It now appears that both head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick will be making their final appearance with the Philadelphia Eagles this week against the New York Giants.
Reid, the longest-tenured head coach in the National Football League, needs a win to avoid his worst record since taking over as Philadelphia’s head coach in 1999. Meanwhile, Vick is set to earn $15 million, of which $14.1 million isn’t guaranteed, next season. Needless to say, he will most likely be getting his walking papers following the season.
Philadelphia came into each of the last two seasons with high expectations, but failed to live up to the talent level that we all pretty much knew they had. With a mixture of under-performing veterans and untested youngsters, the Eagles just couldn’t get the job done.
It is now time for Philadelphia to blow the whole thing up and start anew. The biggest question here is how they’ll go about doing that? Not whether it will be done.
Stick With The Youth Movement
There is absolutely no reason for Philadelphia to make an attempt at reloading in free agency. Its philosophy prior to the last few years was to build through the draft and supplement via free agency. General manager Howie Roseman, should he keep his job, needs to revert the Eagles philosophy back to that more successful point.
Philadelphia’s last couple few drafts have given it a solid young core on both sides of the ball.
1. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
1. Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan
2. Nate Allen, S, South Florida
5. Riley Cooper, WR, Florida
7. Kurt Coleman, S, Ohio State
1. Danny Watkins, G, Baylor
4. Alex Henery, K, Nebraska
6. Jason Kelce, C, Cincinnati
7. Stanley Havili, FB, Southern California
1. Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
2. Mychal Kendricks, LB, California
2. Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall
3. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
4. Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia
7. Bryce Brown, RB, Kansas State
You are looking at about 16 players drafted in the last four seasons that promise to be contributors for the Eagles moving forward. That isn’t too shabby at all. Despite focusing a great deal of their money on free agency, the Eagles have done a decent job in the draft.
Again, this needs to be their focus moving forward.
They can rid themselves of a huge contract when they release Vick prior to the start of the new league year in March. Additionally, they can save $11 million more by releasing free-agent bust Nnamdi Asomugha. That will give the Eagles a good $24 million more in cap space to pick and choose who they might want to extend on their roster or add in free agency.
There is absolutely no reason to believe that Nick Foles cannot be the answer at quarterback. He has played extremely well as a rookie in 2012 and seems to possess all the necessary skills you look for in a young quarterback. Give him an entire offseason to work on some major flaws that most young quarterbacks have, including decision making.
LeSean McCoy, even after an injury-plagued 2012 season, is one of the top five running backs in the NFL. He also have electric youngster Bryce Brown to help shoulder the load in the backfield. That could be a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back.
Equally as important for Philadelphia, it has a solid starting wide receiver duo. When healthy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin can be dynamic on the outside.
Of course none of this matters if you don’t have an offensive line. Philadelphia was missing the best tackle in the entire NFL in the form of Jason Peters due to another Achilles injury suffered back in the spring. That was a huge loss right there. Second-year center Jason Kelce also missed all but two games this season.
Despite missing their best offensive lineman, a few different youngsters stepped up along this unit in 2012. Rookie Dennis Kelly has started nine games at two different o-line positions, while 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins started six games. While Watkins is far from a sure bet and could still be considered a bust, it was important to get him some playing time.
Philadelphia now needs to focus on adding a few other youngsters along the offensive line in order to be able to keep Foles upright and open up more holes for the McCoy-Brown tandem. It can also be financially wise by adding a top tier free agent in what promises to be loaded offensive line market. That’s what I am talking about in regards to picking and choosing where you spend your money.
Defensively, Philadelphia might not be as set. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie appear to be a solid core upon which to build with on defense.
DRC, who is set to be a free agent in March, hasn’t been terribly consistent in Philadelphia over the course of the his first two seasons with the team. He is an unlikely candidate for the franchise tag and hasn’t even been the Eagles best cornerback this season.
Instead of spending what promises to be a huge sum of money on DRC, Philadelphia could easily make the decision to allow 2012 draft pick Brandon Boykin step into a starting role while adding another youngster in the 2013 NFL draft. While that would create some growing pains on pass defense, it makes more sense than overpaying for someone that just hasn’t performed up to snuff.
Of course, Philadelphia’s main goal will be to find a new head coach for its franchise for the first team in nearly a decade and a half. That isn’t going to be an easy task.
Does it look for a veteran head coach to help lead what promises to be a young roster? Maybe it decides some new blood is needed from the college ranks to help inspire a young roster.
Either way, that is going to be the Eagles first goal when their season comes to an end this weekend.
At the very least, Philadelphia does have a lot more to work with than other bottom feeders such as the: Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs.
It should be an interesting offseason.