Throughout Andy Reid’s tenure, the Eagles defensive philosophy, through changing coordinators and personnel has always had one constant quality in that the unit is constructed to shine when it’s given a lead.
What exactly does that mean? I mean, really, what does that statement mean? A three-point lead? Seven points? 20 points? Here’s your Maddenism of the day: A team can’t always play with a lead if the game starts with the score even.
Last night, we watched our built-to-play-with-a-lead defense give up not one but, two 80-yard drives that resulted in touchdowns during the fourth quarter. The majority of those yards on each drive, of course, came via the run.
Wait. If a team is down 10 points in the fourth quarter, don’t they have to pass because there’s not enough time to run and the defense knows that so….
Bologna. Malarkey. Hogwash. Call it what you want. The theory falls flat on its face when your defense has such a glaring flaw that no matter the score, you cannot fix it nor prevent the opponent from exploiting it.
The Eagles cannot consistently stop the run, but let’s not beat a dead horse here….
So let’s try to address the question of this article after Sunday night’s debacle in Atlanta. Think debacle is too harsh a word? Perhaps. Losing by four on the road to a team that went 13-3 the year before, yeah, some might say a debacle is overstatement. But let’s not get into semantics… They lost a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter when they are built to play with a lead. That’s a concern.
If a team can’t stop the run, or in this game, passes over the middle, then they are not really “built” to play in any fashion because you have a weakness that can be exploited at any given time.
The Eagles offense, as it appears right now, doesn’t appear to be a unit built to play with a lead, it’s a unit that must pray their opponents don’t run the ball effectively or employ an upper-tier tight end.
Last week, I detailing some items the Eagles needed to fix coming into Sunday night’s game. The very first item was making pre-snap defensive adjustments. I stated that Casey Matthews failed to make the proper adjustment on Steven Jackson’s opening touchdown run.
Here is a quote from Matthews after the loss when asked about Michael Turner’s 61-yard gallop in the fourth quarter, “It was people out of position on that last drive. We didn’t lower the safeties down,” he said.
Who is we? Castillo? Juqua Parker? Asomugha? Jim Washburn? Whose responsibility was it to move the safeties down?
Ultimately, if Matthews is the quarterback of the defense, as the Eagles claimed he was during the preseason, he has to be the one to make that adjustment. So if Matthews can’t make the most basic of adjustments, which are resulting in the Eagles getting gashed, then why is he out there?
Solutions? Answers? Of course there are. But that would mean a change in a basic philosophy, which would mean Andy Reid would have to admit his original plan isn’t working. And if there is one thing that we know about Reid, it’s that he’s stubborn when it comes to changing his game plans and strategies.
It’s too bad stubbornness isn’t built to play with a lead.