Monday, December 19, 2011

NFL Thoughts -- Week 15

Cardinals' QB John Skelton: 5-1. Kevin Kolb: 2-5. 'Nuff said. Given the young man a chance.

Tony Sparano is gone, but the Dolphins just keep on playing every game like it's their Superbowl. Miami beat the formerly high-flying Buffalo Bills on Sunday 30-23, behind Matt Moore's best game of the season and Reggie Bush's first 200-yard rushing game in as long as I can ever remember in the pros.

Sticking with the newly-departed coaches' teams, it's hard to read too much into the Chiefs ending the Packers' bid at a perfect season. But, I have to say that as I watched Aaron Rodgers over the past few weeks and certainly in his post-game presser on Sunday afternoon, he seems to have had a lot more invested in this run at perfection than he is letting on. It will be interesting to see if there are any long-term effects for the Packers who might have just lost the #1 thing that they as a team were keying on for most of 2011.

It's hard to get excited as an Eagles fan when the team's limited playoff hopes are based on Philly winning at Dallas next Sunday in a must-win game for both teams, and then beating the Skins at home to close things out. With the way this team has played in the 2011 regular season, anyone who looks at that and sees 2-0 just hasn't been watching this team this year, in particular on defense.

Nnami Asomugha was called for yet another holding penalty late in the first half as the Jets were trying to mount a comeback against an early Eagles onslaught on Sunday. That makes at least half a dozen times this year that Asomugha has blatantly held a receiver who had beaten him and was about to make an easy touchdown score. As much as getting value for Kevin Kolb is proving to have been a steal of a trade this past offseason, the Asomugha signing is without a doubt the Eagles' brass's worst move of 2011.

The NBC Sunday night coverage continues to be the worst commentating available on any major sports network. Especially painful continues to be the in-studio guys, with Tony Dungy seeming more suited for missionary work or possibly religious oration than commenting on NFL games, the Rich Eisen-like banality of Dan Patrick, and the contrived too-cool-for-school attitude of Rodney Harrison. These guys even make Chris Collinsworth's one-sided commentary seem professional and riveting.

Lesean McCoy punched in his 15th, 16th and 17th rushing touchdowns of the season this weekend, solidifying his spot atop the list of best non-quarterback fantasy football players in the NFL in 2011. McCoy's 20 total touchdowns now puts him comfortably ahead of Patriots' breakout tight end Rob Gronkowski's 15 receiving plus one rushing td, and even with Calvin Johnson's huge performance this weekend against the Raiders, Megatron remains a distant third with 14 total touchdowns. To think that this team with McCoy, Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson on offense, plus Jason Babin and his 17 sacks on defense to go along with Asante Samuel and big-name additions Asomugha and Dominick Rodgers-Cromartie at corner, would be sitting at 6-8 and hoping for a mathematical miracle to sneak into the postseason with a .500 record in an uncharacteristically weak NFC East, this is just everything that makes the NFL so great for all of us.

Speaking of great offensive threats in the league today, I think it's fair to say that Aaron Rodgers officially has competition for the league's MVP. While I think Rodgers would have won it walking away if the team went undefeated for the season given the year he is having, now that the Packers have fallen back down to the realm of mortal NFL teams, I don't see how what Drew Brees is doing right now can be ignored any longer. While Rodgers has thrown for 4360 yards (4th in the NFL), an NFL second-best 68.1% completion percentage, and an eye-popping 40 touchdowns vs just 6 interceptions through 14 games in 2011, Brees has been up to the task, posting 4780 passing yards -- on pace next week to break Dan Marino's all-time single-season passing yards record with a full game to spare -- and a mind-numbing 71.5% completion percentage. Though not as amazing as Rodgers' here through Week 15, Brees' touchdown to INT ratio is also a very impressive 37 touchdowns to just 11 picks. Each player has some areas where they are clearly the best, and I guess I might lean ever so slightly towards Rodgers if I had to pick at this moment, but in my mind with the Packers' loss, this race just got officially up for grabs thanks to the Chiefs on Sunday afternoon.

