Whisker Wednesday

February 9, 2011

Welcome to another Whisker Wednesday, Fire The Walrus Nation! Football season is officially over – and the pending labor battle is just getting underway (man I can’t wait to watch Billionaires argue with Billionaires!) – but it isn’t snowing in the Delaware Valley… so at least we got that.

  • As you’ve probably heard, the Eagles filled out the rest of their coaching staff over the past two days, with few surprises. Former Eagles players Mike Caldwell, Mike Zordich, Duce Staley and Doug Peterson were all promoted (Linebackers, Safeties, Special Teams Quality Control and Quarterbacks, respectively). Longtime Wide Receivers Coach Dave Culley had Senior Offensive Assistant added to his title and James Urban, who has been with the team in various roles since 2004, was elevated to Assistant Offensive Coordinator. The Eagles even threw in a little nepotism, hiring Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April’s son, Bobby April, Jr., as Defensive Quality Control Coach.

    The one interesting hire was Johnnie Lynn, as Cornerbacks Coach. Lynn has previously worked as Defensive Coordinator of the Giants, and Secondary Coach of the Ravens, Buccaneers and 49ers – leading some pretty decent units. Aside from his experience, Lynn – like Mudd and Washburn – brings a much-needed outside perspective, and isn’t a typical “Andy Reid guy.

    Adding Assistant Coaches and Quality Coaches is not huge news, and none of us can really sit here and say that these moves were good or bad. We’ll just have to wait and see. Thankfully Zordich was the type of hard-hitting, tough-as-nails defender that the current Defense lacks, and maybe can transfer some of that intensity, and Caldwell was a Linebacker who could actually cover Tight Ends (imagine that!). We all remember Pederson – the sacrificial lamb of the 1999 season, prior to McNabb taking the Offensive reigns. He helped mentor McNabb (unimpressive) and, for a short time, Aaron Rogers (impressive), so at least he’s got that going for him.

    The only thing that jumps out is that Andy Reid stocked his staff with “his guys.” Nothing surprising, why wouldn’t he?  There is a prevailing line of thinking in the NFL ether (courtesy of ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio and NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi) that Reid is putting “his guys” in position to gain as much experience as possible before the whole thing is blown after this year and they’re forced to find new jobs. We can only hope.

  • Speaking of Sal Pal… He appeared on his weekly, Tuesday at 5:15 spot with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic (listen here) and noted something very interesting that Ron Rivera – former Reid assistant and new Panthers’s Head Coach/Sean McDermutt’s new boss – was quoted as saying. According to Rivera (via Paolantonio), Reid said the following regarding McDermutt’s exit from the Eagles: “Ron, Sean’s in a tough, tough position, he’s following the late Jim Johnson. We got to make people understand that it was not as much because Sean did a bad job, or anything, it was just going be as much as always going to be tough and unfair for him. We’ve got to create a ‘situation’.” That’s an actual quote. So essentially, Reid and the Eagles created a story (Reid saying McDermutt was staying, waiting a week, then firing him) giving the appearance that the firing came from over Andy’s head. It wasn’t. Instead it was calculated and manipulated by the team.
  • One more note from the Paolantonio interview… The notion that the Eagles could simply fire Reid after next season and transition to a Juan Castillo – same basic philosophy and schemes, plus an extension of the plan already in place, just with a new captain of the ship (ala Jim Caldwell taking over for Dungy in Indianapolis). That would certainly garner a similar reaction to what happened last week, when Castillo was moved to Coordinator, but probably with even more vitriol. And, it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

    We think we have it bad, Eagles fans? After 16 long-suffering years of Jeff Fisher, the Tennessee Titans promoted their long-time Offensive Line Coach, Mike Munchak, to Head Coach!?! Take that Juan Castillo! The Titans just one-upped the Birds in terms of majorly leapfrogging a guy. At least we’re not Titans fans.

  • As the rumor mill turns… The whole Andy Reid-Jon Gruden “thing” is still out in the air and remains a hot topic. Phil Sheridan, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a great piece yesterday delving into what the rumors reveal about the Eagles current regime.

Make sure you stop back later today to take the Whisker Wednesday Poll!


Reason #459 to Fire The Walrus

February 8, 2011

He can’t draft Wide Receivers, Offensive Linemen, Defensive Ends, Linebackers or Defensive Backs

Even before the awesome infuriatingly-intriguing bizarre rumor of Jon Gruden replacing Andy Reid as Head Coach – with Reid possibly staying on in a Front Office role –  it was evident that Andy Reid has little-to-no clue about how to evaluate certain talent in the rookie pool. I’ll never understand the Eagles fans who claim that The Walrus’ track record in the draft is stout and his resume makes him worthy of his (on-again-off-again) General Manager title. It doesn’t. And the only thing stout about Andy Reid is the beer he drinks… no I’m kidding, it’s his build. He’s fat.

Sure, Reid has an eye for talent at the Quarterback position, and he’s had decent luck with Running Backs and Tight Ends… But it ends there. Let’s take a deep, comprehensive look at Andy Reid’s career drafting record from 1999 to 2009(*).

(*)Please note a few things: 1) We will disregard the various GM’s that helped Reid overlook the drafts throughout his tenure (Modrak, Heckert, Howie). For our intents and purposes, Reid had final say over every pick, regardless of what may or may not have happened behind closed war room doors with real personnel men and scouts. 2) We will disregard the 2010 draft because it’s simply too early to call. 3) The draft is a crapshoot, particularly after Round 3, so earlier picks are weighted with more significance. In the same regard, we will not even think about going into who the Eagles passed over (as hindsight is 20/20).

