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Posts Tagged ‘Andy Reid’

The Saddest of the Eagles’ Modern Days

November 29, 2012 2 comments

February 6, 2005 may have been the most frustrating day in this era of Philadelphia Eagles football. That close to a Super Bowl win. It may have been the most angering too, with many an NFC Championship dates qualifying for runners-up.

But this Monday, one on which the Birds appeared on the venerable nighttime football broadcast, was the saddest day of this Eagles epoch.

On a not-so-chilly late November night, the parking lots were practically empty just a couple hours before kickoff. Swaths of pavement laid bare with no portable grilling complexes to heat them. You could smell the apathy in the air, and upon emerging from the subway station, the absence of tailgating shenanigans in your sightline killed the mood before you even got to the stadium gates. “Is it too early to leave already?” I asked my friends as we walked down Pattison.

I only went to this game for the free food and drink. I was sitting on the shitter at work, when my friend texted me with the offer of an extra ticket. It’s a 12th row, 50-yard line seat that includes entry to the Touchdown Club, which gives you access to loads of free liquor and top-notch grub. And it’s free for me. Such a no-brainer that actually became a brainer the way things are these days. It warranted a debate in my head, and perhaps due to my vulnerable state, pondering my life on the toilet during a Monday afternoon at the office, a state from which things can really only go up, I convinced myself to go.

The feeble performance of the team, which has become too redundant to even evoke much emotion in me beyond facetious laughter and derisive jokes, was not the reason this was the saddest day of the Andy Reid era. It went well beyond that.

As I sat just a few rows back of the Eagles sideline, in the kind of seats from which you can see the sport and the players from a whole other perspective, I realized that I didn’t want to get such a close look at this team. No matter how many hundreds of Philly pro sporting events I’ve been to in the last couple decades, many sitting in the stadium’s last row but a number sitting right up close as well, as a heart-invested fan I still get that added excitement of being so near to the field. When you are that close, you can actually see when a certain player is operating on another level that given night. (From his first carries, I could see that Bryce Brown was “bringing it” in a way that teammates and opponents weren’t.) Great seats enable you to get a good look at the graceful way a running back turns the corner, but also actually see the expressions on his face when he comes off the field. It’s not only seeing your favorite players in the flesh, but being so close that you can pay attention to the nuances of their pre-game routine or observe which teammates they converse with to get pumped up. A whole other type of entertainment to enhance the experience.

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Why? Because they were free…well actually…because they came with free food and drink.

Yet there I was, drenched in the Monday Night Football lights, just feet away from a team I’ve watched religiously for a good 15-plus years, and I wasn’t starstruck in the least. I scanned the sidelines and found guys like DeSean Jackson and the recently-terminated Jason Babin. I got a good look at the uber-disappointing Nnamdi Asomugha, and later that night his post-blown-coverage dumbfounded face. (I also got to see Nick Foles’ uneasy Tom Petty resemblance, but that’s beside the point.) I probably got one last look at Andy and Marty. It was a sideline full of players and coaches that didn’t so much disinterest me but actually disgusted me. Even during the other low points of this Eagles era, I never felt that way.

Monday Night Football. The game hasn’t even started. We are playing a team that we actually have a chance to beat. And my expectations are already low enough to be standing on them. So instead of paying close attention to the team as the game began, I turned to my friend to swig some beers and make jokes in the I’m-at-a-crappy-football-game-but-let’s-get-drunk sort of way. After all, another reason I decided to go to the game was to see him. He doesn’t live in town these days, but he’s one of my oldest friends, and one who has joined me in countless spirited adventures to Eagles games both home and away.

It dawned on me that more was at stake than a lost season. Those people who weren’t tailgating in the lot this time around, probably weren’t even getting together to watch the game with their friends on the sofa. Why get together with the gang to watch this team? Might as well do some laundry at home and devote a half a pair of eyes to the TV as long as you can until your conscience says it’s time for a Monday night sleep before the game concludes. Might as well listen to your conscience this time around and go to bed.

