Eagles Wake-Up Call: Failures In Self-Evaluation

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy ReidOver the years, Andy Reid has often said it’s his responsibility to put players in positions to succeed.

The response generally elicits an eye-roll from fans and reporters alike.

But perhaps there is actually something to it. Or more accurately, perhaps a major reason why the Eagles have struggled to an 11-15 record in their last 26 games is because they have failed to acknowledge the limitations of some of their players. In a few key areas, Reid, Howie Roseman and company have wrongly assessed what their players are capable of.

It has to be one of the most difficult parts about building a roster. Clearly defining a player’s strengths and weaknesses. Assessing what each guy’s ceiling is and determining the likelihood that he reaches that level.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles once again determined that they were OK at safety this offseason. Yesterday’s game – with major miscues by Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman – showed that they are not.

Again, it has to be difficult. Take Coleman, for example. The Eagles obviously saw something in him when they drafted him in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. They’ve seen him put in hard work and be a good teammate. So they convinced themselves that he could be an effective, starting-caliber safety.

And it just hasn’t happened.

The failures along the offensive line have probably been the biggest factor in this team being where it is today. Sure, most teams would struggle without four-fifths of their starting lineup. But it’s one thing to struggle and another to be crippled completely by a lack of depth. The plan to replace Jason Peters was Demetress Bell. At the time, it looked like the Eagles were being pro-active, signing the best available tackle on the market.

But somewhere along the line, there was a giant disconnect between talent evaluation and coaching. Bell can’t get on the field and has legitimately performed like one of the worst tackles in the league.

At center, the plan was to go with Dallas Reynolds as the backup. Reynolds was not deemed good enough to be on the 53-man roster for three seasons. Yet the Eagles convinced themselves that they’d be just fine with him in the event that Jason Kelce got injured. At guard, the best they could do behind Danny Watkins was Dennis Kelly, a 6-8 fifth-round pick, whose college experience was exclusively at tackle.

So yes, it’s fair to point out that injuries on the offensive line have hurt the Eagles. But it’s also fair to point out that they did a horrendous job in addressing depth.

And so the key in the final six games becomes self-evaluation. Figure out what you have and which pieces might fit in the future. Does Vinny Curry project to be a quality, starting-caliber defensive end? If there are no franchise-type quarterbacks available in the offseason, can you go into next year with Nick Foles? Can Curtis Marsh play? What about Jake Scott?

The Eagles need to make those evaluations honestly. Major roster turnover is likely this offseason. But better assessment of what they currently have will help determine how long the turnaround takes.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Frustration bubbled to the surface in yesterday’s loss. Tim has the details.

In his first NFL start, Nick Foles was not the savior.

Will Reid finish out the season?

Here are my instant post-game observations.

With under two minutes left, LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion.

The latest coaching buzz, with notes on Bill O’Brien, David Shaw and Chip Kelly.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano thinks it makes sense to play Foles the rest of the way:

The Eagles’ season is lost. Vick’s concussion sounds serious enough to keep him out a while longer, and it seems a worthwhile idea to play Foles anyway and see what he can do. Perhaps he can play well enough in the final six games to help the Eagles answer some questions about what they have at their most important position as they head into an offseason packed with critical decisions. Perhaps he plays poorly enough that they decide they need to shop for their franchise quarterback in the 2013 draft.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk thinks the Eagles were overstating the severity of Michael Vick’s concussion:

Though Vick’s concussion definitely was bad enough to keep him from playing on Sunday, a source with knowledge of the situation says Vick could be ready to play next week.

It’s believed that the Eagles applied the “significant” label to justify keeping Vick on ice, in the event that Foles played well.  Now that Foles hasn’t played well, we could see Vick back sooner than believed.

COMING UP

Reid will talk to reporters at noon. And Birds 24/7 Radio will air from 6 to 7 on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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