Over Reid’s eleven drafts from ’99 to ’09, the Eagles selected 92 players. Of those 92, there are 30 players you would consider to be good to great players. Without looking at any other team’s drafting accuracy, I’d say that hitting on one-out-of-every-three players in the draft is pretty good. And again, I’m not saying that Andy Reid doesn’t know how to draft… I’m saying he only knows how to draft certain positions.

The deceiving thing about those 30 good-to-great players is the severe lack of true superstar players. Donovon McNabb, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson and Trent Cole are the only players drafted by Andy Reid to be national stars; players whose jerseys you can find in any sporting goods store across the country, or whose name casual fans associate with the franchise (and Cole might be a stretch outside of Philly). LeSean McCoy could (and should) be the fifth. And McNabb is the only first-rounder to be a real stand out star.

Reid’s hit on seven of eleven first round picks – McNabb, Corey Simon, Lito Sheppard, Shawn Andrews, Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley and Jeremy Maclin – a pretty good percentage, except only three of those players are currently on the team (and Patterson’s on the low side of “good”).

Positions Reid Can Draft:

  • Quarterbacks – McNabb (Round 1), Kevin Kolb (2)(**) and A.J. Feeley (5)(**); Missed on Andy Hall (6) (**)In the sense that Reid can develop QB talent and leverage it for high draft pick trade bait.
  • Running Backs/Fullbacks – McCoy (2), Westbrook (3), Correll Buckhalter (4), Cecil Martin (6); Missed on Ryan Moats (3), Tony Hunt (3), Thomas Tapeh (5) and three late round picks.
  • Tight Ends – L.J. Smith (2)(***), Brent Celek (5), Jed Weaver (6)(***); Missed on Tony Stewart (5) and Cornelius Ingram (5) (***)As far as good Tight Ends go, Smith actually ranks up there in Eagles all-timers…. but, full disclosure: I hate him. Weaver bounced around the league, playing sparingly. Remember though, before the last few years, good Tight Ends were few and far between.

  • Defensive Tackles – Simon (1), Patterson (1), Bunkley (1); Trevor Laws (2) is still up in the air, but definitely not worthy of the team’s first pick in the draft; Missed on a few late rounders

Positions Reid Can’t Draft:

  • Wide Receivers – Maclin (Round 1), DeSean Jackson (2) and Jason Avant (4); Missed on Freddie Mitchell (1), Todd Pinkston (2)(****), Reggie Brown (2)(****), Billy McMullen (3), Na Brown (4), Gari Scott (4), Freddie Milons (5) and a few other late round scrubs. Brandon Gibson could have been counted in the good pile, but he couldn’t crack the active roster and was traded to St. Louis (with a 5th Round pick) for Linebacker Wil Weatherspoon. (****)I’ll argue with anyone that wants to on either Pinkston or Brown. I don’t care how much production they had here, they were both second round busts and, coincidentally, never caught on anywhere else.

  • Offensive Linemen – Andrews (1), Winston Justice (2), Doug Brzezinski (3), John Welbourn (4), Todd Herremans (4), Max Jean-Gilles (4); Missed on Bobbie Williams (2), Scott Peters (4), Trey Darilek (4) and eleven more. Mike McGlynn (4) is leaning towards the latter group, though maybe Howard Mudd, and a move back to Guard (his natural position) could spark his career.  Seriously though, look at that list. Andy Reid – a guy that’s considered to be a really good judge of Offensive Line talent (not to mention the fact that he’s publicly claimed Offensive Line is the most important position in football) – has only drafted six good linemen… Six good lineman out of 20 selections in eleven years! Two of which, Brzezinski and Welbourne, came in his first draft (and haven’t been on the team since 2003) and one, Andrews, who flamed out with mental issues.  And are Justice and Jean-Gilles even that good? Reid’s two best lineman (Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas) came from Free Agency and Ray Rhodes, and all of his other linemen were undrafted and “coached up” by his new Defensive Coordinator.
  • Defensive Ends – Derrick Burrgess (3), Cole (5) and Raheem Brock (7); Missed on Jerome McDougle (1), Victor Abiramiri (2), Bryan Smith (3) and Jamaal Green (4). Even though Reid “hit” on three ends, Trent Cole is the only one that counts. Burgess had one good year here and then was offered a contract (though to be fair, Oakland greatly overpaid him), and Brock was dropped because the team had no room for him, a seventh-round pick. Cross your fingers on Brandon Graham.
  • Linebackers – Stewart Bradley (5) and Moise Fokou (7); Missed on Barry Gardner (2), Quinton Caver (2), Matt McCoy (2), Chris Gocong (3), Omar Gaither (5) and on and on (nine in all). Awful. But we all knew this already. And yes, I’m putting Fokou in the good column, he’s one of the only Linebackers on the team that can actually hit the crap out of someone.
  • Defensive Backs – Sheppard (1), Michael Lewis (2) and Sheldon Brown (2); Missed on Matt Ware (3), J.R. Reed (4), Sean Considine (4), Quintin Demps (4), Jack Ikegwuonu (4), C.J. Gaddis (5); Macho Harris (5) and so on (eleven total). Besides Offensive Linemen, Defensive Backs are the biggest misconception of Andy Reid’s drafting abilities. He inherited Brian Dawkins, Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent. He bought Asante Samuel and Quintin Mikell was undrafted. The triumvirate of Sheppard, Brown and Lewis didn’t last long and certainly didn’t live up to its expectations or predecessor. Besides those three, Reid hasn’t drafted one successful Cornerback or Safety. Again, cross your fingers for Nate Allen.

