Monday, November 20, 2006

All the signs are there

By Tim McManus

Every fan knew, even if they had buried it deep down, that this season was in a fragile state.

After the Birds failed to emerge from the first half of the schedule with a pile of wins, it was clear that the playoffs could elude the home boys for a second straight season.

There was optimism, but it was against better judgment.

And to dive even further into the delicate psyche of a Philly fan, there was also a part of you -- kept in a dark corner in the shadow of denial -- that realized such a failure could mean much more than being "just one of those years."

That part of you knew that this regime was teetering, just like the season, on a ledge that offers no elevator back up.

And fittingly, just a soft bump sent both the year and the era in its intended direction.

So now that we have absorbed and survived the fall, let's examine the Eagles for what they really are.

First, a brief homage to Bill Belichick: The man is not just responsible for much of the success that New England has had this decade, but often factors into the outcome of games that he is not a part of. Namely, he sets up a blueprint to pound on the deficiencies of another team, and the rest of the organizations around of the league copy it.

The Eagles have not changed their philosophies and in large part their schemes since the 24-21 Super Bowl loss, keeping the diagram for disarmament still very much relevant nearly two years later. Is it any surprise that Philadelphia has gone 11-15 since that game? And if you want to throw the Donovan McNabb was hurt for much of that argument at me, know the Birds are just 9-10 when No. 5 started during that stretch.

Speaking of McNabb...Truth No. 2 is that the star quarterback has suffered three crippling injuries over the last few years. This is a trend that may cut into his twilight years, and this club's chances at winning.

Truth No. 3 is that this defense is not good. Many of the key pieces are gone since the Eagles regularly attended the NFC Championship game, and most of the replacements have not filled in as seamlessly as first thought. Couple that fact with the reality that the two leaders that anchor the "D" -- Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter -- are slowing down, and it becomes clear that this is a defense on the decline.

To recap: The schemes and playcalling are outdated, the quarterback is injury-prone and the defense is pedestrian. In their prime, the schemes and playcalling were innovative; the quarterback was young and healthy; and the defense was tops in the league.

Cut the personal ties and step back for a moment. Doesn't this look like the inevitable fall from grace?

Maybe there was hope still lingering in this season, a chance to make one last improbable push toward the top of the conference. But with one light bump, the fate of this era was sealed.

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Copyright 2006
The Phanatic


Anonymous said...

Well said...

Anonymous said...

This guy's taking it too far, isn't he?

Anonymous said...

Not at all. Very well stated.

Anonymous said...

The defense line has been the biggest disappointment.

Patterson and Walker stink and Bunkley can't even get on the field.