Monday, November 16, 2009

Game Review is Posted - SD


Before the review...let's talk about a few things. We must fire Andy Reid. We need to bring in a winner like Jeff Fisher (3-6). Or Jon Gruden (who got fired because he couldn't beat the lowly Raiders with the playoffs on the line). You know John Harbaugh would have this team winning like his (likely) 5-4 Ravens. You getting my drift? Andy ain't perfect, but he's better than we sometimes think.

The coaches in the NFC with a better record than us:

Sean Payton
Brad Childress
Wade Phillips
Ken Wisenhunt

The only guy on that list I'd take over Big Red is Payton. He seems like the real deal. That said, Andy has more playoff appearances in the last 3 years (2 to 1). The Saints are a lock this year. The Eagles are very much up in the air.

Listen, we all get frustrated with Andy. He drives me insane. But we tend to lump faults together and blindly throw them at AR.

* He doesn't change --- Are you kidding me??? Andy used to be the king of small ball. Now we run a vertical offense. Andy used to call the plays. Now Marty does it. We used to have problems with delay of game penalties. AR brought clocks to Lehigh back in 2006 and that eliminated that problem. We used to not aggressively work in rookies on offense. That's changed. Andy was patient and passive with building up a WR corps. We now have one of the best sets of WRs in the entire league.

* Andy isn't aggressive --- Not true. Didn't he invent the onside kick to open a game? We can't do that anymore, but he will mix in an onside kick during games about once a year. I know we did it vs NE in 2007. Can't remember if we did it last year. Throwing the ball deep is aggressive on offense. Using trick plays is aggressive. The conservative approach is to run the ball and play it safe. Andy went for it on 4th/inches from inside our own 40 a couple weeks back. He will roll the dice when he thinks it must be done or he likes the odds.

* Andy can't win the big one --- Unnknown. Bill Cowher began his career in 1992 and won in 2005. Tom Landry was a rookie coach in 1960 and won his first SB in 1971. Don't assume that because Jimmy Johnson or Bill Walsh won it early on that you have to win the game immediately or all is lost.

About that last point...the chances of AR winning a title with McNabb are very low. That is my big problem. I've written about them before. They bring out the worst in each other. Reid needs a more efficient QB. McNabb needs a different style of offense, although I'm starting to doubt whether he can in fact win a title. Yesterday's comeback encouraged me, but McNabb has to build off that. I need to see him play at a high level for several games.

That ties in to another key point. We are still in control of our own fortunes. The Eagles would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. We're 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the NFC. The next couple of weeks become crucial games. We have no fudge room. Dallas losing yesteray kept us in the thick of the NFC East race. And Dallas still has to face the Saints and Chargers.

Nothing is over. No one needs to be fired or cut. The injuries are piling up and that is a major concern. We must get the veteran players to stay healthy and the rookies to eliminate dumb mistakes. If we do that, the Eagles still have as good a chance of anyone outside of New Orleans. I know the Vikings have a great record, but Favre has faded late in the season. I'm curious to see if he can maintain his current level of play.

Getting back to Andy for a minute. The one thing he and I will always disagree on is running the ball. He's got his theories, I've got mine. It bothers the heck out of me that he's so stubborn about the run game. I think that is a legit area where he's wide open to criticism. I love a lot about Big Red, but I will never fully understand his thoughts on line play and the run game. I don't want you to think that I see him as perfect. Far from it. I do think we sometimes get so focused on being critical of him that we say things without thinking the whole situation through.

Now for the review...

-- LINK --


T_S_O_P said...

Well written.

I have to say that I'd take Sean Payton too, but that's because he was a great QB for the Leicester Panthers back in '88 and led us to victory over those hated Birmingham Bulls!!!

I agree that AR gets too much blame and too little credit.

If for arguments sake, McNabb ends up in Minnesota next year, don't you think he has a very good chance of winning it all?

Tommy Lawlor said...

I think Favre spends another year in Minny believe it or not. They let him do what he wants and the team is winning.

I have concerns about Donovan's ability to come up big in games at this point.

The SB formula has shifted. You now need a QB that can make critical throws and answer when the other team scores. McNabb is so inconsistent that I'm not sure if he can do that.

The thing with Donnie is that on his good days we tend to blow people out. When he struggles...we struggle. I was encouraged by the way he came up big in the 2nd half Sunday. That could be a key moment for him. Was it a one-half fluke or did he find his groove?

We'll see on Sunday night.

Boyboy said...

