Well the bye week has come and gone and the changes have been few. Sure, Juan Castillo is gone and the Eagles have a new defensive coordinator in place. Juan was a hard worker and its hard to say anything negative about him, except that he was in over his head. I don’t blame Juan for that. Head coach Andy Reid put his friend in that position.
But besides that, there has been little changed announced. An “outside-insider” sent me a text this morning telling me Coach Reid had reviewed the entire staff from himself on down to the waterboys and decided that the needed change was to remove the coffeemaker in the film room until the number of sacks increases. This kind of sarcasm is funny, of course, but shows the confidence that even the people who understand the Eagles organization have in the changes.
So here, I present, my unsolicited and probably unwanted changes that Coach Reid should be concentrating on to recover the rest of the season.
1. Fix the offensive play calling. We spent a lot of time recently blaming Michael Vick for the fumbles and interceptions, stating the Shady McCoy just isn’t the same running back as last year and discussing the offensive line troubles. But break down each of these. If Vick wasn’t looking down field 45 yards on every play, would there be as many I-N-Ts as there have been? Finding nothing deep, Vick tries to outrun the pressure. And speaking of pressure, defensive coordinators around the league can’t wait to play the Eagles. A backup line and a quarterback who tries to do too much? Please. Easy week. Just blitz. Bring 5. Bring 6. Bring 7. Heck, why play real defense anymore. Know what will stop that? A few well executed screen passes – remember when the Eagles lived on the screen pass – and a few short crossing routes. Make the linebackers start paying attention to the pass again instead of just the corners and safeties. This makes Vick more successful, puts the ball in the hands of someone who knows how to carry it — Shady, Celek — and it solves the line issue by executing plays quicker to take the pressure off them. Next, you fix McCoy’s problem with getting stuffed at the line scrimmage. It’s a lot easier to open a hole when there are 4 linemen coming than if there are 7 with blitzers. Coach, the West Coast Offense doesn’t have to die completely. Use it to open up the big play.
2. Fix the defensive play calling. It should be noted that we are huge fans of Jason Babin at Philly Sports Nut. He clearly is interested in helping this site get better and get more attention. So when others pile on Babin and Trent Cole, we try to look deeper. The wide 9 technique is a great leap forward for defenses. Maybe not everyone gets that yet, but for pass rushing, it is above and beyond. But it requires finesse in the play calling. You can’t always let the front four alone to get pressure. It makes them — well — predictable. Its real easy to scheme against predicable. You can come up with your blocking schemes, your double teams, and your strategy to beat down the defensive line in just a few minutes. That’s why using the wide nine requires some finesse in play calling. You need to bring pressure from other places. Linebackers, safeties and corners all need to be involved in the blitz scheme. Even if you aren’t actually blitzing them, they can show it. Don’t we have lock down corners in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? If you trust them, then start blitzing. Start playing aggressive on defense. Hopefully Coach Bowles will bring that attitude.
3. Special Teams. Tackling is terrible. What else can you say? We miss Colt Anderson’s big hits on punts and kickoffs. Go out there and find someone who can do it. Start making it clear that jobs are at stake. Cut a few special teams players til you have someone who will go down there and sacrifice to put the team in a better starting position. On the other side of the ball, get DeSean Jackson out there returning punts. Yes, I know, you just paid him a truck load of cash. But what use is it if we can’t win a game.
Finally, my last point as the guru of getting this fixed, Coach Reid needs to march up to Jeffrey Lurie’s office and offer his resignation if the Eagles don’t make the playoffs this year. Sure, I’ve said for a long time if Reid leaves, there is no great candidates to take his place, but Steve Mitchell recently published an article here that explained why that shouldn’t matter. Reid was a low level coach at Green Bay when we found him and there are plenty of candidates out there. I hope Big Red can turn things around, but he looks tired. He looks worn out. Maybe he just needs a break.