I thought Tim Tebow played pretty well -- for Tim Tebow -- against the Cheatriots on Sunday. In the end it was a big double-digit loss for the Broncos, but Tebow ended the day a robust 11 for 22 for a 50% completion percentage (his highest of any game this year), and with 194 total passing yards -- also, amazingly, his highest for the year. I imagine that John Elway was fairly unsure of how he should be reacting to his quarterback's performance against the AFC's best-looking team at the moment, but Tebow did run the ball well, and Tebow started off very strong before his team got bit by the turnover bug and gave a great team in New England too many chances to build up a lead.

That New York Giants loss this weekend at home to the hapless Redskins has got to go down as the most gutless performance of the entire NFL season so far. I mean, the Giants are at home in New York Jersey and playing the Redskins who just gave up 34 points at home to the Cheatriots last week and 34 also at home to the NY Jets the week before, and they manage to put a straight-out bagel until the final minutes of a game that was already long since over? I betcha Bill Cowher is on a plane out to Westchester County right now to look for a new house to buy. What an utter collapse.

It's a shame that right now the Bengals and Jets would play down to the third tiebreaker if each team wins out over its last two efforts in the 2011 regular season. With identical records of 8-6 overall, and identical conference marks at 6-5, the decision would turn on better overall winning percentage over common opponents, with the two teams even having performed identically there, but with the Jets being 2-0 against the Bills while the Bengals are only 1-0. Though it certainly feels like the wrong team and the wrong quarterback in Mark Sanchez are ahead in that seemingly silly category, this one really should still be decided on the field as the Jets are fixing to face the crosstown rival Giants in a do-or-die game at home followed by traveling to the keyed-up Dolphins in Week 17 who you know would just love to ruin the Jets' season (again), while the Bungles have on top the beatable Cardinals at home, followed by an end-of-season home-game clash with the Ravens, who might not be playing for anything that week after Baltimore's crushing by the Chargers on Sunday night.

Even with all the shenanigans and mathematical possibilities in the NFC East, the AFC West might be the most interesting division race in all of football here as we enter the home stretch. With the Broncos' loss to the Pats this weekend, and the Raiders failing to capitalize on last-second drive against the Lions, while the Chargers stepped up and crushed the AFC-North leading Ravens, and even the Chiefs sneaking a win against the heretofore undefeated Packers, things just got a whole lot narrower over there with two games still to play. Denver is still one game up with 2 winnable games left to play -- at Buffalo and at home against Romeo Crennel's rejuvenated Chiefs -- while, just one game behind at 7-7, Oakland (at Kansas City, and home vs. the Chargers) can obviously take care of its two closest rivals head-to-head, and San Diego faces the toughest path (at Detroit, and at Oakland) to finish the season. Even the Chiefs bringing up the rear still have games left against the Raiders at home and then at Denver to finish the regular season off, so what happens in that division is very much up in the air, especially if the Tebow magic fails to come back next week against a finished Bills squad.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NFL Thoughts -- Past the 3/4 Point

Well as another NFL regular season winds down to a close, we're beginning to be pretty sure about most of the postseason teams for 2011, as well as the biggest stories of the year. As usual, the NFL has delivered with yet another stellar season, despite the attempts of the referees and commissioner Roger Gooddell to infuriate everybody by their silly-ly arbitrary and often unfair and deliberate application (or non-application) of the rules. Pass interference and late hits on the quarterback in particular have become the bane of every NFL fan's existence, as the league's referees have wielded their ability to call these infractions or to overlook them to have a major influence on a great many games this year. But despite all of that, as I mentioned it's been another fabulous year overall for the best sport in America today. Remember when you were a kid and you used to sit around waiting for the next Michael Jordan game on NBC, and how you made your appointments around the NBA schedule? Well, today that sport is the NFL, while the NBA has been relegated to a shell of its former self under the "leadership" of David Stern, and this season will only serve to increase the mystique and the popularity of the best sport on the planet today. Today I will give some random thoughts I have assembled over the past several weeks of NFL play.

