|Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. (Getty Images)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
Eagles defense. This is becoming a weekly occurrence for Philly, a team with high hopes in August, now sitting at 1-4, which could now be ecstatic to go 8-8 and forget 2011 ever happened. All the big-name free-agent acquisitions are well documented, and they're arrival had everything to do with the preseason Dream Team hype (thanks, Vince!).
The problem: despite the league's best efforts, tackling is still a big part of the game … except in Philly, it seems. In fact, based on the way the Eagles' defense has performed through five weeks, tackling is frowned upon.
Sunday's effort against the Bills is the latest indictment. And this aversion to tackling isn't isolated; it's an epidemic. The diagnosis via ProFootballFocus.com:
"We always knew that Asante Samuel can’t tackle his way out of a wet paper bag, but that problem seems to be catching on amongst the Eagles’ defense. Samuel, along with three other Philadelphia defenders, missed a pair of tackles that would have gone a long way in crushing Buffalo’s momentum. While this isn’t an unusual mark for Samuel, it was Jarrad Page that took the top billing. … In addition to that, Page also took some pretty awful angles on running plays, especially on Fred Jackson’s touchdown run in the first quarter. A week of some basic and fundamental tackling instruction would go a long way to help improve this underperforming defense."
|Week 5 Recap|
It gets worse: the Eagles missed 14 (!) tackles Sunday in Buffalo.
The inability to bring down Bills ball-carriers wasn't the low point, however. It was the Eagles' defense, facing fourth and 1 during a critical series late in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance, jumping offsides on a hard count. That one play encapsulated the season to date.
So where does Philly go from here? Well, if you're head coach Andy Reid, the man responsible for hiring his assistants -- including defensive coordinator Juan Castillo (who, it's worth mentioning, previously had been an Eagles' offensive assistant since the mid-'90s) -- it means throwing around the idea of bringing in a "defensive consultant" during the team's bye week.
Translation: Please look away while we bang on this panic button.
Look, we agree that it was a little peculiar to hire a lifetime offensive coach as the defensive coordinator. But for Reid to admit halfway through the season that it was a huge mistake makes him look even more out of touch, which isn't easy to do given how the season has unfolded so far.
Also: the last time we heard mention of "consultants" was two seasons ago when then-Redskins general manager Vinny Cerrato brought in Sherman Lewis to "offer a fresh set of eyes" for head coach Jim Zorn. who had never called plays in an NFL game before Washington hired him. Oh, yeah, prior to coming out of retirement, Lewis was calling bingo games. So, yes, this could end badly.
Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos. Denver fans finally got what they wanted: Tebow under center in a meaningful game. Never mind that he managed to complete just 4 of 10 throws for 79 yards. Or that the same issues that have plagued him since coming into the league in 2010 remain: the long stride, the Byron Leftwich windup with half the arm strength, the inability to consistently read defenses.
There's no question that he's good for the city, at least in the sense that he gives fans something they haven't had in awhile: hope. But after the Tebow Euphoria wears off, the reality is that he's a below average quarterback. (We know, we know: there isn't a stat that measures Tebow's heart … although we suspect ESPN is working on that. In related news: Merril Hoge disapproves of ESPN's efforts to lionize Tebow.) Orton is, in general, a better player, though his performance in recent weeks has earned him the right to get benched. Not only that, but he'll be a free agent in January.
Then again, it's not like the Broncos' playoff hopes rest on this decision. Whoever ends up under center will be leading a team destined for another losing season. The only question is who would benefit most from the experience. Common sense says Tebow because he's younger, and the team's former top pick. The problem with that: Fox has previously stated, on more than one occasion, that Orton was his guy and Tebow wasn't ready for the gig. He now looks like he a) is going back on his word or b) isn't much of a talent evaluator. Either way, he looks bad.
We're guessing Broncos fans will be willing to overlook all that as long as Tebow plays. They just want change and Tebow is certainly that.
