Friday, December 26, 2014

For Eagles, Now What?

So, here we are, 8-8, season over. What now?

For Eagles, Now What?

If the Eagles don’t franchise DeSean Jackson, he could leave as an unrestricted free agent. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
If the Eagles don’t franchise DeSean Jackson, he could leave as an unrestricted free agent. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

So, here we are, 8-8, season over. What now?

It’s interesting that Eagles players, most of whom held forth at length after Sunday’s season-ending 34-10 victory over the Redskins, are scheduled to talk again Monday, as they clean out their lockers, and that nothing else is firm. A team spokesman said Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie will speak later in the week – it’s unusual for there to be a formal Lurie address at the end of the season – and then head coach Andy Reid will speak sometime after that.

I know the Eagles wanted to avoid a repeat of last year’s debacle, when Reid spoke the day after the season ended and strongly endorsed defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, only to show McDermott the door – he finessed McDermott’s departure for Carolina – later in the week.

But I think if everybody’s back and nothing is changing, you don’t build up suspense for that. For that, you have Lurie or maybe team president Joe Banner available in the postgame locker room Sunday, even if just on background, and you make sure that message gets out, with the appropriate organizational spin. This sounds more like a pending organizational announcement.

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If Reid is leaving, a lot of players are going to be really, really shocked. But it wouldn’t be at all shocking if the Eagles decide not to put a happy face on Juan Castillo’s year as defensive coordinator, even after allowing just 46 points over the final four games.

Castillo was not available to talk to reporters after the game, which seemed significant.

Reporters, even some of the ones who thought they knew Reid pretty well, were surprised by the tone the coach took after the game. “Snotty” would not be an overstatement. You figure, you miss the playoffs despite a truckload of talent, show enough down the stretch to make it clear you had the horses but just ran a bad race, maybe at the end you’re contrite or apologetic or at least humble.

Reid seemed quite ticked that reporters wanted him to talk about the season, instead of about Chad Hall’s touchdown catch, or whatever.

A bland question from your Eagletarian, asking Reid why he thought the Eagles missed the playoffs, elicited this response, delivered with a smirk: “Well, we’re 8-8, and the other teams, they weren’t. They had better records, so they made it.”

Reid said he had no answer about his future because he hadn’t thought about it yet. He was asked if he thought he deserved to be back, and when he wouldn’t answer that, he was asked if he wanted to be back. Reid chose to pretend he had been asked the same question twice and chided the reporter who asked the second question, instead of answering it.

“I’ll think about it when I want to think about it,” Reid said, when pressed for a timeframe.

Other uncertanties loom:

*Offensive tackle Todd Herremans said he has spoken with 69-year-old offensive line coach Howard Mudd, and Herremans said Mudd intends to return.

*Cornerback Asante Samuel didn’t play in the finale because of a hamstring injury. Samuel was not available in the postgame locker room. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played in Samuel’s spot against the Redskins and did well, tipping a Rex Grossman pass to Nate Allen for an interception. The Eagles might trade Samuel in the offseason to clean up their corner situation.

*Wideout DeSean Jackson was conciliatory after the game; for the first time in a while, it seemed like Jackson really wanted to stay with the Eagles. Asked if being franchised for next season would be all right with him, Jackson said: “Why wouldn’t it be?”

If the Eagles don’t franchise Jackson, he could leave as an unrestricted free agent.

“I think I’ve learned a lot about how this is a business, and professionally, how to come to work and not let things affect me,” said Jackson, whose 62-yard touchdown catch against the Redskins was the Eagles’ longest TD catch of the seasson. “I can admit to certain things affecting me during the season. I just want to apologize. I could have handled things a little differently.

“Now, sitting here after the season is over, I can sit here and say I was able to to put things behind me (eventually) and fight for my teammates and this organization. I know that something good will come out of this situation. I was able to get to that and move forward. We’ll see how it plays out.”

*Running back LeSean McCoy finished with the same total he had when the day began, 1,309 yards, fifth-best on the franchise’s alltime list. McCoy’s bid for the NFL rushing title officially ended when he was deactivated with a sprained ankle, after telling reporters he was going to play. (And after Reid said on Friday that McCoy should be able to play.) Reid said after the game that trainers were not able to get the ankle to the point where McCoy could cut.

Reporters gathered around McCoy’s locker stall for an explanation after the game, but they didn’t get one.

“I just told you – you didn’t hear me? I just told you I didn’t play today, so I don’t have anything to say,” McCoy said, while an Eagles spokesman affirmed McCoy’s right not to talk to reporters because he was “an injured player.”

McCoy seemed no more injured than he’d been on Friday, when he held forth about how important it was for the Eagles to go out and finish as a team against the Redskins, McCoy included.

McCoy’s insistence on not talking Sunday was strange, puzzling and frustrating for anyone seeking answers. But those adjectives applied equally well to the Eagles’ season.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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