Philadelphia Eagles: An Open Letter to Andy Reid
My name is Eamonn. I am not a Philadelphia Eagles fan. I am a neutral observer who was very interested this season in watching how the so-called "dream team" would get on.
Surely, I thought in the preseason, an NFC East title was already in the bag, and a deep playoff run was a certainty. Eagles vs. Packers in the NFC Championship game was a mouthwatering prospect.
If ever there was a year for the Eagles' Super Bowl hoodoo to be broken and for the title to make its way to the City of Brotherly Love, this had to be it.
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. I do hope the Eagles organization will be refunding any fans who may have already booked their hotels in Indianapolis.
The season has not been as picture perfect as one might have hoped. In fact, some would go so far as to call it a pure and unmitigated disaster. As your Eagles sit at 4-7—the same record, incidentally, as your divisional rivals, the Rex Grossman-led Redskins—a few thoughts occur to me as to why this season has been such a spectacular failure.
Please feel free to peruse these points at your convenience. I'm sure you will have more time to study them in-depth in January when the playoffs are on and you will not be so busy.
1) You gave a contract worth over $100 million to a quarterback, in Michael Vick, who has only had one season above 60 percent accuracy, has only thrown for over 3000 yards once, has never had significant success in the playoffs, who is a magnet for injuries due to his running out of the pocket and who has only ever played a full 16-game season once.
Vick has striven to justify the investment by attempting to demonstrate his ability as a pocket passer—an endeavor that has caused numerous turnovers and underwhelming offensive production.
Vick's efforts have been further undermined by a useless offensive line which has allowed him to be rushed and flushed from the pocket regularly and hit with seeming impunity. As a result, this prodigiously expensive but injury-prone QB now resides on your sideline with three cracked ribs.
While I am not alleging that Vick is a poor QB, I'm not sure that his career production, playing style or injury history could justify such an investment.
2) You went a bit mad in free agency.
You signed, among others, Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Steve Smith to big-money contracts. You also acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade and absorbed another good-sized contract.
Among these numerous acquisitions, however, there was a conspicuous lack of a linebacker. More on this point later.
3) You had a wonderful offensive line coach in Juan Castillo. You decided to promote him to coordinate the defense. Castillo last coached defense for a high school team in 1989.
As a result, the defense has been awful—and so, for much of the season, has the O-line.
4) You signed Jason Babin and paired him with Trent Cole, allowing Castillo to install a scheme in which these two ends would play the wide-9 technique and be responsible solely for rushing the passer.
As a result of this, large gaps exist in the defensive line which make the entire defense totally reliant on the linebacking corps to stop the run.
As stated above, you didn't sign any linebackers in free agency. In fact, the only Eagles linebacker I would recognize on the street is Casey Matthews—and that's just because he has a brother (Clay) who is actually good.
A fool could have told you that this was an area of grave need, but nothing has been done to address it. As a result, your defense cannot stop the run. This was demonstrated last night by the Patriots, who ran all over your front seven.
5) After some early jitters, the Pats' O-line last night coped admirably with your wide-9 pass rush specialists and gave their QB time in the pocket all night—not a good thing when that QB is Tom Brady.
If the wide-9 makes you susceptible to the run and can't create pressure against a good O-line, what, pray tell, is the point of running it?
6) Your vaunted secondary—the area you invested in most during the offseason—got chewed up and spat out by Brady last night. He threw for 361 yards and 3 TD's to augment the significant yardage the Pats were generating from the ground attack.
Nnamdi Asomugha was obviously not fully fit after hyperextending his knee in training, but he was forced to play. He performed bravely and admirably but was obviously not up to speed. Joselio Hanson got destroyed.
7) Nnamdi is a wonderful player—and was used completely the wrong way by your new defensive coordinator at the start of the season. This has made the season a frustrating one for Nnamdi and has caused him to become an unfair scapegoat for many of your defensive woes.
A more suitable target for the ire of the fans would be Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He is currently hurt, but this may, in fact, be a good thing for your secondary.
Despite being signed as apparently the No. 2 corner for your team, DRC has been a total disaster and is only used in nickel packages. He seems utterly afraid of tackling anyone.
In DRC's absence, the aforementioned Joselio Hanson has been filling in. Hanson was mercilessly picked on by Brady last night.
