Post Super Bowl XLIV: Looking Ahead To the Eagles' Offseason
While Mardi Gras starts a week early on Bourbon St., Philadelphia continues to wonder when a green parade will make it’s way down Broad St.
In one of his stand-up shows, comedian Chris Rock made a statement about how much he loves hip hop music but he's tired of defending it. It has got to that point with me and the Philadelphia Eagles.
As a fan you want your team to win no matter how ugly the victory is. No matter how irritating some circumstances that occur during a game may be, you try to keep faith that your team will somehow pull out the "W".
I struggled having that faith in the Eagles in 2009. After the Birds lost to the Chargers leaving them at 5-4, I didn’t feel they could overcome what was expected to be a tough stretch of the season. As they always do in November and December, Gang Green went on a run that gave everyone hope that "this might be the year".
I'll be honest, I didn't see the Eagles pulling off a six-game win streak. They lacked the urgency and intensity it takes to dominate even an inferior opponent. October 18 versus the Oakland Raiders amplified that the most.
Then came the winning streak. Even though the Eagles squeaked by four of them (Chicago, Washington, NY Giants, and Denver), all that mattered was the Eagles were poised to earn a No. 2 NFC seed and an eventual trip to Miami in February. All they had to do was beat their arch nemesis in Texas in the season finale.
Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys exposed practically every Eagle flaw the past two weeks. Over an eight quarter span the Cowboys outscored them 58-14, took the NFC East crown, denied Philly a bye week and eventually sent them packing for the off-season. I haven't witnessed such a brutal scene since watching Sonny Corleone in "The Godfather".
Inaccurate throws, stupid penalties, poor clock management, the lack of red zone touchdowns, the inability to convert third downs consistently, the lack of in-game adjustments...The list goes on and on. Year after year, the same weaknesses are exposed during games and ultimately the playoff game that ends the NFL season in Philly.
Three major reasons led to this.
1. Inconsistency of the offensive line—The biggest concern going into training camp was how the offensive line was going to turn out. It was still a huge concern going into Wild Card weekend.
2. Too many key injuries—Brian Westbrook's concussions had me wondering if he'd ever play football again. His injury along with the status of the linebacking corp would be tough for any team to overcome. On top of that you have nagging injuries to Jason Peters, Sheldon Brown and Akeem Jordan.
3. Inability to overcome intangible problems—Penalties and clock management highlight how disciplined a team is and the Eagles rank among the worst in both categories. This falls directly on the coaching staff.
The Eagles made it interesting. They always do. The six game win streak and an 11-5 record reflect a successful season. But, we've seen this result numerous times before. Another year will go by without a Lombardi Trophy in Philly.
Now that the season is over, what changes will happen this off-season? They’ve addressed recent voids created in the front office and coaching staff. It may be difficult to get excited about it, but the moves the Eagles made were positive steps.
There are plenty of other angles to focus on: Who stays, who goes. The NFL Combine and Pro Day visits. Players on injured reserve and their potential impact next season; Adjusting to a possibly uncapped 2010 season; Potential free agents; Possible draft picks; Trade scenarios...All of these situations will be discussed, but the one question that matters most for each one is: Can it lead to a celebration like the one that occurred in Louisiana?
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