Luckily, I’m no expert. Who wants to hear from those elitists anyway?
Here’s my Super Bowl recipe for the Eagles. Please feel free to forward it along to Joe Banner at your convenience.
Step 1: Keep Andy…and Donovan—Haters, I’ve heard enough. Both are here to stay. Yes, each has his flaws…and yes, both Andy’s and Donovan’s flaws have jumped up and bit this team at the most inopportune times. But the fact remains, neither Reid’s nor McNabb’s shortcomings are responsible for any of the Eagles’ postseason failures.
The Eagles have come up short over the past decade for one reason and one reason only: the team across the field made plays…the Birds did not. Playoff football is physical and intense. Forget about every yard, you have to earn every inch. In that environment, invariably the team with the better playmakers wins the game.
That’s why Philly lost to Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald in Phoenix, and Drew Brees and Reggie Bush in New Orleans, and Tom Brady and Deion Branch in Jacksonville, and Ricky Manning, Jr. and Muhsin Muhammad at the Linc, and Ronde Barber and Joe Jurevicius at the Vet (OK, that one was Donovan’s fault), and Kurt Warner again in St. Louis.
Does that mean that Andy the GM should lose his job? Maybe. But he isn’t completely incompetent. He has fielded playoff teams in seven of the last nine years and at least four or five of those teams had a legitimate shot at winning it all.
Andy just needs a little help. I’m going to give it to him.
Rich Hoffman of the Daily News had a great line on Comcast SportsNet Tuesday. When asked if the Eagles needed a major overhaul or a minor tweak, Hoffman responded: “How about a major tweak.”
Great line, Rich. Here’s my major tweak.
Andy, if you’re reading this, my resume is available upon request…oh, and lay off the double cheeseburgers, they’re not sitting well.
Step 2: Add Anquan Boldin–His unhappiness in Arizona is well-documented and was in full display for the world on Sunday. Sure, the Cards have him signed through 2010, and they’ll play nice and pretend they are all friends for the Super fortnight.
But Anquan made just $2.5 million this year and he’ll only make $2.75 million next year and $3 million in ’10. You can’t make it rain with that chump change. And when you compare it with Fitzgerald’s 4-year, $40 million extension, Boldin’s discontent is inevitable. Especially when he had his face smashed in (literally) and only missed two games.
The Eagles will need to work out a sign-and-trade (or trade-and-sign) like they did with T.O. If Boldin makes enough noise and the Eagles are willing to give Zona something in return… Boldin can happen, folks. Remember, the Birds inquired about Fitzgerald and went full tilt after Randy Moss last offseason, and even wanted Tony Gonzalez in the middle of this season. They recognize what a playmaker on the outside can do for this offense.
And the truth is, Boldin is not another T.O. He’s a team guy. An Andy Reid guy who would fit in well in Philly.
Lining him up opposite DeSean and moving Curtis into the slot would instantly solve the team’s red zone problems (by giving McNabb a huge target inside the 20s), would create mismatches all over the field and would allow them to stand pat with Brent Celek (though they’d have to add a veteran blocking TE).
Step 3: Bring Back Runyan, Shoot the Tra–Jon Runyan is an aging, injured lineman that could break down at any second. But the Eagles would be foolish to let him go.
I don’t know the full extent of Runyan’s injuries…no one but Jon and the Eagles do. But I do know that warriors like Runyan don’t come around often. And I can bet that when push comes to shove, 5 wouldn’t want anyone else watching his back.
While Runyan was all over the field in the championship game despite missing half his vertebrae, Tra, (I mean William, I mean Tra) Thomas was doing his best Roger Dorn imitation (Ole!). He repeatedly missed assignments, blocks and entire drives (at least it seemed that way). Move Herremans outside, keep Cole and Andrews inside and re-sign everybody’s favorite Jabberwocky to one more year in the sun.
Step 4: Don’t, I repeat, don’t trade out of the first round–Draft a shutdown corner in Round 1 and a running back by Round 3.
I love Asante Samuel. The Eagles brought him in to make plays…and he did that to the extreme. That pick in the Giants game alone was worth the money.
But Asante is not a shutdown corner. And if looking at Larry Fitzgerald’s backside has taught me anything, it’s that the Eagles need to get themselves one of those.
The rub, of course, is that true shutdown corners are few and far between. The Birds are going to have to trade up to get one. Luckily, they have two first-round picks. I’d jump out of my boxers if they found a way to move up for Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State). But if they like Vontae Davis (Illinois) or Mike Mickens (Cincinnati) better…I’d be OK with either.
As for running back, everyone in the 215 knows Westbrook needs a lighter load. If “Rocket Man” had help, maybe he could find a way to stay healthy. Plus, if you get another guy with big play ability in the backfield, you can line 36 out wide and put a ton of pressure on opposing defenses. That was the plan with Lorenzo Booker… (GM in Training Note: get someone better than Lorenzo Booker.)
Some say the Eagles should pay for Brandon Jacobs or Derrick Ward. Either would instantly make the Eagles offense more dangerous. But spending big money on a running back is too big of a risk.
The nature of the position means they get banged up easily, and wrapping a lot of money into two of them (remember Westbrook got paid) isn’t a wise investment. Get your impact RB in the draft.
Maybe that comes via Arian Foster of Tennessee. Maybe the Eagles like P.J. Hill (a.k.a. Ron Dayne lite). Maybe it’s somebody really cool that I don’t even know about.
Step 5: Let the Past Go—L.J. Smith is gone (obviously); I’ve said goodbye to Tra; Buckhalter looked like he was already an Arizona Cardinal when the clock hit 0:00 Sunday…and it’s time to let Brian Dawkins go too.
Yes, he’s the emotional leader of a defense that outperformed all expectations. But he’s also 35 years old. While his heart is still strong, how much longer will his body be?
The young guys on this defense are ready to take over. It’s time for this to become Trent Cole’s and Stewart Bradley’s defense. But as long as B-Dawk is back there, that’ll never happen.
I love Dawk…but this feels like it. The defense is ready to move on.
After much soul searching, so am I. Take care, Brian. You’ll be loved in this city forever…even if you never did get that ring we all wanted you to have.
But hey, if Andy and the Eagles follow my five-step plan, your old teammates may just get the chance to give you an honorary one.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/leerussakoff.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.