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2009 - The Worst Eagles Team Under Andy Reid?

By: Nick Popyack

[Have a comment? Click the title of this article and go crazy!]

       The Eagles finished this past season with an 11-5 record, their best regular season record since their Super Bowl year in 2004-05. That doesn’t, however, mean it was their best year since Jacksonville. In many ways, this is the worst season the Eagles have had in the Andy Reid era.
       That’s right, I said it.
       The worst season the Eagles have had in Andy Reid’s time in Philadelphia.
       Wait a minute.
       The Eagles sent nine players to the Pro Bowl. They had the most players in attendance out of all 32 teams!

       That’s because the Pro Bowl has been turned into a joke; actually, it might have always been that way. Regardless, a Pro Bowl roster spot was made even less impressive this year due to the Pro Bowl being moved to a week prior to the Super Bowl. It opened the door to a whole host of players, including David Garrard, who threw for only 15 touchdowns last year, and, by my count, was an eighth alternate. When the league changes the way the Pro Bowl works, I’ll consider being selected impressive again.
       Oh, come on.
       McNabb completely deserved his selection. He had a great season, and he finished the season healthy.

       This is true.
McNabb finished the regular season healthy and with great stats [3,553 yards, 22 TDs, 10 INTs, 60.3 completion percentage, 92.9 rating]. However, the Eagles management obviously doesn’t think he’ll be able to keep it up, or they think it’s time for Kevin Kolb to take the reins. Why McNabb has to deal with this issue seemingly every offseason, I have no idea, but I think this is the first offseason the Eagles have shown they want to move on.
       Even so.
       Plenty of other Eagles had great seasons last year. DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Leonard Weaver, Trent Cole… Even Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant had decent seasons, considering one was a rookie and the other was primarily a back-up receiver.

       I’m not trying to belittle the Eagles’ successes.
       Jackson had the third 1,000-yard season an Eagle has had under Reid, and scored twelve touchdowns by means of receiving, rushing and returning. Celek had 971 yards, 4th most in the league for a tight end, and eight touchdowns. The signing of Weaver added a unique back that can block, rush and catch, an invaluable player in the Eagles style of offense. Cole had another double-digit sack season. Maclin caught 56 passes for 773 yards, third among rookie receivers. Avant continues to produce despite being a role player, accounting for 41 receptions for 587, which includes an eight catch, 156-yard day against the San Diego Chargers. Weaver and Avant, by the way, were both rewarded with contract extensions this past offseason.
       The successes are great and exciting, but for each success, there’s a failure close behind.
       Reggie Brown could manage only nine receptions for 155 yards. Kevin Curtis was worse, catching only six passes for 77 yards. Michael Vick was supposed to bring a unique and revolutionary dimension to the offense, but often, the offense just looked confused switching quarterbacks, and the Eagles only got four total touchdowns out of him, including the postseason. Shaun Andrews didn’t suit up for a single game [The Eagles finally said, “Enough is enough,” and cut him], and his brother wasn’t much better; Stacy Andrews, after starting 15 games for the Bengals in 2008, played in ten games this year, and only started two of them. Most of the time, he would split time with Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole, giving the Eagles a strange offensive line rotation.
       Speaking of the offensive line…
       While Shaun Andrews was on IR, Winston Justice came in and had a surprisingly great season after most fans in Philly had written him off.

       Good for him.
       Seriously, that’s awesome. Winston Justice showed the majority of the Eagles fanbase [Including yours truly] that he wasn’t a bust, and got a nice four-year contract extension to go along with it. He had arguably the best year out of all the Philadelphia linemen.
       However, the Eagles were definitely lacking depth in the interior offensive line. When Jamaal Jackson tore his ACL, the Eagles had to turn to Nick Cole. By no means is he a poor player, but coach Reid has been quite clear on how important the offensive line is to him. With Jackson recovering from injury, and Stacy Andrews’ spotty play last year, the Eagles are in no position to be happy with the state of the offensive line.
       You’re forgetting something:
       The Eagles finished 11-5. They started winning close games again.
We made the playoffs.

