THE "DON'T ruin our draft position by winning" silliness is starting to pile up a little too deep in some Eagles Nation outposts.
You're pretending to be devastated because the Birds won Sunday to get to 5-8? You think the bottom falling out, plunging into utter hopelessness, would be a healthy thing, if it allowed the team to draft some savior you saw play a couple of times on TV? You want a roster full of guys who give up, knowing you can't possibly replace more than a third of them in one offseason?
Taking a quick glance at the NFL standings yesterday, I counted nine teams with four wins or fewer, heading into last night's action. Even if the Eagles finished 4-12, they weren't going to get to draft Andrew Luck. They almost certainly weren't going to get to draft Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Yes, it's great that you remember how they ended up with Leroy Keyes instead of O.J. Simpson, back in 1969, because the Birds won a meaningless game at the end of the season. This isn't like that. We are talking here about the difference between drafting, say, sixth and 11th. Whoopee.
Last year, sixth to 11th was the difference between Julio Jones and J.J. Watt. For that, you would like to see Michael Vick go down in flames, even though the Eagles have committed serious money to him next season? You would like to see the young guys like Nate Allen who have been up and down finish miserably, leaving no hope they will become what they were drafted to be? You would like to see the Eagles prove they are so deeply flawed, they can't possibly contend next season with a different defensive coordinator, a linebacker or two, a safety, and a full offseason of preparation?
If that's the case, then, frankly, I think you're nuts.
But I don't think this is really about a handful of draft slots. I think the "it's best to lose out" crowd is really worried about the return of Andy Reid.
That's a reasonable concern, if you don't think Reid is the guy to fix this mess.
But as amazing as it sounds, I'm not sure even losing the final four games would have ensured Reid's departure. So much is wrapped up in giving him 1 more year - the Vick experiment, Howard Mudd, Jim Washburn, a bunch of money. Andy is coming back, it sure seems. He still has to win a Super Bowl to get another contract, and the window for that to happen is now down to 2012, exclusively, but firing him now would bring on decisions elsewhere the front office isn't ready to make yet.
In the meantime, while winning can be meaningless, more losing rarely helps anything, and it wouldn't do much to fix this team.
Developing story lines
* Karlos Dansby played havoc with the Eagles' blocking schemes. The o-line was the one thing that was working pretty well during the Birds' recent struggles. Not so on Sunday.
Penalties, sacks, sloppiness.
* The sliding that Mike Vick talks about but doesn't do is a lot like the third-quarter interception Vick threw Sunday. He was scrambling to his left, throwing back across his body toward the crowded middle of the field. Vick knows by now that's a dangerous, bad idea. But he does it anyway, and then assures us he knows better.
* Another big replay challenge win for that master of the red flag, Andy Reid. When J.P. Losman was crawling forward on his hands and knees after fumbling the snap, I figured he had to have been touched by somebody. But I didn't have any faith replay would make that clear. It did. Losman was touched by Trent Cole, while he was recovering his fumble.
* The Dolphins' scoring "drives" began on the Eagles' 15 and the Eagles' 39, respectively. Extraordinary defensive effort. Who knew they had it in 'em?
That it was a bad idea to have your kicker try (and miss badly) a 55-yard field goal, giving the opposition great field position, when you're clinging to a 7-0 lead? Miami coach Tony Sparano's explanation was that he had confidence in his kicker, and besides, a bunch of other bad stuff happened, too, after that, so not pinning the Eagles deep really wasn't that big a deal.
In a related development, Sparano was fired yesterday.
The Dolphins averaged 2.5 yards per pass play Sunday. That's kinda low.
The official count was four blocked/tipped passes for Michael Vick Sunday. Seemed more like 14, didn't it?
This is not a new phenomenon. Marty Mornhinweg talks about height not mattering, that you throw through lanes, not over leaping linemen, whether you're an even 6-feet like Vick or 6-5, like Ben Roethlisberger. If that's the case, Vick must be like the guy who always chooses the wrong lane at the grocery store, behind somebody haggling endlessly over the price of granola.
"He could have done a better job moving on a couple of them, and then there was penetration on a couple of the other ones," Andy Reid said after reviewing the film. "It's going to happen to the best quarterbacks once in a while. There are times that you do have to move subtly in the pocket to make throws. I think if you asked Mike, he'd tell you he had a couple of those where he could have moved a little bit better, and then if you talked to the offensive line, they'd tell you they could have done a better job on a couple of those."
By the way, football coaches love the "if you asked so and so, I think he'd tell you such and such" rhetorical device. Translated, it means, "I'm about to say something critical, but I'm going to couch it in such a way that it looks like I'm agreeing with some sort of self-criticism the player has made. Even if he hasn't made it yet."