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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Philadelphia Eagles: The Dream Team is a Living Nightmare

The Eagles have blown second half leads in the past three weeks.

They are 1-3.

Some dream team, perhaps a "nightmare" team.

Just because you add all the parts that you did in the off-season doesn't ensure that you have chemistry. The Phillies, who play across the street, have both the big names and the chemistry. The Eagles have the big names, but they lack leadership on the field and have some blind spots off it.

Here is the critique:

1. You don't jettison an All-Star kicker unless you're sure the replacement is better. I don't blame today's loss to the 49ers on rookie Alex Henery, but if you miss two kicks at home of less than 40 yards, you won't have a job for long if you don't figure it out. Perhaps there were chemistry issues with David Akers, but he's a better kicker than Alex Henery.

2. The team lacks leadership on the field. The Phillies abound with leaders -- Halladay, Lee, Rollins, Howard, Utley, you name it, they have them. Who are the leaders on the Eagles? Who helps fire up each of their units -- offense, defense and special teams? Can you name anyone? That's part of their problem.

3. The team lacks judgment off the field. No one stands up to Andy Reid in the organization. I mean, how can they justify moving their offensive line coach to defensive coordinator? Why did that make any sense? And, how can they justify year after year not bolstering the linebacking corps? This team cannot stop the run. I mean, the 49ers came into the game with the NFL's worst offense, and the Eagles couldn't stop them.

4. Don't they practice ball security? I've seen better ball protection in Pop Warner leagues. That's Football 101.

5. And what's with the Red Zone offense? It doesn't matter all that much if you can move the ball before the 20 if you can't punch the ball into the end zone. The team had that problem last year and didn't fix it.

The Eagles seems stuck in being above average. While there might be few coaches with Andy Reid's track record, there are a bunch of them who seem to be able to surpass him. Year after year, his teams have flaws that turn out to be fatal. This year, the flaws were a) poor linebacking, b) question marks at safety, c) question marks on the interior offensive line, d) a bust of a first-round draft pick, and e) whether they'd improve their red zone offense. Reid has done a very good job over the past 10+ year; there's not disputing that. But he also hasn't been held as accountable for his decisions as he should be, and then he was given great leeway off-season with respect to his coaching staff and to personnel moves. And, so far, they have not materialized.

This is clearly a team that can sell tickets. This is a team that would populate a fantasy team well. But it isn't necessarily a playoff team, a team with the "giddyup" to really take it to the other team, get a lead and keep them down. They aren't closers, or at least they haven't shown this much so far. You just cannot blow second half leads and consider yourself playoff material.

Horrible, horrible day for the Eagles.

The dream team right now is a living nightmare.


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