Andy Reid has gone into many of his 12 seasons in Philadelphia with Super Bowl expectations.
This wasn’t one of them.
While he continually rebuffed suggestions last spring that this was a rebuilding year, because, well, the Eagles don’t rebuild, dahling, he knew he had a young team that was going to need time to develop. And that was long before the bodies started to fall.
He thought the playoffs certainly were a possibility, probably as a wild card if Kevin Kolb played well and youngsters like first-round defensive end Brandon Graham and second-round safety Nate Allen made significant contributions.
Beyond that, well, he wasn’t getting his hopes up.
Which is why Reid was fairly upbeat Monday, less than 24 hours after his team’s 21-16 loss to the Packers at the Linc in the first round of the playoffs.
``We came from a position that most people didn’t think we’d be able to do at the beginning of year, which was to make the playoffs and win the NFC East,’’ Reid said at his news conference. ``We got greedy at the end, which you have to. We wanted to advance, but we just didn’t play well enough to do that.’’
Later, when asked if that meant he felt his team had pretty much met his expectations this season, he realized that probably wasn’t what Joe from the Northeast and Rocco from South Philly wanted to hear him say right now. Even though Joe from the Northeast and Rocco from South Philly spent most of the summer saying the Eagles were at best an 8-8 team. So he changed his tune slightly.
``I didn’t really want to be sitting here doing this (dissecting a first-round loss) and I didn’t expect to be doing this,’’ he said. ``If you talk to our players, they’d tell you the same thing. I expected us to move on and take the next game and take care of that one and follow up and go all the way. That’s how I felt.’’
Uh, right, big guy.
``There are a lot of positives to look at here,’’ Reid said. ``You get to this point, you start poking holes in it. I know I’m down because of the loss and the players are down and the coaches are down. Sometimes you have a tendency to look at the negative. And you’ve got to kind of fight through that and look at the positive.
``Very few teams can kind of retool the way we retool, but still compete and put themselves in position to compete for a championship. And we were able to do that. Now, we came up short. There’s a fine line there and I’m not satisfied at all. But at the same time, I feel comfortable going forward that we have some good young football players on this team, some good veteran players, a good mix right there to go compete for a championship.’’
Reid when asked about 12 seasons as the Eagles’ head coach and still no Lombardi Trophy: `` To tell you I don’t want to win a Super Bowl would be wrong. I like prime rib and I would love to win a Super Bowl. I’m hungry for both if you understand where I’m coming from.’’
* Monday was packing day at the NovaCare complex for the Eagles players. They cleaned out their lockers and boxed their belongings before setting sail for the offseason. Take moving day, a funeral and the last day of school and mix them in a blender and you’ve got packing day. Only thing missing is signing each other’s yearbooks.
There is both the disappointment and relief of a long season finally ending. For potential free agents, there is the uncertainty that goes with not knowing if you’ll ever be setting foot in this locker room again, if you’ll ever be playing again with this team and this group of players again. Safety Quintin Mikell has spent 8 seasons with the Eagles. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State, he rose from a roster longshot to a special teams ace to a second-team All-Pro with the Eagles. This team has been his only NFL home. Now, he’s a free agent who may have played his last game for the Eagles. That clearly was on his mind Monday as he talked with reporters and tears began to streak down his face.
Making this offseason even more uncertain is the current labor stalemate. The current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 3. If there’s no new deal by then, and there seems little chance there will be, the NFL world will pretty much stop. The free agency signing period likely will be put on hold. Players likely will be prohibited from using their team’s training facilities. There will be no offseason training activities or minicamps. There will be a draft in April, but other than that, nada. Players will be on their own as far as staying in shape. The next time Albert Haynesworth surfaces, he could look like the Goodyear blimp. Oh, wait. He already does.
* I thought it was interesting that, when talking about things he and his coaching staff will be evaluating in the coming weeks, Andy Reid mentioned his offensive and defensive schemes. I don’t recall him ever including them before in his season post-mortem. Might he be considering a switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme? Or maybe he’s going to put in the Wishbone. For you kids, that was a run-oriented option offense in the ‘70s.
* The most significant Eagles who will be free agents n March: QB Mike Vick, S Quintin Mikell, PK David Akers, LB Stewart Bradley, LB Ernie Sims, LB Akeem Jordan, DE Victor Abiamiri, P Sav Rocca, CB Dimitri Patterson, G Max Jean-Gilles, LB Omar Gaither, G Nick Cole. While most of those players will be unrestricted free agents (Eagles are expected to place the franchise tag on Vick if they don’t sign him to a new deal by the end of February), some could be restricted free agents depending on what the free agency rules are.
