How the hell can our sports teams be headed in so many different directions right now. The Eagles have a young center piece that they are committed to building around. The 76ers are stock piling young draft picks but can’t seem to figure out how to get them on the court. The Phillies are well, I don’t know what they are. I think they want to be the Red Sox but it is hard to tell what they are doing. Lastly the Flyers have put together an interesting package of young and old talent and continue on their life long journey of trying to find that golden Goalie. So I guess we can focus out attention on the Eagles and start getting excited about the upcoming season.
The Eagles seem to have at least the best laid plan, and the only one truly moving forward. The Eagles decided to go out and get a head coach last year and a new quarterback in Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz. This was a move that looked like Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb all over again. The truth is there are a lot of similarities between those two teams in Doug’s first year. This season it appears they are trying to not make the same mistakes they did during the Andy Reid era.
SIMILARITIES YEAR 1
- New Coach and New Quarterback: Andy drafted Donovan in their first season. Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson came together as rookies in their respective positions.
- Lack of a true running game: Andy struggled to get a true running back or running game going. Doug struggled with the crew of backs he had in his first season. Both Coach’s relied heavily on the play of their young quarterbacks.
- Bad Receiving Core: The eagles under Andy Reid always struggled to get or keep a solid receiving core in Philadelphia. Donovan, with exception of the TO debacle, never truly had that ace wide out. Doug had what many would argue was the worst recieving core in football last season.
Don’t make the same mistake twice.
Unlike the Andy era, the Eagles went out this year to fix areas that they were weak at the year prior. They went out and signed one quality receiver in Torrey Smith, and signed a legitimate #1 in Alshon Jeffery Instead of waiting to get that talent later in Carson’s career they hooked him up early. Imagine if the same was done with Donovan McNabb.
The Eagles looked like they were going to stick with a platoon back field of smaller more shifty running backs. Oh here we go again, no focus on the running game. What the hell were we going to do in third down and short or inside the five. Then, as if they were listening to the football gods they picked up Legarrette Blount. A big bruiser who is the size of most linebackers and can get you those critical first downs, and will be huge in the later parts of the season.
I like that the Eagles front office went back to a system that had sustained success for a little over a decade. Although the Andy and Donovan reign didn’t get us a championship it did give us great football and gave us a foundation to build on. There were some holes in the system that if fixed would have produced a title or two.
- Time Management: This was Andy’s Kyponite. He would use bad time outs and always seem to run out of time somehow. The worst was when there didn’t seem to be a sense of urgency in the later parts of games. (The Super Bowl Lose Need I say more)
- The lack of a sustained run game: THe 60/40 pass to run ration (I,m being generous there) killed that team far to many times. Football has been following the same footsteps for years and that’s when you have a lead you run the ball in order to chew up the clock. Ask the Falcons and Seahawks if they would run the ball again in there Super Bowl losses.
- Pass to Run Ratio: If you are going to maintain a 60/40 pass ratio at least have guys that can catch the damn ball. Really guys. The Eagles had #2 and #3 wide outs playing as the #1 for years. Even as good as Deshuan was he was still a one trick pony. Couple this with McNabbs erratic accuracy and it caused for some tough times and hard losses.
The Fix is In
I like what the Eagles are doing this time around. They are building around the QB with wide outs and what appears to be a stronger running game. I would still like to see them find that every down back next season in the draft, but the platoon they put together this year will work well. They have good change of pace backs that can catch out of the back field, and a bruiser that can get those needed yards at the end of games.
The Eagles still have some defensive holes that they have to address in the next year or two. First they have some money tied up to guys that may not even start this season, namely Vinny Curry. BAD SIGNING GUYS. They drafted well on defense and if they can apply the pressure up front then that will help out the DB’s. If they can’t find a way to get pressure (because they don’t blitz – STUPID) then we may see more shoot outs then we care for.
Andy’s teams were carried in the early years by having a great Jim Johnson defense. Having a great Defense helps cover up some of those offensive issues. They kept them in a lot of games. The current team lacks the same defensive assistance the way they are built today.
With all of this I think you can expect some of the same early success that we saw with Andy and Donovan. In their second season the Eagles went 11-5 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs. I believe the Eagles this year will be at least 10-6 and make the playoffs. Of course this is everyone stays fairly healthy and nobody gets suspended for PEDS, Lane Johnson and Alshon Jeffery. Keep it together you two. If they run the ball when they are supposed to and get pressure on the opposing QB this could make for a great season. I don’t think they will get further than the Divisional Round in the playoffs but they can at least win a wild card game. The biggest x-factor for the season is going to be if Carson Wentz is the real deal and continues to progress or does he slide into a sophomore slump. If this happens then the there will be Hell to pay in the City of Brotherly Love.