Tuesday, January 20, 2009

When Does The Daytona 500 Start?

The Philadelphia Eagles loss in the NFC Championship game is trying. I guess if you play enough games that Vegas puts up as one score or less either way, you are eventually going to draw the short straw. The one guy who doesn’t gets the Lombardi Trophy.

In its essence, it isn’t that bad a loss: traveling to the coast after two straight brutal road games, coming off a physical division game with a good team. Those are big angles in this League. The sting is more the consequences. In the capped NFL- outside of the quarterback position- you don’t really build for the future. More so than other pro-sports, each year is distinct from the last: who is healthy? who got old? You can’t ever assume you’ll get back. And the Eagles would have had a not insignificant chance to upset Pittsburgh.

I’m not going to write much today about the way forward. But three points:

1. You can’t penalize a coach for making the NFC Championship game- but this administrative dynamic of “all Andy” has to change. There needs to be another serious football authority brought in here. Most folks want a GM figure… I’m inclined to see them bring in a real offensive coordinator. The Eagles aren’t bad on offense exactly; they scored a ton of points this year. But they are stale. They have an unbelievable number of guys on the offensive roster who are just hanging out or underachieving: Lewis, Brown, Booker, Kolb, Smith. Their year after year predilictions- the need to run real hard passing plays in early downs to gain four yards, the tendency of marginal players to gain bigger roles in bigger spots- just seem to require a fresh, new set of evaluators and evaluations.

2. The McNabb/Westbrook dynamic needs radical adjustment. They are stuck with these contracts- two Pro Bowl level deals for guys who no longer perform at the Pro Bowl level. Fine, what is done is done- and both might get back next year. But this is a real problem in a capped League- your top two offense players underperforming their dollar allocation. They need an inexpensive skill position player to take consistently take away six-to-ten touches from both guys. That means “draft a running back with one of your two picks in the first round”- and select a guy with immediate polish rather than potential.

3. I’m not entirely sure McNabb is coming back. Most think it is a done deal. But I think all parties- McNabb, Andy, Banner and the fans- might itch for a change more than is publicly acknowledged. It hinges on how ready he Eagles feel Kolb is. I admit there is a total absence of any evidence Kolb is ready to play. But the whole thing feels creepy to me.

Even more interesting- I am convinced Reid thinks AJ can play in a pinch at an average NFL level- really, if you are honest, the level McNabb has been at most of the year. I mean, put your hand up if you think McNabb is an NFC Pro-Bowler? There is the potential for quiet drama here- he is line for a contract re-look and the Eagles can probably get something good for him in a trade.