Andy Reid, Michael Vick and the Eagles D Play the Blame Game; Castillo Loses Big
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On paper, the Philadelphia Eagles are "Super Bowl contenders", "the Dream Team" even a "dynasty."
On the field though, it's a different story. On the field they are a mediocre football team full of "me first" players and underachievers.
They're 3-3 and lucky to be 3-3.
They needed come-from-behind fourth-quarter victories against the dreadful Cleveland Browns and a listless Baltimore Ravens team plus a last-second missed field goal by Lawrence Tynes in order to secure those three victories.
They made Kevin Kolb and—for a quarter at least—Matt Stafford look like Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
This was supposed to be the season.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie said improvements must be made—or else.
These factors were supposed to charge this team up, and the Eagles were supposed to stomp all over the competition en route to their first (of many, according to Vick and LeSean McCoy) Super Bowl victories.
Yet, they sit at 3-3 with the second-worst offense in football, a putrid special-teams squad and a mediocre defense.
But, who's to blame for this?
Everyone has their theories. Let's see who the Philadelphia Eagles themselves believe is/are responsible for this dismal start to the season.
Michael Vick's Not to Blame...
Michael Vick is on pace to shatter the single-season turnover record.
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Michael Vick's not to blame.
Just ask him, he'll tell you.
Never mind the 13 turnovers he's responsible for this season. Or, that the offense he runs, which is loaded with more weapons than any Eagles offense in the past three decades, is anemic and 31st in the league in points. Forget all of that, that's not Vick's fault.
No, it's the offensive line's fault.
Vick said so himself when discussing a fumbled snap while in the shotgun in Lions territory on Sunday. After mentioning center Dallas Reynolds by name and alluding to DeSean Jackson not lining up where he was supposed to, Vick then assured everyone he's not the type of guy to throw his "teammates up under the bus."
Vick also wants you to know that he's always put the team "in a position to win."
So, if they're not winning, it's not his fault. It must be someone else's.
The special teams'?
The offensive line's?
Remember, he's not going to throw anyone "up under the bus," but if in his mind he's putting the team in position to win, then whose fault is it?
It's Not the Defensive Line's Fault
Jim Washburn's "Wide 9" has seven sacks this season.
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Well, its not the defensive line's fault.
Not according to Jason Babin and Trent Cole, two guys getting paid obscene amounts of money for not sacking quarterbacks.
Despite the fact that the defensive line hasn't recorded a sack in three games, and that the defense as a whole has recorded only seven sacks this season (after boasting they expected to get 60 this season) it's not their fault the Eagles have a 3-3 record.
Cole claims the front four is getting all the pressure that's needed.
Babin believes if you look at game film you'd see that the defensive line, which recorded 50 sacks last year and is on pace to record 19 this year, is better this season.
They blew five fourth-quarter leads last season. This season they've already blown two, putting them right on pace to tie or better last year's number of blown fourth-quarter leads.
But, it's not the defensive line's fault.
As they point out—repeatedly—other teams are scheming them now. The opposing offenses are keeping players in to max protect, and apparently the Eagles' defensive line believes that's just unfair.
Don't they know they're supposed to make it easy for the Eagles' Wide 9 defense to get sacks?
So, there's one culprit: the opposition that didn't get the memo from defensive-line coach Jim Washburn that their offensive lines weren't supposed to scheme to protect their quarterbacks.
Another would have to be the secondary.
It's Not Nnamdi Asomugha's Fault...
Nnamdi Asomugha (24) has been a disappointment.
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Nnamdi Asomugha is the high-priced free agent that the Philadelphia Eagles stole out from under the clutches of the New York Jets in 2011 to much rejoicing in the Delaware Valley.
This guy was supposed to be one of the best corners in all of football.
A lot of people in this area didn't really follow Asomugha's former team, the Oakland Raiders, but the media said he was elite, so everyone bought it hook, line and sinker.
Reid and Howie Roseman certainly did.
The funny thing was, in 2011 Asomugha was average at best.
That's OK, it wasn't his fault. It was the three cornerback schemes the defense was using that was throwing the best cornerback in the NFL off.
The Eagles shipped cornerback Asante Samuel out of town, and that was supposed to help Asomugha.
Nope. It didn't.
Asomugha's start to the 2012 season was just as mediocre as his 2011.
Until Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Asomugha actually played well. He even had an interception.
And then the fourth quarter came along, and Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson carved up the Eagles' secondary as Detroit scored 17 points in the final quarter on its way to a miraculous come-from-behind victory.
But, it wasn't Asomugha's fault. No!
And he let you know by sitting down with Rich Hofmann and telling him that the Eagles' defensive plan was perfect—until the fourth quarter. That is, when he was on Johnson, Johnson was a non-factor. It wasn't until the scheme shifted in the fourth quarter and the blitz was used more and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was responsible for Calvin Johnson that the wheels fell off.