For starters, Tim Tebow has quickly become the story of the 2011 NFL regular season. Bar none. Leave it to Tebow to be the only thing that could possibly outweigh the drama of the Green Bay Packers going undefeated this year, but it's happened. Did you even know the Packers are currently sitting at 13-0? Probably, but nobody really cares, and the biggest reason why is that Tim Tebow is now 7-1 as a starter for the Denver Broncos. The guy cannot throw the ball -- once again, Timmy T. has all of three completions heading into the final minutes of their game against the quickly-fading Chicago Bears this past Sunday -- but he came through when it counted late in the 4th quarter and in overtime, and thanks to yet another stunning collapse by an opponent and a couple of unbelievably boneheaded plays and a crucial late-game turnover, Tebow had another chance to lead his team to victory. And lead his team to victory he did. A 59-yard field goal as time expired and another 51-yarder in overtime from awesome Denver kicker Matt Prater didn't hurt either, as Tebow nabbed his 7th win in 8 starts as the Broncos' quarterback. As I said, with his Broncos now alone in first place in the AFC West following a 1-4 start before Tebow took over the helm at qb, Tim Tebow has already solidifed himself as the one mega story from the 2011 NFL regular season, and there's virtually nothing that could happen in these last few weeks that could change that at this point. Including the Packers finishing the season 16-0. That still sounds completely amazing to me, but it's also completely true.

While on the topic of Tim Tebow and the Broncos, what is going on with Broncos management between head coach John Fox and Executive VP of Football Operations John Elway deserves its own paragraph here if not its own post -- and maybe its own blog entirely. Basically, by the Broncos' offense focusing on the running game like no other team in NFL history and generally taking the ball out of Tebow's hands when it comes to throwing -- combined with Tebow's very noticeable lack of throwing accuracy when he is forced to put it in the air -- Elway and Fox continue to waver on whether or not Tebow is their quarterback of the future, even here after a 7-1 record as a starter and running the team from alone in last place to alone in first place over the span of less than two months. Said Elway on his weekly radio spot on KDSP-FM in Denver on Monday, when asked if he has ever seen a player like Tim Tebow:

"No, not to this point," Elway said. "If you look at where we've been just this season and look at the impact that he has had this season, not only athletically with him running around and throwing the football, but I think that his presence has been just huge and his confidence and his competitiveness that he has, especially if you look about when we’re coming off 4-12 last year."

And the above quote misses the most poignant part of what Elway actually said on the radio. You can listen to Elway's entire spot right here, which I encourage so you can hear Elway's own thoughts for yourself. Elway didn't actually say "not only athletically" -- on the air he actually said "not so much athletically", and then quickly corrected himself to say "not only athletically". Very telling of Elways' true thoughts me thinks.

What's more, when asked about Tebow's incredible ability to lead the Broncos to victory in the middle of the above-linked audio clip, Elway responded:

"I think when you look at it I guess I just believe everyone believes that something good is going to happen. Tim’s been the guy that has led that thinking and he’s just such a strong believer. He’s got everyone else believing that if you stay strong, stay positive, that something good is going to happen. It’s the power of the mind and the power of positive thinking. I think when those guys are thinking that way and it’s been led by Timmy with that positive attitude that all boats have been rising with that." (emphasis mine)

To me this is all just a bunch of backhanded compliments of Tebow, and more of the same as we've heard out of John Elway basically ever since this incredible 7-1 run with Tebow began. No, it's not the power of great quarterbacking, no it's not the power of great skill. It's the power of the mind and of positive thinking. It's almost like Elway is saying it's all smoke and mirrors with Tebow this year.

And when Broncos head coach John Fox was asked after the game on Sunday if Tim Tebow will be his quarterback next season, he similarly deflected the questions just as Elway has all season long, saying that he prefers not to think ahead and rather just to enjoy the present, the now.

Can anyone ever remember another situation where a guy came in at quarterback for a horrible, last-place team, won 7 out of 8 games and ran them into first place, clearly putting the team on his back and leading them all along the way, and did not have the support of his head coach or the team's management leader regarding the following season? I sure can't.

