I'd like to start off by apologizing for my very lengthy absence from writing for Football Nation. I've been very busy with school and personal affairs, but I joined almost 1 year ago (exactly one year on Tuesday, November 13th I believe) and thought I would write a 'One Year Anniversary' article.
The Philadelphia Eagles' troubles this year have been very well documented, from the turnovers to coaching all the way to injuries. Despite this, the Eagles are not really all to far away from being the perennial Super Bowl contender they once were. The Eagles still possess one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, a roster that includes the likes of Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Lesean McCoy, Brandon Boykin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Fletcher Cox, Jason Babin, and (when healthy) a pretty stout offensive line.
Over the course of the season, I've watched the Eagles closely, and examined why they are having the struggles that has plagued there season. These struggles include but are not limited to: Poor tackling, Frequently blown coverages, Poor offensive line play(mostly due to 4 of 5 starters being injured for the remainder of the season), Poor play calling, and, most importantly, TURNOVERS!
However, I've also examined ways to fix these problems, and, surprisingly, it appears the Eagles could be back to being a force in the NFC by this time next season, if they follow the 5 steps that I've devised. I'm by no means saying that they will win the Super Bowl or dominate every team if they follow these steps; I'm saying that if the Eagles' organization follows takes the actions I'm going to list in this article, the Eagles will make a playoff run next season.
So without any further rambling, here is the 5 steps necessary to fix the Philadelphia Eagles.
1. Fire Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, then write Jon Gruden a blank check.
As much as it pains me to say this, being the massive Andy Reid fan that I am, he has to go. He should be held about 40% responsible for this debacle of a season. He has made poor, desperate decisions, like firing Juan Castillo and allowing Marty Mornhinweg to remain calling the offensive plays this season.
Reid has had a great run as the coach for the Eagles, and he is still a helluva Head Coach, but the roster seems to have lost faith in his message and philosophy, as well as Reid seems to have lost the edge he had when the Eagles made deep playoff runs year after year.
He has let the team get out of hand. Reid will not go unemployed for long if he desires to continue coaching, he is an all time great that could benefit from a change of scenery. Marty Mornhinweg however, deserves to be fired for two reason: First off, you have a top 3 Running Back in the league in Lesean McCoy, and you only give him the ball and average of 18 times a game, its unacceptable.
Especially when you look at McCoy and see that when he gets the ball 20 times or more this season, the Eagles are 3-0, which just so happens to be their only three wins. The second reason being, that the Eagles have the 29th ranked scoring offense. With the Eagles' talent on offense, they should never fall out of the top 10 in scoring. Point blank, Mornhinweg is a major problem, fire him.
The final part to this step is to pursue Jon Gruden heavily, show him that you want him and that you feel he is the coach to take you to a Super Bowl or even multiple Super Bowls. Jeff Lurie should write Jon Gruden an offer he can't refuse. Allow him to bring in his own staff if he chooses so, and give him a large portion of control over the roster as far as drafting and free agency goes. Gruden is the type of coach who can turn a team around in one off season, not to mention that the Eagles' head coaching job has been described as "A free agent head coaches wet-dream".
2. Either release Nnamdi Asomugha or demote him to the second corner on the depth chart, behind DRC.
I cannot begin to explain how many times Nnamdi Asomugha has blown coverages, been called for defensive holding or pass interference, or has just looked lost this season. He seems to be but a shell of his former All-Pro self. He is due a whopping $15 million next season.
If his play does not improve through the course of the season, it may just be best to cut him following this season and draft a CB in the 1st or 2nd round of the draft as there is a lot of incoming players who could play just as good, if not better than Asomugha has up to this point.
If they decide to retain Asomugha, he should be moved down to covering opposing teams number two receivers, so that he is not constantly faced with covering the likes of Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, Andre Johnson, Hakeem Nicks, etc. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has had a far better season than Asomugha and should be rewarded with a contract extension and the job of defending opposing teams' number one receiver (is that really a reward?). There is also the option of trading Asomugha, but given his salary due, there probably wouldn't be many teams at all interested in trading for Asomugha.
3. Draft a receiver to take Jason Avant's place and take pressure off of Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson.
Jason Avant has not been bad this season, he has just been inconsistent. Avant is a slot receiver and has only averaged around 3 catches a game. An efficient slot receiver should average around 6 to 8 catches a game. Whether these receptions come for a gain of 2 yards or 12 yards is dependent upon the situation. Jason Avant shouldn't lose his roster spot, but the Eagles should use a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick on a receiver.
It may even be beneficial for the Eagles to draft a larger receiver, one who can out jump and over power defensive backs, think Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Kenny Britt, or Miles Austin. Wide Receiver prospects that fit this description who should be available in the 2nd or 3rd round of the draft are Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee), Da'Rick Rogers (Tennessee Tech), and Terrance Williams (Baylor).
All possess a great skill set and could be immediate difference makers if paired with the already established and prolific duo of Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Of Course, if the Eagles choose to draft a smaller stature wide receiver that has home-run speed, there should be receivers like Tavon Austin (West Virginia), Kenny Stills (Oklahoma) and or even Robert Woods (USC) available in the second round of the draft.
4. Make drafting a DT or DE priority in the 1st round of the draft.
The Eagles have had trouble getting sacks this season, they've gotten plenty of pressure but have rarely came away with the sack. Cullen Jenkins has underachieved immensely this season. Fletcher Cox (the 2012 1st round pick) has arguably been the best D-Lineman on the team, certainly better than Cullen Jenkins and the other depth chart starter Derek Landri.
The DEs have played well, however, only one of the defensive ends that receives significant playing time has been in the league for less than 7 years, and that is Brandon Graham. It might just be nice to grab one of the very talented DEs from this DE and DT stocked draft. DT prospects that should be around the Eagles' projected 10th overall pick (projected by both NFL.com and ESPN.com "experts") include but are not limited to: John Jenkins (Georgia), Jesse Williams (Alabama), and Sheldon Richardson (Missouri).
I also wouldn't rule out trading up to the top 5 to draft either Johnathan Hankins (Ohio State) or Star Lotulelei (Utah). The DE prospect that should be available come the Eagles' projected pick are: Bjoern Werner (Florida State), Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), Sam Montgomery (LSU), and Alex Okafor (Texas).
5. Allow Jon Gruden to evaluate the QB situation.
The Eagles' organization should not make a move as far as releasing or trading Michael Vick until Jon Gruden gets a chance to evaluate Vick and see for himself if Vick still gives the Eagles the best chance at winning a Super Bowl. The fans have been calling for Vick's job pretty much all season, but realistically, he has shown flashes of being great when protected behind his porous, 2nd string filled, offensive line.
Whether or not Vick stays should be up to the new coach and he alone. If Gruden is to coach the Eagles to success, he needs to have the QB he wants, not the one the fans chant for. If the QB he decides on is Nick Foles who recently played pretty well in relief of Vick against the Cowboys, then so be it, but Vick should not be removed for the sole purpose of the fans calling for it.
If the Eagles organization follows these steps, they should easily become the contender they were as little as two seasons ago. The majority of the talent is already on the team, they just need a change of philosophy, because when you're told something season after season, and get no results, teams tend to lose faith in their coach, which seems to be the case with the Eagles.
Right now, the Eagles are playing without a spark or any energy, the most energized the team has looked all season was when Nick Foles came in and scored a touchdown on the first drive of the 2nd half of the game against the Cowboys. There really is no better coach for the job than Gruden, assuming he decides to return to coaching, if not it might be best for the Eagles to pursue Sean Payton or Chip Kelly.