With Christmas just around the corner, every Eagles fan is undoubtedly looking for a merciful end to this dreadful season in their stocking. However, Santa is no miracle worker and this team still has two games to play, whether we want them to or not.
However, just because we have to suffer through two more painstaking games this season doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead to the future. To that end, here is a list of things all Eagles fans should ask Santa for this week.
1) Fire Andy Reid, Hire Mike Zimmer
I don’t think there’s an Eagles fan left in Philadelphia that wants to see Reid back as head coach next year. After years of garnering support from Jeffrey “The Grinch” Lurie, it seems Reid has finally fallen out of favor enough in this city to convince his long-time friend to give him the axe. I currently put his odds at remaining head coach somewhere around Frosty the Snowman’s chance of surviving in hell. But firing Reid alone isn’t enough to set this team on the right course. Lurie, along with GM Howie Roseman, also needs to hire the right guy to man the ship going forward. They’d be doing Eagles fans a great service by hiring current Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Zimmer first broke into the NFL with the Cowboys in 1994. He is a seasoned-veteran and his defensive-mindedness would be a welcome change of pace for an organization that has gone away from its defensive roots under Reid. While with Cincinnati, Zimmer’s units have consistently ranked in the top ten in total defense (they currently rank sixth). He’d instill a toughness and a grittiness and a (insert another defensive buzzword here) that this team so desperately lacks. It’s time for defense to return as the cornerstone of the Eagles and Santa should bring Zimmer as the man to do it.
2) Sign Dwayne Bowe
It was not too long ago that the Eagles were thought to be stacked at the wide receiver position. That was before Jeremy Maclin disappeared off the face of the earth–Maclin has either been nonexistent or susceptible to injury when breathed on the wrong way all season. Suddenly, the Eagles lack playmakers on the outside (with Maclin a ghost of Christmas past, DeSean Jackson is double-teamed on the regular). Bowe would restore the explosiveness they’ve been lacking. He’d also allow the team to slide Maclin into the slot where he might possibly find success.
But why would the Chiefs let Bowe walk?
The answer is simple: Chiefs GM Scott Pioli didn’t put a high premium on wide receivers when he was New England, his philosophy being that they were a replaceable commodity. With Bowe wanting to be paid like an elite receiver, there’s a good chance Pioli will once again disregard the wideout position, and let Bowe get his money elsewhere. The Eagles will have more cap space than Scrooge this offseason. Hopefully a change of heart will convince them to spend some of it on Bowe.
3) Sign Andy Levitre
What was the biggest problem for the Eagles offensive line this year? If you said injuries, you were 100% correct. Injuries decimated a unit that was thought to be a strength going into the season. What was the other problem? Danny Watkins. Watkins has bust written all over him just two years after the Eagles drafted him. So, what better way to combat injuries and Watkins than by signing a durable player to play right guard? Andy Levitre is just that. He is a talented interior lineman who has never missed a start in his NFL career. To boot, he’s actually younger than Watkins, but has more years experience (this is why we don’t draft players at age 26, Howie).
There is one caveat to all of this: The Bills will badly want to retain the services of Levitre and maintain their very good front five. If that should happen, a fallback plan would be signing former sixth overall pick Andre Smith away from Cincinnati. While Smith hasn’t bloomed into the superstar right tackle he was expected to be, he is still a very good player. Signing him would allow the Birds to shift Todd Herremans back to guard where he first started his career. Either way, Watkins (and his many replacements) is out of the fold. That would be like a Christmas Miracle!
4) Draft Manti Te’o
Manti Te’o has made waves this year as a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy award while playing linebacker with Notre Dame. I’ve had the chance to watch Te’o play a few times this year and, while he may be undersized, he has shown outstanding speed and a knack for getting to the football. The Eagles currently have a good middle linebacker in DeMeco Ryans and a rookie who looks promising in Mychal Kendricks. If they draft Te’o with their first pick, that would give them three plus players at linebacker (a position that has been neglected under Reid but that is clearly crucial to stopping the run). If the Birds do hire Zimmer to be their head coach, they’d likely shift to a 3-4 defense, and would need all the talent they can get in the linebacking corps. The combination of Ryans, Kendricks and Te’o is a good place to start, as they’d torment running backs and quarterbacks the way Lock, Shock and Barrel torment Sandy Claws in the Nightmare Before Christmas.
5) Draft Tony Jefferson
I have to admit, I’m not counting on too many golden geese coming in the months following this holiday season, so I’m trying to be a little more realistic with this pick. Tony Jefferson is a 5’10″ safety from Oklahoma with a projected forty time of 4.49. While he has been excellent against the pass, what I like most about Jefferson is his ability to get to the line and stop the run. He had 113 tackles this season, and a fair amount of those were for a loss. In a draft that is deep at safety, it would behoove the Eagles to once again roll the dice on the position, and Jefferson figures to still be there when they make their second pick. He is currently projected as a second rounder, but many reports have his ceiling being as high as a first rounder. He slips to the second round because of his size. The last time the Eagles drafted a smallish safety with great instincts and a proclivity for stuffing the run in the second round, that player turned out to be Brian Dawkins. Any fan has to like that omen. It’s like thinking you’re getting a nice pair of socks, only to find out you got an Xbox.
There you have it. My version of a holiday wish list for this Eagles offseason.
What’s yours?Tags: Andre Smith, Andy Levitre, Brian Dawkins, Danny Watkins, DeMeco Ryans, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Howie Roseman, Jeffrey Lurie, Jeremy Maclin, Manti Te'o, Mychal Kendricks, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles, Todd Herremans, Tony Jefferson