Oh, and by the way, John Fox inched ever closer to Coach of the Year honors this weekend, when Jim Harbaugh's 49ers posted an embarrassing loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and the Bungles' Marvin Lewis saw his team lose on a last-second touchdown to the NFC South champion Houston Texans, while Tim Tebow led another improbable, incredible comeback over the formerly playoff-bound Bears. What Fox has done to his team -- to the entire NFL, really -- is absolutely off the hook, and in my view at this point far trumps even Harbaugh's incredible season in San Francisco. Even with the 49ers allowing a league-low 182 points over 13 games so far this year, for John Fox to come in and after quickly ascertaining his new quarterback's strengths and weaknesses, to completely transform his team's offense into something that simply isn't supposed to work in today's NFL, it is legendary as far as I'm concerned. Through Tebow's eight starts as the Broncos' quarterback this year, the team has now thrown for a total of 947 yards (118 passing yards per game, the lowest in more than a decade for any NFL team), while running for 1557. No team in NFL history has ever rushed for over 50% more yards than they have passed for over a season, and even though Fox's team won't work their way into the recordbooks since this particular streak did not start until five games into the season, it is worth more than a little mention how amazing and truly revolutionary what Fox has done with his team this year, to play to his team's strengths and weaknesses, even when it flies squarely in the face of everything we all thought we knew about today's NFL. John Fox is still probably not quite the frontrunner for coach of the year, but if his Broncos can find a way to pick off the Cheatriots this weekend, I would guess that Fox will be right up there at the top of the list and that the award might be his to lose. Yes the 49ers have two fewer losses so far than the Broncos this season, but with Tim Tebow, Fox's team has two fewer losses than the 49ers, and he's doing it with -- amazingly -- even lesser personnel, and doing it in a way that is completely unheard-of and would have been entirely unimaginable by anybody involved in the league even more than a quarter of the way through this NFL season.

Switching gears a little bit from the only truly incredible story of the 2011 NFL season in Tim Tebow, I mentioned up there that the Cardinals somehow beat the 49ers this past weekend. This, after starting Arizona qb Kevin Kolb -- picked up in a hig-profile trade from the Eagles this past offseason -- left the game early in the first quarter with a head injury, to be replaced by 2nd year Fordam graduate John Skelton. Skelton has now started or played most the game in five games for the Cardinals this season, and the team has gone 4-1 in those games, while Kolb's record as the Cards' starting quarterback this year is an ugly 2-5. Even though Skelton's numbers in those five games don't look so great on paper (78 for 145 for a 53.8% completion percentage, 1032 yards, 7 tds, 9 INTs and a 66.8 rating), we've already seen a la Tim Tebow above that statistics on a paper can only tell so much of the story. In the eight games started by Kolb this season, his numbers aren't all that much better anyways (146 for 253 for a 57.7% completion percentage, 1955 yards, 9 tds and 8 INTs for an 81.1 QB rating), especially considering how many more snaps Kolb has gotten with the starters basically all season long, and in the end what matters more than wins and losses. Under Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals are a laughingstock at 2-5. Under Skelton, they're a playoff team at 4-1, including a win over the playoff-bound 49ers this weekend when Skelton posted a 106.5 QB rating, and a victory over the then-playoff-hopeful Eagles in Week 10 in which Skelton posted a respectable 82.8 QB rating as well. Face it guys -- John Skelton is probably a better NFL quarterback than Kevin Kolb. You heard it here first.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention what spineless, pussified weasels the ownership in both Kansas City and Miami are. With both teams playing much better after rough starts this year -- and with the Chiefs in particular beset by key injuries all through the early part of the season -- both teams fired their head coaches after losses this past Sunday. After starting 0-7, Tony Sparano's Dolphins were 4-1 in their last five games before losing at home to the highly talented Eagles 26-10 this past weekend. After trying to fire Sparano at the end of last season but then opting not to, and then after not firing him at 0-7 this year, the team was obviously pissed off to see him winning as much as he was in the second of the year this year, and had clearly resolved to dump him as soon as the team lost another game. What a bunch of pussies. Ask anyone in the league or anybody who watches all the football games every weekend -- this Dolphins squad had been playing every single game of the past several as if it was their last, their superbowl, and they had been getting results. With virtually no talent on either side of the ball to work with. And what does Tony Sparano get for taking this bunch of no-name, no-talent losers and going 4-1 with them after turning his 0-7 start around, one of the hardest things to do in sports? He gets fired after one bad loss to the Eagles, everybody's pick for the superbowl coming in to this season.

And it's a similar but not quite as bad of a story for the Chiefs and head coach Todd Haley, who was also unceremoniously fired on Monday after his team lost 37-10 on the road to the playoff-bound Jets on Sunday afternoon. Yes, Haley's team was 5-8 this season, but ask anybody who knows the league and they'll tell you that Haley was doing a pretty good job this year, after bursting out of nowhere and outright winning the AFC West last season. And both years, like Sparano who I mentioned above in Miami, doing it with almost no real talent whatsoever to speak of. The team gives this guy a no-name backup quarterback in Matt Cassell, who himself has missed about half the season now with injury, and a never-ending string of no-name runningbacks, and Haley has found a way to build a rushing powerhouse over the past couple of seasons. Todd Haley did a pretty decent job in Kansas City, and if that franchise believes that they could or somehow should (or will) do better next year with this same personnel, then they are kidding themselves and are in for a very rude awakening in 2012.

