Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles: The End of an Era

Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid gets handed a gameball in his last press conference as a head coach

It’s officially the end of an era for former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid with a devastating record of 4-12 for the 2012 regular season.   Eagles owner Jeff Lurie stood by his word as he bid Andy Reid farewell after an 8-8 record for the 2011 season.  For those fans clamoring that we should not have let Andy Reid go since he was the Eagles franchise most successful coach to date, the Eagles organization is still a business.  And if Jeff Lurie kept Andy Reid for another season as a coach or otherwise, Lurie would be made to be nothing more than a paper tiger at best and a pushover at worst.  In as much as some of us criticize Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for being a pushover, Jeff Lurie would made to look much worse.

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens and quarterback Donovan McNabb

Andy Reid became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles on January 11, 1999.  It was not without criticism upon arrival in Philadelphia after he was lured from the Green Bay Packers. In 2000, the Philadelphia Eagles reached the playoffs with a 11-5 regular season record.  In 2001, the chain of playoff wins came.  With quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and safety Brian Dawkins coming to maturity, the Philadelphia Eagles was the team to beat in the NFC East with conference championships in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.  In 2004, with the acquisition of wide receiver Terrell Owens, the Eagles were at this time the cream of the crop of the NFC East and decisively the NFL.  The Eagles made it to Super Bowl XXXIX but was ultimately defeated by Tom Brady and his New England Patriots 24-21.  Donovan McNabb simply cracked under pressure in this Super Bowl, and with the Eagles essentially without a functioning quarterback, the New England Patriots won.

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia on the Sports Illustrated cover

After the stream of successes prior to 2004, the wheels of the truck began to fall off in 2005 as the disputes between Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb and David Akers tore apart the team in the locker room. In 2005, the Eagles ended with a regular season record of 6-10.  In 2006, with the season-ending injury to Donovan McNabb in October, backup quarterback Jeff Garcia took over the reigns and nearly led the Eagles to another Super Bowl after defeating the Carolina Panthers, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. However, as Jeff Garcia led them closer and closer to the Super Bowl, Donovan McNabb came out of the woodwork and became disruptive from the sidelines in a sense.  This antagonism ultimately led to Jeff Garcia being released — and Donovan McNabb as well.

In 2008, the Eagles made their way to the NFC Championship game whereupon they lost to the Cardinals 32-25. The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins in 2009, and after McNabb’s departure, then backup quarterback Michael Vick was named starting quarterback in 2010.  Vick’s most notable game as a Philadelphia Eagle was the decimation of Donovan McNabb and his  Washington Redskins on the night of November 15, 2010. On that night, Michael Vick was unleashed as he had four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns with a passer rating of 150.7.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick after another loss

After Michael Vick’s spectacular run in 2010, the wheels began falling off the truck again.  Most teamis had developed a gameplan for Vick’s weaknesses and tendencies as the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys both built sufficient defense gameplan templates the season before.  The other teams in the NFL basically followed suit, adjusting their templates as needed.  And with Michael Vick not holding much better himself in the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles demise was gradual and climaxed in this regular season with compounding losses with ridiculous amount of turnovers.

Juan Castillo as Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator

With the loss of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson on July 28, 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles defense never was the same.  Sean McDermott took over, but he could never build the Eagles defense as Jim Johnson could.  Soon, even he was released to the Carolina Panthers on January 5, 2011.  And with the acquisition of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie in the 2011 season, it seemed like a recipe for success.  Perhaps under the traditional defense of Jim Johnson.  With Juan Castillo and his implementation of the Wide-Nine defense, the defense collapsed unto itself as there were no leaders, only highly-paid players.

Andy Reid should be remembered for the successes he bought to the Philadelphia Eagles organization.  With few notable candidates currently to fill the void, 2012 Maxwell Coach of the Year Penn State’s Bill O’Brien seems to be the leading candidate.  Quite possibly, in my opinion, the former Chicago Bears Lovie Smith would be a potential option as well.  In either case, the options are not particularly tempting.  Reid went over his head with the promotion of Juan Castillo as a defensive coordinator, the firing of Sean McDermott and the wholesale acquisition of free agents. These are perhaps what did him in as a head coach.  Most likely, he will be acquired by the Arizona Cardinals as Ken Whisenhunt was recently fired.  A change of scenery will do him good.  Will it bring him as much success with the Philadelphia Eagles?  Perhaps, but I remain skeptical.

