Dec 31, 2012, 11:14 AM EDT
As we anxiously await Jeffrey Lurie’s press conference to
address the termination of head coach Andy Reid, we wanted to take a moment to
review the Eagles’ season that has passed. But since it wasn’t much more than
mistake upon mistake that directly led to loss after loss, figuring out what went wrong
wasn’t exactly difficult.
This was a bad football team on many levels.
We could just blame Andy and get on with our day I suppose.
However, rather than try to pinpoint any one reason or person responsible – which
wouldn’t be entirely fair anyway – we broke down the five biggest reasons behind
the 4-12 debacle we just witnessed.
5. The secondary
Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were
supposed to be elite corners on the outside. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were
supposed to be a competent safety duo at least. None of that could be further
from the truth.
Whether it’s because he lost a step, or he was overrated to
begin with, Nnam clearly has not lived up to his billing as one of the best defenders
in the league. DRC has been charged with the dread “only plays when he wants to”
label. Allen, a second-round pick just three years ago, ended this season on
the bench, and Coleman just bit on a play action as I’m writing this sentence.
The defensive backfield is a complete mess, and didn’t do
anything to bail their front seven out, going eight consecutive games without a
single interception. For all the money and draft picks the front office has
invested, they have to be better.
4. Jim Washburn
There was a marked difference in the performance of the
defensive line from the moment Jim Washburn was ousted from the coaching staff.
Unfortunately, the decision to fire him came much too late, already 12 games
deep into the season.
It’s difficult to say exactly what went wrong, as Wash’s
wide-9 had always produced results before, including just last season when the
Birds led the NFL with 50 sacks. This season however, it was completely
ineffective, with the defense going long stretches of the year without so much
as one sack at all. It may have had something to do with the defensive line
coach’s complete inflexibility with his scheme, but whatever the case, the change
from the moment he left was apparent.
Too bad it didn’t happen sooner.
3. Firing Juan
This may very well be the only place in the world you will
read that firing – not promoting in the first place – Juan Castillo as
defensive coordinator was a huge reason why the Eagles tanked this season, but it’s the truth.
Six weeks into the season, Castillo’s defense was allowing
less than 19 points per game, which extrapolated over the entire 2012 season
would have ranked sixth in the NFL. After his dismissal, no opponent scored
fewer than 21 the rest of the season. And while yes, the defense did suffer a
meltdown in Juan’s final game against Detroit, it was a lack of confidence in
the depth at safety that led to the change in game plan.
Would the defense have fallen apart even if Castillo had
stayed? Possibly, but his termination was seen by the players for what it was:
a panic move. They never collectively seemed to demonstrate the same effort again under Todd Bowles.
2. Michael Vick
If we really had to boil this list down to one thing, and
one thing only, it would be turnovers. Philadelphia finished tied for the
highest number of giveaways in the league with 37 in 2012. They were second
with 38 last year. Teams that lose the turnover battle lose football games.
Vick is responsible for a large chunk of that however – 31
of the 75, or 41.3% over the past two seasons to be exact. Amazingly, 11 of
those have come inside the red zone, and he only played in 23 of 32 possible
games. The Eagles were counting on Vick as if he was a franchise quarterback, but
he never provided that kind of stability again after his incredibly fortunate season
In the NFL, the quarterback tends to receive too much of the blame and too much of the glory. That’s the way it is though.
1. Offensive line
decimated by injuries
This season arguably was over That was only the first in what was to become a rash of
injuries. Center Jason Kelce went down two weeks in, knocking out second-most
important piece of the line as well, followed by right tackle Todd Herremans
about halfway in. Danny Watkins was also removed with a mysterious injury,
although he simply might have been that bad.
Using one injury, even to somebody as amazing as Peters,
might be an excuse. Add two or three more to the mix, and it’s simply
impossible to expect any team in the league to have that much quality depth.
The Eagles were doomed from the start, and that is a fact.
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