Oh, and watch out: if Todd Haley (5-8 with zero talent and a gillion injuries) and Tony Sparano (4-9 after an 0-7 start, and also absolutely zero talent) are getting fired, then you can basically write off Steve Spagnuolo, who as head coach of the Rams after last night's loss is now 10-35 in three seasons with the Rams. How does that guy keep his job, with unquestionably more talent brought in on offense than either the Dolphins or the Chiefs, and unquestionably worse results over now nearly three full seasons? Or what about Mike Shanahan in Washington, he of the 14-31 record over the past three seasons, while his owner spends money like it's going out of style? How does that guy keep his job this year? There are going to be a whole lot of NFL head coaches on the chopping block this offseason, if the criteria applied to Haley and Sparano this weekend are to be equally applied across the league, including a whole bunch of guys with a little bit less time served at their current teams, but every bit as bad of results.

Before I go, just a quick look at my preseason playoff predictions and how those are panning out so far. In the NFC, back on September 13 I picked the Eagles, Packers, Saints and Cardinals as the division winners, and the Cowboys and Bears as the wildcards. Those predictions, in a word, suck shizznit. The Bears were in the midst of making me look smart until Jay Cutler went down, and I can't kill myself for the Eagles pick as everybody in the universe went with them heading into this year, and seeing the laughable Giants and Cowboys battle it out for divisional supremacy at 7-6 right now only seems to strengthen that argument, but I completely messed up the NFC East and I like everyone else also did not at all foresee the incredible success of the 49ers out west. I am faring much better with my AFC predictions, which included the Cheatriots, Steelers, Texans and Chargers as the division winners, and the Jets and Ravens as the wildcards, picks that were almost exactly spot-on. Again, show me the person who predicted the Denver Broncos to take the AFC West, and I'll show you someone who not only should be committed but probably already is. And although a lot can chance in the last few weeks of the season, as of right now my pick of Packers over the Cheatriots in the 2011 superbowl is still looking very much alive.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Market at a Near-Term Crossroads

The Dow Jones Industrials Average is at a crossroads going into today:

Chart forDow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI)

That right there is the one-year chart for the Dow. A quick look at the chart will show that we are basically right up against the closing high for the Dow from October 28, which incidentally was 12,231 and change. Wednesday's close this week was at 12,196.

If -- and that is still an if -- but if we can close above 12,231 here in the next day or two, then I would estimate there is a 75% chance that we make a run back up to the highs for the year, which would be around the 12,700 level, probably over the next 2-3 weeks. I have made no bones about my longer-term view that the markets are going to be flat to lower for the better part of the next decade, and nothing I've seen over the past year on Wall Street has made me change that view even a little bit. But, this is just one of those times on the short-term chart where we are sitting poised right up against a very clear top of a very clear short-term trading range. But based on the DJIA'a closing highs, today could be a real inflection point for the markets. If we close above 12,231, another 400-500 points on the Dow seems fairly likely to me in December before we probably top out back around the year's highs. But if this proves to be another near-term top, and we cannot hold the 12,200 range over the next couple of sessions, then I would guess we will probably drop again and end the year somewhere in the mid 11,000's range.

I've got my eyes on a couple of stock options and a couple of leveraged ETFs for a short-term play in one direction or the other right now, but I need to wait a day or two here and see which way the market seems to be going in the near-term from a technical perspective. With options expiring in just a week and a day for December, there could definitely be an opportunity for some nice profits in either direction at relatively cheap prices, depending on the action in the market today, and maybe on Friday as well if Thursday proves not to see much movement in either direction.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Goodbye, Andy Reid

Goodbye, Andy Reid.

It's been a good run. A great run, in fact, in a lot of ways. Except the ones that *really* matter. But it really has been a fun 11 years here in Philly, especially compared to some of the schmike we had as head coaches during the 80s and 90s. And I truly have little doubt that at your next team (my money is on San Diego at the moment), you will have loads more regular season success.

