Editor’s note: ITI Staff writer Steve Fini breaks down the Eagles season-ending (yes, it was season ending) loss to the Cardinals.
Michael Vick (QB/Eagles) – Looks like Michael Vick has the keys to a time machine. All you have to do is replace the green and white Eagles jersey and replace it with a red and black Falcons one because he looks like the player who would frantically run around the field looking to make plays, not the smart, composed quarterback that was nearly unstoppable of a year ago. If Monday wasn’t proof that Vick has regressed to his days in Atlanta then you’re either blind or delusional.
His sprints out of the pocket are incredible and the throws he makes when he’s on target can’t be stopped. But what makes Vick great can also work against him as his greatest flaw. With all of the miraculous plays comes the inevitability that once he runs out of magic, he’s just a short and inaccurate passer who has trouble reading defenses. But if that was the Eagles only problem things will still be fine. Teams can win with that player. Hell, Denver is winning with a fullback at the position right now.
The problem is last year Vick took the reigns as team leader and people followed, even if he was destined to fail. They believed he would make the one spectacular play that could win the team a game because he was the only one on the field that could do it. Now, even those plays are gone. Some plays he looks great, some awful, but in the grand scheme of things he’s lost that defining “superstar” spark this year. And in the process, he’s lost the team battling with him. They are mere spectators now watching to see if he makes the play instead of trying to be a part of it.
Desean Jackson (WR/Eagles) – I’m not going to talk about the meeting or if benching him was the right move. Head coach Andy Reid makes the decisions on players and whether I believe it’s warranted or not it doesn’t really matter. What I will argue is that Jackson needs to be on the field. Whether he’s making catches or not, fans saw yesterday what he provides an offense. That field shrunk considerably without him in green yesterday. Arizona had no threat of anyone beating them deep and the “most underrated third receiver in the league” Jason Avant showed he’s just that, a good 3rd receiver. Everyone previously clamoring that Jeremy Maclin is the more important weapon was silenced Sunday. I don’t care if Jackson makes one catch for five yards and runs his mouth like he’s the greatest player ever. I don’t even care if he doesn’t make a catch and still yells for big money. He knows his worth on the field. The coaches know his worth on the field. What he brings is something that no one on this team, and something very few players in this league provide–the ability to force defenses to play down a man because they need an extra defender to stop him on EVERY play.
One thing on the Jackson benching: I guess it’s a lot easier to bench a player making $500,000 for missing a meeting than a player that makes $5 million for wanting to tackle, play the right defense, and calls out the organization.
Jason Peters (LT/Eagles) – The bright spot for the Eagles on Sunday? Peters, who has been criticized in the past for not earning his Pro-Bowl status, is playing at an elite level right now. He’s really evolved into a star caliber left tackle in Howard Mudd’s blocking scheme and it’s great to see. The rest of the offensive line might be weak (even you, Todd Herremans) but Peters’ play is strong. Glad someone on the offensive side of the ball is trying (besides Lesean McCoy, of course).
Juan Castillo (Defensive Coordinator/Eagles) – It must be great to be a close friend of Andy Reid. He gives you a promotion without earning it, then let’s you keep the job even once you prove inadequate. I really don’t like ripping Castillo. He did a great job as an offensive line coach for years. From all reports, he’s a great guy and seems like he loves coaching. A couple high schools around my area are looking for coaches, and that’s as far as “great guy” and “love for the sport” should get you in coaching. It is so blatantly obvious that Castillo doesn’t know his players or opposing offenses.Castillo has many flaws, but the worst is that he falters in crunchtime. To allow Larry Fitzgerald–the one playmaker on the field, to beat you in critical spots is inexcusable. Castillo doesn’t just have a lack of knowledge for his defense. He has a lack of knowledge for opposing offenses, situations, and opposing coaches. He gets so flustered when his defense needs a big stop that it’s almost like he’s never coached any part of NFL defense before. Oh, wait.
Andy Reid (Head Coach/Eagles) – Know how in every press conference he’s ever had after a loss he says, “I need to do a better job”? Well, he’s right.
He’s made all the decisions–from coaching hires, to playcalls, to benchings. The quarterback, safeties, and basically everyone who made a mistake were his mistakes. It’s hard to blame a coach for a team that just can’t play. It’s a little easier once you realize that his cup has run over with responsibilities and he can’t clean it up fast enough. Coaching in football is the most important coaching job in sports. Nothing compares. And Reid has failed in every single aspect of coaching this season.
One thing you can say about Reid is that he does take responsibility for his team losing. The media and fans always blow it off like it’s a hollow statement; every coach says that. Well this year, this embarrassment of players, coaches and decisions are certainly his fault. And since this is all undoubtedly his problem, perhaps we should let him take responsibility for this fiasco. Jon Gruden anyone?