I get what you're trying to say about Reid, but I still disagree. He's had enough chances to win the SB (and isn't that what it's all about?) and he hasn't gotten it done. Has he changed? Sure, but it's always two years after he should have. He adapted a vertical attack once he went out and got quality WRs. The problem is that we blew a couple chances to go to the Super Bowl because it took him so long to admit he was wrong about needing better players at the position.

Ref. the decline in delay of game penalties...yeah, that's true. But now we avoid the delay of game penalties by wasting timeouts. And we do that because Andy constantly needs to shuffle personnel groupings. It's also the reason our 2 minute offense(s) have been traditionally terrible under AR.

Ref. two playoff appearances in the last three years...we backed into both of them. We can make fun of Gruden for losing to Oakland (as well as his job), but if that didn't happen the Eagles don't make the playoffs.

The Bill Cowher comparison always pisses me off. Cowher was a successful coach for all of those years with journeymen QBs. He won the SB shortly after he finally got a franchise QB. Reid's had his franchise QB for his entire tenure here...but like you said, they bring out the worst in each other. It's Reid's job to tailor the offense to his QB though. He has no problem changing up his approach when McNabb isn't in the lineup, and it often leads to more a efficient offense.

Ref. Nobody needs to be fired. We're getting 3 or 4 penalties a week on special teams and we've played 9 games. Aside from one Jackson TD return, STs have been less than mediocre in general. So nobody is held accountable? Of course not...

...which leads me to my whole point. There is no accountability at all with this team. Reid has been successful enough that he gets a free pass. And that pass is always the same; "who are we going to get that's better"? And let's face it, he only changes after things are really down and the heat starts getting cranked up. Then it gets people off his back for a while until he can go back to doing what he wants to do.

Boyboy said...

Wait...not done...we're still in control of our own fortunes? Maybe so, but it's only because the other teams in the conference are as inconsistent and inept as we are. If that's good enough for everyone else, fine. But it's not good enough for me. We've had two chances this year to take advantages of other teams' losses and we've failed each time. And when you're losing to the Raiders, there's only one person to blame.

Back to Gruden for a second. I seem to recall that he took over a really good team and in one season put them over the top for a Super Bowl victory. Dungy couldn't get anything out of the offense and that 'D' was going to waste. Johnny Boy fixed that and beat the untouchable Andy Reid to advance. Does anyone really think that the same thing couldn't happen with this team? I'm not saying Gruden. I'm just saying that it can be done.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Ted Daisher

If the penalties continue all year then he might be fair game. The STs unit has been very up and down. I think STs are much better than you realize.

Akers - nailing long FGs
DeSean - elite PR
Hobbs, Demps, Macho - good KORs

We're among league leaders in punt coverage.

Rocca - he is all over the place. I think they need to challenge him next summer. The good Rocca is real good, but the bad Rocca has really hurt us a couple of times.

I think too often people see a mistake and assume the whole game is bad. There have been STs breakdowns, but we've had plenty of good things happen as well.

The penalties are my primary concern. We must eliminate those.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: Accountability

This is a complicated subject. Coaches are accountable every year. Reid wins. That's why he keeps his job. He hasn't "fired" a staff member, but that's generally because he's hired great people around him. The NFL is littered with former Eagles assistants that have gotten promotions. David Culley looked like a terrible coach 3 years ago. Now he's developing WRs left and right. I used to blame that guy as much as anyone, but now he has to get credit.

We all want to win a SB. If I thought that firing Reid would bring one I'd call for it to happen 24/7. I'd be relentless until he was gone.

I don't know that Reid can win it for sure. I do know that he's put us in position to compete for them on a regular basis.

As for Gruden...he had one of the great defenses of the last 25 years the year that he won. Without that great defense he didn't win another playoff game in Tampa.

Mike Shanahan won 2 SBs in Denver...but he had a bunch of HOF players. Without them he was a solid coach, but nothing more.

Look at Jimmy Johnson in Miami. He lost his final playoff game 62-7.

There are no guarantees. Coaches don't win SBs. They need the right players to make their systems come alive. Bill Cowher needed the right QB. Big Ben was that guy. Reid and McNabb are good enough to win a lot, but we may need a new QB before we can win a title.

Tommy Lawlor said...

RE: delay of game penalties

Wrong. We don't burn timeouts to avoid penalties any more than any other team. Reid, Marty, and Donovan really worked to make sure that the offense is at the line early. That's been the case for 3 1/2 years now.

In the past it was a huge problem.

We do occasionally call timeouts, but generally it has more to do with personnel confusion and that type thing. That's standard around the league.

