Philadelphia Eagles

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Farewell 2011. Hello 2012

Don’t expect to hear much from the Great and Powerful Oz – a.k.a. Eagles NovaCare Braintrust. Owner Jeff Lurie, president Joe Banner and GM Howie Roseman were collectively incommunicado after Sunday’s thoroughly meaningless victory over Washington. They are expected to remain silent Monday and possibly throughout Tuesday.

Apparently, if Lurie emerges from his NovaCare Complex office Wednesday and sees his shadow, then Andy Reid will be coach for six more years. If so there will be a complimentary bus departing from NoveCare heading straight for the Walt Whitman Bridge.

The first stop will be for Eagles fans wanting to jump, the second will be the Meadowlands Complex in Northern New Jersey. Fans can decide if they want to become Jets supporters (same colors, different conference) or Giants loyalists (truly going to the dark side). This same bus was once used to transport the Philadelphia Stars to Baltimore which means Jim Mora, Sr. may be driving (playoffs? Playoffs? You’re talking about playoffs? Playoffs?).

 Silence is deafening. There is significance in the rampant silence emanating from HQ. Just how much, or what it means, we’ll know when it is finally broken. If there were no changes to be made, Joe Banner, Jeff Lurie, Andy Reid and Howie Roseman would all hug, sing “Cumbaya” and hold a press conference announcing “business as usual, season ticket prices will go up 20% for 2012.” See you next year. Drive safely.

For now, three of the four stooges remain silent so all we have publicly is Reid’s penetrating analysis of how his Super Bowl Dream Team Express derailed and spewed toxic sludge all over the NFL calendar, not to mention untold collateral damage on the hearts of Eagles fans.

“Well, we were 8-8 and the other teams, they weren’t,” Reid explained as though speaking to a kindergarten class rather than the media. “They had a better record, so they made it to the postseason.” This speaks volumes more than it may seem.

You wouldn’t expect that level of arrogance from a man who was worried about being fired. Indeed, Reid’s whole postgame news conference was an exercise in denial and snark. But hey, he earned the right to once again berate the media and bitch-slap the fanbase.

Reid’s team was 4-0 in the postseason this year — that is, the Eagles won four games after their season was effectively over at 4-8. Technically the playoff hopes had not been dashed until the second quarter of last Sunday’s game in Dallas, where the Eagles learned that the Giants win eliminated them from mathematical contention.

Playoff Teams Beat Lesser Teams. Reid really seemed intent on selling this four-game winning streak — against Miami (6-10), the Jets (8-8), the unmotivated Cowboys (8-7 before Sunday night) and Washington (5-11) — as proof that his team was back on track and heading in the right direction. While it is true that these wins count in the overall record, the Eagles were also 5-1 against other NFC East teams and lost five different fourth quarter leads which might have been claimed as victories.

It is also true that the Jets beat the Patriots once this season while Kansas City felled the nearly undefeated Green Bay Packers but neither the Chiefs nor Jets find themselves in the postseason.

All this proves is that any team can win on any given Sunday.

 Just Win Baby. We borrow this from the Oakland Raiders, a team who just last year ran the table within their own division (6-0 AFC West) and still missed the playoffs with an 8-8 overall record. If everything was super-duper and swell and Reid was a lock to return with his entire coaching staff intact or if Juan Castillo had shown enough improvement to hang on to his job, then Lurie would have no reason to wait a day, a week, a minute. He would have been waiting for reporters in the postgame locker room with a declaration of confidence in his coaching staff.

The delay could mean Lurie is at least considering a major change. It would take a day or two for the owner and Reid to meet and sort things out.

Defense Wins Championships. As of Sunday night, Steve Spagnuolo was touting “character” and “effort” as proof his 2-14 Rams team is headed in the right direction.

Monday morning Spagnuolo had been fired by the St. Louis Rams (still owed $4 million for 2012) and was said to be fielding offers from at least half a dozen NFL teams (which does not include the NY Giants as they qualify for postseason play).

Making moves for the sake of making moves accomplishes nothing. Last season Andy Reid proclaimed from the highest rooftop (well the highest rooftop he could actually reach which was that of a plastic Monopoly game house) that defensive coordinator Sean McDermott would return for the 2011 season and would not be the scapegoat for the Eagles first round playoff exit.