Pro Bowl 2012: Reeling the Regulations and Needed Changes

With the Pro Bowl 2012 over, the Pro Bowl in of itself needs several changes.  Although I realize that the NFL does not want any of the players hurt, it does not mean they should play glorified flag football for the fans.  The fans paid hard money in this depressing economy, and they deserve the players to actually show up for the game.  Unfortunately, the NFL players got most of the fans’ hard earned money for this charade of a game.

Here’s my list of approved changes to the Pro Bowl in 2013:

  • Make tackling relevant.  The NFL All-Stars on defense showed up for a reason — to tackle.  Illegal tackling, such as horse-collar tackles and spearing, should be avoided, but everything else should be legal.
  • Tight End Formation. Having a tight end on each down is good, but the tight ends should participate more as blockers and tacklers like they do during the regular season.
  • Needs More Twists.  Seriously, the linebackers need to allow to twist.
  • Needs More Gadget Plays.  As gimmicky as this sounds, the NFC and the AFC for the 2012 Pro Bowl did this well.  At least, the  coaches were allowed to reinvent the wheel and experiment.  Hopefully, this opens up more varied tactics during the upcoming regular season.
  • Running Backs Need to Rush More. As inclined as say the New England Patriots Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints Drew Brees might be to pass instead, running backs need to be on display again.  They barely showed up in the first half of the 2012 Pro Bowl.
  • Needs More Touchdown Celebrations.  The referees should withhold their excessive celebration flags and allow the players to use props and celebrate however way they like when they score a touchdown.
  • Cornerbacks and Safeties Should Play Hard on Coverage.  They should be permitted to close down the breathing room of wide receivers like they do during the regular season.
  • Overload Blitzes Should be Permitted. C’mon, dude.  The defense should allow overload blitzes more often to sack the quarterback.  With the quarterbacks this elite in the Pro Bowl, they should be permitted to manhandle the offensive line like they do during the regular season.

These are my suggestions for the next Pro Bowl.  With that, it might make the game more exciting to watch.  Although high offensive scoring might appease some of the crowd, it does not appeal to fans who actually watch football instead of being an armchair quarterback.

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2012 Pro Bowl Post-Game Analysis

After an interesting emo-pop presentation by Hot Chelle Rae, it’s the NFC’s best against the AFC’s best this season at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Super Bowl lies a week away, but for now, we have got NFL football players playing some glorified backyard flag football.  It’s mildly entertaining, but it’s no Super Bowl.  (With the Pro Bowl scoreboard at http://www.nfl.com seemingly hacked or bugged, it is definitely not the Super Bowl.)

Now to the post-game analysis:

  • After San Francisco 49ers David Akers kicked the ball, Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger‘s drive went into a quick three-and-out for the AFC.
  • With Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers at the NFC’s helm, after passes to Atlanta Falcons Tony Gonzalez and Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings, Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald scores off a 10-yard reception to bring the score to 7-0 with 9:20 in the first quarter.
  • After an onside kick by David Akers and recovered by Chicago Bears Charles Tillman at the AFC 44-yard line, Aaron Rodgers threw a 44-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald for yet another touchdown to bring the score to 14-0 with 9:14 in the first quarter.  A trick play paid off big for the NFC!
  • After an entertaining series of events involving an interception by Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews and lateral to Chicago Bears Charles Tillman, Ben Roethlisberger launched the ball to Cincinnati Bengals A.J. Green for a 34-yard AFC touchdown to bring the score 14-7 with 7:01 in the first quarter.
  • After a fumble by Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy, Ben Roethlisberger launched the football to Miami Dolphins Brandon Marshall for a 75-yard touchdown reception to tie the game.
  • After a batted-ball recovery by Aaron Rodgers, the NFC drive stalled in the closing minutes of the first quarter.
  • With New Orleans Saints Drew Brees in for the NFC in the second quarter, Brees steadily made it down the field with Larry Fitzgerald and Tony Gonzalez.  Brees capped off the drive with a 1-yard pass to New Orleans Saints Jimmy Graham with 9:47 in the second quarter.
  • On the other side, San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers made it down the field with passes to San Diego Chargers Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates.  He capped off this drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall to tie the game 21-21.
  • After a drive led by several passes to Jimmy Graham, Saints Drew Brees threw a 11-yard touchdown pass to Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings to bring the NFC up 28-21 with 5:22 in the second quarter.
  • AFC’s Philip Rivers answered quickly with passes to San Diego Chargers Vincent Jackson and ultimately finished the drive with a 27-yard touchdown to Antonio Gates with no time left.
  • After the interception of Carolina Panthers Cam Newton, Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton steadily moved down the field, but the drive stalled at NFC’s 19-yard line.  Oakland Raiders Sebastian Ganikowski booted a 37-yard field to bring the score 31-28 AFC with 12:23 in the third.
  • With 12:09 in the third quarter, Cam Newton threw a 55-yard touchdown reception to Carolina Panthers Steve Smith to bring the score 35-31 NFC. Cam Newton certainly has the physical assets of a great quarterback for that pass.
  • After another onside kick by David Akers, an interception by Houston Texans Johnathan Joseph and his 26-yard return, Jacksonville Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew 39-yard rush, the drive ultimately stalled, and NFC is forced to punt.
  • In a split second, Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton threw a  47-yard touchdown reception to Brandon Marshall with 3:53 in the third quarter to bring the AFC up 38-35. Marshall had an amazing  juggle catch as he tumbled onto the ground.
  • After the 36-yard return by Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown off the kickoff, Baltimore Ravens fullback Vonta Leach rushed for 1-yard touchdown rush to bring the score 45-35 AFC with 11:40 in the last quarter.
  • Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall to bring the AFC up 52-35 with 8:25 left in the game.
  • Denver Broncos Von Miller gets an 8-yard sack on Cam Newton and the first and only in the game with 8:25 in the fourth.   Cam Newton gets his second sack by Von Miller with 6:16 left in the game.
  • NFC’s Cam Newton was intercepted by San Diego Chargers Eric Wheddle with a 29-yard return who lateraled to Kansas City Derek Johnson for a 60-yard touchdown run to bring the score of the AFC up 59-35.
  • Newton’s redemption came in a 36-yard touchdown reception to Larry Fitzgerald to bring the score 59-41 AFC with 2:37 in the last quarter.
  • Saints Drew Brees drop-kick field goal is no good with 2:37 left.