Pressuring the Quarterback. Disrupting the rhythm. Covering down field. Stopping the run. Covering tight ends. Locking down receivers. Those are the components of a good Defense. You need blue chip players at Defensive End and Linebacker and Cornerback and Safety. The Eagles, under Andy Reid’s regime, have not been capable of drafting players of that ilk at those key positions. In fact, Andy Reid flat out chose to ignore the importance of Linebackers, and still does. Sure, you could blame Jim Johnson and his scheme, but that was his achilles heel and Reid, as Head Coach, should have overruled him.

The 2010 Eagles had glaring issues at each of those four positions (whether due to injury or not) and Defensive Tackle and, particularly, on Offensive Line. How does Andy plan on fixing them? Even if he buys a stud like Asomugha, he’ll still have to settle for a second-tier Free Agent Lineman or Linebacker, and then roll the dice in the draft with another Lineman, Linebacker and/or Defensive Back.

Wide Receiver was the team’s missing piece forever. It took him eight drafts to finally find a decent wideout (Avant) and ten to find a stud (Jackson). How long are we going to give him until he finally hits on a Defensive End or Cornerback? What about a real Linebacker, which has basically become the Walrus’ white whale? I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t trust Andy Reid to draft any of the positions of need. And the Eagles need a lot.

I guess it’s a good thing that Howie’s been quickly taking control of things behind the scenes… Yikes, did I just say that.

Fire The Walrus… We’ll gladly take Gruden!


The Day After: Super Tweets and Dangerous Rumors

February 7, 2011

The first thing I saw when I woke up this post-Super Bowl morning was the following text message: “Get on Twitter, there’s a rampant rumor that Andy Reid is fired!”

Thankfully, my bullshit meter was wide awake (even though I was not), because for not one second did I remotely believe that that was true. Of course, I did my due diligence and tracked down the origin of the “Andy Reid out, Jon Gruden in” rumor that almost exploded Philadelphia Twitter feeds. We can all thank @PhillySprtsWrld and @jaypot23 (an Associate Producer/Multimedia Editor for SNY.tv) for pushing out Kyle Eckel’s (yes, former Eagles Fullback Kyle Eckel) “report”(*) and causing Eagles fans nationwide to lose their collective shit.

(*)Eckel tweeted the following this morning: “If I’m your ‘source’ to this [Eagles/Gruden] rumor please get that out of your mind. I wrote the rumor from pure hear/say. Careless of me.”

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I didn’t see that text until this morning. If I saw it when it was first received (slightly after 12:30 a.m.), I would have spent the entire night furiously searching for answers to debunk the rumor, arguing with the Andy Reid-Kool-Aid drinkers and simultaneously dancing around in joyous celebration. So, I’m happy I at least got to sleep… But what a crazy way to officially begin (what figures to be) a crazy offseason.

And yes, that reminds me; today should be a day of mourning… no, not for Steelers fans… but because football season is over. What a horrible, horrible thing. Even worse? It may not be back for a long time. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

For now, let’s take a look back at last night’s NFL finale, through the lens of the @FireTheWalrus Twitter feed, in real time (and thanks to everyone that followed along and joined in on the fun last night):

12:27 p.m. Happy Super Bowl Football Fans!

12:36 p.m. Every time I see the SB 37 logo (or the Bucs celebrating their win) I want to puke… That was our damn Super Bowl… #Eagles

12:37 p.m. From @loctastic: @FireTheWalrus was that the year we had Levon Kirkland on the team? You are correct sir. Gonna go slam my head on a Vet seat.

1:03 p.m. 18 game season. Team in London. Possible lockout. No celebrating. Roger Goodell is the worst thing to ever happen to the #NFL #FireTheCommish

1:03 p.m. Addendum to last tweet: No hitting.. Duh! That’s the most important one. And no blizzard games. Goodell is awful. #FireTheCommish

1:13 p.m. From @DaveCoulier: The @NFL will be showing a couple Full House clips during the #superbowl today. Really?! Not Step By Step or Mr. Belvedere?

1:26 p.m. From @AdamSchefter: Cardinals soliciting opinion of Larry Fitzgerald as to which QB he wants them to acquire/1st recommendation was Kevin Kolb.

2:11 p.m. So Deion Sanders is now a Hall of Fame Douchebag… #InsteadOfJustADouchebag

2:33 p.m. @NFLONFOX and @nflnetwork are both in hour 8 of their 13 hour pregame shows… What happened to replaying all the classic Super Bowls?

3:05 p.m. Ok, prediction time: As a #Steelers-hater I’m rooting for the #Packers… Unfortunately Pitt will get their 7th ring 31-30 #Sucks

3:07 p.m. @NFLONFOX‘s #SuperBowl Red Carpet is so stupid… Why isn’t @JoanRivers there making fun of @DeionSanders‘ suit and Michael Strahan’s gap?

