Saturday, March 3, 2012

Seriously, Eagles, WTF?

Am I the only one that's seriously confused by the Eagles right now?

Here's a team that got way over-hyped, had some fatal and obvious flaws (Juan Castillo and Casey Matthews, among others) lead to a disappointing 8-8 season, and missed the playoffs. They fired nobody of consequence, let go (so far) of zero notable players, and have generally been running around like chickens with their heads cut off. If there's a plan in place here that goes beyond shouting "Mulligan!" I can't figure out what it is.

Let's recap the offseason so far:

DeSean Jackson probably wasn't coming back, only now he definitely is, but maybe just for one year at an exorbitant salary. Or we might trade him. Or, since it seems everyone is saying the right things, maybe he'll be back long term.

Plaxico Burress said he wanted to play in Philadelphia, and was mercifully ignored. He said it again more recently, and while it would be intriguing to have an all-jailhouse connection on offense, I detailed here and here why it would be a bad idea.

Asante Samuel probably isn't coming back, only he might be because it would be stupid to cut him and we might not (read: won't) get much value for a corner his age at that salary. Oh, and also, he was our best cornerback last year, but doesn't fit the scheme as well as Nnamdi Asomugha and missed-tackle machine Dominique "Doesn't Really Care" Rodgers-Cromartie.

Fairly high-powered secondary coach Todd Bowles joins high-powered defensive line coach Jim Washburn on seriously under-powered defensive coordinator Juan Castillo's staff, but only because Steve Spagnuolo wouldn't sign on board. But don't worry, we'll just have three coaches co-manage the defense. You know, safety in numbers.

Speaking of safety, get used to Jaiquawn Jarrett, Nate Allen, and Kurt Coleman. No major safety prospects in the draft, and no rumors of note in free agency. Remember that time the Eagles traded up to draft Brandon Graham, passing on Texas safety Earl Thomas, and then two seasons later Earl Thomas started in the Pro Bowl and Brandon Graham was still too undersized? Boy, that was just hilarious.

At linebacker, we might end up with Stephen Tulloch, which would basically be the admission that it was a huge mistake not to sign him last offseason. Or, we can hold our collective breaths and hope that Andy Reid drafts an impact linebacker for the first time in his Eagles career.

Oh, and also, the Eagles met with Robert Griffin III. It's not clear what that means, or why they might have done it, besides due diligence and a collective team desire to make me have a wet dream about Mike Vick no longer being the Eagles' quarterback.

All of this evidence points to a team that either doesn't have a plan, which would be bad considering how much money they threw at aging free agents last offseason, or doesn't think there are any problems that can't be fixed by time which...well, I mean, come on. We all watched last year unfold.

To me, that underscores the notion that this is a make-or-break year for Andy Reid and his crew. He's had total personnel control for years now and has exhibited the same fatal flaws each season: drafting defensive players, clock management, and play-calling, in particular.

The great danger of this season will be if the Eagles finish with nine or ten wins and get bounced in the wild card round of the playoffs. Would a playoff appearance, however short, be construed as a success? It shouldn't be given the overwhelming amount of talent on this team, but I don't think it would be a surprise if it were.

Anything less than an appearance in the conference championship game should earn Reid his walking papers. There is a dangerous misconception that Andy Reid has some kind of magic touch that guarantees at least mediocrity, with occasional seasons of excellence.

That's the mindset of a fan base and an ownership comfortable with settling for competitiveness at the expense of greatness. This offseason, executed with seemingly little direction, ought to act as a referendum on the management of this team.

If the Eagles underachieve again, it should cost Reid his job. At least he will have made his own bed.

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