There's a name for it now - "The Andy Reid Reversal."

On Monday, Sean McDermott was coming back as defensive coordinator, the Eagles' head coach said. Three days later, he sat down with McDermott and cut him loose.

Still, Reid's Monday praise of McDermott shouldn't have come as a surprise. For one, he isn't accustomed to immediately shoving his assistants or players into oncoming traffic - unless, of course, they're David Akers.

But Reid's faux support of McDermott more likely had something to do with the big picture.

The much bigger picture.

If Reid were to have slammed the 36-year-old on Monday after the Eagles' playoff loss to Green Bay, then he would have been indicting himself for not giving McDermott the necessary tools to build a dominating defense.

As reasonable as it is to question McDermott and his scheme, a fair assessment would have to include an evaluation of personnel. And injuries aside, the workers were average, at best.

Was it McDermott's fault that the Eagles did almost nothing to replace Sheldon Brown at right cornerback? Was it his fault that top draft picks - defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen - suffered season-ending injuries in early December?

Was it McDermott who traded for the oblivious Ernie Sims and deemed him the starter at weakside linebacker? That's like giving a carpenter a chainsaw and telling him to get to work.

Stocking the defensive side of the ball with game-changing talent has long been a problem for Reid and his chief evaluators - current and former general managers Howie Roseman and Tom Heckert.

Naturally, the offensive-minded Reid has done a better job drafting and acquiring pieces to enact his West Coast offense. From 2007 to '09, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy, tight end Brent Celek, and quarterback Kevin Kolb have come via the draft. All but Celek were selected in the first two rounds.

Over that same period, the Eagles drafted defensive ends Victor Abiamiri and Bryan Smith, defensive tackle Trevor Laws, and linebacker Stewart Bradley in either the second or third rounds.

The injury-plagued Abiamiri has played in just 29 games over four seasons. Smith was cut after one year. Laws is only a part-timer. And Bradley probably lost his middle-linebacker spot for next season.

In the period before, 2003 to '06, Reid used three first-round picks to strengthen the defensive line. Tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson have anchored the middle for half a decade, but they haven't lived up to their lofty draft positions. And the less said about end Jerome McDougle, the better.

The 2010 draft was supposed to make up for some of these errors. The Eagles selected 13 players, nine of whom played on defense. It is far too early to say for certain if Graham or Allen are busts or future Pro Bowl players. But neither made an immediate impact as other high draft picks did this season.

As inaccurate as Reid and his staff have been in drafting defensive prospects, their track record through free agency and trades has been just as dubious. Only cornerback Asante Samuel can be labeled a true success story. The rest of the acquisitions either fall into the OK category (defensive end Darren Howard and linebacker Takeo Spikes) or the swing-and-a-miss kind (end Jevon Kearse and Sims).

The Eagles are certainly not alone in this regard. The failure rate among NFL teams in player evaluation is much greater than the success rate. If anything, Reid and his scouting team have done a much better job plucking players out of anonymity or out of the lower regions of the draft.

Safety Quintin Mikell, defensive end Juqua Parker, and cornerback Joselio Hanson were undrafted free agents who have given the Eagles a number of serviceable seasons. And low draft picks like defensive end Trent Cole, linebacker Moise Fokou, and possibly 2010 seventh-round linebacker Jamar Chaney and safety Kurt Coleman are more talented than their draft spots would suggest.

But Reid, for the most part, has failed to amply replace the defensive talent that was here before he arrived. Arguably, the best safety (Brian Dawkins), cornerback (Troy Vincent), linebacker (Jeremiah Trotter), and defensive end (Hugh Douglas) of the Reid era were acquired before he became head coach.

And he doesn't have the late Jim Johnson to mask his personnel blunders anymore.

And that may be where one could fault McDermott. He didn't get the most out of his mediocre players.

But Reid would never say such a thing. That would be admitting that McDermott didn't have the players to work with in the first place.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or Follow him on Twitter at