Philadelphia, Pa—The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations that were bestowed upon them entering the 2012 season. The 2011 campaign was a bit of a precursor of things to come after back-up quarterback Vince Young coined the Eagles as the “Dream Team”. The 2011 squad finished 8-8, and team owner Jeffery Lurie made it clear that another season at .500 or lower would most likely not be good enough for Andy Reid to keep his job.
Heading into camp over the past summer, the feeling in the air was that this could be a career-defining year for both Reid and Michael Vick. Vick was coming off a season that wasn’t quite expected of someone just given a $100 million contract extension. But, as training camp was getting underway Andy Reid’s son Garrett was found dead in his dorm room at Lehigh where camp was being held. Garrett’s passing was just one of the many heartaches that Reid would experience as 2012 came to a close.
The 2012 season went about as poorly as any Philadelphia Eagles fan could’ve imagined. The team started the season off shaky and inconsistent but still managed to have a 3-1 record at the end of September. But a last second field goal as time expired in Pittsburgh and an overtime loss to Detroit at home quickly caused the team to unravel. After falling to 3-3 after the two painful losses, the downward spiral continued with another six losses and the firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo in the process.
Defensive assistant Todd Bowles, who didn’t exactly inject the type of defensive schemes necessary to turn around a defensive unit that finished 16th in the league in total defense, replaced Castillo. The defense has plenty of playmakers that didn’t live up to the lofty goals expected by them in Philadelphia. Former Pro Bowler defensive end Jason Babin was cut as well as defensive line coach Jim Washburn, due mostly to the fact that the Eagles were rarely putting much pressure at all on opposing offenses.
Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie both underperformed after their free-agent signings to shore up the secondary, and Kurt Coleman wasn’t exactly what the Eagles had in mind either. One or all of them could be shown the door before the 2013 season starts, and grabbing another linebacker in April’s draft will be integral to strengthen the depth chart behind Kendricks and Ryans. Rookie Fletcher Cox showed much promise after the Eagles invested their first-round pick for him in last year’s draft, and will look to grow next season under whomever is selected as the next defensive coordinator.
Offensively the Eagles finished 13th in the league in 2012, but failed again to perform at the high-octane level that was seen in 2010 when Vick had his revival tour that many of us hadn’t expected. Desean Jackson was barely relevant for much of the year and just barely reached 700 yards on the year, and LeSean McCoy’s running back duties were sharply reduced in favor of the passing attack. Michael Vick struggled to stay healthy, and by the time Vick became available again to play it had become to late. The season was already in shambles, and the organization felt that the best direction to go was to see what 2012 3rd round pick Nick Foles had to offer for the future.
Foles played the final six games of the season and had two 300-yard performances against the Redskins and Buccaneers. The offensive line was battered and bruised all year with many starters on injured reserve, and in Foles defense he had little time to operate the offense with the pocket collapsing increasingly fast. In April’s draft, building a new offensive line will be integral to the team’s future success moving forward. Evan Mathis filled in nicely as the 3rd option at center after starter Jason Kelce went down with an ACL tear in the 2nd game of the season. Having Kelce back in 2013 will make a vast improvement in giving Foles or whomever is behind center a bit more time to make decisive reads in the pocket.
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Reid both came under scrutiny for the underutilization of All-Pro running back McCoy this year, especially after he had such a huge season last year. One of the bright spots within the running game though was the finding of Bryce Brown, who had a breakout game against the Cowboys rushing for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Going into next season with an uncertain situation at quarterback, having both Brown and McCoy will bode well for whomever takes over the reins of the offense for the Eagles.
On December 30th, Jeffery Lurie did what everyone figured would ultimately be Reid’s fate and fired Andy after 14 long seasons with the organization. There were no bitter feelings or resentment from either party, and Lurie sent off Reid in a distinguished and professional manner after the success Reid brought to a franchise that was dying for success with the NFC again. Reid won 130 games as the Eagles head coach (good for first in Eagles history), and guided them to their lone Super Bowl appearance in 2004.
Reid, who was criticized heavily when he was first hired due to his short list of NFL coaching experience, is now regarded as one of the top offensive minds in the league. On January 4, 2013, almost 14 years to the day he accepted the Eagles job, Reid became the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Reports are that Reid is looking to build the same time of coaching staff that he did in Philadelphia, and he is already looking to bring back ex-Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress to his staff. As Reid looks to shore up a team in Kansas City that hasn’t seen much success in the past decade, the Eagles look to find the next coach that will get them back to playing football past December.
As of the 10th of January, the Eagles have interviewed Brian Kelly, Bill O’Brien, Lovie Smith and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. Owner Jeffery Lurie and team president Don Smokenski have insisted on finding a head coach that fits the proper criteria needed for success in Philadephia, and shoring up a locker room that was undivided for much of the season. Most of the coaching staff won’t be back heading into training camp, and the roster will be shuffled around as the Eagles start their rebuilding phase without Reid for the first time since 1999. The main question that will need to be addressed by the beginning of February will be: is Vick worth the $15 million he is owed for 2013? Only time will tell if Michael will be back on the sidelines when training camp opens up at Lehigh. But one thing is for certain, and that is the undying love the Philadelphia faithful have in their Eagles. Hopefully the next head coach can reinvigorate the city and the football team back to the winning tradition that Reid provided for much of the 2000’s.