny Britt. Did I miss something? They did double him, didn't they? So do we blame McDermott for the inability of Ellis Hobbs and Nate Allen to cover him? Should Allen and Hobbs have been able to cover Kenny Britt? I'd certainly think so. So anytime a couple players on the defense have horrible games, we're going to be calling for the coach's head? Nonsense. If you want to suggest that Asante Samuel should have been covering Britt, I can buy that, but that's not what Paolantonio is suggesting here.
Three - Paolantoio suggests they should have blitzed Collins more. In the 4th quarter, they did. In fact, on the TD to Britt over the middle of the field on his deep post route, they blitzed. The Titans picked it up and burned the Eagles' defense.
Four - Paolantonio says the Eagles were playing off Britt too much. No, they weren't. The truth is that whenever Hobbs tried to press Britt at the line, Britt had no trouble at all beating the jam and gaining an immediate advantage upfield.
Irresponsible, hackneyed trash. If you're going to call for a man to lose his job, you sure as hell better have a clue what you're talking about, and Paolantonio doesn't.
Mike Missanelli - Let's talk about the Eagles defense. They've given up 15, 14, and 17 4th quarter points to teams that are... 2 of them are mediocre, one's decent. What's going on with the defensive adjustments or lack thereof in the 4th quarter?
Sal Paolantonio - I think it comes down to the defensive coordinator. I think he's got some sort of brain lock, whatever it is, lack of judgment, inability to make adjustments on the fly. The head coach was covering for him this week, you heard that, right?
MM - Yes.
SP - You heard the head coach covering for him on Monday.
MM - That is correct. He said he had a great scheme, he said.
SP - He had a great scheme for 3 quarters.
MM - Uh huh.
SP - The last time I looked it was 60 minutes.
MM - (laughs) Yes.
SP - That was the last time I looked, and I think the defensive coordinator, uh, you know, he, you know, everybody's making excuses for the fact that they didn't have Asante Samuel on Britt. There were a couple times where they double teamed him and Britt just beat the double team, the guy was playing out of his mind, yeah.
MM - Yeah, yeah.
SP - But, but, but, I mean like I said to you last week, you know, with Collins being a statue there's no reason for you not to beat that team. And they, they had the horses, and they frankly don't have the coaching. I don't think they have the coaching on the defense.
MM - Well what should they have done?
SP - Well they definitely should have blitzed Collins a lot more than they did. They were afraid of over-committing to Collins and getting beaten on draws by Chris Johnson. I mean, when you face that team Chris Johnson is your first goal. But, once it became clear, that, you know Kerry Collins was going to sit back there and pat the ball and find the open receiver, and Britt was the guy he was going to, you gotta change what you're doing on defense, and you know, you gotta double team a little bit more, they were playing off Kenny Britt too much, there were a lot of things they did poorly and I'm telling you right now in the 4th quarter is where you earn your keep as a defensive coordinator and right now Sean McDermott is not doing it. He is not.
MM - Wow, alright, so the heat is on the defensive coordinator...
SP (interrupting) - There's no question about that and there may be time for... I don't know how much input Dick Jauron has in the defensive gameplan. I'm sure he has quite a bit, but you know, uh, you know, uh, uh, eventually they may have to make a switch there.
MM - Wow, that would be a tumultuous event.
I'd call it a completely unrealistic and ridiculous event.