Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Streaks Must End

My favorite Eagles-related streak came to an end this weekend. Andy Reid lost a game after a bye week. It's the first time. Whether the extra rest was just enough for his generally better team to overcome their opponents each week was happenstance, or he truly was a superior coach that used that extra time to exploit teams flaws, the loss of this week's game to a clearly superior Falcons team signals far more than such a loss should. It is time for Andy Reid to go, and the end of this streak is the signal of that end of an era.

I have never called for Reid to leave before, being one of his defenders to the end, but with Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie's proclamation before the season that essentially boiled down to "Playoffs or bust", even a mediocre season that sees the Eagles limp into the playoffs with 8 or 9 wins (unlikely) should not save Reid's job. He has demonstrated significant skill in player scouting and development, and I would love to see him remain with the organization in these capacities, though I doubt his ego would allow for it; he can certainly land a coach gig, if not another coach/GM combined position like he enjoys here, elsewhere in the NFL.

Knowing that, I would still be okay with cutting ties and letting Reid walk; if not now, with the evidence on the wall, at least at season's end. One streak ending begets another's beginning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Castillo mistake finally fixed; Could Reid be next?

Well, the great Juan Castillo experiment has finally come to a bitter end, after 22 regular-season games in which the defense slowly improved but could never quite put it all together.

Last year, the team couldn't stop the run. Then, they were helpless against the pass despite boasting three star-caliber cornerbacks. This year, the pass defense has tightened up but the Eagles have been helpless at putting pressure on the quarterback, recording nary a single sack in weeks four through six despite leading the league with 50 sacks last season.

The switch from Castillo to Todd Bowles comes at an interesting time, midway through a season in which the defense has hardly been the team's Achilles heel. What can we glean from Reid's decision? A couple of observations:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Phillies Make Right Call with Joyner

When the Phillies first announced their coaching changes, I couldn't have been more ecstatic that Greg Gross was fired.  At the same time, I couldn't have been more dismayed that Steve Henderson was hired.  As the Phillies bats have struggled over the last few years, it has been evident that someone from outside the organization needed to come in to do the coaching.  In the perfect world, that someone would have been Barry Bonds.  What better way to teach your hitters how to be patient than to bring in the best hitter of his generation?  Bonds was probably a pipe dream.  Joyner on the other hand was a successful major league hitter, sporting a career average of near .300, while hitting 200 homers and having more walks than strikeouts.  Gregg Gross, who clearly was no better than Milt Thompson, who clearly was no better than Hal McRae, etc... needed to take the fall.  Hopefully Joyner can teach the Phillies how to be selective and improve their woeful OBP.

Andy Reid and the Eagles' organizational demise

In press conferences, Andy Reid has long held that any failure on the part of his team is really a failure of his own doing--to prepare, to scheme, to motivate. Any post-game interview following a loss is sure to start with the words, "I take responsibility."

That response was often laughable, when individual players' deficiencies or mistakes had clearly been the culprit for this or that particular play that contributed heavily to a loss. But now, those words ring much truer. Andy Reid has finally uttered them so many times that they've become reality.

Andy Reid has become the problem.

The book on Andy Reid is out, and has been for a while. He can't balance the run with the pass. He can't control the use of his timeouts. He can't manage the clock to save his life, particularly at the end of a close game. But the issues have progressed beyond those that we've learned to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Andy Reid, who has been the Eagles' coach since 1999 and in charge of their football operations (read: general manager) since 2001, has presided over a slow organizational slide from elite team to mediocre team. Let's explore how we got there.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pipe dreams: NHL needs to seriously consider contraction

Kent Wilson at NHL Numbers posted a great article on what ails the NHL, and why player salary rollbacks aren't going to fix it. Ultimately, Wilson arrives at the hard truth for owners: the only real solutions are aggressive revenue-sharing via the ability to trade cap space, or, even more simply, contracting or relocating teams that have no real hope of breaking even.

Revenue sharing is great, and it's probably going to be incorporated into the next CBA on some level. But it's a cover-up for the league's real problem, which is that the gap between teams that generate the most and least revenue is extremely wide and irreversible. The hard salary cap implemented in the last CBA was supposed to do two things: create cost-certainty by limiting player salaries, and ensure competitive balance by guaranteeing that teams would be spending relatively similar amounts of money.

Instituting revenue sharing within the hard cap maintains cost certainty, but eliminates the competitive balance element, since it allows big-market teams to spend more and actively incentivizes small-market teams to spend less in the name of turning a profit. That's kind of Wilson's point: that the pursuits of profits and parity are often at odds with each other.

That's why the league's only real solutions to its problems are relocation and contraction.