* With center Jamaal Jackson expected to return fully healthy next season, it will be interesting to see what the Eagles do with Mike McGlynn. Will they keep him at center and have a may-the-best-man-win competition between he and Jackson? Will they move him to right guard (possibly), or even right tackle (not likely)? Stay tuned.
* One man’s opinion of the Eagles’ biggest offseason needs: cornerback, right tackle, right guard, and yes, once again, back by popular demand, defensive end. They really can’t count on Brandon Graham being ready to go by the start of next season, assuming there is a next season. And you saw again down the homestretch what happens when Trent Cole and Juqua Parker play too many snaps.
* Cease and desist with the ``Sean must go’’ clamoring. Reid made it clear Monday that his much-maligned 36-year-old defensive coordinator will be back in 2011. McDermott has been a convenient whipping boy for the defense’s woeful numbers. While he’s made some mistakes, look at his unit before you start heaping all of the blame on him. A rookie seventh-rounder at middle linebacker. A rookie seventh-rounder at strong safety. A good special teams player as his starting right corner. A pair of overused defensive ends that have been running on empty the second half of the season. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s the players and not the coach. Yeah, the Packers were 3-for-3 in the red zone Sunday. Yeah, they converted 5 of 6 third-down opportunities in the first half. Yeah, somebody named James Starks rushed for 123 yards against them. BUT THEY STILL GAVE UP JUST 21 POINTS, which was three below the Packers’ season average.
BY THE NUMBERS
* After scoring on their first possession in 5 of their first 9 games this season, the Eagles scored on just 2 of their last 8 opening drives. They averaged 11.3 yards per first-possession play in the first 9 games, and just 5.3 in the last 8.
* In 34 first and second possessions this season, the Eagles scored 13 touchdowns and 4 field goals. Their numbers on their first and second possessions in 17 games: 175 plays, 1184 yards, 55 first downs, 6.8 yards per play.
* In their 10 wins this season, the Eagles scored 97 points in the first quarter. In their 7 losses, they scored 13, including zero Sunday.
* In the 9 games prior to Sunday, the Eagles averaged 158 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry. Yet, against the Packers, their running backs carried the ball just 13 times.
* Ex-Eagles Jason Babin and Chris Clemons had 7 ½ more sacks (23 ½) this season than Trent Cole and Juqua Parker (16 1/2).
* The Eagles gave up 138 rushing yards to the Packers Sunday. It was the fourth time in the last 7 games that the Eagles have allowed 130 or more rushing yards. In the last 7 games, the Eagles have allowed 4.5 yards per carry on first and second down. A breakdown of the Eagles’ run defense this season:
Season (17 games): 455-1904-12 (112.0 yds. p/game, 4.2 yds. p/carry)
--206-907-4 (129.6 yards p/game, 4.4 yds. p/carry).
--runs of 10 yards or more: 23
--rushing 1st downs: 41
By quarter (last 7 games)
Q1: 46-244 (5.3)
Q2: 48-239 (5.0)
Q3: 61-255 (4.2)
Q4: 51-169 (3.3)
By down (last 7 games)
1st down: 115-484 (4.2)
2nd down: 72-350 (4.9)
3rd down: 15-62 (4.1)
4th down: 2-11 (5.5)
--123-442-4 (73.7, 3.6).
--runs of 10 yards or more: 9
--rushing first downs: 23
By quarter (games 5-10)
Q1: 38-97 (2.5)
Q2: 32-113 (3.5)
Q3: 24-80 (3.3)
Q4: 29-152 (5.2)
By down (games 5-10)
1st down: 61-191 (3.2)
2nd down: 42-161 (3.8)
3rd down: 19-74 (3.9)
4th down: 1-16 (16.0)
--126-555-4 (138.7, 4.4)
--runs of 10 yards or more: 22
--rushing first downs: 33
By quarter (games 1-4)
--Q1: 33-201 (6.1)
--Q3: 31-123 (4.0)
--Q4: 34-130 (3.9)
By down (games 1-4)
--1st down: 66-253 (3.8)
--2nd down: 45-241 (5.4)
--3rd down: 13-58 (4.5)
--4th down: 2-3 (1.5)
* The final 17-game damage tally by opposing tight ends on the Eagles this season: 82 receptions, 946 yards and 12 touchdowns, including one Sunday by the Packers’ backup tight end, Tom Crabtree.
* Aaron Rodgers was 5-for-5 with 3 touchdown passes in the red zone against the Eagles. In the last 8 games, opposing QBs completed 23 of 33 passes for 13 touchdowns in the red zone. For the season: 42-62, 25 TD passes.
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