I am not an expert in root cause analysis and do not claim to be. I have heard the term used enough to know that the best way to solve a problem, particularly a persistent, vexing one, is to determine the root cause. Too frequently, we attack the symptoms and not the cause. Take healthcare. Instead of examining people's lifestyles, doctors' prescribe pills. A lot of healthcare problems can be solved by having people stand more at work, walk more during the day and reduce their fast-food and sugar intake. My bet is that fewer pills would be needed if people attacked the causes of their problems.
That's my preamble for what the Philadelphia Eagles did last week. Admittedly, Greg Lewis was a reach for a receivers' coach because he had no experience. What made the choice more of a reach was that the Eagles' receiving corps was young and inexperienced and lacking a senior mentor to teach them the little things that can differentiate between being successful in the NFL and getting cut. What the Eagles did was pair a rookie coach with perhaps the worst receiving corps in the NFL.
The results were predictable. That's not to say that Don Coryell, the architect behind the famous "Air Coryell" teams with San Diego in the 1970's, could have done much with this bunch. Greg Lewis didn't have a chance. This corps either couldn't get open or, if they did, they had trouble catching the ball. At some point, coaching doesn't matter; talent does. And that's the root cause of the Eagles' problem.
You could bring in Jerry Rice or Michael Irvin to coach this bunch and it wouldn't matter much. But you could bring in a real GM and front-office team that more emulates what Jimmy Johnson did with the Cowboys in the early 1990's (finding bargains everywhere) than what Howie Roseman and crew are accomplishing now. The root cause in the receiving problem? It's not Greg Lewis. It's not the head coach.
It's the owner, who seems wed to this GM, and the entire organizational culture. New England takes Eagles' castoffs Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe and makes them successful starters at defensive backs. The Eagles? Well, they seem to misfire in many places. Greg Lewis did not cause the receivers' problems, not even close.
But the Eagles showed their fan base, which by the way is not gullible, a firing, as if to say, "we're on it and we're holding people accountable." The miscue there is that they are holding the wrong person accountable. Too bad you cannot fire the owner, because until he wakes up and realizes that his front office is undermanned and outgunned, more mistakes will happen and continue to happen.
Fire the receivers coach?
That's not the root cause. Not even close.