How did that work out, fellas?

There Are No Guarantees. Reid’s job has been in question but he will finish his 14th season and fulfill his current contract. Could hopes of yet another extension be predicated upon a Super Bowl victory or would the Eagles allow Reid to make a Cowherian exit?

Many coaching vacancies will be available but let’s assume no major changes on the masthead just yet. Jim Washburn, Juan Castillo, Howard Mudd and Andy Reid all have questions surrounding their futures. While Lurie surely has been contemplating his options over the last month or so, it is only now that he’ll find out which of those options are realistic and which are impossible.

Definition of Insanity. The worst thing Lurie or Reid (assuming he’s back) can do is proceed from the delusion that this is now an elite NFL team which just happened to have an 8-8 record.

It is unfortunate that Reid insults Eagles fans by spinning nonsense and refusing to explain what happened, but it would be much worse if he really believes the nonsense and hadn’t spent most of the last month planning 2012. Reid and Lurie have known this was a disaster since October.

From backup QB to offensive line to safety through the Linebacker void, identifying weaknesses should be easy. Implementing necessary changes will prove most challenging. On their own, and possibly in consultation, they must have been laying the groundwork for what comes next.

So their silence in the immediate aftermath is understandable, but only on the condition that their actions speak very loudly, and soon.

You Play to Win the Game. Five times the Eagles snatched defeat from the jaws of almost certain victory in 2011. Five times they took significant leads into the fourth quarter only to lose. Would those five games have turned their season around and redefined the scope of the NFC? You betcha yer sweet bippie!

Take just the game in Philadelphia against San Francisco (23-3 at the half). What’s one more in-conference win for the Eagles and one less for the 49ers? A Philadelphia playoff berth.

What about those other four instances? Rather than 8-8 you’re now talking about 12-4 or 13-3. Are the Eagles good enough to have been a #2 or #3 seed in the NFC? No but playing all four quarters of fundamentally sound football and having a defensive coordinator who can adjust in-game might have afforded them that opportunity.

Great Teams Have Great QB. Not always. I’ll grant you that the 2000 Baltimore Ravens won despite having Trent Dilfer at the helm. Doug Williams, Jim McMahon and Kurt Warner have Super Bowl rings while Donovan McNabb (5 NFL Championships and one Super Bowl embarrassment) never got one. Bob Griese won with Miami a decade before Dan Marino lost his only shot. Jim Kelley, Ron Jaworski and Fran Tarkenton failed to get rings, while John Elway lost three Super Bowls before finishing his career winning two back to back. Terry Bradshaw was on the winning end of four titles while Joe Montana tallied three.  

Super Bowls don’t make great QB nor do great QB ensure Super Bowls. Ask any owner if he or she would rather have a marquee QB for their Super Bowl run and you’d be hard-pressed to find an argument.

QB or not QB. Michael Vick has the talent to be better than Randall Cunningham or Donovan McNabb but does he have the desire? IS he enough of a team player? He refuses to slide for first downs or run out of bounds, preferring instead to lay himself out for injury and miss half a dozen games.

While we get that he is a dynamic competitor, he doesn’t help his team standing on the sidelines (or watching on TV from the locker room as he often does).

At 31 Vick should be mature enough to realize that this is a team sport and his primary job is to be on the field with his teammates. He no longer can be spoken of in terms of potential, rather in desire.

This is a man making more per season than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and everyone south of Peyton Manning and what do those men share that Vick doesn’t? 5 Lombardi trophies.

Drew Brees just broke Dan Marino’s single season passing record and may be NFL MVP but makes less than half of Vick’s annual salary. What does $100 million contract buy anymore? Peyton Manning might be available and while 4 years older than Vick, who would you rather have directing your offense? Manning or Vick?


DeSean Says “DeSorry.” Suddenly the bratty, spoiled kid wants to atone for his sins. After all the antics, attitude, arrogance and audacity, does DeSean finally realize that he is not bigger than the team?

Has he been advised that his ridiculous Owens-ian behavior might land him in the same predicament as his poor choice of mentor? Jackson (58 catches for 961 yards and 4 TD averaging “only” 16.6 YPC, down from 22.5 in 2010) publicly apologized to the Eagles Nation. Whether or not this was a true “mea culpa” or a hollow lip service remains to be seen.

