Are there not enough character guys on this team anymore?
“I would say that’s true,” Avant replied.
The veteran receiver tried to cut himself off several times during his session with a group of reporters before getting too critical of his teammates, then pressed on. He was one of a handful of Eagles that couldn’t hide their emotions any longer. Some of the guys that line up beside them just aren’t cut from the same cloth.
“It’s difficult because me, I leave it all out on the field and I give it everything I got,” said Michael Vick. “Sometimes I wish I could play other positions, but I can’t.”
Most of these kind of thoughts were kept out of the public during the Eagles’ 4-12 campaign. But now one of the most disappointing seasons in memory is over, and sweeping change is about to hit the organization. The head coach, the star quarterback, and countless others could be moving on. No point in holding back now.
“One thing that I do know we need are guys that buy into the system, whether it’s Coach Reid’s system or anything else,” said Avant. “I’m hoping and praying it’s Coach Reid but if that’s not the case, you still need to have the players to be responsible and also accountable, and not to allow the amenities of the NFL to distract them from what the game is really about, which is playing hard for the team, playing hard for the city of Philadelphia, and I think that was part of the distraction.”
Now that Reid is being removed from the equation, the question becomes: How much of the recent dive is on him? Did the team look lifeless for much of the season (and certainly on Sunday) because they had tuned him out?
“I don’t think it’s the coach. It might be due to other reasons — record, playing time, things like that,” said LeSean McCoy. “I don’t see guys quitting because of coach. He’s a coach where you want to play for him. He’ll find something each week to motivate you.”
Many pin the problem on a dilution of the Reid culture as a result of poor drafting and the need to import players via free agency and trade. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — part of the big 2011 offseason splash that fell well shy of expectations — are two examples of big moves that have yet to pay big dividends.
“I wouldn’t put [the downfall of Reid] on the free agent class that came in but I really wish that the class came in and won it all,” said Asomugha. “And the second year we’re not all here that were here last year, but for the team to have a worse record than we did that first year just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Added Rodgers-Cromartie: “From a personal standpoint I take it very personally because you look at yourself and know what you can do and you go out there and are not as productive as you can be. You first have to look at yourself and can’t blame nobody else.”
Avant opined that relying on players who are not homegrown is OK; it just has to be the right players.
“It just depends on doing good research,” said Avant. “It all depends on the type of player you bring in.
“When people don’t go as hard as they ought to or they lay down and things like that, it’s a reflection of the players and the type of individual that you have out there. I think it’s one of the things that has to be corrected for next year. There has to be a total buying in by the players for the coaching staff.”
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