3:25 p.m. Hey @NFLONFOX why does “Moose” look like he’s going hunting with Bing Crosby? #SuperBowl

3:42 p.m. From @sportsguy33: Dallas’ stadium looks like it landed here. It’s fitting, considering Jerry Jones’ face is made from space age technology

3:43 p.m. I so wish the #Eagles were in this game… Solely for the fact that we’d be terrorizing Dallas with #DallasSucks chants… #AndAChanceAtASB

3: 55 p.m. If only Conan’s Puppy Lingerie Bowl was a real thing…. http://j.mp/i1Zj4b #ButNotInAWeirdWay #SuperBowl

4:07 p.m. Construction workers were too busy working on Jerry Jones’ face to finish the temporary seating sections #SuperBowl #TrueFacts

4:15 p.m. Yikes who’s the worse @NFLONFOX personality: Bill O’Reilly, Joe Buck, Terry Bradshaw or Frank Caliendo? #DeadEven

4:24 p.m. Michael Strahan sponsored by @Gap.

4:51 p.m. Is Troy Aikman’s face made of clay? He looks like a character from “Celebrity Death Match”…

4:56 p.m. Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones to charge fans forced out of stadium $200 a piece to watch #SuperBowl at nearby bar

4:56 p.m. From @_S810: Leave it to Dallas to fuck up the SuperBowl. And somehow #Eagles fans will be blamed.

5:02 p.m. From @jasonjwilde: Airfare: $600. Hotel: $2000. Ticket: $800. Not having an actual seat at SBXLV: Priceless.

5:47 p.m. From @SheridanScribe: Aaron Rodgers emerges from tunnel without playing any imaginary instruments. I just lit my SB XXXIX seat cushion on fire!

5:49 p.m. Isn’t Frank Caliendo in “Black Face” racist? Or does nobody care cause its Frank Caliendo?

5:52 p.m. From @BrentCelek: Man I am so jealous of these guys. So are we Brent, so are we… #Eagles #WheresOurSB?

5:59 p.m. From @NFLONFOX: The inspirational reading of the Declaration of Independence by NFL greats is next! This is what happens when FOX has the SB…

6:01 p.m. From @dhm: Curt Menefee: “We are moments away from kickoff” Kickoff is at least 40 minutes away! Goodell changed the meaning of “moment” for the SB.

6:01 p.m. From @sportsguy33: Football! Football! Football! Football! Football! Football! Football! Football! Football! Football! Football! Soccer?

6:08 p.m. Is it me or does Joe Buck’s face scream “IM A HUGE DOUCHE AND YOU SHOULD THROW THAT BOTTLE THROUGH YOUR TV AT ME!”? #NeedNewTV

6:11 p.m. #Steelers #SuperBowl introduction is the exact polar opposite of what the #Eagles introduction would be….

6:12 p.m. From @skjensen: Jerry Green of the Detroit News said this is the worst run SB he’s been to. Credible since he’s been to them all. HA! #TakeThatJerry

6:23 p.m. Brett Kiesel’s beard ALMOST makes me want to root for the #Steelers #NotReallyButItIsAmazing

6: 26 p.m. From @nickkroll: I just bought a used car from Deion Sanders’ suit. Did it smell like snake oil and douchebag? #DeionSucks

6:52 p.m. These teams need to calm down a bit… Little too nerved up to start, reminds me of #Eagles-Patriots SB 39.

6:57 p.m. NOTE TO MARKETERS: Kenny G, not funny. #SuperBowl

7:03 p.m. Running and Defense huh? #TakeNotesAndy #SuperBowl

7:15 p.m. Remember when #SuperBowl commercials were funny?

7:16 p.m. Love the commercial for the NFL Draft that might not even happen… #LaborArgumentsAreDumb

7:16 p.m. Cowboys vs. Aliens looks a lot like an Indiana Jones movie… with aliens… again…

7:37 p.m. Man, if Mike McCarthy could possibly win a #SuperBowl I guess anything’s possible #TakeNotesAndy

7:39 p.m. From @philsphan19: @danieltosh will Christina Aguilera get a web redemption?

7:43 p.m. The #Packers Defensive gameplan is reminding me that we just made Juan Castillo Defensive Coordinator #IHateAndyReid #Eagles

7:44 p.m. Defense. Defense. Defense. #TakeNotesAndy #SuperBowl

7:52 p.m. From @pdomo: Two Big Ben turnovers, 14 Green Bay points. So that’s what having real Defensive Backs is like? I forgot…. #Eagles

7:54 p.m. Sick pass/catch… Why are Roethlisberger’s passes always epic looking?

8:04 p.m. This #SuperBowl Halftime Show is like being at Tavern on Broad… #OrAnyAwfulPhillyBar

8:05 p.m. Full disclosure: I thought the Black Eyed Pea with the long hair was a mute… #Superbowl

8:09 p.m. Oh @Slash…. What would 1987 you think of yourself now? #Ashamed #MakingAxlLookGood

8:09 p.m. From @gjb512: Axl rose is rolling over in a grave of heroin.

8:10 p.m. From @PhillyFansVoice: My 6yo son has not stopped dancing since the halftime show started. We’ll pray for you…

8:11 p.m. The half-dead Who were better than this atrocity…. And why is the halftime show longer than the second quarter?

8:13 p.m. Comment of the night (via Facebook): That was the most offensive #SuperBowl halftime show since Janet Jackson!

8:27 p.m. From @TheIdleRich: Sorry, Andy-haters: Packers called 16 passes, 7 runs in the first half. And they have a real Defense…

8:31 p.m. Wow Woodson is out?! #SuperBowl is far from over….