The first half was a match of offenses trading blows through the air.  Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger could not find any rhythm, but Philip Rivers did.  New Orleans Saints Drew Brees played like he usually does and performed well with a 144.3 quarterback rating, only above Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers with 140.1 in the Pro Bowl. All of the running backs on either the NFC or AFC side ran very little.

In the second half, the defenses for the NFC and AFC became more relaxed and began playing hard.  Cam Newton certainly began feeling the pressure as he had two sacks by Von Miller and an interception return for a touchdown by Eric Wheddle and Derek Johnson.  To release the pressure, both teams began rushing from running backs and fullbacks.

In this Pro Bowl game, AFC’s Cincinnati Bengal Andy Dalton was the best performing quarterback with a 152.5 quarterback rating with New Orleans Saints Drew Brees as second-best with his 144.3 rating.  The best running back performer was Jacksonville Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew, and lastly, the best wide receiver of this Pro Bowl was Miami Dolphins Brandon Marshall with his 177 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.  His four touchdowns broke a Pro Bowl record, and Marshall rightfully deserved the Pro Bowl MVP award.  On the NFC side, Carolina Panthers Cam Newton performed miserably with a 44.8 quarterback rating with 193 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in a Pro Bowl game nonetheless which means he won’t be getting any MVP awards.

This game was won easily by the AFC 59-41, and this game is the highest scoring Pro Bowl game, not that it means much in light of the regulations.  After this charade of a game, the Super Bowl will be coming with the New York Giants and the New England Patriots meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.  This will be a Super Bowl rematch with Giants Eli Manning facing the Patriots Tom Brady, and the game should be more entertaining than this Pro Bowl game. Get the pizza, beer and chips ready!

2011 Pro Bowl Post-Game Analysis: How the NFC Was Won

Although this event has no bearing on the NFL regular season, it does give some time for some of the NFL players to play some backyard football in Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.  This event could be made more interesting if it had bearing like the MLB All-Star Game, but homefield advantage is determine by seed, not by an external event like the All-Star Game for baseball.  The Pro Bowlers who attended this event got their daily boost of endorsements out in the open and  more jerseys and memorabilia were sold in the process.  The television advertisers can also advertise their wares and prepare to spend millions for the Super Bowl within a week afterwards. Although the players are competing, this is still just backyard football, just on the national stage.