There are near weekly emails that go around among my friends, and I assume many other groups, throwing out ideas for Sunday. The chain-initiating message goes something like, “I’ll host” or “What are people doing for the game?” or “Anyone interested in heading down to Xfinity?” Sometimes we meet up in the burbs, other times we rendezvous in the city. The Birds serve as an excuse to get together. Now they are just an excuse for a football team.

As our best player on the night, Bryce Brown, also lost us the game with his second fumble–the final nail of melancholy in a season long ready to be buried–I realized that I can’t expect to see those midweek email chains in my inbox in the weeks to come.

The product is no longer worth it. That is why Monday was the saddest day in a long long time for the Eagles franchise and its audience, and I hope Jeffrey Lurie understands how sad it truly is.

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Settling Back Down In Letdown City

November 17, 2011 3 comments

We’re past the honeymoon stage of our new status as a championship city, and this trophy marriage has taken a nosedive, from our newfound perch found in the Fall of ’08, back into a pool of miserable disappointment. The mood around town suggests the populace is thinking it might be another 25 years before the city’s next championship. Settling right back into our familiar role as Letdown City just isn’t as comfortable this time, because we’ve had the taste of glory, of how fun it is to win. It’s also a difficult pill to swallow considering the high number of hyper-talented athletes that continue to grace their respective fields of play in South Philly.

One day soon after the Phillies exited stage scoreless from the shocking Philadelphia tragedy also known as the 2011 MLB Playoffs, I jotted down a bunch of barely legible notes on a napkin next to my equally mind-blowing (in a better way) Khyber Pass Pub burger. Those written reactions to the end of the Fightins’ season have still never been published on this site. Sadly I think I’m still in the denial stage of that crisis, and as soon as I’m past that step, they may get posted in conjunction with some free agency commentary. But one thing I’ll share now is that I remember drawing a lot of comparisons between that debacle and ones orchestrated by the Eagles in recent years which led them to arguably sit second fiddle behind the Phils in terms of popularity in town.

Well wouldn’t you know, I sit here now, ready to circle back to those Eagles. The Birds, in the midst of their competition to grip the fervent fan base, have upstaged their sports complex neighbors with one of the lamest seasons we’ve seen.

Analysts both local and national have taken their turns assigning blame to this disaster. But that seems like a futile exercise to me, because there has never been a clearer case for which everyone deserves to be blamed. A consistently successful franchise with boatloads of talent does not become the utter mess the Eagles have become without the players, the coaches, and the front office all contributing. Everyone sucks this year (except maybe LeSean McCoy) and it’s everyone’s fault.

Be that as it may, Andy Reid, who has rightfully taken so much of the praise for this franchise’s success over the last decade, now needs to assume its heinous 2011 failure thus far and the ultimate failure to win a Super Bowl during his time. It’s time for a new, even better regime than Big Red’s.

It's time to do a better job...like literally a different job...like don't be the Eagles coach anymore

All very good, long-tenured coaches reach the end of their road. At this point, it’s just too easy to come up with a list of flaws and legitimate reasons to dead end the Andy Reid path. The Eagles have now become that friend who is too afraid to dump his/her significant other. They are that friend who scratches and claws to stay in the relationship just because it’s comfortable, turning blind eyes to the fact that the relationship seems to be bad for everyone involved in and around it. Nothing is more frustrating than watching that friend, for whom you care so much, drag on with a boyfriend or girlfriend that treats them like shit, insisting on preserving a union that clearly isn’t working. Sure, it worked at one point, and sure there are some great moments that will last as cherished memories, but those elements have been overshadowed by the present problems which threaten growth going forward. So here now a couple million people sit watching with such agony as one of their best buds, the E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles wallow in disillusion, sticking it out with their head coach year after year even though it hasn’t really been working for some time.

Bill Cowher stuck around and finally won it. But since he left, has the franchise really suffered to succeed? Has it sacrificed its football identity since he left? Absolutely not. They’ve experienced tweaks, but the Mike Tomlin Steelers sure as hell garner much of the same respect as the Cowher teams. And the Tomlin Steelers won a Super Bowl too. Jeff Fisher reached his end too. Has the beginning of the Mike Munchak era in Tennessee been a debacle of rebuilding and soul searching? No. The Titans are respectable 5-4, bordering on impressive without a flashy roster, without their best wideout and with a mild contribution from Chris Johnson.