8:45 p.m. James Jones is looking like the Hank Baskett of 2011 #NoHands

8:49 p.m. These #SuperBowl commercials remind me of Jason Peters’ contract #AHUGEWasteOfMoney #Eagles

9:07 p.m. Again…. Defense and Running… How many times does it need to be drilled into our collective heads #TakeNotesAndy

9:11 p.m. From @ChefNizzy Green Bay has made a habit of letting teams hang around it just hasn’t bit them in the ass yet. The key term being “Yet”

9:16 p.m. The only thing more overrated than #SuperBowl commercials right now is the #Packers passing attack

9:17 p.m. “Keep Detroit Beautiful”? Was there a time when it was?

9:23 p.m. Really, Moe Syzlak is the only #Eagles representation in that commercial?! #NationalMediaHatesUs

9:48 p.m. Move over Bart, move over Brett… Aaron’s the new king of Wisconsin! #SuperBowl

9:51 p.m. From @Jeff_McLane: Packers’ run-to-pass ratio: 11 to 33. Somewhere Andy and Marty are smiling. And their 3 Turnovers have Juan Castillo cringing…

10:02 p.m. Wow, Roethlisberger has a chance to create his legacy here…. He’s historically clutch…

10:02 p.m. If I was a #Packers fan, I’d be more nervous than Charlie Sheen’s Publicist escorting him through Columbia.

10:08 p.m. Suck it #Steelers fans!

10:09 p.m. Wow… Mike McCarthy just gave hope to all #Eagles fans… you know, if we had a Defense…

10:10 p.m. Shit, football’s over….. 😦

10:13 p.m. Ok @NFL… Now its time to get a deal done, and make sure football is back by the week after Labor Day #Please #ForTheFans #YoureAlreadyRich

10:16 p.m. Hey remember before the season when everyone was picking the #Packers to win the #SuperBowl….

10:18 p.m. I’ve asked it every year since I was 5, and I’ll ask it again…. When is it OUR year? #Eagles

Just a remainder, “Andy Reid fired” rumors are not a joke. Someone could have seriously been injured while celebrating. Let’s be careful out there.

And again, Eagles fans… When is it OUR year?


Another Super Bowl, Another Trophy-less Eagles Season

February 5, 2011

Happy Super Bowl Weekend Fire The Walrus Nation!

Super Bowl Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year – along with the NFL Draft, Kickoff Sunday, Christmas and Buddy Ryan’s Birthday – but, as usual, Eagles fans will be watching without a horse in the race(*) – unless, of course, they’re gamblers.

(*)Or dog in the fight, if you enjoy Vick-related puns.

So with that being said, let’s take a quick look back at why the Eagles – and us as fans – will be watching from home… or self-sponsored Super Bowl parties:

  • No major Free Agent additions, particularly a veteran Defensive Back, and no Offensive Lineman taken in the draft, will eventually catch up with the 2010 Eagles.
  • Reid named Kolb the starter before Training Camp, thus forgoing a Quarterback competition/controversy from the get-go. Although many people (yes, including myself) were eager to see what Kolb could do – and the fact that Vick didn’t look all that great in Training Camp – maybe a real shot at the starting spot would have lit a fire under Vick, sending the team into the season with the explosive Offense it took four weeks to find.
  • For reasons unexplained – short of Andy Reid’s ego being the size of his gut – the Eagles first play from scrimmage included both Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick… and an illegal formation. How the first play of the season – something thought about, planned and choreographed – is illegal boggles my mind. The two were on the field together for almost half of the plays over the team’s first four drives, primarily in the Wildcat, and all in scripted plays that resulted in a total of three punts and three points.
  • The team blew a 19-10 lead in Tennessee, primarily at the hands of Kenny Britt (7 receptions, 225 yards, 3 touchdowns) but mostly because Reid was satisfied going into the season with Ellis Hobbs and Dimitri (the new Izel Jenkins, aka Toast) Patterson at Cornerback.
  • Following the Miracle at the Meadowlands (NUM-BER TWO!), and the most ridiculous decision in NFL history to NOT play a game in a blizzard (which we’ll get to eventually), Reid’s team came out flatter than than they ever have a gave away a chance at a playoff bye. In fact, that entire week – from Kurt Coleman and other players never really coming down from the high of the Giants game, to the two-day wait and Tuesday night game – deserves its own post.
  • For all of the reasons that the Eagles lost to the Packers in the playoffs – Vick’s interception, James Starks tearing up the Defense, bad calls from the refs – none stand out more than Reid’s playcalling, particularly the fact that LeSean McCoy only touched the ball 16 times. It was widely discussed before the game, both locally and nationally, that the way for the Eagles to win was on the legs of Shady. The Eagles miraculously had the 5th ranked rushing attack in the NFL(**) and were able to attack a three-man front, plus they needed to open up the field with play action in order to score on a tough secondary. But that plan never came, as Andy tried to outsmart himself, per usual.(**)Miraculous because leadblocker Leonard Weaver went down for the year in Week One, because Reid stubbornly refuses to run on a consistent basis (another post all together), and because the only real effective running play the Offense ran was the inside handoff out of Shotgun.

There are a plethora of reasons why the Packers and Steelers made it to Super Bowl XLV and a million more for why the Eagles didn’t. Green Bay and Pittsburgh both tout top-five Defenses, the Eagles don’t. And they probably won’t in 2011 either, as this offseason has begun about as unspectacularly as last year’s.

Another Super Bowl Sunday that we’re forced to watch simply as football fans – or fans of commercials with monkeys and talking babies. Another Super Bowl Sunday without our wing-helmeted heroes. Another Super Bowl Sunday that won’t end with Philadelphia finally possessing the coveted Lombardi Trophy.

We’re a city starved for football glory, while our Coach craves prime rib.