RE: 2 minute offense

We were 2nd in the NFL last year in points scored just before the half. We're first this year.

As for late in games...We didn't get the ball back vs DAL. We did fail vs OAK. We didn't have much of a chance yesterday.

RE: playoffs

We earned the NFC East title in 2006. We went 10-6 and swept the 2nd place Cowboys.

We did back in last year, but that's the point. Andy found a way to get that dysfunctional bunch into the postseason. Gruden and Shanny both blew big leads to miss the playoffs.

Andy's teams come up big in December. That is something that he deserves a lot of credit for.

Boyboy said...


First of all, thanks for this forum. It's great that you respond to the comments.

As for the special teams, I know what the numbers say but what I see isn't good. Akers has had a good year, but I still want to see him make a big kick with the game on the line. He missed 2 FGs against Oakland. Not gimmes, but not 50 yarders either. In games like that, you need your kicker to step up. You said it best -- Akers seems to struggle when the rest of the team struggles. Not good...those are the games when every point counts.

Anyway, I just feel the negatives (mainly penalties) outweigh the positives. I rarely get the sense that we're going to break a long KOR. The times we do, it always seems to get called back. Ditto with long PRs by DeSean this year.

Penalties, turnovers, and shanked punts. That's what I see when I watch our STs. The penalties can't have them on STs. In my eyes, it's overshadowing the positives.

Boyboy said...

RE: Gruden

My point with him is that he came in and helped get that team over the top. Dungy couldn't get enough out of the offense to go to the next level. Gruden was able to put an offense on the field that could do do it's part to compliment the defense. I'm not arguing that Gruden is a great coach. I'm just pointing out that sometimes a change works. Gruden was able to push the right buttons that year.

RE: Shanahan

Elway was a borderline HOFamer before Shanahan took over. He put Elway into the right scheme and gave him the supporting cast he needed. I don't think "littered" with Hall of Famers is entirely accurate. Some of those guys became HOFamers because of what they accomplished under Shanahan.

Gary Zimmerman was a HOFamer. Elway was borderline. Sharpe became a HOFamer. Davis, borderline. Schlereth, borderline. Wow...I'm drawing a blank on the defense.

REF: delay of game penalties

If I'm wrong about why we're burning timeouts, at least agree that I'm partially right that we're left without them far too often. Changing personnel packages is definitely an area where we spend them more than I'd like to see.

RE: 2006 playoffs

I went back and checked the standings from 2006. Yep, I'm off the mark on this one. For some reason I really thought I remembered somebody blowing a game or something, and Dallas not having much to play for that last week of the season. Not sure what I'm thinking of.

RE: 2 minute offense

I am shocked by those numbers. If we've improved in that are the last few seasons, that's good. But I know I'm not the only Eagles fan with bad memories of 2 minute situations. If it's not a problem recently, I know it once was.


Anyway, my frustration with Andy is that he's shown enough as a coach that you expect more out of him at this point. He's a victim of his own success. For the supposed amount of talent on this team, he doesn't seem to be getting the most out of it. Maybe the roster isn't as talented as they'd like us to believe. Maybe Reid isn't pushing the right buttons.

Edward said...

As i was discussing in (on?) your previous post you've potentially hit the Nail on the head. McNabb is simply too inconsistent for this offensive system. I hold out hope for next week but even a win may well just be a hot game for McNabb. If he wins the game by carrying the team on his back, acting as the catalyst in a close victory i'll shut up for a while.

I've been watching Eagles games since 2005 (I know, years of knowledge) and i've not once seen him fight out a win. Nothing springs to mind anyway.

On an unrelated note, i think Gocong at MLB killed the defense. The only plays where he stood out were those where he got stuck fast to a blocker and watched LT scamper into the distance.

jmercado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pitmanite said...

I didn’t write in after the Dallas game because I just felt like it was pointless when we know what we’re going to get over and over again from Andy. But now I’m back with my baseball bat to beat that dad horse into the ground.

I really think Andy Reid does some great things as a coach and in putting a teach together, but it's like he's oblivious to looking at a team's weaknesses and trying to exploit them. The Chargers have a run defense that is ranked 25th in the league. Most logical people would think try to exploit the Chargers average run defense, but not our offensive, genius coach. Instead we had 35 plays in the first half and we threw on 26 or 75% of those plays.