Speaking of Chris Johnson, he might be the only thing missing from this team that is chock full of inflated egos (Asante, DeSean) and distracted minds (Kelce, and the brilliant Avant) who made the mistake of not only thinking players are better than the fans, but actually telling that to them publicly. All these egos are mere droplets in a deluge of egoism flowing from the front office and head coach.

Leadership is one of the clear-cut characteristics missing from this entity, and Reid’s smug demeanor seems to have truly been emblazoned on the attitudes of his players. The DeSean Jackson benching, though seemingly appropriate, is still a laughable act of discipline he tried to pull over a fan base and media group that watches a strikingly noticeable lack of discipline on the field each week. It’s just too late in the game for him to convince us he’s got control.

You can see on the players’ faces and in their performances that the team is diseased. They have been infected with bad vibes and mixed up directions (Juan Castillo’s unit exhibit numero uno) that have left them looking like a jumbled up Rubik’s Cube that’s stuck.

It’s not just that they lose every game in front of the home crowd, but they regularly commit more penalties in their own house than the visiting opponent. It’s not just that the elite stars acquired via free agency haven’t found a way to gel, it’s that they are all there to begin with because absolute garbage has been plucked from the draft in last few years with the exception of Shady McCoy.

It’s not just that the team is showing up, squatting over the field and taking a steaming dump all over it week in and week out. It’s that the bigger the game or the bigger the moment, the larger and steamier is the deuce they manage to push out. And it’s not just that they deuce their pants in every one of those moments, but it’s that no-name players like John Skelton and brand new coaches (HINT HINT!) like John Harbaugh are throwing the Eagles face down in the shit and walking all over them in those exact same kinds of moments.

The Eagles should be so much better. With the electric players they have, they should be so much more likeable too. The team has a window now that would be criminal to close on a city that is obsessed with its football team. Guys like Maclin, Jackson and McCoy are young and we’ve seen they can be flat out awesome. Guys like Babin, Cole, and Jenkins are in their primes. It’s been pitiful to waste this season. It’s been heartbreaking that a team which was positioned to make up for the Phillies’ oops of a playoff run has fallen on its face faster and harder than any in recent memory.

Many are hoping that a rhetoric of change similar to the one that swept a nation can also bring a new face to the helm of ship going scarily off course. I ask, with all the talent on the team ready to be steered in the direction of the Lombardi trophy, could there be a better moment for a coaching change?

Getting rid of Reid by no means disrespects him or denies the success he has brought to the franchise, but continuing to allow the underutilization of talent, poor identification of talent, and horrid gameday performances does disrespect the team and the diehards who want so badly to shell out 150 bucks every Sunday as long as they can get just some inkling that it will be worth it. Dan Klausner’s account of a crowd on Sunday whose  “general mood at the Linc was one of apathy. [Where] people were too downtrodden and catatonic to waste energy booing” is one of the saddest things a Philly sports fan can read. How can the organization live with that?

It needs to be acknowledged that criticism of the team’s unwillingness to part ways with Reid is hypothetical, an assumption that the organization will continue to back him as they have throughout his tenure. But we’ll just have to see what happens at season’s end.

Surprises are one department where they haven’t come up short. They took a giant chance on Michael Vick. They made an O-Line coach the D-Coordinator. They made a stunning move to get a shutdown cornerback and managed to make him look like a lost boy trying to cover Tinkerbell. They’ve uncovered one of the most rabid runners in the game but refused to unleash him.

Just maybe Jim Washburn can help the Eagles brass design one more surprise this off-season: a good ol’ fashion sacking of the coach.

Where has all the leadership gone?

October 5, 2010 1 comment

What do sports and Andy Reid have in common? They have no idea how to stick to a plan.

This game was supposed to be about McNabb returning to play against the Eagles. It was supposed to be about the cheers and the boos. It was supposed to be about Michael Vick reminding us we can forget Donovan. But sports don’t know how to follow the scripts the commentators write ahead of the game, that’s why tens of thousands show up at the stadium and millions watch on their TV sets.

It might as well be the signal for "Are you F-ing kidding me?"

