Friday, December 2, 2011

Fire Andy? Maybe not yet

If last night’s 31-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks is any indication, the Eagles have packed it in for the season.  Very few players showed the kind of effort required to win in the National Football League as the equally playoff challenged Seahawks ran roughshod over the Eagles “defenders” (a term I use loosely).
DeSean Jackson, especially, appears to be mailing it in (way to make a case for that big contract, DeSean!).  I’ve been a Reid supporter for some time (Having watched the Eagles trot out too many inept coaches over the years to casually throw the winningest coach in their history out so quickly.) However, I do believe it is time for some massive changes. First, and foremost, relieve Andy of his position of personnel director. He has not shown himself to be the shrewdest talent evaluator as the lack of impact players from his recent drafts (the aforementioned DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy being exceptions).        
He has also not shown himself to be particularly adaptable during games, failing time and again to make adjustments when his meticulously thought out game plan goes awry.  He, and his thorough planning were thrown off by the lockout, his thorough building block plans and fondness for complexity in both his offense and defensive strategies undercut by lack of preparation time.  A more flexible coach would simplify and move forward. Flexible, Andy is not.
However, these qualities can be serious strengths when given time to prepare. Next year, with no threat of labor strife, he will be able to plan all offseason. That talent he has gathered can be molded into a cohesive unit. Juan Castillo should he be retained (and, unless a stellar coordinator becomes available I believe he should be)and he will be better with experience. He should be allowed to mold the defense in his own image, however. The current system predicated on a heavy pass rush generated by the wide nine alignment coupled with strong secondary coverage, requires at least decent linebacker play to defend the run(and make tackles) and cover the tight end, two areas where the Eagles are particularly deficient. Castillo, a former linebacker himself, must be allowed to upgrade the position either through the draft or fee-agency.
Reid should be made to get a game day coach, something new in the NFL, someone who specializes in in-game adjustments to compensate for Andy’s weaknesses. Players are substituted for when situations are occur in which they are unlikely to be successful, coaches can be too.  Unless Bill Belichick wants to come here, I believe Andy Reid should be allowed at least one more of the two years remaining on his contract to right the ship, but that doesn’t mean he needs to be given the same level of autonomy he currently employs. Force him to make some changes and both he and the Eagles should be better for it.

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