1. The Eagles and Andy Reid named their offensive line coach as
defensive coordinator this year. What was the reaction at the time,
and the thoughts going forward?
Andy Reid has been criticized a ton during his time in Phildelphia, both fairly and unfairly. But of all the poor decisions Reid has made over the last 13 years, hiring Juan Castillo is at the top of the list.
The headline of the Philadelphia Daily News read “WTF?” the day after Castillo was tabbed to run the defense. And I’d say that headline embodied the attitude of fans at the time of the announcment.
Castillo is a good football guy and a tireless worker, but he has no clue how to run a defense. The struggles of Nnamdi Asomugha have been well documented, and Castillo is mostly to blame. Asomugha excels in press coverage, yet Castillo has asked him to sit back in zone, line up as a safety–all things that take away from what makes him so good. It’s like signing a power hitter in baseball and asking them to slap the ball the other way. What’s the point?
Juan Castillo may ultimately prove to be a formidable defensive coordinator, but in a season when the Eagles were “all in”, it was ridiculous to bring in a guy who had no prior defensive coaching experience at the pro level.
And one more thing–Eagles were 16-2 when leading in the fourth quarter under former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. They are are 3-5 under Castillo.
2. The Eagles gave Mike Vick an extension and a nice payday earlier
this year. With him having missed parts of 4 games now, and showing
some of his old inconsistencies do you think he will actually finish
that contract in Philadelphia?
No way. As is the case with many contracts in the NFL, years and numbers are inflated to make the deal look good on the surface. While the Eagles certainly made a long-term investment in Vick, I don’t think the front office would hesitate to go in a different direction if Vick produced similar results over the next two years.
It’s hard not to wonder if Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman bought fools gold in Vick. After a fantastic start in Philadelphia, Vick has a sub .500 record over his last 16 games and has been banged up. It will be interesting to see not only how this season plays out, but how he bounces back next year. The Eagles must make protecting Vick a top priority (behind trading Asante Samuel and adding someone, anyone who can play linebacker) during the offseason.
3. The Eagles now have 6 losses. What do you think are their
realistic chances of still making the playoffs?
I loved their chances after beating Dallas. It felt like 2003 all over again. The Eagles limped to a 2-3 start that season, but responded by winning 10 of their last 11 regular season games. After the loss to the Bears, my expectations evaporated. Frankly, I was apathetic as they pissed away last Sunday’s game at home against Arizona. To lose that game with so much at stake tells me all I need to know about the character of this team. Physically, they aren’t good enough, nor do they have the psychological makeup to run the table and make the postseason.
4. With all the hype the media and some of the players have heaped on
this team, was it fair to Andy Reid and do you think he will continue
as head coach?
Andy Reid helped build this monster. The Eagles felt they were thisclose to a Lombardi Trophy after falling just short at home against the Packers last season. Rather than stay the course, build depth, and add quality players as they have in the past, the Eagles went after big names to bolster their roster and excite the fanbase. Let’s be honest. When the Eagles signed Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith and Vince Young fans were overjoyed. This was the Eagles finally “going for it”. It just hasn’t worked out. Instead of Brown providing a bruising compliment to LeSean McCoy, he’s best known here for making one of the worst plays in franchise history when he carelessly gave the ball away on the goalline by throwing it as he was slammed to the ground against San Francisco.
Vince Young was a horrendous signing. He’s the one who dubbed the Eagles “The Dream Team”. I remember watching the press conference and saying, “Oh, shit. Here we go.” It just set a bad tone from the jump.
And then there’s Steve Smith. I’m bewildered as to how this guy caught over 100 passes at any point in his career. He’s slow, he’s clueless and in the rare event he gets open, he can’t catch the football. It’s like Giants GM Jerry Reese had a handshake agreement with Smith to let him sign with Philadelphia and subsequently kill drives. You guys can have him back. He’s a terrible football player. I hope for his sake he’s not anywhere near recovered from his knee injury.
All of this sort of reminds me the Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders signings by the Redskins at the turn of the century–big name signing that paid no dividends.
Is this all Andy Reid’s fault? No. But he constantly preaches he’s ultimately responsible for what happens on the field. And I don’t disagree with that. Whether or not he’ll feel the consequences is another story.
5. What do the fans think of the DeSean Jackson situation? We both
have players that are probably under-paid, but hurting the team is
usually not the best way to endear yourself to fans and ownership.
I think fans supported Jackson until he arrived late for a special teams meeting last week. With the season on life support, Jackson let down his teammates. While his frustrations are understandable, missing that meeting was inexcusable. Whether or not Reid should have benched him is another story. I don’t know the dynamics of the locker room–was there precedent? Have other players been late and then played? How many times has Jackson been late? These are all things we don’t know, so I’ll leave that part alone.
Jackson is a dynamic player who helped this team win a lot of games from 2008-2010. And there’s no denying that he’s grossly underpaid. I wrote earlier this season that it’s embarrassing that the Eagles haven’t come to terms with him yet. But he’s been a non-factor for a lot of this season. I don’t know if his effort is down, teams have figured him out, or if opposing defenses spend so much time worrying about Jackson that he’s opened things up for other players. But that last argument is weak. Elite players find ways to work around that. And he hasn’t.
I like Jackson as a player, but he’s not worthy of Larry Fitzgerald money. With players like Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson scheduled to be free agents, it may not be a bad idea for the Eagles to look at bigger bodied wide receivers that provide more of a red zone target.