Monday, March 7, 2011

Brian Westbrook to Return to Eagles?

Westbrook may be the next veteran in the Andy Reid era to return to the Eagles
According to an interview recently with CSN and NBC 10, Westbrook has stated that he has been in contact with Andy Reid and would love to return to Philly, stating that he believes he still can contribute to the team at this point in his career.

While many would criticize this move, as Westbrook at 31 is well past his prime and in the twilight of his career, any Eagle fan should welcome B-West back with open arms.

Why? Well firstly we have the obvious reason: He's Brian Westbrook. One of the most beloved players in recent Eagles history. Bringing him back would be applauded and a morale boost to fans and players alike. It sure would be a great feeling at the very least to see Westbrook retire as an Eagle. The organization would at least owe him that.

Secondly, Westbrook still has a lot to offer this football team.
Westbrook can still be an effective kick returner should be return to the Eagles
Don't get me wrong, his carrying days are all but over. After carrying a mere 77 times for 340 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and 16 receptions for 150 yards, he still has big-play capability, but not nearly the dynamic franchise back he once was.

Yet, as the interview shows that he is willing to accept a backup role, he can still play a significant role on this offense. Westbrook is still an excellent blocker, something that neither McCoy nor Jerome Harrison seem to do well. With the porous offensive line that the Eagles have, any help protecting Vick would be appreciated.

And perhaps most importantly, Westbrook still has a great deal of speed left in his body. He could easily solve the problems the Eagles have had with Kick Returning. Ever since Ellis Hobbs hurt himself, neither Jorrick Calvin nor Chad Hall could do the trick. Westbrook would give us a dynamic kick returner once again.

And a good pair of hands, a team-first attitude, and excellent leadership can only help a young talented Eagles team.

Therefore, the Philadelphia Eagles truly have little to lose in taking Westbrook as a 3rd string halfback. And if anything should happen to Harrison (or God forbid, McCoy) we could be sure we would have a capable option to step up. Let's cross our fingers and hope this deal goes through.

And if, misfortune should have it, Vick were to land himself on IR within the first 6 games, don't be surprised to see Andy hit #5 on his speed dial...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Final Thoughts Before Super Bowl

It truly is a shame that the Eagles came within a mere 5 points of being at this game (yes I do believe the Eagles would have made it here had they beaten the Packers) but regardless, we are in for a great matchup and certainly a good game as the Steelers and Packers square off for the world championship.

As a football fan, I simply cannot wait for the game, as the Super Bowl tops my list of favorite holidays (unofficial). As an Eagles fan too, I also look forward to the contest. While it is still painful to ponder what could have been, it will certainly help to know that we lost to the Super Bowl champions. Furthermore, rumors exist that the Eagles are still interested in Darren Perry to coach the Eagles secondary. With an inexperienced Castillo, it is imperative to give him as much help as possible through both coaching and personnel acquisitions (Asomugha?) and therefore after the Super Bowl, we will have to see if the Eagles sign someone from the two teams.

It will certainly be a shame that there will be no cheerleaders at this Super Bowl for the first time in history, but hopefully an excellent game combined with a few good Doritos and E-trade commercials will make up for the absence of sex appeal.

So before I depart to take care of some pre-Super Bowl business, let's take a final look at the match up.

The Steelers are the 2nd ranked defense in 2010, with the Packers the 5th ranked. Although the Packers are the 5th ranked passing defense, with Pittsburgh being the best run stopping team in the league.

On offense, the Packers are the 9th best offense, while the Steelers are only the 14th best. The Packers then are the 5th best passing attack, with the Steelers being the 11th best rushing attack.

It surely is a difficult match up and the Packers are favored by most to slightly edge the Steelers. However, perhaps I am just playing Devil's advocate, but I'm going to have to go with the Steelers.

As much as it hurts to see them win a 7th championship, Pittsburgh defense simply impresses me more, and it is defense they say that wins championships. While the Packers have a prolific offense, they tend to excel when they find unexpected success with their running game (see James Starks). As Pittsburgh is by far the most dominant run stopping team, I believe the Steelers can shut down any attempt at a running game by Green Bay and focus on attacking Aaron Rodgers. Plus, Green Bay has been a flawed team all season long, partly due to injuries. In every postseason game except the Atlanta game, they played a magnificent 1st quarter, only to die on offense by the 2nd half. I believed all season long that these flaws would catch up with them eventually and the Super Bowl may be the night for it.

Of course, let's hope that I am wrong and the NFC is victorious once again this season. Either way, Happy Super Bowl everybody!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Juan Castillo DC Promotion a Day Later

I will admit that, like all of Philadelphia, I was shocked by the Juan Castillo move and was at a loss for words. To me the move made little sense, but after slowly gathering my senses I watched the press conference on and will now share my thoughts after a day to process it all.

To say the move is baffling is a gross understatement, as even Andy Reid himself mentioned in the press conference that he expected this move to be surprising to most, and it should be. Juan Castillo, despite having experience on the defensive side of the ball, has only had experience as a defensive coordinator at a high school level. In college he was a linebackers coach and he played linebacker at one point in his career. He clearly understands defense, but the fact remains that Castillo has not had any experience as a defensive coach at an NFL level.

