Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Reasons for the Eagles' Collapse in 2011
There have been many reasons for the Eagles' 4-8 start this season. If I listed them all, I would be writing this article for two weeks.
Instead, I decided to focus on five main reasons the Eagles have struggled this season, and then try to break down why it was a problem and why the team has not been able to overcome it.
By doing that, there might be some way to figure out what direction they should go in the offseason. Overall, the Eagles have a lot of needs they will need to address via draft or free agency in 2012.
5. Injuries to Michael Vick
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It is hard to downplay the injuries to Michael Vick.
Not only did Vick miss three games due to injury in which the Eagles went 1-2, he also got knocked out of two games early, both of which the Eagles lost.
If the Eagles only won two of the four games they lost when Vick got hurt or knocked out, they are 6-6 right now and still in the hunt.
4. Casey Matthews and the Linebackers
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The Eagles drafted Casey Matthews with the idea he was going to be their guy at middle linebacker.
They did not have a lot of mini-camps or offseason to evaluate him.
The reality set in after a few games that Matthews could not get the job done, and the team made changes.
However, his poor play helped lead the team to a terrible start.
Matthews might still be a player someday, but he is not ready yet. He has also criticized the fans of Philadelphia on multiple occasions, so he has not endeared himself to the Philly faithful.
Will Matthews ever be relevant in Philly? At this point, it's hard to say.
The linebacker play has been poor all season, and it has improved a little bit at times, but Matthews is a huge reason why this team started out so badly.
3. Weak Play of Safeties
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Jarrad Page was absolutely horrible at safety.
He missed so many tackles he finally got benched.
Nate Allen has missed many tackles and coverages.
When the best safety on the team has been a seventh-round pick from 2010 in Kurt Coleman, that is bad. Coleman has been very poor himself.
The Eagles do not have one effective safety on the roster, and that has been a huge problem.
They drafted Jarrett in the second round hoping he would be the answer at free safety, but thanks to the lockout, Jarrett was unable to get ready in time to play in 2011.
He has seen limited action and has not been effective when he has taken the field.
2. Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo and the Defensive Strategy
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Juan Castillo was hired by Andy Reid to be the new defensive coordinator.
Castillo, a former offensive line coach, had little experience.
The Eagles instilled a new strategy with the wide nine, which was a favorite of new defensive line coach Jim Washburn.
The wide nine spread the defensive ends out and depended on linebackers to fill the gaps. The combination of not having talent at linebacker to do the job and not having enough time to learn the new system has hurt the Eagles.
Juan Castillo might be in over his head, or perhaps he needs more time. The reality is the defense has been terrible, and the defensive scheme has been poor. The Eagles have shown an inability to make adjustments as the game has went on, which has hurt the defensive performance as well.
1. Lack of an Offseason
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In my opinion, the biggest reason the Eagles have struggled in 2011 was due to the lockout.
The Eagles did a lot in free agency, signing a lot of new players.
With all the new players, they needed time to implement their systems and teach the new players the system.
They needed time to learn how to use their new players and evaluate their talent.
The lockout hurt every team, but it would make sense that the team it hurt the most would be the one with the most turnover or new players, and that was the Eagles.
With a normal offseason, the Eagles might have had time to learn Casey Matthews could not do the job or they might have learned how to better use Nnamdi Asomugha. They may have learned a lot about their talent and done better.
I will be very interested to see how this team does next year with an entire offseason.