Congratulations Philadelphia Pittsburgh or Green Bay.

Watching the big game tomorrow? Join Fire The Walrus on Twitter (@FireTheWalrus) as we Live Tweet (also known as “make snarky, sarcastic comments on Twitter, ala Mystery Science Theatre 3000”) the Super Bowl… beginning with FOX’s pregame show.

See you tomorrow!


A Line in the Mudd

February 3, 2011

Lost in the wake of the whole “Juan Castillo to Defensive Coordinator” brouhaha is the slightly-less important news that the Eagles hired Howard Mudd as Offensive Line Coach.

Whether it was prior to promoting Castillo (and setting that chain-of-events in motion) or after the fact, the Eagles were able to nab Mudd, who coached the Indianapolis Colts’ Offensive Line to great success, from 1998 to 2009. And much like the addition of Jim Washburn from Tennessee, Mudd could prove to be a huge coup for Andy and the O-line.

Since the 2000 season, Mudd’s Offensive Line units have posted the best pass protection numbers of any NFL team – leading the league in sacks allowed in four of his last five years and in the top-two in nine of his last eleven years! Very impressive, especially when you consider the Eagles line has been mediocre at best in pass protection, averaging the 18th overall in sacks since 2000. Below you can see the breakdown of both the Eagles’ and Colts’ total offensive line ranks and pass protection ranks from 1999 (when Reid took over) to 2009 (when Mudd left the Colts), courtesy of FootballOutsiders.com (and make sure to check out their expanded statistical analysis).

The two teams have been relatively on par with each other over the course of the decade, but the Colts really stand out in pass protection – an area where the Eagles have sorely lacked, which seems crazy considering they average nearly 35 pass attempts per game.

The question is: Do these rankings reflect the scheme or the personnel? It would certainly seem that the personnel play a huge role. Both offensive lines have produced seven Pro Bowl appearances: Tra Thomas (2002, 03, 05), Jermane Mayberry (2003), Jon Runyan (2003) and Shawn Andrews (2007, 08) for the Eagles; and Jeff Saturday (2005, 06, 07, 09) and Tarik Glenn (2004, 05, 06) for the Colts.

But consider those sack ranks again, and then think of the two Quarterbacks that played in the majority of those seasons: Peyton Manning and Donovon McNabb. Manning is known for his hot reads, audibles and quick release (all conducive to getting sacked less). McNabb on the other hand (and Kolb and Vick to an extent), was notorious for holding the ball too long and taking a sack rather than risking an interception. Couple that with Andy Reid’s refusal to allow his Quarterbacks to change the play at the line, and you have a team that lets up a good number of sacks.

So will Howard Mudd(*) come in and improve an abysmal Offensive Line? Potentially… I assume that’s what the Eagles are thinking. But barring an upgrade in personnel – particularly at Right Guard and Center (and maybe at a Tackle spot) – it may take some time to rebuild this thing. Similar to what Castillo and Washburn are facing with the Defense, Mudd is desperately in need of better players, or else there will be little improvement.

The Eagles need to drastically upgrade the Line on both sides of the ball. So far, it appears that they’ve found the right coaches.

(*)And of course, Mudd makes me think of this:


NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: Eagles Hire Juan Castillo As Defensive Coordinator?!

February 2, 2011

I’m flabberfuckinggasted(*).

(*)Copyright!

I love Juan Castillo as an Offensive Line Coach – OFFENSIVE LINE COACH! How the hell can The Walrus defend this?! Well, you can listen to his half-assed, cliché-loaded press conference here. And here. FYI, Reid mentions that Castillo has always been a Defensive coach – which makes sense since he’s been the team’s Offensive Line for 13 years.

The move isn’t necessarily unprecedented. Reuben Frank (@roobeagles) pointed out on Twitter: “Notre Dame hired a defensive coordinator who had never coached defense. He was a college & NFL QB and TE. His name was Jim Johnson.” But that was in 1977. And not in the NFL.

Look, Juan Castillo is a really, really good coach and I am positive that he CAN coach the Defense… But that’s not what the Eagles need. This team desperately needs a defensive-minded mastermind, not just a guy that can coach up players (no matter how much Castillo claims to be a “defensive guy”). Can Juan Castillo seriously call the plays on Defense? Can he help find the right personnel for his fledgling Linebacker corps or a stud Defensive Tackle? Can he come up with a Defensive gameplan to dominate a playoff game, ala Rex Ryan versus the Patriots?

Then there’s the deeper issue here… Who exactly is making the decisions with the Eagles coaching staff? We all assume that Andy Reid has final say over all hires and fires, but ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio has been claiming that moves, particularly the McDermutt firing, came from over Reid’s head.  Is there an internal power struggle going on behind the scenes? Possibly, and we can certainly look at the Castillo promotion in three ways:

  • Eagles Management decided, with the looming work stoppage, to force an in-house promotion to save money – especially if they end up firing the entire staff following the 2011 season (let’s cross our fingers!). With their long history of fiscal responsibility (see: Cheapness), this seems more than likely.
  • Andy Reid, in his own stubborn way, decided to balk at The Billionaire and The Devil’s “supposed” demands to upgrade the Defense and instead promoted one of “his guys” to stick it to them. Not necessarily likely – doesn’t seem like The Walrus’ style – but if Sal Pal is right, who knows?
  • Juan Castillo forced Reid’s hand, as he was pining to move up to Offensive Coordinator when/if Marty Mornhinweg left for another job. Maybe Cincinnati contacted Castillo before they went after Jay Gruden and he threatened to leave unless he was promoted in some way? This seems pretty likely (and thanks @briangoldberg for bringing this up on Twitter).

