Thoughts From the Game: Eagles-Falcons

With the end of days bearing down upon the East Coast, and Sandy putting me in a terrible mood, what better time to talk a little football?

The Philadelphia Eagles are sure to be facing their own end of days in the near future, so it only seems relevant.

Hurricane Sandy is going to wash out much of the mid-Atlantic, bringing with it massive flooding and high winds. My only request of the large lady storm is this: Can you please sweep away that pathetic excuse for a professional football in the process?

While I enjoyed the experience of being at Lincoln Financial Field (as you can tell in the slideshow at the end of the post), watching this team play “professional football” was nothing short of embarrassing. So many things went wrong, and the number of problems they face is mounting, fast. The real problem, for Andy Reid specifically, is that the amount of scapegoats that remain is dwindling even faster.

Here’s what I noticed with my in-person view of things.

Defense Regressed

A week removed from firing offensive-line-coach-turned-first-time-defensive-coordinator Juan Castillo, the defense was torched by the Atlanta Falcons to the tune of 392 yards. The Todd Bowles-led defense couldn’t stop the Falcons from putting points on the board in their first six drives. Falcons punter Matt Bosher didn’t have to set a toe on the field until just over five minutes remained in the fourth quarter.

It was terrible.

The pass rush was nonexistent. Matt Ryan had time, after the snap, to bend down and tie his shoe, look up at the clouds and contemplate how long it would be before the rain started, and do a golfer’s lick of the finger to check which direction the wind was blowing, before finally launching the ball down field to some wide open receiver.

Nnamdi Asomugha may have been looking at the clouds all day too, because he surely wasn’t trying to slow Julio Jones down—most notably  evident on this 63-yard bomb from Ryan to Jones, when “the greatest corner in the game” wasn’t anywhere near the man he was supposed to be covering. In his post-football life, Nnamdi probably won’t have any success as a talking head seeing as it has to do with being able to properly covering a topic. Bill Barnwell did an exceptional job doing just that, ripping apart Reid’s decision making and this team’s play.

Some highlights of his Eagle-hating:

Over the past year and a half, when Asomugha’s been involved in that sort of ugly play, it’s often come attached to some sort of excuse from the team. … Now Castillo is gone, and Asomugha just had someone blow by him up the sidelines for an easy touchdown.

Couldn’t agree more. Barnwell stops short of calling Nnamdi a bust, but I’ll take that next step.

Since he’s been an Eagle, Asomugha has failed to effectively shut down a single big-play wide receiver for an entire 60 minutes. Even some unknowns made their name busting our $60 million man (Victor Cruz anyone?). Nnamdi made a name for himself on a team in Oakland that had no names, and no expectations. Now he’s on a team that expects everyone to play like a big-name guy, and he’s folding under that pressure.

He’s a bust. And there’s no two ways to look at it.

The particularly damaging thing for Reid is that he’s moved more and more into a personnel role over the past few seasons, notably winning a power struggle with former team president Joe Banner this past year that forced Banner out of the organization and to the ownership group that eventually bought the Browns. More so than five or 10 years ago, the decisions to sign Asomugha and lock up Vick after his breakout season fall on Reid’s shoulders. And because of those moves and how they haven’t worked out, Reid is virtually out of cards to play.

Yup. Next.

He’ll (Reid) shuffle through his offensive-line options once or twice more over the next few weeks, but the only move he has left this season is to go nuclear and bench Vick for Nick Foles. (And if that move works, Reid deserves a lifetime contract.)

Or it blows up in his face and places the nail in his coffin.

This is all a perfect transition to my next point.

Reid’s Days Are Numbered

I wish I had taken a video to share, but for anyone who watched the game on TV, you probably heard the return of the “Fire Andy” chants. It was nothing short of laughable. The entire situation, really, is hilarious.

In regard to Reid’s moves during the bye week, I share a similar sentiment that many in the media about the firing of Juan. The defense certainly had problems—the lack of pressure, blown coverage left, right, forward, and back, failing to holding fourth quarter leads—but it was far from the biggest problem this team faced (and continue to face). Castillo, Reid’s long-time confidant, was put on the chopping block for several reasons, including those mentioned. But the real reason is this: The only other person to put the blame on is Marty Mornhinweg, the offensive coordinator who has beenconnected to Big Andy at the hip since 2006.

If he were to be let go Reid would basically be admitting to the fact (and yes it is a fact) that what he’s been doing with this offense since ’06 hasn’t worked.

Anyone with a working set of eyes who watches games, or even anyone with working ears who listens to the radio broadcasts can tell you that. This completely unbalanced offense with a Pro Bowl running back and mobile (but fragile) quarterback is being completely misused. But no one is willing to face that fact.

Hey, another great transition.

Where’s the Big Play?

One of the absolutely most frustrating things from the game on Sunday was the lack of the deep pass, at least when the Eagles had the ball.

With names like Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, and Mike Vick it’s baffling to me how they were unable to complete a single play of more than 20 or 25 yards. They didn’t even attempt a pass beyond 20 yards. It was all quick ins and outs, and screen plays.

Remember this:

How about this:

Alright, that one wasn’t a bomb, but still. You get the point.

Weather isn’t an excuse either. The Falcons showed they were able to do it. And it didn’t really start raining until late in the game, when it was already well out of hand.

The play-calling was terrible, and the execution was horrendous.

But what’s even worse is the play of the offensive line. That might be where the decision to call quick passes came from. When you can’t give your ball thrower more than two seconds of protection before he’s getting hit or has to scramble out of the pocket and run for dear life, what more do you expect?

And while everyone seems ready to throw Vick on the bench, I’m not quite there yet. I see why he’s getting boo’d up and down the field. I agree that the turnovers are an issue, but almost no other quarterback in the league faces as much pressure on a consistent basis as Michael Vick. If he had a competent offensive line in front of him, maybe he looks a little more like the Vick from 2010.

If he gets thrown on the bench like he’s predicting, he’ll just be the next sacrificial lamb offered up by Big Red.

I’d much rather have a seasoned veteran in there than an untested, unproven rookie. (Hey, when are we expecting Trent Edwards to return?)

No matter how you chalk it up though, this entire team is a mess and it’s becoming more difficult to watch by the week. Perhaps fittingly, the skies opened up at the end of the game, and dark clouds hovered directly over the stadium. Even higher powers seem to know; the time to clear house is now. Why wait until the end of the season? Do it now, get it over with, and make everyone in Philly who’s been waiting several years for this happy.


Scenes from the day

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Categories: BLOG


I'm an editor for Associations Now, a magazine pubished by ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership. I live in Springfield, VA with my amazing wife, and am enjoying the ride that life is taking me on.


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