For me, all the storylines and hype became moot right before halftime when I watched a team fail to run a play in time, after that time included a lengthy booth review and a timeout. Under that circumstance, it would have been more pleasurable for the crowd to hear nails on a chalkboard played over the P.A. system than the official’s delay of game announcement.

My reaction was unruly. It included an involuntary disregard for the children in the row behind me.

After dealing with my own bewilderment for a moment or two, while Andy Reid scrapped whatever stupid-ass play he couldn’t even figure out how to call, I thought about how guys like LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson must feel about this incompetence. How can they take the coaches for serious leaders? Maybe they can excuse their generals once and a while, but week after week?

At halftime, I realized that was the new storyline being written by this game, at least the way I was reading it from my seats in the Linc.

The moment Vick stumbled off the field, so too did the team’s identity. Once Vick disappeared into the locker room, all sense of leadership on that field disappeared with him. The emergence of Vick included the rise of a swagger and confidence that the club started carrying to back its arsenal of talent.

Andy Reid watching his team's identity go down with an injury

Reid has established a fine legacy here, as the years of success have been rightfully associated with his tenure at the helm. But it’s becoming clear that McNabb helped mask Reid’s identity for both good and ill. His performance undoubtedly bailed out the head coach’s shortcomings at times, and the QB’s failures rightfully shouldered plenty of the criticisms.

But thousands of undistracted eyes are now fixated on Reid in a way they’ve never been before. Only he remains as a figure from those glorious years, so we’ve naturally put our trust in him to know what to do with the young talent on the team. Yet he continues to have no management of his group, and his fellow coaches don’t seem to be helping out at all. It has become clearer by the Sunday, that Jim Johnson was the game breaker on the sidelines during the Eagles stretch of success.

JJ’s defense used to insert fear into the middle of opposing offenses’ game plans. Fans took to him more than your average coordinator, because it was obvious that the fan base had confidence in his preparation and his control of the game. We’re an astute group here in Philly, any national broadcaster will concede that. I think we were on to something, and now we miss Jim Johnson immensely. At this point, I’d consider placing Johnson’s tombstone on the sideline with a headset on it in favor of Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator.

Has anyone recently had success with a séance?

Once Vick exited, it was time for Reid to rescue the game, but his questionable judgment as a decision-maker and evaluator of talent became immediately re-exposed. Without Vick there to bail him out, we got another look at Kevin Kolb.

Even those who argue that Kolb did what he had to do, getting back in the game by taking what the defense gave him, getting one Jason Avant snag away from winning, their tone admits he did a serviceable job. He was given an ideal chance to redeem himself. McDermott and the D actually got their shit together enough to stop giving up points. Kolb was afforded one opportunity after another to put points on the board. But what some are calling a smart, conservative approach that he took, I am calling a struggle.

How many times have we heard the coaching staff say Kolb can make every throw? How many times have we heard the Sal Paolantonio’s of the Eagles media world regurgitate the confidence the Eagles staff has in Kolb? Sal, when are you going to start to distrust a staff that can’t even make a goal line play call within a five minute time span? Could it be that Kolb can only make the throws at the NovaCare complex? Why couldn’t he make the throw to Jackson who got open deep with a move toward the sideline late in the game? Ok, maybe he does make that throw next time, but what good is it if he doesn’t SEE it next time? Maclin was open deep on more than one occasion in the fourth quarter, and Kolb didn’t even look his way. I did, however, see him pass the ball through a defender’s hands a couple times, so at least he’s got that throw down pat.

I would not give up on Kolb completely right now, but the idea of turning the franchise over to him is becoming scarier than any haunted house I will be visiting on Halloween. Kolb came into a very similar situation as Vick did in Week 1, and he came in against a defense with half the intimidation as the Packers. Whereas it took Vick five ticks of the clock to wow me, Kolb did little to impress in three full quarters. I want to like Kolb, because the media and his teammates talk of him as a fighter and a fiery competitor. He had a golden chance to redeem himself and strut his stuff. But he looked like a drone under center more than a commander.

It’s too bad, because Kolb could have written a post game script worthy of a Pulitzer. Instead, we wound up with a story we’ve all read so many times before.

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