The thing that really doesn’t make sense – and lends credence to the last point – is that the Eagles could have waited four days, interviewed Darren Perry or Winston Moss, and then still have made this move. The timing screams of desperation and is a clear sign that the team was horribly unprepared moving forward with this Defensive Coordinator search. Why even interview Jon Hoke and Joe Woods? Why flirt with Jim Mora, Jr. and Dennis Allen? Something is completely off about this whole situation.

Maybe Juan Castillo turns out to be the next Jim Johnson. Maybe he’s the next Sean McDermutt. Either way, the Eagles just made fools of themselves with a highly-public and unsuccessful Defensive Coordinator search, that ended in the inexplicable promotion of an Offensive Line Coach to Defensive Coordinator. No matter how it turns out down the line, the Eagles have egg on their face.

Can we please just get it over with and Fire The Walrus?


Whisker Wednesday Poll

February 2, 2011

Whisker Wednesday continues with the Whisker Wednesday Poll: Which Super Bowl XLV Prop Bet Would You Bet Your Life On?

 

 

 

There are literally hundreds on insane prop bets for the Super Bowl each year and 2011’s crop is even more crazy than ever. There are now even cross-sport bets (like Blake Griffin’s total number of points and rebounds vs. the Packer’s total points scored).

If you want to hear some funny, degenerate gamblers discuss inane prop bets further, check out ESPN’s Bill Simmons’ latest B.S. Report with Cousin Sal. For our purposes, I think I’d bet my life on the Over of Brett Favre comments. You gotta love the “God” shoutout by whoever wins the MVP award. And if history has taught us anything, I’m laying the mortgage on Donny Mac loses his Texas-style BBQ all over Steve Young’s nice new tie.

Got another Super Bowl XLV Prop Bet you like? Leave them in the comments.

Coming soon… Mopey Monday (no more football)!


Whisker Wednesday Clip of the Day

February 2, 2011

Green Bay Packer’s Linebackers Coach Winston Moss, a name that has not yet been crossed off the Eagles Defensive Coordinator cadidate list, appeared with Harry Mayes and Dan Schwartzman on the 97.5 The Fanatic midday show… And sold himself to the Philadelphia phaithful.

Listen to the interview here. You think Eagles fans would embrace this guys bravado or what? He’s certainly speaking to the Fire The Walrus Nation’s sensibility!


Whisker Wednesday

February 2, 2011

Welcome to yet another wet, wild Whisker Wednesday! A lot has happened so far this week in Eagles Nation – including the completely unsurprising news that Michael Vick will receive the team’s Franchise Tag and Kevin Kolb will be shopped (more on this later today). Also, the Eagles made an actual Public Relations move, choosing to not raise ticket prices for next season (though if they made it further in the playoffs that probably would have been a different story). For now, let’s get right into it…

The David Akers Drama
A lot has been made this week about Andy Reid’s handling of David Akers in the aftermath of the playoff loss to the Packers, particularly since it was revealed that Akers’ six-year-old daughter was undergoing surgery to remove a potentially cancerous cyst. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Akers family.

For what it’s worth, Andy Reid shouldn’t be criticized for “throwing Akers under the bus.”

Yes, he made specific comments about the kicking game in both the press conference following the game and his day-after conference – offhandedly making a comment about only losing by five while leaving six points on the field. But if anyone should be blamed for the way the kicker performed on Sunday, January 9, it should be the Head Coach.

Forget about Akers’ missed 41-yarder in the first quarter – or his track-record of inconsistency kicking in the Linc – Reid should never have put his kicking team on the field for the play in question in the first place. The Eagles had a fourth-and-one at Green Bay’s 16 yard-line, down eleven points with about ten minutes to play. They were averaging 3.9 yards per carry and were actually succeeding in short-yardage situations… But still chose to kick. Even if Akers makes the field goal, the Eagles still trail by eight and are playing to tie, not to win. Guess who gets the blame for that?

Reid put Akers in a position to fail. Sure, a case could be made that Akers should have held himself out of the game, but what professional athlete (aside from Jay Cutler) does that? If Andy Reid had a Championship-mentality, he would have pounded the ball up the middle on that fourth-and-1 play and stuck it to the Packers. Instead, he sent a reeling David Akers onto the field and rest is history.

Should Akers be criticized for his performance? Not necessarily. He was dealing with deep personal feelings, and even if you’ve experienced something similar, you have no idea how those thoughts affected him. Some players thrive on tragedy (see: Favre, Brett and Reed, Ed). Others don’t. Should Reid have been more sensitive? Maybe. But we don’t know what really happened behind-closed-doors leading up to the game.

Again, if Andy had gone for the kill, rather than playing for the tie, maybe this whole point would be moot.

And the Defensive Coaching Clusterfuck Continues…
Joe Woods. Jon Hoke. At this point the Eagles Defensive Coordinator position comes down to Plans F and G.

Not a good start to drastically rebuilding a defense that gave up a franchise-record 31 touchdowns through the air. Though I’m still holding out hope for Darren Perry – the only Defensive Backs Coach the Eagles haven’t interviewed yet and a guy I singled out weeks ago (along with the Jets’ Mark Carrier) – this is becoming ridiculous.

