Philadelphia Eagles Fanbase Falling Victim to the Recency Effect?

Bob Cunningham@BCunningham215Senior Analyst IJanuary 22, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 02:  Place kicker David Akers #2 of the Philadelphia Eagles kicks the ball off against the Houston Texans at Lincoln Financial Field on December 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Recency Effect [ˈriːsənsɪ] (n) - The tendency for individuals to be most influenced by what they have last seen or heard.

For instance, if I give you a long list of words, you're most likely to only remember the final handful of them because that's the most recently stored data. After all, the brain's short-term memory can only handle so much.

The same could also be true that after watching a player's entire career, or even just a season, filled with great plays and moments, that a poor showing at the end could leave a person with a negative impression of said player because that's the first thing the brain is going to recall.

And unfortunately, this is what a lot of Eagles fans have fallen victim to when recalling the names of David Akers and Winston Justice.

It's certainly no secret that both players royally messed things up in the Eagles' Wild Card loss to the Green Bay Packers. Akers missed two very makeable field goals that would have, had he made them, put the Eagles out in front and likely given them the win.

Justice was penalized a handful of times, including one play in which he was penalized twice, and was being man-handled by linebacker Clay Matthews all game long. He was eventually benched in favor of King Dunlap and finished the game on the bench.

It would be silly to make an argument for either player as far as that game is concerned. They messed up and both have said as much. But the call for both players to be replaced is at best an understandable first reaction made out of anger and hurt and at worst simply moronic.

For Akers especially, the numbers speak for themselves. The guy has connected on over 82 percent of his field goals as an Eagle (294/357), has hit almost 99 percent of his extra points, and is headed to his fifth career Pro Bowl.

Yes, he can get streaky and messed things up this season as well as in the 2008 NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals, but that doesn't erase 12 years of excellence or take away any of the game-winning kicks he's made over the years.

Off the top of my head, I'm thinking about connecting to tie and later win the 4th and 26 game, a 38-yard kick to beat the New York Giants in the 2006 playoffs, and a 2005 game against the Oakland Raiders in which Akers tore his hamstring, but came back to connect on two extra points and kick the game-winning field goal.

He did that with a torn hamstring. For kickers, hamstrings are kind of important.

And that's not to mention the fact that he's probably has the best at the onside kick in the league, and perhaps ever, is one of the few kickers who can make a tackle when it's necessary, and is booting the ball into the endzone on kickoffs quite frequently.

That's not to say Akers is perfect. As I said, he gets streaky and will miss that head-scratcher, but I challenge you to find a kicker that doesn't. I can recall even the great Adam Vinatieri missing field goals within 30 yards. It happens.

Akers has lost the ability to hit the long field goal as he ages, but that was never really his game to begin with. Bottom line is he's the best option the Eagles have and is coming off one of his best seasons. Getting rid of him now doesn't seem to make a ton of sense.

As far as Justice goes, it makes me chuckle slightly when I hear the talk of getting rid of him in favor of a rookie -- most times in the first round. Even if Justice was truly as bad as he played against the Packers, it would be irresponsible to draft a tackle in the first round when there are so many other needs.

At worst, Justice is a mid-level starter, and I still believe he can be paired with Jason Peters for the foreseeable future and the two can have the same type of success as Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan.

So before they think about upgrading at right tackle (or kicker), they might want to find ways to upgrade at left defensive end, both guard positions, linebacker, cornerback, kick/punt returner, and hell, while they're at it, maybe go out and find a defensive coordinator.

Big picture, people. Big picture.

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