Never mind the fact that anyone who watched the game saw a lot of catches made by the Detroit Lions while a guy wearing Asomugha's jersey was standing right by the receiver, it wasn't Asomugha's fault it—was Rodgers-Cromartie's fault.
No, better yet it was...
It Was Juan Castillo's Fault, Right?
Of course, it's Juan Castillo's fault, right? That's what Reid would have you believe.
Reid said he was going to take his time going into this bye week. He was going to evaluate everyone and everything very meticulously.
And then within 20 hours of stating he was going to take his time to figure out analytically how to right the sinking ship that is the Philadelphia Eagles, he made defensive coordinator Castillo a scapegoat and slaughtered him to appease the football gods as well as the mob of fans calling for someone's head on a platter.
It was absolutely ridiculous.
Don't get me wrong, Castillo deserved to be fired—in February of 2012 not October 2012.
Truth be told, and this admittedly is not the most original thought in the world, he should never have been hired as defensive coordinator in the first place.
However, to fire Castillo now and think it fixes anything is absurd.
That being said, no one thinks it's going to fix anything, not even Reid. This is one gigantic diversion from the rot that is going on from the inside out with this team. Have you ever seen an Eagles team under Reid calling out coaches, blaming fellow players and snipping at the media like this one?
Hiring Castillo, an offensive-line coach, to be defensive coordinator was a huge mistake by Reid.
Come to think of it, hiring Washburn, who insists on running his Wide 9 defensive line philosophy independent to what the rest of the defense is doing before hiring a defensive coordinator was a huge mistake made by Reid.
Naming Vick, a streaky, inconsistent, aging, injury prone, turnover-prone player who has won all of two playoff games in his career the Eagles' franchise quarterback and signing him to a ludicrous six-year, $100-million deal was a huge mistake made by Reid.
Vick's apologists, and there are way too many of those in this town, will tell you no one can succeed behind this ragtag offensive line. Well, its hard to argue against a negative like that, but I'd wager that an elite, accurate quarterback with great timing and who can pick up the blitz (all things Vick does not possess) would be able to do a better job at least.
Vick supporters also argue (as Vick himself has said) despite the turnovers he's put the team in position to win and against the Steelers and Lions the defense folded.
Okay, then again maybe the defense is tired come the fourth quarter because it has to keep running out on the field every time butterfingers fumbles the football or throws it to the other team.
Also, against the Lions Vick had two opportunities to win the game for the Eagles.
All they needed was a first down to run out the clock on their last possession in the fourth quarter, and Vick had a third-down pass batted down at the line of scrimmage.
In overtime he got sacked twice—once when he almost fumbled the ball and once after he ran backwards toward the Eagles' end zone and got sacked at the 5-yard line, ultimately setting up a 4th-and-31.
Enough about Vick.
He's not good enough. Reid, on the advice of Donovan McNabb, gave Vick a shot to get back in the NFL, and then never took off his Rehabilitation Tinted Glasses to see the truth that Vick is, was and always will be an inconsistent turnover machine who can't read a defense and who has never won anything substantial in the NFL.
Reid also decided to reward DeSean Jackson's embarrassing behavior in 2011 with a brand new fat contract, believing that once Jackson got the money he spent a season pouting about he'd become an elite wide receiver.
Nope, didn't happen. Not yet at least, not with Vick throwing him the ball.
Reid put together this offensive line which had no depth so that once two of its members went down it became a sieve.
Reid gave Marty Mornhinweg the job as offensive coordinator in 2006.
Mornhinweg is an awful offensive coordinator who calls boneheaded plays in big situations you wouldn't see high school teams dial up. He also has an explosive running back that he doesn't utilize as much as he should.
The offense under Mornhinweg and Vick are ranked 31st in the NFL. Only the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars are worse. Yet, Mornhinweg and Vick still have their jobs.
Bobby April, another one of Reid's guys, was thought of as some sort of special-teams genius. The special teams for the Eagles...well, they're special alright.
Yet, April still has his job.
So, maybe it's not Castillo's fault and maybe it is.
Castillo was an awful defensive coordinator.
April's special teams hurt the team almost every time they take the field.
Vick is a mediocre quarterback at best, capable of dazzling big plays but more often than not will hurt the team with poor decisions and poor protection of the football.
Washburn's Wide 9 has been figured out by the NFL and is ineffective.
Mornhinweg is terrible at play-calling.
What one thing do all these people who are failing at their jobs have in common?
It Falls on Reid's Shoulders
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Castillo, April, Washburn, Vick, Mornhinweg and many more people not succeeding as they were expected to were all put in the positions they are in by Reid.
The buck has to stop with someone, and everyone on the Eagles seems to be passing it to the next guy. Eventually it has to stop with the head coach responsible for putting them all where they are.
Reid has ten games to somehow fix this mess—and Todd Bowles is not the answer to fix all of the team's problems—or he'll be joining Castillo in his job search come January.