Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie will have plenty of difficult decisions to make after a disappointing season concludes for his team. Sunday’s win over the Dolphins keeps the Birds mathematically alive for the playoffs, but the question needs to be asked; After a season of high hopes and expectations, is a strong finish good enough?
When the obituary of this dreadful Philadelphia Eagles season is published, the Eagles would like for Sunday’s win over the now 4-9 Miami Dolphins to be the accompanying photo. That simply cannot be the case.
Granted, Sunday was the most complete effort in a season of inconsistent or worse performances from an Eagles team that has fallen woefully short of preseason expectations, but it simply can’t stand as the benchmark for this season. As encouraging as a 26-10 win that produced two LeSean McCoy touchdowns, three forced turnovers on defense and a cleaner game in the penalty department is, the realization needs to be that this performance came against the Matt Moore led Dolphins, a far cry from the Dan Marino Fish of years gone by.
What Sunday did for the Eagles was extend their playoff hopes that are flickering like a candle wick nearly drowning in the melting wax. It also gave Head Coach Andy Reid an opportunity to rally his troops and finish the season with a .500 record at best and some margin for error to get to 7-9. What’s troubling is that the players are buying into the philosophy of the final quarter of the year being a ‘new season.’
“We’ve been saying this is the start of our new season,” cornerback Asante Samuel said. “We had a good matchup coming in here this week.”
To fans of this franchise, that mentality should be revolting. This is an organization that in the not so distant past appeared in five NFC Championship games in eight seasons, made a Super Bowl appearance and earned post season berths in nine of 12 seasons under Andy Reid. Finishing 7-9 or 8-8 in a season that was spawned by a massive August spending spree should not be acceptable under any circumstances with this team.
The truth is, the meandering road to this final quarter pole of the season was paved with mistakes and errors in judgment, largely committed egregiously by Reid himself.
Hiring and remaining steadfast in promoting Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator has been an unmitigated disaster. Not placing a priority on the linebacker position while playing Jim Washburn’s wide nine defensive line scheme. Committing $100 million of the franchise’s bounty to Michael Vick, a quarterback who has regressed this season under Reid’s tutelage in year two of the Vick as Franchise Quarterback Experiment. All of these decisions were made at least in part by the Head Coach who has failed to win a Super Bowl after 13 seasons, in a situation that has given him total autonomy and all means necessary to do so.
Glancing around the NFL the last several weeks, it’s clear that the evidence of Reid and this franchise’s misfires litter the NFL landscape like a Schuylkill Expressway pileup. Last Thursday night Earl Thomas flew around the field at the safety position making plays and performing at an All Pro level for the Seahawks. The Eagles passed on Thomas in the first round in favor of defensive end Brandon Graham who was inactive once again this week. They ultimately chose Nate Allen in the second round who shows promise, but he has been on the road to recovery from a knee injury last season while Thomas conjures images of Brian Dawkins or Ed Reid. Then on Sunday night Jason Pierre-Paul, a mammoth of a defensive end for the Giants, blocked a potential game winning field goal for the Cowboys saving a Giants division win. Pierre-Paul was also on the board when Graham was chosen by the Eagles in April 2010.
In a perfect world, Owner Jeffery Lurie and President Joe Banner would realize their insanity (their words, not mine) of sticking by Reid for going on 14 seasons without hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, and change direction. They would choose a defensive minded Head Coach and draft the team’s next franchise quarterback to provide stability moving into the next decade. The latter should be a priority regardless, but after Vick’s regression and Kevin Kolb’s yet to be met expectations are proof positive that Reid is no longer the man most fit to choose or groom the next signal caller.
Chances are though, with two years and $6 million remaining on his deal, Reid will get another go round on the Gold Standard Express.
If you listen closely enough you can already hear the whispers of excuses, justifications and spinning of facts beginning to emanate from the bunker of One Novacare Way. Youth up the middle defensively. No OTA’s or minicamps to prepare for a season featuring new faces. Vick missing three starts due to injury and finally the strong finish building momentum towards a full offseason.
This franchise can’t have it both ways. Talk of a Super Bowl caliber team being assembled in August cannot rely on the crutch of ‘youth’, ‘injuries’ or circumstances when those expectations are not met. Especially not the way that this team arrived at it’s current position.
Five fourth quarter leads squandered by a largely confused and evolving defense. A 1-5 record through the first six home games of the season. A turnover ratio that at one point reached -12 this season. And of course the mistakes made in the core construction of this supposed ‘Dream Team’ will be this team’s calling card.
Moreover, those misgivings should be enough to symbolize the final obituary of a disastrous season and the epilogue for Andy Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia. Not the mirage of a win over the equally lowly and undermanned Dolphins, or how the final quarter of the season finishes.
Matt Lombardo is the Lead Writer for Taking It To The House. Matt is also the Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter and a host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL or by Email atMDLombardo@yahoo.com
Filed under: 2011 Philadelphia Eagles | Tagged: 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid, Andy Reid hot seat, Andy Reid job security, Eagles, Eagles disappointment, Eagles future, Eagles Questions, Eagles vs Dolphins, Jeffrey Lurie, Joe Banner, Michael Vick regression, Philadelphia Eagles |