Now to the post-game analysis of this meaningless NFL event:

  • In the first quarter, San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers for the AFC played smart football from the outset until he began falling apart at the close of it.
  • Houston Texans running back Arian Foster is one versatile back although he did fumble.
  • Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli scored the first touchdown for NFC from a yard out, and Falcons wide receiver Roddy White 23-yard reception from Michael Vick helped.
  • Tennessee Titans wide receiver Marc Mariani 52-yard return from David Akers 74-yard kick was amazing until Phillip Rivers interception by Washington Redskins London Fletcher.
  • Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson runs for 17 yards and 14 yards were amazing, and the 14-yarder led to 14-o lead by the NFC.
  • Indianapolis Colts Peyton Manning replaced Philip Rivers, and he got intercepted by Atlanta Falcons Brent Grimes on the first series out.  Wow.
  • Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan to his tight end Tony Gonzalez from 4 yards out led to another score for the NFC 21-0.  New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t a happy man.
  • Atlanta Falcons DeAngelo Hall was the man for the first half.  He got an interception off of Philip Rivers, and he returned a fumble off of New England Patriots Wes Welker from 34 yards out and another NFC touchdown for a score of 28-0.
  • Matt Ryan’s bomb to Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald from 25 yards out was amazing and led to another touchdown for a score of 35-0.
  • Kansas City Chiefs Matt Cassel of the AFC got intercepted by Minnesota Vikings Antoine Winfield on his first series out.
  • St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson’s rush from 21 yards out for another touchdown for the NFC led the score to 42-0.  I have never seen or experienced even a backyard football game with a rout like this.
  • Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles carried the entire AFC team into the half for their first touchdown from 8 yards out for a score of 42-7.
  • Opening the second half, Chargers Philip Rivers laser to Indianapolis Colts Reggie Wayne from 16 yards out was great, and it led to another AFC score to bring the game to 42-14.
  • The fumble recovery on the kickoff by Jacksonville Jaguars Montell Owens from 8 yards out brought the game to 42-21 for the AFC.
  • Another Philips River laser to Jacksonville Jaguars Marcedes Lewis from 28 yards out for another AFC score of 45-28.  Fantastic pass by Rivers…
  • Matt Cassel’s interception by Carolina Panthers Jon Beason from 49 yards out nearly closed the game for the NFC with the score of 55-28.
  • Matt Cassel’s 7 yard pass to Montell Owens brought the score to 55-35, and it was almost their last gasp.
  • The lateral to Cleveland Browns Alex Mack from Montell Owens to the final AFC score of 55-41 from 40 yards out was something for the record books.  It was the good old backyard football play to end the game for the AFC.

The NFC won 55-41 over the AFC in this Pro Bowl match. Hopefully, this game doesn’t forecast how the Super Bowl will turn out with one team essentially dominating another. Luckily for us, this is just the Pro Bowl, and Jay Glazer won’t be calling plays on either side of the ball nor a streaker running in the middle of the field (hopefully — on both counts).  Whereas the Pro Bowl didn’t turn out to be a defensive battle, the Super Bowl should be. Both quarterbacks, Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers, should be constantly harassed, and their defenses are both capable of hindering their respective rushers of the Steelers Rashard Mendenhall and Packers James Starks. Let the countdown begin…

The Other Stuff: Fox NFL Commentator Troy Aikman Divorces His Wife Rhonda Before the Pro Bowl

Aside from the festivities that will come into the Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, Troy Aikman has divorced his wife Rhonda after 8 years, and this divorce has come before the Pro Bowl.  Although this does not fundamentally affect the NFL, it may affect the upcoming broadcasts as Troy Aikman, a Fox NFL color commentator, may be mired in legal troubles perhaps off-camera.  It shouldn’t have direct impact on Aikman’s job, but financially, it might.

Ten years ago, Troy Aikman married his wife, Rhonda Worthy, a former publicist for the Dallas Cowboys, and now have three daughters, including one previously from Rhonda’s former marriage. Professionally, he led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowls during the 1990s and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006.  He also owns Hall of Fame Racing of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and is part-owner of the San Diego Padres.

In my opinion, Aikman is one of better commentators for Fox, particularly when opposite of Joe Buck.  Although his analysis isn’t as deep as Howie Long‘s, for example, he does make astute observations about the game, especially from the quarterback’s perspective of the sport.  However troublesome this personal matter may be, his credentials professionally in the sport of football speak for themselves.

Green Bay Packers Tramon Williams Replaces Asante Samuel in the Pro Bowl

This is stunning news for Philadelphia Eagles fans sort of.  Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel was contending with a knee injury later in the season.  The stellar cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles who had 7 interceptions to lead the regular season will have knee scoped, it appears.

The Packers cornerback Tramon Williams is no joke however.  He was fifth in the league in interceptions at 6 and led the Packer with 20 pass breakups.  Currently, in the post-season, he’s leading the league in interceptions with 3 under his belt.

Now that leaves Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and kicker David Akers are starting in the Pro Bowl and wide receiver DeSean Jackson as reserve.

Apparently, Jason Peters apparently has declined going to the Pro Bowl as well.  It could be from injuries or from the fact that a defensive coordinator has not been confirmed yet.  I believe it’s a combination of both.