When one considers that many an Eagles fan thinks Hanson is preferential to Cromartie, one gets an impression on how poor the DRC signing really was—and how poorly he has played.
Should Andy Reid remain Eagles Head Coach next season?
8) Bad though the secondary has been, imagine how much worse it would be if it had no Asante Samuel. Your intention in the preseason was to trade him if you got any halfway decent offers.
You must be thanking your lucky stars that you didn't get what you wanted at that time; if Samuel was not on the roster, you would be utterly screwed.
9) You have a fantastic running back in LeSean McCoy. Keep him at all costs. But he needs another back to take some pressure off him, and could do with an O-line that can create gaps consistently for him to run through.
It's not fair to expect him to do it all by himself.
10) What was the point in signing Steve Smith and Ronnie Brown? I would understand if they were being used or were looking in any way effectual—but, so far, they look like two high-profile wastes of good money.
11) Your backup QB, Vince Young, has looked pretty decent so far in two games. He won the first on a game-winning drive, and threw for 400 yards in the second—albeit in garbage time against a secondary so depleted it featured Julian Edelman prominently.
Young actually seems to have been a smart signing. Well done.
12) You may have been more competitive last night if your so-called "game-changer" wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, had been able to back up any of his bravado and loud-mouthed ranting about how he deserved a big contract.
Instead. Jackson dropped two certain touchdown passes and got himself benched for the fourth quarter.
With no Jeremy Maclin available and being forced to play a backup QB against the high-scoring Pats with your last faint playoff hopes on the line, you would expect your big-time players to step up. Jackson, in fairness, did it last year against the Giants, but was found badly wanting in this game.
One must ask whether a guy who has such a one-dimensional game and who comes with so much baggage is really worth the money or the hassle—especially if he can't consistently produce excellence on the field.
13) The Eagles should not be in this mess. Your team has blown five fourth-quarter leads this year. Five of your seven losses came in games in which you were ahead going into the last 15 minutes.
It is impossible to stress how appalling your team has performed with the game on the line. Some responsibility for this must go on the players. Veterans—who should know better—have made some comical mistakes (I'm looking at you, Juqua Parker and Ronnie Brown).
But all that speaks to a larger problem—coaching.
It's a terrible sign when a team consistently can't close out games. It speaks to a level of ill-preparedness, carelessness and bad discipline—a damning indictment of the coaching these players are receiving.
The buck for this issue, Andy, stops squarely with you.
14) Another issue I have to raise with you Andy is a perennial problem that has plagued Philadelphia's present and past—play-calling. (Don't you just love alliteration?)
You, Andy Reid, cannot call plays to save your life. It has always been a problem, but this season it has just been a joke. This article gives a great example of what I am talking about. Again, Andrew, there is nobody to blame here but yourself.
Andy, I'm sorry to have been so negative. You seem like a nice man and you have done some great things in the NFL with this franchise. You deserve to be respected and remembered in the highest possible esteem.
But the fact is, Andy, that when you spend the money you spent this offseason to bring in the players you brought in, and when you make some of the coaching decisions that you've made recently, you leave yourself open—especially when you are the head coach of a franchise like the Eagles—to this level of scrutiny.
You put yourself all in this season, Andy, and the house has been only too happy to take your chips.
The question on everybody's lips now is whether you will be dealt another hand, or whether you will be politely asked to walk away from the table.
The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately?" league. Jeffrey Lurie did not get rich by spending money on unsuccessful business ventures. He expects the Eagles to win and win now, and you will be a very lucky man if you get one more bite at the cherry.
You have done a lot in Philly to be proud of. But more and more you strike me as a man who has lost his hold on his locker room; who has lost any modicum of an ability to call a good game; who has allowed personal allegiances to coaches overshadow their obvious lack of expertise; who has lost the ability to isolate and address the areas of need in his roster; who has lost the ability to scout and acquire suitable free agents; and who seems more inclined to throw money at a problem than to address its root and find a long-term solution.
You strike me, Andy, as a man who has been in a job too long and has gotten into a rut.
Everybody needs to get out of the game at some point, Andy. Some walk. Most are pushed. I hope for your sake that you don't wait around so long that you have to join the second group.
Your legacy and reputation deserve better than that.
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