The 5 Biggest Turning Points of the Philadelphia Eagles' 2011 NFL Season

WesAnalyst IJanuary 4, 2012

The 5 Biggest Turning Points of the Philadelphia Eagles' 2011 NFL Season

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    What caused Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie to say, "This season was without question the most disappointing season since I’ve owned the team"?

    Was he pissed about the five fourth-quarter comebacks, the team's inability to make the playoffs, Andy Reid's coaching and personnel decisions or was it something we don't even know about?

    Whatever caused Lurie to show some emotion during Tuesday afternoon's press conference will remain unclear even though there are plenty of events that caused this season to spiral out of control.

    The scariest thing about this list is it could be extended by another 10 situations. But, as it stands, these are the five biggest turning points of the 2011 season in chronological order.

Howard Mudd Named O-Line Coach, Juan Castillo Moves to Defensive Coordinator

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    Last February Andy Reid had a couple ideas brewing.

    One was good. The other left much to be desired.

    Reid pursued Howard Mudd as an offensive line coach. Many considered Mudd one of the best O-line coaches in the game and was a considerable upgrade to Juan Castillo, who was moved to defensive coordinator.

    No one will ever know if Reid saw Mudd become available and tossed Castillo a bone instead of firing him or if Reid always envisioned Castillo as his next defensive coordinator. Either way, the move set the wheels in motion for one of the worst defensive efforts witnessed in the history of the franchise.

    Notice, it doesn't say performance. There were certainly worse defenses to play in Philadelphia. But the lack of heart and effort showed week to week was pathetic at best.

    Castillo was overmatched, overwhelmed and overrun.

    If Mudd never became available, would Castillo be the defensive coordinator?

Eagles Sign Nnamdi Asmougha

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    When the Eagles traded Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick most fans shrugged their shoulders and didn't think too much of the trade.

    DRC was a former Pro-Bowler who was a nice compliment to Asante Samuel and a significant improvement to an otherwise dreadful 2010 defense.

    Things got crazy when the Eagles stole Nnamdi Asmougha from the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.

    It instantly gave the Eagles one of the best secondaries in the NFL and arguably one of the best defenses.

    Linebackers? Who cares about linebackers? The Eagles would go up by 21 points and force teams to throw the ball against three cornerbacks who could take over a game.

    It backfired.

    Teams attacked the Eagles' linebackers and ran the ball effectively throughout the season.

    The cornerbacks couldn't overcome the ineffective play at linebacker and safety and the sub-par coaching efforts of the previously mentioned Juan Castillo.

    If the Eagles didn't sign Asmougha, would the expectations have been as high as they were?

Eagles Blow Fourth-Quarter Lead to Arizona Cardinals

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    John Skelton might as well have been Joe Montana in 1989.

    Back in '89 Montana led the 49ers back from a 21-10 deficit to a 38-28 win over the Eagles at the Vet. Montana went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and the Eagles became just another notch in his belt.

    Skelton trailed the Eagles 14-7 at the Linc before winning 21-17. Skelton went on to lead the Cardinals to an 8-8 record, and he was the fifth quarterback to rally his troops in the final quarter for a win over the Eagles.

    The previous four quarterbacks included Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Alex Smith and Jay Cutler.

    It's not exactly a great list clutch quarterbacks, but they are clearly better than Skelton and are surrounded by more offensive and defensive talent.

    The loss basically ended the Eagles' season and caused fans to wonder if Andy Reid was finally on his way out of the door.

    Looking back on it, we are left wondering if this is the one that loss cost the Eagles the NFC East crown. 

New England Patriots Blowout Eagles

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    Andy Reid turned things around after the Arizona game and found a way for the Eagles to travel up to MetLife Stadium and pick up 17-10 win against the Giants.

    Everyone who wrote off the Eagles began to wonder if things were about to turn around. And those who always believed in Reid thought the Eagles were about to run the table.

    It didn't matter that New England was coming to Philadelphia. The Eagles had the perfect offense to exploit an embarrassingly bad Pats defense.

    The Eagles went up 10-0 only to lose 38-20.

    The focus went from the Eagles making a playoff run to Reid keeping his job.

    How close was Lurie to pulling the plug at this point of the season?

Eagles Dominate Dolphins

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    At 4-8 Andy Reid's job was in serious jeopardy.

    The only thing that could save it was Matt Moore, Tony Sparano and the Miami Dolphins.

    Moore racked up 95 yards and a pick in the loss. The Dolphins looked lost, and Sparano lost his job the next day.

    The Eagles went on to win the next three games and finish the season at 8-8.

    Did the win give the Eagles momentum down the stretch? Did it help save Andy Reid's job? Will it be a momentum building win for the Eagles to carry over to 2012?