One of the strengths of Andy Reid over the course of the past 13 years has been his ability to go into an offseason with a plan in place and execute that plan. Whether it has been big Free Agent targets, coaching moves, draft strategy – the Front Office typically gets their business settled early and easily (though the outcomes haven’t had the same consistency).  But this offseason so far has been a complete mess…

Firing and hiring coaches with no rhyme or reason. Interviewing any defensive coaching name they can get their hands on. They’re scrambling and it’s noticeably uncharacteristic. Clearly the plan was to simply install Dick Jauron at Coordinator, making for a seamless transition in a very uncertain offseason, but that blew up in their face. Now the team is stuck with whatever coach is willing to take the job.

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio made a very interesting point yesterday on Mike Missanelli’s show on 97.5 The Fanatic… There is uncertainty in the league and with the Eagles. Coaches with good jobs, working for good organizations, won’t be so quick to uproot their families and move, partially due to the CBA issues, but mostly because they don’t want to take a job with a Head Coach that might not be there after this next season.

Now Sal Pal has mentioned his belief that this will be Andy’s last year in Philadelphia, barring a Super Bowl(*). But this goes deeper. Would coaches really not try to advance their careers solely because Andy Reid’s future may be in doubt? I find that hard to believe. If you’re a Defensive Coordinator in the NFL and you lose your job because of the Head Coach, chances are you’re getting another gig on the same level. Hell, even Sean McDermutt is still a Defensive Coordinator(**). And it’s not like they’d be taking a bad job. The Eagles (as much as it pains me to say it) are one of the top organizations in the league, the Offense has the ability to be fantastic, and the Defense can only improve, especially on a talent-level. That should be a sought-after job.

(*)And Fire The Walrus Nation rejoices!

(**)By the way… Somebody asked me: What happens if McDermutt succeeds in Denver? Well, it would prove that the personnel on this Eagles team is definitely below-average; that Jim Johnson really does produce top-notch coaching talent; and that Andy Reid is at fault, once and for all.

Speaking of Mike Missanelli
I want to give a special thank you to Mikey Miss for plugging our little space on the interwebs yesterday and discussing Monday’s piece on Andy Reid’s regular season record splits (hopefully audio of it is uploaded soon at 975TheFanatic.com).

Yesterday was a record-setting day here at FireTheWalrus.com and we welcome all of the new members of Fire The Walrus Nation! You won’t be disappointed… at least until the 2011 season ends with an interception and no Super Bowl.

Another wet Whisker Wednesday is just getting started. Check back later today for more icy fun!


Reason #12 to Fire The Walrus

January 31, 2011

The Deceiving Regular Season Record

Andy Reid is a good coach.

I don’t disagree with that statement. The guy is the all-time greatest coach in Eagles history, records-wise – leading all Eagles coaches in wins, winning percentage, games coached, division titles, playoff games and playoff wins. His overall record speaks for itself: 118-73-1, a .618 winning percentage. Or does it?

Yes, Andy’s regular season record is impressive, but when you look deeper, the numbers seem slightly (or more-than-slightly) skewed.

Of the 192 regular season games played under Andy Reid, 103 have come against teams with a record of 8-8 or better, and 89 against teams 7-9 or worse. A pretty even split.

Andy Reid’s record/winning percentage versus losing teams: 70-18-1 (.787)

And Reid’s record/winning percentage versus winning teams: 48-55 (.466)

Those are telling numbers.

Sure, Reid’s winning percentage against losing teams is nearly 80 percent – meaning his teams beat the teams they’re supposed to beat. Of course, each season there is always one inexplicable lose, a game the Eagles have no business losing going in but but somehow come out on the wrong side (see: Raiders in ’09 and Vikings in ’10). For the most part, though, Andy Reid’s teams beat bad teams.

But they don’t beat good teams.

Here’s how it breaks down per season:

The four seasons of the Andy Reid-Donovon McNabb apex in particular, 2000 to 2004, stand out. The Eagles won 11, 11, 12, 12 and 13 games during that time-frame – dominating losing teams 41-5…  yet only going 18-16 against teams .500 or better. That five-year span saw some of the worst years of the NFC in league history – and the Eagles handled those teams rightfully so. But for some reason, they simply struggled against teams that were competitive.

It seems to have leveled off in recent years – the huge disparity between beating lesser teams and being mediocre against good teams – but at no point during Reid’s tenure have any of his teams been dominate against good teams. In fact, this past season was his best against winning teams – beating the Colts, Falcons and Giants as underdogs(*).

(*)Though – as I’ve pointed out before –  two of those wins (the Colts and the Giants) can be attributed to things Michael Vick did on the field that determined the outcome of the game.

Look at those winning percentages again. The team wins 78% of the time against bad teams and only 46% of the time against decent-to-good teams. That’s a 32% drop-off when the competition gets tougher. And it goes even further…

The Eagles have played 19 playoff games under Reid, winning 10 of them for a .526 winning percentage. Against teams with 8 or 9 wins in the playoffs, the Eagles are 4-1, with all four wins coming in the first round they played and the one lose against the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game. The trend continues, as the team is 6-8 versus teams with 10 or more wins in the playoffs. That’s 80% to 43%, almost identical to their regular season splits.

Translation: the deeper they go in the season, the better the team they face, the worse the Eagles are.

That’s an abysmal trend, and certainly one you don’t want to see over the tenure of one Head Coach.Again, the 2008 NFC Championship Game was the tipping point of the Andy Reid-era. That’s the furthest he can go as a Head Coach. Unless he can get a 13-3 or better Eagles team to a Super Bowl against an 8-8 or worse AFC team…

It’s time to Fire The Walrus.