How has a perennial playoff contender become the basement dweller of the NFC East and one of the worst team in the NFL? Well, it did not happen overnight and there are a lot of reasons that the fall can be pointed to, but honestly most of that is irrelevant to Eagles fans. They want to see what the team does from here to return to being a serious contender in the NFL. As a passionate football fan and Pennsylvania native, here are the first five steps I would advise Philadelphia Eagles owner, Jeffrey Lurie, to follow this off-season.
Step One: Fire Andy Reid
I understand allowing a man who has led you to the playoffs for several years and to one of only two Super Bowls in franchise history finish off the year, but twenty-four hours after the season ends, Reid should be let go by the franchise. Through power struggles and stubbornness, he does not have anyone else to blame for the status of this team and now needs to be relieved of his duties as the leader of this group.
Step Two: Hire Bill Polian as Team President
Look at his resume (Buffalo, Carolina, and Indianapolis); the man builds winners, and if it was not for an injury to Peyton Manning, it is very likely Polian and Manning would still be with the Colts. Polian commands a lot of power, but he has the credentials to warrant it. Allow Polian the ability to structure the front office the way he sees fit and run the draft along with the new head coach as he did for so many years with the Colts, Bills and Panthers.
Step Three: Hire a Defensive Coach as Head Coach
Should step two be followed, then obviously Polian will pick his own man, and with his track record, you have every reason to believe it would be a good choice. The first name that comes to mind for me that would be a great selection should the Eagles return to a normal structure of a Team President, a General Manager and a Head Coach; all being different individuals, is Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer.
Zimmer has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for several years and, according to all reports, has shown the dedication to the job. I remember hearing Bill Parcells say he was the only guy that beat him to the office in Dallas. You could allow Zimmer the ability to pick his own assistants as he certainly has made enough contacts being in the NFL this long.
Step Four: Release Mike Vick and Nnamdi Asomugha
It is time to turn the page on the Vick years and allow this new brand of Eagles to have a new leader. With the departure of Vick the team saves cap space and allows the new leadership to pick the right man to be under center for their vision of the Eagles. Nick Foles is currently the favorite for that, but the likelihood is that Philadelphia will bring in, either through the draft or free agency someone to compete with Foles for the starting role. Once a guy like Ryan Fitzpatrick is released in Buffalo, he might prove to be the perfect mentor for Foles. Regardless, they need to get away from Mike Vick and create a more balanced offense that more efficiently uses the assets that they have at running back.
As for the release of Asomugha, no move showed the arrogance of Andy Reid more than the pursuit of Nnamdi Asomugha. Cornerback was very low on the list of team needs at that time with just trading for Dominque Rodgers Cromartie and having Asante Samuel on the roster, but Reid did it just to show he was boss and to keep him away from the Cowboys. Sadly Nnamdi has been a colossal bust and needs a change of scenery.
Step Five: Make the Offensive Line Bullet Proof
With some of the weapons the Eagles have in Shady McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Chelek, Jason Avant and others nothing is more annoying to watch than the quarterback being a tackling dumpy and those weapons being wasted. I would exam each of the five positions and depth behind it and do everything within reason to upgrade where necessary and improve on possibly the worst line in the NFL.
I write these pieces as the season concludes and know most of the time none of these moves happen, as it seems that some owners do not care as much about their teams as football fans do, but I feel different about this one. Something tells me that some of these moves will happen, maybe not exactly as I have spelled out, but winds of change are coming to Philadelphia.