       These are all true, but they are not as impressive as they sound.
       Let’s start with the eleven wins. They beat Carolina, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Washington [Twice], New York [Also twice], Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and Denver. The Atlanta Falcons are the only team that posted a record above .500, and the Eagles played them when their franchise quarterback was injured. Five more wins came from 8-8 teams. Factor in the four wins from teams that had less than five wins last season and a win against the 7-9 Bears and you have 2009 for the Eagles. While they had no way to control how the other clubs would turn out, the Eagles shouldn’t be happy by being the victims of an easy schedule.
       Winning close games was for the past few years something the Eagles simply could not do, so it was good to see them pull out some tough victories. But the teams that they won the close ones against [Close being one score or less] should have been pounded into the ground by the margin of victory. Washington shouldn’t have been allowed to score 24 points in Philadelphia, and shame on the Eagles for only picking off Chicago’s Jay Cutler once. Even Denver, a team that started the season 6-0, was fading fast for the last half of the season. In short, the close victories were nice, but it was embarrassing for the Eagles to let those games become that close.
       The playoffs were not what they have been in previous years. In Reid’s eleven seasons, he’s led the Eagles to the postseason eight times. While he hasn’t won a Super Bowl in his time here, he’s always had an impressive run in the playoffs, always winning the at least the first game. Usually you can attribute that to the great end of season push that the Eagles have made a tradition under Reid. In 2006, Philadelphia was lead by Jeff Garcia to five straight regular season wins to end the season and put the Eagles in the playoffs. In 2008, they won four of their last five. Even in years they didn’t make the playoffs, like 2007 and 1999, they won their last three and two games, respectively.
       That’s what makes this the worst season [aside from 2005] that Andy Reid has coached.
       The Eagles’ last regular season game against the Cowboys was a huge deal. A win would have meant a week off and the number two seed in the NFC. However, they failed to deliver, and registered their first shut-out since the previously mentioned horrible 2005 season. That meant another matchup with Dallas, which proved to be just as disappointing and just as painful to watch.
       Two losses to finish a season, especially a playoff year, would be setting off alarms in my head if I were Joe Banner. An uncharacteristic flat finish for a coach that’s been with the team the entire past decade may be an early sign that he no longer has what it takes to be a head coach. While I don’t necessarily believe that, Banner may decide that Reid is the next to go in the current youth movement.
       Andy Reid has enjoyed a lot of success here in Philadelphia, but the 2009 Eagles were, in my mind, as unimpressive as it gets as far as playoff teams go. If Reid plans to stay in Philadelphia for the remainder of his contract, he needs to win playoff games, because that’s the only thing on the Eagles’ map.

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  1. To be honest I think this was one of Reid better coaching seasons. Yes they beat no playoff teams, but they were one game away from getting a first round bye. Think about that. They lost Tra Thomas, Runyan, and Dawkins. On top of that Ellis Hobbs, Bradley, Stacy and Shawn Andrews were pretty much lost for the whole season. Also, Hanson was suspended for four games and they had a undrafted rookie playing nickel corner. If that was not enough, he had a first year defensive coordinator taking over for a legend in Jim Johnson.

    While the Eagles faltered down the stretch, it is amazing that with all the injuries, deaths and rookies playing significant minutes they went 11-5. I think with the 4 picks in the top 87, the defense will improve and they will help out the o-line.

  2. Alrighty Nick,
    So the Eagles did have a lot of pro bowlers, and the pro bowl truly is a joke; however, to some extent it shows that they have a lot of talented players. Having said that, they seem to be only individually talented, flashy, and extremely inconsistent. This type of talent does not translate to very well into team play. One of the best examples is Asante Samuel. He had lots of interceptions, and by all means he is fun to watch, but he gets beat all the time. He is considered one of the best cornerbacks, based on his interceptions, however he is nowhere near the level of the other top cornerbacks. Plainly said, he doesn't ever completely shut down anyone, especially top receivers.
    Samuel is just one of the players that the eagles have acquired based on flash, who never really improves the team play. They may improve numbers, but do not improve the players around them, nor do they promote team cohesion. (see Kearse, Owens, Shawn Andrews)
    Sadly the one player we had who really made everyone around him better, and was all about the team (not himself), they decided was expendable. I think its obvious that Brain Dawkins absence really took the heart out of the defense. For years this team has been built on defense, mostly thanks to Jim Johnson and some great defensive players. While Johnson is missed, McDermott has been in the system and studied under him. He can only call plays, he can't make the tackles for the players.
    If anyone was paying attention, the eagles could not tackle to save their lives this year. If a 90 year old woman suited up for the cowboys and ran it right down the eagles throats, she would have easily gained 150 yards. Joking aside, I honestly can't think of a game when I wasn't appalled by all the missed tackles. Additionally many plays occurred where a lineman, a linebacker and a corner or safety all missed a tackle on the same play. This is partially because you don't have a player like Dawkins making sure every single player on that team is accountable. These players don't want to make the tough tackle, they want to make the flashy plays, and no one is telling them this is the wrong way.
    Honestly I like Andy Reid as a football guy, he knows talent, however he needs strong leadership figures as assistant coaches and/or veteran players because at times he is gutless when it comes to telling it like it is.
    Next year McNabb will likely be gone, which I honestly don't think will affect the offense terribly. It may slow down a bit, but even though they scored a lot of points last year, they were not consistent and completely nonexistent at points. Maybe Kolb can bring some stability to the offense, maybe not. As long as he doesn't thrown the ball at everyones feet, he should be able to improve vs McNabb's accuracy, which was poor. My biggest concern would be Kolb throwing interceptions, which McNabb did not do. This is partially because he didn't pull the trigger enough, but he did stay clear from bad decisions more than most QB's. A better driving offense will improve the team overall and should help the defense by keeping them off the field.
    Overall considering the supposed 'talent' on the team I would say the eagles underachieved, but when you really look at it more closely its not wholly unexpected that they would perform poorly vs good teams. Their record (which was pretty good) did not reflect their performance, as they played many bad teams. They have many needs on both sides of the ball, and unless they address some of them, next year will not be a good season. I would like to see some young players really emerge as team leaders, but if this doesn't happen I think next year will be a long season.

  3. It doesn't matter Nick cuz the giants are gonna win it all anyway