Offseason Time-Traveling: Advice for the 2008 Philadelphia Eagles

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJune 13, 2013

Dec 13, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles  general manager Howie Roseman on the field before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lincoln Financial Field.  Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this offseason, there was a great thread on Reddit asking fans what piece of advice they'd give their favorite team's front office five years in the past.

On Monday, we expanded on that with the Dallas Cowboys, on Tuesday we hit the New York Giants and now we continue our alphabetical march through the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles.

If we could go back five years to the 2008 NFL offseason and give only one line of futuristic wisdom to the Eagles, here's what we'd tell Joe Banner, Andy Reid and Howie Roseman.

Make Aggressive run at Future Franchise Quarterback

In 2008, the Eagles were coming off an 8-8 campaign, but we all knew they were better than that. They'd go on to make a run to the NFC Championship Game in '08 and would make the playoffs in each of the next three seasons. 

So you could argue that we don't actually have to go back half a decade to fix the Eagles.

They were in good shape at that point and it wasn't until they started spending like the apocalypse was coming in 2011 that things started going downhill.

Instead, though, let's address the way the Eagles handled their quarterback situation at that point in time, because repercussions from those decisions regarding signal-callers are still impacting the team greatly today. 

Donovan McNabb was only 31, but he had missed 15 games over the last three seasons and his rate-based numbers were beginning to decline. Reid and Co. drafted Kevin Kolb in the second round in 2007 and it appeared that their plan—if they had a plan at all—was to groom him to take over for McNabb when that became necessary. 

Kolb looked decent in two spot starts and 12 regular-season appearances between 2007 and 2009, and that—possibly combined with the presence of Michael Vick, who was signed out of prison in '09—was enough to convince Philly to trade McNabb to the Washington Redskins

The trade wasn't a mistake, but the assumption that Kolb or Vick could become consistent and reliable franchise quarterbacks was.

Kolb was injured in his first start post-McNabb and replaced by Vick, who had a superb season. When Kolb had to step back in, he was awful. Before long, he was dealt away to the Arizona Cardinals, with whom he proved that he isn't cut out to be a starter in this league. 

Vick has since reestablished himself as an all-or-nothing quarterback who can't be relied on over the course of an entire season. He's too vulnerable health-wise and coughs up the ball too often.

He's got the sheer skills, but his 81.2 passer rating since the start of 2011 ranks 25th among quarterbacks who have thrown at least 200 passes in that time frame. 

Now here we are in 2013, and the Eagles are grasping at straws with Vick, 2012 third-round pick Nick Foles, 2013 fourth-round pick Matt Barkley and college star-turned-NFL scrub Dennis Dixon. One could emerge, but there's a decent chance none are the answer, which means the Eagles' quarterback search could drag on for years to come.

They could have held on to their No. 19 overall pick in '08 rather than trading it to Carolina and could have moved up slightly to take Joe Flacco, who has now become a Super Bowl MVP in Baltimore

Or they could have waited a year and jumped in on the Jay Cutler trade sweepstakes in the 2009 offseason. 

Or they could have traded up a couple of spots and secured Josh Freeman later that spring.

Or maybe they could have packaged some of the 13 picks they had in 2010 to grab Sam Bradford first overall. 

Or they could have taken Andy Dalton instead of Danny Watkins in 2011. 

Or they could have joined the Peyton Manning sweepstakes last year. 

Or they could have grabbed Ryan Tannehill or Russell Wilson rather than waiting for Foles in a safer spot in the 2012 draft. 

I'd rather have Flacco, Cutler, Freeman, Bradford, Dalton, Manning, Tannehill or Wilson than the aging, mistake-prone Vick or any other quarterback fighting for a chance to start in Philly this offseason.

The point is that they should have swung the bat more aggressively at this problem way back when it was first starting to show signs of becoming one. When you pussyfoot around a quarterback need and wait to take a guy in the middle rounds, you're wasting your time and everybody else's. 

Five of the last six Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks were drafted in the first round and the other was taken with the first pick of the second round.

All were selected in what would be the first round today (Drew Brees went 32nd when it was a 31-team league) and only five of the league's 32 current starting quarterbacks were drafted outside of the second round. 

So why is it that Philly thinks it can beat the odds? Why hasn't this team drafted a quarterback in the first round since 1999 or the second round since 2007?

Waiting for guys like Foles, Kolb and Mike Kafka was fruitless, and now they're paying the price.


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