 After a season in which Jackson was relatively quiet on the field, but an obvious distraction because of his own dissatisfaction with his contract, the fourth-year receiver may finally be realizing that he is costing himself money. Then again he might not know how to address the situation. He is making an effort…

“I can admit to certain things affecting me during the season. I just want to apologize,” Jackson said. “I probably could have handled it a little bit different, but now sitting here after the season’s over I can just say I was able to put it behind me and really just fight for my teammates, fight for my organization.”


Jackson’s benching and the Eagles’ subsequent dismal performance against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10 can be circled as one of the many reasons the Eagles were eliminated in Week 16 through no lack of effort.

Any of five games could be chosen as the missing link but when your best players are healthy and not on the field, the whole team knows they are not putting forth their best talent. This could have cost Philadelphia the opportunity to play for the NFC East title last night.

Jackson claims he will accept the franchise tag from the Eagles. If so, then the question remains – Are Jackson’s talents worth all of the headaches off the field? Can this offense succeed without DeSean? Will Jackson agree to return punts, catch balls over the middle or block for a teammate when asked of the team or will his ego and diva-esque tendencies always get the better of his good intentions?

There is a lot to think about during this offeseason.


Coaching Carousel as Reid Turns


Eagles 2011 Party’s Over

TO on Djax – Show Him the Money

Vick $100 Millon Deal

A Tree Grows on Broad Street

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Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me

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In response to “Farewell 2011. Hello 2012”

  1. Steven Keys Jan 2 20125:28 pm


    Being an Eagles insider, maybe you can clarify this for me, Chris. When Mike Vick tweeted yesterday that “Things will be different next year,” he was referring to the first 12 games of the 2011 season, not the last four (wins), right?

    Pop quiz time: What’s the name of the groundhog in your Brian Doyle Murray picture? A hint: same as the nickname of a famous New York Yankee of the 40s & 50s.

    1. Christopher Rowe Jan 2 20128:06 pm


      Groundhog is Punxatawney Phil of course!!!! Slightly different build than Scooter Rizzuto of Yankees fame!

      As for Vick, I take no responsibility for understanding anything he says – especially not for what he tweets. Sorry. I don’t speak Vick!

      1. Steven Keys Jan 2 201210:59 pm


        My mistake. I should’ve written real name as listed in “Groundhog Day” credits: “Scooter.” But you knew that anyway.

        1. Christopher Rowe Jan 3 20123:23 pm


          All good stuff. You know he drives pretty well for a quadroped!!!!

  2. Christopher Rowe Jan 3 20124:04 pm


    Will changes in the coaching ranks or at key positions bring hopes of Dream Team 2012? This team is far better than their 8-8 record – or at least they will be in 2012 with the RIGHT changes. Juan Castillo? Steve Spanuolo? Andy Reid? Asante Samuel? DeSean Jackson? Jeff Lurie? Dick Vermeil in the front office? What’s the right choice? Change coaches or infuse new talent?

  3. Christopher Rowe Jan 4 201211:56 am


    Keep Reid. Franchise Jackson for $11M. Sign McCoy to a long-term contract. Bring in Spagnuolo or keep Castillo, Washburn and Mudd where they are.

    Give it one more shot with current system and players. Lose Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith. Add better backup QB and backup RB. Sacrifice Asante Samuel for an upgrade at linebacker. The core is solid. No need to blow it up just yet. Blow it up after 2012.

  4. Mark Jan 14 20123:11 pm


    Chris I couldn’t agree more, no need to blow it all up just yet. When the players started to gel late in the season they played well in this system. They definitely need a better bigger faster linebacker in the middle, and the way Vick plays we really need a quality backup QB unless he learns how to do the baseball slide which as we all know isn’t in his repertoire. I’m not sure about franchising Jackson. It may be better to sign him with a contract that is incentive ladened, and franchise McCoy.

  5. Christopher Rowe Jan 20 20122:15 pm


    Did Andy Reid suggest that Steve Spagnuolo should look elsewhere because he wants to keep Juan Castillo or because Reid was threatened by Spagnuolo being a potential successor?

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