The Eagles got exactly what they deserved. Failure and controversy, at a time when they should have been enjoying their sweetest success. How did the Miracle in the New Meadowlands become the Debacle at the Linc?
How did the Eagles, on their way to a first-round playoff bye, screw it up? It all began in the jubilation of an improbable win against the Giants, a heady time when the Eagles decided they could change the rules.
With a blizzard threatening last week, the Birds went to Commissioner Roger Goodell and threw a Hail Mary. In the interest of public safety, they argued that the game should be postponed. True, a postponement for snow hadn’t happened in 88 years, but hey, why not try?
Goodell caved under the pressure, moved the game back 48 hours to accommodate his sacred TV agreement with ESPN, and then watched one of the worst games in prime-time history. It was especially bad for the Eagles, because they ruined a clear track to the NFC championship game.
It takes a special kind of arrogance to preside over the disaster that unfolded — first by asking for something that isn’t in the NFL doctrine and then by lambasting the critics who pointed it out. The most vocal opponent, Gov. Ed Rendell, was greeted at his seat with a huge mound of snow provided by the endlessly hilarious Eagles organization. Well, at least they’re not vindictive.
Since the unprecedented decision by Goodell, the truth has seeped out about the real intentions of the Eagles. Of course, the decision had very little to do with public safety. It never does. The team wanted its many weapons — Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin — to have the fastest possible field on which to display their talents.
President Joe Banner was the picture of smugness last week as he blustered about how he wasn’t fretting over a letdown because Andy Reid is his coach, and Reid is the best in the business at adjusting to changes. (Obviously, Banner has not been watching the games too closely.)
A few hours later, Reid was calling his own effort “pathetic.” But don’t you wonder — and doesn’t he? — what would have happened if the Eagles just played by the rules, braved the blizzard and took their chances against a Vikings team that had lost the previous two games 61-17?
Well, keep wondering. If the Eagles don’t stage another improbable comeback in the playoffs, we’ll all be asking that question for a very long time.
Defense: Bend and shatter
Is it just me, or do the Eagles have a serious problem with their defensive coordinator?
No one is ever going to replace the late, great Jim Johnson, but Sean McDermott appears hopelessly overmatched in that critical role.
Remember Johnson’s bend-but-don’t-break defense? Well, McDermott has a bend-and-then-shatter defense. The Eagles have the worst red-zone defense in the NFL, the absolute worst. In fact, it has been nearly a quarter-century since an NFL team ever had a failure rate in the red zone (77 percent) as bad as the Eagles’ this season. If we can’t blame McDermott — the strategist — for that embarrassing stat, whom should we blame?
How many times have the Eagles given an opponent the early lead because the defense came out flat? How many times have the Eagles relied on Michael Vick and the offense to bail out a defense allowing 24 points per game? How many times have the Eagles squandered a timeout on defense or got caught with 12 men on the field?
Coach Andy Reid is a master at hiding the flaws of his underlings, but it’s getting harder and harder for him to camouflage the incompetence of his defensive coordinator.
Why not fire Brett Favre?
Imagine this: You got caught making sexually suggestive calls to a co-worker, and you are accused of text-messaging photos of your private parts. Now imagine that the boss calls you in. You acknowledge making the calls, but won’t say if you sent the photos.
Would the boss fine you a nominal sum and express frustration that he couldn’t determine your misbehavior? Or would he fire you?
If your answer is the latter, you are not a hopeless bureaucrat. If you picked option one, your name is probably Roger Goodell, who basically hid from a blatant case of sexual harassment when he fined Brett Favre $50,000 (five cents to you and me) for unwanted sexual advances toward Jenn Sterger.
Let’s apply simple logic. If Favre didn’t send the photos, is there any reasonable explanation why he wouldn’t deny it? Given this evidence, Goodell had every right to protect his business.
He didn’t. He spent the season conducting an investigation that involved little more than the totally believable accusations of a woman and the shameless stonewalling by Favre, and then he refused to take a stand.
–Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30-10 a.m.
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