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.

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  • http://twitter.com/THEKID_ Mike Jehle

    I know there’s nothing but Reid Sheep on the coaching staff (to interim)…but how can he be allowed to coach out the rest of the season? That was utterly embarrassing yesterday.

    So tired of Reid…so tired.

  • Absecon

    I’ll give you a strengths/weakness evaluation that clearly has been ignored or overestimated by current management….The Washburn wide-nine was just as stupid an idea as the Mudd athletic line when you considered both those areas have been our strengths in the very recent past, and the weaknesses have been linbacker and saftey. Coleman is an “experienced back-up” now and you know what you have. Allen can be a solid, starting free saftey. His problem has been that he hasn’t been able to resist biting on the play fakes due to his run responsibilties in this assinine Washburn scheme. I don’t think he would have nearly as many mistakes in a scheme that uses its line and linebackers as run stoppers, and the safties in coverage and as occasional blitzers or run supporters. How many times did we hear the “our safties have to learn both positions and are interchangable” crap?! No, they’re not interchangeable. Have a strong and free saftey and quit the cute gimicks. What saved our butts over the “good years” with Reid is the gimmicks were on offense. Now that they are also on defense do you think it’s a coincidence?! There is a reason the wide-none (not a typo!) is not widely used! Bring in a new coaching staff, draft a true strong saftey, and get a real defense again!

    • poetx99

      tell ‘em why you mad, son. very cogent analysis of the impacts of scheme and philosophy on personnel and performance. when derek sarley (igglesblog) broke down one of the eagles’ breakdowns vs. play action he indicated just how difficult it was for the safeties to have primary run responsibility AND primary deep coverage responsibility.

      teams essentially put coleman (and allen) in a 2 way bind: show them the run, get them to take a step or two (or eight) up into the box, and then throw over top of them to a WR covered by a DB with exclusively outside leverage based upon the assumption of deep help.

      this has happened to our guys over and over and over again. and then you look at the game this week and instead of man, you have nnamdi going back into cover 3 and taking a deep third drop but nobody is in the middle.

      getting beat on essentially the same stuff week after week is beyond frustrating. and now that bowles has both the individual coaching AND the playcalling responsibilities, there’s no way to hide.

    • The Guru

      Not sure what you’re seeing in Nate Allen, but he is a HUGE bust. He’s terrible in the run, can’t tackle, can’t cover anyone (including TEs) and now has huge mishaps in coverage giving up big plays. It’s time to move on from this stiff.

  • JofreyRice

    Yeah, Coleman’s crappy play is no shock to me, but Allen has been a major disappointment. They’re often equated, but Coleman was a 7th rounder, that would be a decent 3rd safety; Allen was taken in the second round! Folks criticized me for grading him negatively earlier in the year, but silencing the critique does not cure the ills.

    What a list of draft missteps!

    Jarrett, Allen, Teo Nesheim, Watkins, Maclin, Graham

    Guys like Marsh and Curry can’t even see the field. What is the deal?

    Of course every team drafts busts, and they have had some success, but not enough to keep a high talent level on the roster. If Scott can hold off Danny Watkins at RG, they essentially have 0 starters from the first 3 rounds of the 2011 draft. There is no way a franchise is going to continue winning with that kind of lack of turnover in talent.

    Two things about getting a franchise QB from the 2013 draft:

    1. I’m not sure there are any.

    2. Howie & Co. would not make the right choice if there were.

    • Kimbafuzz

      I think Graham has shown some promise, but I agree about the rest.

      • JofreyRice

        Sure, I’ll agree that Graham has shown some promise, but he’s still not a starter. He was a first round pick, they traded up to get, and he’s got 4.5 sacks in 26 career games. Promise is nice and all, but it would be cool to see him pass Brandon Whiting on the all-time Eagles sack list before his rookie contract is up.

        • Kimbafuzz

          Can’t argue with that.

      • The Guru

        Not for being the 12th pick in the draft….Earl Thomas has been an all pro for the last two seasons

  • Beavis

    This was the problem last year and the problem again this season. Reid and Co. are trying to fit square pegs into round holes. They overestimated the talent on the team and rather than build around their players’ strengths and trying to mask their weaknesses, the coaching staff forged ahead with their schemes hoping it would pan out. The result? Second worst record in the NFC. It amazes me the coaches couldn’t see this. Or maybe they did and they are simply too arrogant to acknowledge the mistakes. Or maybe they only have one coaching style and can’t adapt around the roster. Either way, it is clearly a major problem. Overrated players. Overrated coaches. Poor assessment. Poor game-plan.
    A Buccaneers coach (forget his name) back in the 70s was asked after a crappy game about his team’s execution. His response: “I’m all for it.”

    • pkeagle

      It was Sam Wyche – great quote and quite appropriate with this sorry excuse of a team.

      • Mike

        No, not Wyche. Can’t remember first name for sure but pretty sure it was John McKay. He was good for quite a few more hilarious quotes as well.

  • daveH

    if a man is asked “why did you call that time out?” and he answers .. “because thats what i chose to do”
    is he a simpleton or is he being smug … ??
    >>
    do you want a simpleton running your team?
    do you tolerate anyone being rude & smug to you in life?