Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Reid Era In Microcosm

It's A Fummm Bulll...
Today in his next-day press conference, Eagles Coach For Too Many Days That End In Y Andy Reid pointed out how turnovers killed his team in last night's game against Cincy, how you just can't have that, and how he takes complete responsibility for the team doing this, as if it were a new problem, rather than something that's been systemic. And when asked whether or not RB Bryce Brown, who has two FaRTs in the last three games (and sure, the official scorer might have given the one against the Bengals to QB Nick Foles, but when the RB closes his eyes while bracing for impact, I call that on the RB), would hit the pine in recompense for such transgressions...

Reid answered that, well, no, the kid needs to learn, and given the record of the team and the potential he's shown, he'll continue to get carries.

Now, I don't particularly disagree with the idea that Brown should continue to get the ball. There are two games left in this trainwreck of a year, and racing RB LeSean McCoy back seems unwise for anything but his trade value, and that's a whole 'nother post that just depresses people. But there's also this.

Brown carries the ball in a fundamentally irresponsible fashion. Nearly every carry, when shown in slow motion and when Brown is in open space, show the back to be carrying the ball with, at best, one point of contact, and with lots of air between himself and the pigskin. This isn't news to NFL defenses, who go for the strip at every opportunity against him, and the real-world performance has matched what your eye tells you. Brown needs to change the way he carries the ball if he's going to be an asset on the NFL level; as is, he's the riskiest play in the league, and a guy that you simply can not win with.

There's also this. I can tell you, from watching every minute of the Eagles' preseason games, that Brown is not the only interesting option among the Eagles' young RBs. Chris Polk has exceptional hands, good size, and looked like a clear third-down asset as a kind of latter-day Keith Byars. Second-year RB Dion Lewis is undersized but jittery, and has also had some nice plays as a change of pace back since McCoy's concussion. You can give him the ball on 5 to 10 touches a game and do worse. Even FB Stanley Havili has had some reasonable moments. In short, it's not absolutely freaking required to give the ball to Brown right now, or ever.

Nor, of course, is it really the case that the Eagles have been sacrificing any chance at winning the last games of the Reid Era. If that were the case, you'd bench CB Nnamdi Asomugha (yes, yes, please God, yes) for younger options like Brandon Boykin or Curtis Marsh, and DL Cullen Jenkins and Trent Cole would also be bench-bound for guys that might be on the team in 2014, when the next possible year of competitive Eagles football might occur.

So if Reid isn't really trying to treat these games as pure development, then he must be trying to win every game, which makes sense, given that, well, he's had the job for 14 years and almost never has been in the situation if just playing out the string. And he also must think that Brown gives him the best chance to win, since the kid has breakaway speed and big play ability.

Which leads us to the inevitable box canyon that works to show the entire era in microcosm. Reid and staff have not been able to coach Brown up to proper technique -- and screw the idea that Brown is a rookie, he's been in close contact with this staff now since the first days of July. They also will not hang the kid out to dry for his inability, to date, to change that technique in game conditions, by playing Lewis or Polk.

They aren't winning games.

They aren't developing the talent that's on the roster, either by coaching it, or by motivating it with a decrease in playing time.

Instead, they do the same thing they've done, for weeks, and expect something new to happen. Which is, well, one of those clinical definitions of insanity that people enjoy talking about.

So, for all of those people who like to narrate the closing minutes of Eagle losses with how Reid is so wonderful, and how he'll definitely be working in the NFL next year if it's not in Philadelphia...

Well, perhaps you might want to stop telling the easy story of how Eagle Fan Is Mean Mean Mean, and start wondering why no one in the stands seems to be standing up for the regime, or even booing all that hard.

Here's a hint.

It's because we've seen this exact same thought process, in re the Brown move, on so many, many other things...

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