|Andy Reid's tenure in Philadelphia will almost certainly end with his 2012 team. (US Presswire)|
As each NFL team is officially eliminated from postseason contention, the Eye on Football crew will whip up a review of that team's 2012 season. Today, we look at the Eagles. For more of our End of the Road series, click here.
What went wrong
We trace this team's struggles back to the 2011 preseason when then-backup quarterback Vince Young called this group the "Dream Team." Actually, VY's prognosticatory skills had nothing to do with Eagles' awful 2012, but it's hard to explain how it all went so bad so fast. Here's the quick version: the offensive line lost 80 percent of its starters to injuries; quarterback Michael Vick, as has happened his entire career, took a beating on a weekly basis; head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg underutilized LeSean McCoy; and Philly's defense couldn't tackle its way out of a paper bag.
As the season progressed, and the situation worsened, and Reid starting firing people before owner Jeffrey Lurie could fire him. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo was canned during the bye week and the defense somehow got worse under Todd Bowles; and defensive line coach Jim Washburn was dismissed last week.
The team also cut defensive end Jason Babin, who struggled to just 5.5 sacks, and high-priced free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has had his second straight disappointing season.
What went right
|The home of the Super Bowl|
The silver lining to losing starters Vick and McCoy to injuries while in the middle of an eight-game losing streak? Playing time for two rookies who could be a big part in 2013 and beyond: quarterback Nick Foles and running back Bryce Brown.
Reid's likely done, and Vick, who signed a $100 million deal before the 2011 season, might not be far behind him. The decision will be a lot easier for the Eagles' front office after glimpsing what Foles can do. His latest feat: leading the team on a 64-yard, game-winning drive over the Bucs that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass as time expired.
And while Brown didn't do much against Tampa Bay, he rushed for 347 yards his Week 12 and 13, averaging 8.1 yards per carry. At the very least, he can share the workload with McCoy next year, which benefits, well, everybody.
Rookie defensive end Vinny Curry was another player who came on late, but that was because he was inexplicably inactive for the first two-thirds of the season. He showed the type of tenaciousness this defense has lacked at time, and hopefully that too will carry over to next season.
Lurie said in August that last season's 8-8 mark was "unacceptable." We can't imagine what adjectives he'd use to describe the Great Debacle of 2012. So, yeah, as we've already mentioned, Reid's as good as gone, and we suspect the same holds for his staff -- Mornhinweg, Bowles, special teams coach Bobby April. Jon Gruden's name has been mentioned as a possible replacement but Jon Gruden's name has been mentioned for just about every job opening. Whomever succeeds Reid, they'll have the pieces in place to rebuild quickly, which should make the job more attractive than other opportunities around the league.
When its healthy, the offense is plenty dangerous; the problem, of course, has been keeping guys on the field. The offensive line is anchored by left tackle Jason Peters, and the playmakers include McCoy, DeSean Jackson (he's on injured reserve), Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek -- and, it appears, Foles.
The defense, meanwhile, has avoided major injuries but is one of the worst units in the league against the pass. cornerbacks Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have wavered between below-average and terrible, and the Eagles could stand to upgrade at least one cornerback positions (Asomugha's the likely candidate given his poor play and his enormous contract). Interestingly, NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang and Dane Brugler have the Eagles taking offensive tackle Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) with the No. 7 pick in their 2013 mock draft.
2013 will be...
… Better than 2011 and 2012. In fact, if Lurie finds the right coach, everyone gets healthy, Foles continues to develop, and the defense learns how to play the pass, Philly could be right back in the mix in the NFC East. A lot of "ifs," we know, but this is the NFL. The difference between a playoff team and a four-win outfit comes down to a handful of plays. Just ask the Colts.
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