With one game left in an exceptionally disappointing season, the Eagles have little left to play for but pride. The funny thing is if they had any pride during the middle of the season Sunday’s home game against the Redskins game might actually mean something.
Still, I’ll give them credit (just a little) that they’ve seemed to figure a few things out defensively (I’m thinking Juan Castillo has probably gotten some input from his position coaches and actually put it to use) while making sure LeSean McCoy gets enough touches to be a difference maker. That said, even if they get to 8-8 with a victory Sunday it is far, far below what this team should have been.
So where does the blame lie?
Many will point to Castillo since it was his defense that continually coughed up leads through the first 12 games of the season. And while he shouldn’t have been the Eagles defensive coordinator (a given after not coaching defense since the late 1989 at a Texas high school), it’s not really Castillo’s fault that he was in far over his head.
But hang on, this isn’t another rant as to why Andy Reid should be fired. That would be a waste of time because even if the Eagles lose Sunday the team has saved Reid’s job for another season by winning three straight in dominating fashion. The true onus of the failures of this season falls directly on the players.
When is Michael Vick going to learn to slide instead of falling back, “sliding isn’t part of my game. That’s the way I play.” Pal, you’re barley 200 pounds playing in a league where 250-pound linebackers run almost as fast as you. Learning to slide or run out of bounds is the least you can do to ensure your teammates that you’ll actually play 16 games instead of collecting 16-game checks to play 12 times.
Hey, DeSean Jackson, stop crying about your contract. You don’t like it? Then don’t play. Simple as that. You want to get paid? Stop alligator-arming passes across the middle. Of all places, Philadelphia is not a place that will tolerate prima donnas. Now Eagles fans are starting to realize why Jackson slipped to the Eagles in the second round of the 2008 draft when he clearly had first-round talent.
Paging Nnamdi Asomugha, the guy who was a multiple first-team All-Pro player with the Oakland Raiders. You know, when teams didn’t dare throw the ball in his direction because of how good he supposedly was. Where is that guy? This season, I saw a guy getting beat by the likes of Victor Cruz and Brandon Marshall, good but not in the same league as Asomugha. Or so we thought.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the entire team.
Brent Celek has had a Pro Bowl season and for him to not even be an alternate is a disgrace. Jason Babin has been the player the Eagles hoped for and then some with an 18-sack season. Alex Henery has bounced back nicely from two misses on short field goals that ultimately cost the Eagles a game against San Francisco to have a very good rookie season. And Jason Peters, despite your weekly false starts you are clearly one of the best lineman in all of football.
This isn’t a team that needs to be blown up. Not in the least. I might be in the minority, but seeing Jackson walk wouldn’t bother me one bit. I’d rather see someone out there trying hard all the time, not just after they get paid or when they feel like it. There are holes to fill (all three linebacker positions, especially MLB, one or maybe two starting safeties unless Nate Allen can rebound from a 2010 knee injury and a competent backup quarterback if Vick isn’t going to stop being stubborn about sliding and/or running out of bounds), but this is a team that is built to win for the next two or three seasons.
With a full offseason to continue working (at the top of the list has to be getting through to Vick how truly important he is to the team) and some tinkering here and there (I’m fine with Castillo returning as long as he’s open to playing to the strengths of his players and not just how he wants to play) this is a team with Super Bowl talent. Now I’m starting to sound like a member of the Eagles front office.