(click images to enlarge)
Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets. Like the Eagles' D, this isn't Cromartie's first Coach Killer rodeo. His special teams gaffe against the Raiders helped propel the Jets to a Week 3 loss, and now, two weeks later, he did his part to get New York to 2-3. It's also well documented that he's not much of a Tom Brady fan, telling the media last week that “I hope I’m a target this game. I want to be a target every game.” As CBS' Shannon Sharpe pointed out on NFL Today before kickoff, "You're going to be a target every game because nobody's throwing at Darrelle Revis."
The Jets defense did limit Brady to just 321 passing yards, with a touchdown and an interception. But the one time Brady found Deion Branch in the end zone, it was with Cromartie in coverage, although we mean that in the loosest sense. Cromartie got caught looking in the backfield as Branch broke off his route and ran to the back pylon. It was a throw so easy Tim Tebow could've made it.
Jaguars special teams. Five weeks into the 2011 season and the biggest surprise isn't that the Lions are undefeated or that the Dream Team needs some Inception-style intervention to fix things. It's that Jack Del Rio still has a job. The latest nail in a coffin that probably doesn't have much room for more nails came against the Bengals Sunday, in a game the Jags should've won but didn't … because they're the Jags.
This week, it was the special teams that did their part to guarantee the loss.
First, rookie returner Cecil Shorts didn't field a punt late in the game and the Bengals downed the ball at the Jags' two-yard line. Four plays later, Matt Turk got off a 22-yard punt which, when coupled with a five-yard penalty, meant that Cincy would be starting at the Jags' 23. The Bengals scored a touchdown on the drive and that was that.
Turk's day was a microcosm of Jacksonville's season; he launched a 32-yard punt in the third quarter and was booed by the fans as he made his way off the field.
"Not even close to good enough in either phase," Del Rio, not doubt shocked to still be employed, said of his special teams. …
"It was windy and tough conditions, but I'm not going to sit here and make an excuse. It's nowhere near acceptable to allow a ball to be uncaught and roll to the 2-yard line when we could have caught it at the 30 or 25."
Another fun fact, courtesy of Jacksonville.com: have been outscored 68-13 in the second half this season.
Levi Brown, OL, Cardinals/Cardinals defense (The Curse of McNabb Edition). We talked about it on Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, but is Ken Whisenhunt on the ol' hot seat? He did lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008. Of course, Arizona managed just five wins last season, and in July gave up cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to get quarterback Kevin Kolb (and then gave him a $63 million extension). Now the Cards are 1-4, fresh off a loss to the previously winless Vikings.
Kolbs has looked … well, like a guy who came into the season with seven career NFL starts. Which is to say that, despite all the offseason media hype, he has a long way to go. The problem: the Cards gave up a lot to get him and don't have time to wait around. Not helping: Levi Brown -- the guy Arizona drafted while Adrian Peterson was still on the board -- has been a pass protector in name only.
ProFootballFocus notes thats "These struggles at tackle are nothing new for the Cardinals but continuing to turn a blind eye to these issues won’t do them any good. With Kurt Warner under center they had a QB with an innate feeling for pressure similar to that of Peyton Manning. Someone who could cope with pressure and still make plays. But they no longer have that and for the past two seasons this has crippled the Cardinals’ offense. This season Arizona offensive tackles have now conceded nine sacks, three hits and 36 pressures. Kevin Kolb has been a disappointment but behind these tackles is he getting a fair chance?"
Perhaps more embarrassing: this pregame note from the s/playerpage/133361">Donovan McNabb gathered teammates outside the locker room before the game against the Cardinals and told them, ">Arizona Republic's Kent Somers: "It seemed laughable on Sunday when Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb gathered teammates outside the locker room before the game against the Cardinals and told them, 'Ain't no reason we shouldn't blow these guys out.'"
Given the way the Vikings -- and McNabb in particular -- had played in recent weeks, laughing was the right response. Except that Minnesota led 28-0 after the first quarter.
The solution? Get better. No, seriously.
"That's the problem. It's not one person making a lot of mistakes; it's all of us making one or two mistakes," Kolb said after the loss. "That's where details come in. The head coach hit the nail on the head: We've got to get back to detail-oriented football. It starts with meetings. It starts with showing up to work on time, getting in early, getting your work done. All of the stuff that a professional is supposed to do."
Shouldn't you guys have been doing that from the start?
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