February 15, 2011

So, the long-awaited prophecy of Michael Vick receiving the Franchise Tag will finally be fulfilled today… But it won’t be the only designation the team hands out. David Akers, the longest-tenured Eagles player, will be hit with the Franchise Tag’s lesser known cousin, the Transition Tag.

Now this may be a very unpopular stance – and may seem slightly outrageous to some Eagles fans, especially coming off a Pro Bowl season – but, why tag Akers?

Well, the Transition Tag protects the team by allowing them to match any offer Akers receives in Free Agency – you know, if that even happens. As it stands now, Free Agency may not occur until the summer (at the earliest) or not at all (the worst case scenario), so it would appear that the Eagles are currently hedging their bets. It’s been highly-publicized that Akers turned down a multi-year contract offer in December because he felt the team was low-balling him(*), and that contract negotiations – particularly after his two big misses in the playoffs and the fallout from the drama with Reid – are headed nowhere fast.

(*)Really?! The Eagles would never do that…

The Transition Tag will pay Akers the average of the top-ten paid Kickers and Punters for one season – a totally fair contract for a guy that has averaged the 12th best Field Goal percentage over the last four years. Sure, 2010 was one of Akers’ best seasons, but he’s never really been the same since his groin injury during the 2005 season. In fact, Akers completely dropped off as a reliable Kicker from 2005 to 2007 – when he averaged a 75% conversion rate, putting him in the bottom third of NFL Kickers – and hasn’t been reliable from 40-yards and beyond since.

In both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, 20 Kickers attempted at least 28 Field Goals. Akers ranked 6th and 7th in total FG percentage among them (86.5% and 84.2%, respectively) and was perfect on attempts from inside the 29-yard line and on extra points. Not bad.

But what about Field Goals from 40-yards or more? Over the past two seasons, Akers has made only 22 out of 30 Field Goals from 40-yards out, a 73% success rate. From 50-yards or more? Two out of six… a 33% rate.

Sure, he’s the most consistent Kicker the Eagles have had in my lifetime (and probably your’s)… But at what point does the team start exploring other options?

Just throwing it out there. I’m not saying it’s time to Fire The Kicker. Yet.

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

Yesterday was a record-setting day here at 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!