Of course, the move is not entirely unreasonable. As an offensive line coach Juan is required to understand blitz packages very well. And he clearly does if the claims that he would talk defense with the late Jim Johnson are true. Sources around the league are attesting to his incredible work ethic and Castillo will likely get up to speed. Additionally, the addition of Jim Washburn should help to ease Castillo's job. Also, Howard Mudd, one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, should be a more than adequate replacement for Castillo.
Reid has rarely let us down in the past with his unpredictable decisions.
Still, when you put it all together, clearly Andy Reid is taking a tremendous risk that could have an impact on his tenure here in Philly. Yet, as I try to stay optimistic, I will trust Reid once again. Ever since he arrived in Philadelphia, Reid has been one of the most unpredictable coaches in the NFL. From the drafting of Donovan McNabb over Ricky Williams, the Terrell Owens trade, the signing of Michael Vick out of prison, the trade of Donovan McNabb to a divisional rival, to the anointing of Michael Vick as the starter over his long-term plan Kevin Kolb. All of Reid's gambles have paid off in the past, despite how controversial they may have been at the time.

Therefore, I will put my faith in Reid one more time that he knows what is best for the football team, even when the world scratches its head.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eagles to Franchise Tag Vick

Vick will be back for another run at the title in 2011.
Well it's official, Vick is going to be an Eagle again next season. If he plays anything like he did this season it will be well worth it. While it may seem unfortunate that Vick will not get the long-term deal he desires, this new contract should easily account for his financial woes and another strong performance will surely land him a new contract. Especially if (cross your fingers) he leads the Eagles back to the Super Bowl.

Of course, the question on everyone's minds is what to now do with Kolb? There are many out there who would say that the Eagles should only part with Kolb if they receive multiple high picks. However, the Eagles should deal Kolb if they get as high as a 2nd round pick.
Kolb is arguably the best backup quarterback in the NFL
While Kolb is valuable as a backup, he would be overpaid for such a role. But even neglecting that, the fact remains that this is likely the best time to deal Kolb, as his value will likely never be higher. And with many holes left on the team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, it is more important that the Eagles address more of the team's needs than retain a capable backup. Let's face it, it is Vick who will lead this team through a deep playoff run, and not Kolb, therefore it would only make sense to solidify Vick's chances at leading Philly to the promised land.

Additionally, the concerns for having a reliable backup are very real, but a good backup can be attained with relative ease. As the coaching staff thinks very highly of Mike Kafka, more time to develop him could make him into as good of a backup as Kolb ever was. And the Eagles could always explore free agency. There are a few big names who may be attainable now due to age and the Eagles may even be able to attain Matt Hasselbeck or Carson Palmer. And who knows? Jeff Garcia's 3rd stint with the Eagles could be just around the corner. Thus, the Eagles need to make the right decision, and trade Kolb now that they have the opportunity.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Evaluating McNabb Trade a Year Later

How much should Philly fans miss #5?
We all remember the shocking move the Eagles made on Easter, trading away 11 year starter and face of the franchise Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins for a 2nd round pick. Most Eagles fans do not seem to have missed him much, as the breathtaking play of Michael Vick did not to distract us.

Yet, with a season that had Super Bowl aspirations to end once again in the 1st round, it had me thinking. Was trading McNabb truly the right decision?

From a short-term perspective, the answer seems to be "no." The Eagles played the Packers, Lions, Jaguars, Redskins, 49ers, Falcons, Titans, Colts, Redskins, Giants, Bears, Texans, Cowboys, Giants, Vikings, and Cowboys. The Eagles went 10-6 with Vick under center, and Kolb under center for a few games. Yet, how many would they have won with McNabb?
While he may have been less exciting, it's hard to imagine McNabb would have been unable to win at least 10 games this season.
With McNabb, Green Bay would have been a victory. Few play Green Bay as well as he does (see 4th and 26). Both Redskins games would have been victories. Sure, I don't see McNabb scoring 59 points, but he would have won nonetheless. The Eagles likely would have lost to the Giants the second time, as at this point in his career, McNabb is not the 4th quarter comeback player he once was. But with the way Dallas has played this year, it's hard to imagine he would have lost to Dallas twice. And perhaps he would have found a way to defeat Minnesota.

Additionally, in the Titans game, the Eagles failed to put up major points because Kolb's deep ball was inaccurate. And who throws a better deep ball than Donovan McNabb? Perhaps the Titans game would have been a victory as well.

Of course, this is all operating under the assumption that McNabb had stayed healthy a whole year, a huge assumption. But if he had, the Eagles could have won as many as 13 games, perhaps more reasonably 11 games (considering he and Reid's tendency to lose winnable games) and certainly at least 10.
As great as Vick has played, he needs to win playoff games before h can be compared to McNabb, especially with McNabb's track record (4th and 26) against Green Bay.
And with McNabb's postseason experience, and success against Green Bay and the Giants (who may have slipped into playoffs with McNabb's defeat of Green Bay and loss to the Giants) the Eagles may very well have won the first round, defeated Chicago (who McNabb also has a strong record against) and made it to the conference championship once more (although that may be where the season stops yet again).

