Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

I agree with every last word Les Bowen wrote today, so I'm giving it all to you here:

Les Bowen: Further review: Run-pass balance: Andy Reid still doesn't get it

By Les Bowen
Philadelphia Daily News

Daily News Sports Columnist
LOTS OF PEOPLE seemed lost in thought in the cramped visitors' locker room at FedEx Field Sunday evening.

The power to read minds would have come in very handy. Two offensive linemen huddled over the postgame stat book; one of them pointed at a row of figures and shook his head in disbelief. He quickly put the stats aside when a reporter seemed interested in what was being discussed.

Behind a partial curtain, outside the closed door to the coaches' room, Eagles president Joe Banner sat on the floor, his back against the wall. Banner, too, was scrutinizing something that could have been the stat book.

A million bucks' worth of salary-cap space for your thoughts, Joe?

All available evidence suggests that Banner and team owner Jeffrey Lurie have no intention of replacing Andy Reid. If you are industrious enough, you can still dig up enough stats from earlier in the decade to layer in with what's happening now and make it seem like Reid is doing a good job. We'll leave that task to others, though.

All we have to offer you this morning is despair. Despair over whether the people in charge will continue to delude themselves, thinking that being a play here and a play there away from doing something is the same thing as actually doing it.

I asked Reid yesterday if it doesn't seem he is answering the same questions, explaining the same failings, after every loss. Reid turned on the humor: "Yeah, you guys aren't very creative."

Yuk, yuk.

The Eagles of 2008, like the Eagles of 2007, have a very good defense and an erratic, often painfully inept offense that depends on Brian Westbrook feeling spry. That combination didn't quite get them to the playoffs a year ago and it very likely won't get them there this year.

So what will change?

Probably nothing. We will be sitting in the same news conference this time next year, listening to the same mush.

In response to one question yesterday, Reid said: "I'll take responsibility for that."

That brought back memories of an old comedy album (remember comedy albums?). There was a guy named David Frye, and back in the '70s he made a good living off his Richard Nixon impression. Frye had a riff about Nixon accepting the "responsibility" but not the "blame" for Watergate.

"Let me explain the difference," the faux Nixon intoned. "People who are to blame go to jail. People who are responsible do not."

Change "go to jail" to "lose their jobs" and you pretty much have Andy's shtick. It's his responsibility, but everybody deserves a piece of the blame "pie." Because when everyone is to blame, effectively, no one is to blame.

Developing storylines

* Sav Rocca, Mr. September, is of very limited use to a team whose season extends into cold-weather months, in the northeastern United States.

* DeSean Jackson's drop of the touchdown strike in the final minute brought up a question: When did Donovan McNabb and a receiver last connect on an actual bomb, not a catch-and-run but a long heave, 40 yards or more through the air?

* Reggie Brown needed to run that last route to the end zone, not to the 1-yard line. "We tell the receivers to make sure they're in the end zone in those situations, so we could have done a little bit better of a job there," Reid said.

* Since the Eagles are playing the Cowboys this week, it seems relevant to point out that Reid could have drafted Jason Witten in the second round in 2003. He chose L.J. Smith instead. How's that working for him?

* Doesn't it seem that not only do the Eagles never win a replay challenge, the opponents never lose one?

Who knew?

That you could lose twice in the same season to Jim Zorn?

Obscure stat

The Eagles were beaten Sunday by a quarterback who completed seven passes to wide receivers, for a total of 56 yards. In the second half, Jason Campbell completed one pass to a wideout, Antwaan Randle El, for 11 yards.

Extra point

Reporters diligently flogged the dead horse yesterday.

Reuben Frank, of the Burlington County Times, asked Andy Reid why the Eagles called five runs in 41 plays in the second half Sunday.

"We probably could have run it a couple of more times, yeah," Reid said. "We were backed up and trying to make some things happen. We took some shots in there, and at the time, we weren't running quite as effectively as we would have liked to, but we probably could have stuck with it a little bit more."

A little while later, Frank persistently pointed out that Brian Westbrook averaged 4.1 yards per carry in the first half. So, he asked, what made Reid think the run wasn't working?

"We started off throwing. It just worked out that way. We started off throwing the football," Reid said. "We were backed up and we were trying to make some things happen that way. Like I said, we probably could have run it a few more times."

Another reporter wondered whether being pinned deep in your own territory, as the Eagles were most of the second half, might instead lead one to run the ball.

"The majority of the time on first and second down, they were presenting an eight-man front," Reid said.

"And so, they gave you opportunities to work your quick game, and they were playing off-coverage on the outside. We just didn't do as well as I thought we could do."

Jim Johnson might want to write that down.

Show an eight-man front, the opposition has to drop back to throw 16 successive times.

This strategy could come in quite handy against the other NFC East teams, who all presumably will have to then abandon any idea of running.

BallHype: hype it up!

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