Again I talk about the running game. If you watch many teams who end up with big rushing numbers at the end of a game you'll see that there are plenty of plays where they only get 2 or 3 yards on a run. The key is they stick to it, and eventually it opens up the mid-to-long rushing plays. It also gets your lineman in a groove. It's still embarrassing that our guys can't get a push on 1 or 2 yard plays, but we rarely run the ball and then we wait until the defense is all stacked up inside the 10 yard line and try to run it up the middle. Anyway, the horse is beaten to death, but I had to blow off some steam.

p.s. the defense obviously should’ve played better, and 3 defensive offside penalties is embarrassing.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Nothing wrong with venting. We were all ticked off after yesterday. I was not much fun to be around when we were down 28-9.

Chris said...

Thanks for this week's dose of perspective...I was really bummed out Sunday, but I think this team has more potential (when healthy) than any team we have had in a long time. Andy gives us these stinkers from time to time, but he doesn't get enough credit for building a great, young, and deep team that contends almost every year. I never got the all too popular EMB slams that Reid is arrogant. I feel like I speak some different form of English when I hear that. Reid is stubborn, but he is the definition of humility. You don't see him running around the stadium fist pumping like McDaniels does after a couple measly wins. I actually think he is a little too reserved. The benching last year was the first sign of stones I had seen in him, and it seemed to work wonders...McNabb played inspired ball after that for most of the rest of the season. Reid is not perfect, but hell who is? Aside from Megan Fox I mean. Keep fighting the fight man.

Baloophi said...

Tommy -

Thanks for the review. For posterity purposes DeSean definitely dropped the ball on the sideline. It happened right across the field from our seats. A rare ricochet off his pads... frustrating none-the-less.

RE: Running
At what point do we pin the reluctance to run on Marty? I actually don't fault the play-calling yesterday - the pass protection was excellent and the middle of the field was wide open (execution in the red zone was the downfall) - but you get the sense we can't grind out yards when we need them because the line isn't "warmed up". I don't think we'll ever be a running team under Reid, but would a more balanced OC make a difference? Or is the problem linked to the presence of McNabb and the lure of passing with him?

RE: Coaching
I don't know what people expect out of Reid (other than putting the team in the Super Bowl discussion every season). It's frustrating to look at the other dynasties of the decade (Patriots, Steelers, Colts) and compare Lombardi trophies but we have to concede some of the fault to bad luck, injuries, poor play, and simply getting beaten. We've been out-coached at times for sure, and we've lost games due to poor decisions, but so have those other teams. If I said at the beginning of the '07 season that the Giants would win the Super Bowl with Tom Coughlin at the helm I'd be laughed out of the room - he's a terrible coach and I don't think that's changed. After last night's game it's clear even the "great" Belichick can and has lost games. Don't get me wrong, I get just as angry at Reid for making questionable decisions and it's a bad bad day around here when the Eagles lose any game (even in the pre-season), but it's hard to argue with having a competitive team for the last ten years. I think I'd rather have that than roll the dice on a different coach and wind up having a decade like the Redskins or Dolphins or the 49ers or the Bears or the Bengals or the... and so on. I do find our record in close games over the last two years concerning, but I'm of the camp that it might be more of a QB issue than anything else... as sad as that might be.

Stephen said...

Tommy, you have to admit that its frustrating as shit to look back at that 2006 team, and see how making the running game a priority smoothed out the offense and helped us win out. I mean hell, we actually RAN out the clock on the Giants that one game, and I put RAN in caps for a reason, we managed to use our running game to kill the clock for once. Hmmm, could that have anything to do with calling more running plays and allowing our lineman to get some work in instead of asking them to cold turkey it all the time?

The biggest problem I have with this team is that we are too inconsistent. When we're hot, we're almost untouchable. When we're cold, it just looks miserable. I don't feel like you can win championships running hot and cold like that. Personally I'm not sure whats to blame, but it sure feels like a team-wide thing for the most part, not just Donovan.

The biggest beef I have with Donovan is that I don't see him making strides to improve his game. We're seeing the same bullshit worm burning the wide open reciever nonsense we've been seeing for years, and just recently we're hearing that Donovan is taking extra time to see where he's going wrong with his throws? Really? 11 years into your career and you finally decide to take some extra time to see how you could be better? When I look at the other "elite" quarterbacks I see guys who have become so refined, so good at what they do that a bad quarter is unusual, much less a bad couple of games. When Donovan gets in that zone he can make every throw, he can make it look effortless and easy. Unfortunately he's only in that zone once every 3 games or so.