Of course, this is all speculation, but it may be fair to say that the Donovan McNabb trade, from a short-term perspective, accomplished little. The Eagles are exactly where thy were when McNabb played his final game, a first round playoff exit and a disappointing finish.

However, the more important question may be whether or not the Eagles are well set for the future. Yet honestly that also does not have a clear answer. Will Vick return? If so, will he be franchised? Could a long-term deal be struck? Can he keep up a high level of play past this season?

A few weeks ago, the Donovan McNabb trade looked like a genius move. Now, things are not quite as clear as they once were.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eagles Eliminated Early Again

Michael Vick could not carry this team on his back as he had in previous evenings.
Another promising season has ended too soon and left Eagles fans across the world disappointed once again. Similar to week 1 against Green Bay, the Eagles were at home and played an abysmal first half. However, rallied in the second half with a chance to win the game. Yet, Vick and the Eagles fell short once again on a game winning drive. Vick, who had in my opinion been excellent all game and sufficient at worst, threw the game ending interception to finish of the season for the Birds.

It is easy to blame Vick or Akers for choking, or Andy Reid for not sufficiently preparing his defense or offense for the game, but the truth in the end is the Eagles simply were not good enough. They could not capitalize on Green Bay's many turnovers. Their defense could not get Aaron Rodgers off the field. They could not sufficiently generate pressure to rattle Rodgers. And in the end, they could not lead another miraculous comeback to save the game, and their season.
Kevin Kolb should be traded now when his value is highest.
It is tough to swallow for an Eagles fan and certainly for everyone in that locker room. After so many big games and so many big plays, against Indianapolis, Washington, and the New York Giants, it was once again all for nothing. While many would point out that the Eagles had far exceeded expectations for the season, I completely disagree. By anointing Vick as the one to lead the team over Kevin Kolb, Andy Reid was declaring a rebuilding season a competitive season. It was another Super Bowl or Bust season. And for the 50th time now, the season has been a bust.

There will be many questions to be answered this off-season. What draft picks will be made to improve the team? Will the Eagles bring in any big-name free agents? And of course, the biggest on all of our minds, how will the Eagles handle the quarterback situation?
What better way to excite fans and players once again than to sign one of the best cornerbacks in the game?
I will answer these questions in further detail as off-season progresses, but to me the answers are simple. Draft? Linebacker, Offensive Line, and defensive line, in that order. A big-name free agent to get the Eagles over the hump? Nnamdi Asomugha. Quarterback situation? Franchise Vick, and trade Kolb.

Yet of course, I am not the Eagles or Andy Reid, so it will remain to be seen how this will play out.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eagles Vs. Packers Matchup (Part 2)

The Eagles will need Vick to be magical once again as they take on the Packers in a rematch of week 1
If anyone remembers, I began this year with an analysis of the Eagles Packers matchup in week 1 and it seems ironic that the two teams are destined to meet again in the 1st round of playoffs. Of course, both teams are much changed since the beginning of the season, as my analysis was based upon Kevin Kolb at quarterback, which we all know is old news.

With Vick at the helm, the Eagles have scored a record number of points once again and have the most potent offense among all the playoff teams. Yet, the Packers have the 9th best offense this season and the 5th best passing offense as well. They are clearly a very dangerous team and, with Stewart Bradley likely still out and Dmitri Patterson struggling a bit recently, the Eagles are clearly vulnerable.

Yet, in the end, I believe this is a game the Eagles should win if they play their best football. The Eagles match up very well against Green Bay and if Reid devises a good game plan, the Birds should triumph.
The Eagles defense will need to step up big against a talented Packers defense
While the Packers have a top 5 defense this season, they are only 18th at defending the run. If Vick does not make poor decisions and takes off when his wideouts are contained, this Green Bay defense will be hard-pressed to keep him at bay (see Eagles Packers week 1). That combined with a combination of LeSean McCoy and perhaps Jerome Harrison to mix things up could mean a long day for this Green Bay defense.

And if the running game can be established (a big "if" considering Reid and Morhinweg's track records) then it will only further open up passes down the field, which will be key to advancing to the next round.
Only one can advance to the next round. Let's hope for a better outcome on Sunday than in week 1
Additionally, the Packers lack a reliable running game. The Eagles should theoretically have no problem shutting down Brandon Jackson. If Sean McDermott's main focus is dealing with Rodgers (easier said than done) then the Eagles may hope to limit the damage he can do. Perhaps then, with an Asante Samuel interception or two, the Eagles can continue to perform well.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. Shutting down Clay Matthews will not be easy, especially with our porous offensive line. Rodgers is also an elite quarterback with a plethora of weapons at his disposal. And also, the Eagles simply looked awful on Tuesday Night Football. But Reid is flawless after a bye week (although ours is unofficial) and the Eagles have the advantage of playing at home. And while both teams are full of holes, I believe the Eagles are simply the more complete team. Let us hope that with a week to rest, the Michael Vick Show can continue just 3 more weeks.