The biggest problem I see team wide is we're just not clutch. If we don't bust a game wide open I have no faith in our ability to win the close one. Just think back over the last year and a half, how many close games we lost. We just aren't clutch, and in the NFL you need to be able to win the tough ones to be a true championship contender.

The one happy abberation of course was the 2 playoff games last year. Hell if we could play good hard nosed clutch ball like that year round we WOULD be an elite team, rather than a slightly above average team bungling their way through the middle of the season. I don't think I've seen Donovan make so many clutch plays since I can't remember as during those 2 playoff games.

Just look at all our wins this season, every single one was basically game over by halftime. Every game thats gone down to being competitive in the 4th quarter we've lost.

Now this almost comeback win against San Diego was pretty unusual, normally we're pretty bad at mounting spirited comebacks and late game rallies. What was encouraging was that Donovan really caught fire in the 2nd half. Like you said Tommy, who knows if thats a flash in the pan or if Donovan is finally figuring this thing out. I've been burned by hope too many times before to really put much faith in it though.

Andy Reids clock management issues are also perplexing. He really does need a clock guru to stand next to him and advise him on clock issues.

Edward said...

Random question. Fokou at WILL if Jordan can't go?

A linebacking core of Fokou - With-her-spoon - Gocong seems to make more sense than the lineup they played on Sunday.

Am i missing something? WILL backers are generally smaller and quicker right?

Jason said...

I guess my problem is that we try to defend one answer versus another. I for one am definitely more of a McNabb guy than a Reid guy, meaning that I see this more as a problem of Reid's than McNabb's shortcomings as a quarterback. I think Reid's playcalling and decisions in the red zone are at best problematic and at worst horrible. His lack of dedication to some semblance of a running game is shooting this team in the foot and you see it on every failed "some down" and 1 play.

Now truth be told McNabb does need to get better as a QB, he is streaky... though I think he's better than one out of every 3 games or something like that. To say that Reid is pass-happy is an understatement. I know you mentioned that he used to be small ball, but that was not because he had some radical change in philosophy. He was only small-ball in the early years because he had to be based on the players he had! Now he has the players to have a more balanced offense, but because he wants to throw the ball all the time, he refuses to do so.

McNabb is a good to great QB and I think we all need to realize that. He certainly has the ability and the talent to win a SB. But I think better decision need to be made at that starts with the head coach...

But truth be told, I think Reid is a great game planner, and a good GM, but I think he has serious issues with gameday management and he hasn't gotten any better over the last 11 years either.

Pitmanite said...

Pretty funny post from Bill Simmons' column. Obviously national guys don't know local teams as well, but I feel like he was pretty spot on with Andy.

Who else is fired up for the Norv/Andy split-screen? If a terrible coaching decision doesn't decide this game, I'll give you a full refund for this column. All right, here's a great e-mail from Jay Modad in Kalamazoo that I received after Andy botched the last five minutes of Sunday's Dallas loss:

"Andy Reid is a great coach for 3 and a half quarters. In baseball, most starting pitchers do their job really well for most of the game, then need a little help to finish it out. I think you see where I'm going with this. The Eagles need a closer. A coach that they can bring in at the end of close games when they're trailing, or winning by a touchdown or less (save situations). As asinine as this sounds, tell me Eagles fans wouldn't strongly consider it."

Consider it? Are you kidding? They just broke their necks nodding violently. It's a fascinating idea and I spent way too much time thinking about it. Every coach has a flaw or two. It's impossible for them to be perfect. In Andy Reid's case, he knows how to handle the media, build a roster, come up with game plans, delegate to assistants, get his players playing hard for him, keep them prepared and keep them motivated. It's a eight-step job and he nailed seven of the steps. But he's helpless with clock management -- as we saw last Sunday in painful detail -- and since he's been doing this since the mid-90s, it sure seems like he will always be helpless. It's his Achilles' heel. So why not fix it? Either have the Clock Management Closer come in and stand next to him, or even better, just have Reid actually leave the sideline and head into the locker room like a baseball pitcher. He could even get a standing O on his way out. I would love this. Who wouldn't love this?

Chris said...

I have to be a bit of a debbie downer on the McNabb comeback though...he almost got picked in the endzone on our last TD drive...if that had been picked as it should have, that would have ended pretty much like every other McNabb comeback. I like McNabb, but I am starting to think that I would take a lesser but consistent QB, especially if that affected the ridiculous run/pass ratio we have.

On a different topic, if you had to put money down now, would you pay Winston Justice to be your starting RT for the next 4 years? Would you draft another RT either way? I hope we don't put all our eggs in the Shawn Andrews basket.