I want to be clear about one thing as you leave this team following the unmitigated disaster that is the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles regular season. Obviously, a lot of the blame for this putrid year falls on the front office’s shoulders, for bringing in guys like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, neither one of which, it is now clear, can cover their way out of a paper bag. And for not paying speedy wideout DeSean Jackson what he deserved coming into this season, and bringing in a guy like Asomugha at 25 times DeSean’s salary instead. How the front office could have expected DeSean to react, other than exactly the way he has, under those circumstances, is patently ludicrous. Those were hideous moves, obvious wrong moves and I don’t see how people can much blame you, Andy, for that stuff.

But that said, everything else wrong with this team in 2011 pretty much falls squarely on your shoulders. Lets put aside for a minute the fact that you have never won the big game in your life, despite being the #1 seed in the NFC three times in your 11-year tenure, and despite losing the NFC Championship twice at home to inferior teams. On a week in, week out basis, your clock management is laughably bad, and always has been. The use of time outs on this team under your tenure has been enough to make anyone physically ill, and clearly, you have been the major contributor to that. The 2011 season has, sadly, been no exception to this rule.

Similarly, the way you manage unhappy players should be the stuff of legends by now. DeSean was 100% right to be pissed off coming into this season, and after not getting a deal as the season wore on while guys like Chris Johnson did finally get their money and get pizznaid. But come on, Andy, with the benching and the sitting DeSean out for drives, entire halves of games, etc. Andy, you are just too much of a hardass to be able to deal effectively with today’s modern day NFL player, especially the prima donnas that populate the wide receiver position in today's game. We’ve lost parts of like four separate seasons now during your 11-year regime as head coach because of disgruntled wideouts whom you simply have no clue how to handle, while most other coaches in the NFL seem to have figured out how to coexist so much better than you have. Why is it Philadelphia that always seems to have these huge throwdowns between you and the wide receivers, while almost nowhere else do things ever seem to spiral this badly out of control, and result in multi-game benchings, kickings off of the team entirely, etc.?

DeSean will probably still make his money when he signs with the Giants in a few months, albeit probably a little less than what he should have been paid this year by the Eagles after what has been a pretty well disastrous 2011 for him as well as for this team. The Eagles did DeSean wrong, over and over and over again this year. Including you, Coach Reid, not insisting that offensive coordinator Marty Mohrenweig integrate DeSean better into the offense this year. Over the past couple of seasons, DeSean was *constantly* being targeted downfield, at the beginning of games and all the way through to the end, and that strategy undeniably worked very well for the Eagles. This season, however, right from the getgo, all of sudden DeSean just hasn’t been targeted downfield even close to as much, and our offense has suffered greatly as a result. Who (other than the Denver Broncos, obviously) has a good offense in today's NFL without any real downfield threat in this league? It’s an absolute joke, and you, Andy Reid, are about 80% at fault for that. DeSean has literally been targeted around 33% as much as he was last season, all while the team's offense has downright sputtered in many of its games despite being the top 1 or 2 most prolific offense in the league in 2010. How you, as the head coach of this team, could just stand by while this has occurred week after week after week this year is beyond me, and beyond any of us.

And lets don’t even expound on what has happened to the team's defense under your watch, especially here in 2011. Promoting this idiot Luis Castillo -- our former offensive line coach -- to Defensive Coordinator this past offseason has got to be the single stupidest decision made in the NFL by any team or any head coach in at least a year, maybe as much as a decade. I mean, who ever promotes an o-line coach to be a defensive coordinator on a team that struggled mightily on defense in the past season, and then on top of that who also added a number of big-name personnel through free agent signings and trades in the offseason to boot? Who does that? Who else ever thinks that could work in this league? Completely foreseeably, Castillo has been an abject failure, a complete and total bomb, as D-Coordinator, and that one falls 100% on you as the head coach of this team. Not 66%, not 80%, but 100% squarely on you and you alone. And to compound things, you have just stood by and let Castillo suck it up worse and worse and worse all season long, doing nothing to change things up and nothing to get more involved in calling the plays on defense. And my god, could our corners other than Asante Samuel be any worse? Possibly??? Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha have been the single worst cornerback tandem in as long as I can remember in the NFL, just two totally worthless players who cannot cover anybody, ever. Asomugha himself has probably been among the bottom two or three starting players in the NFL this season, either getting beat, or committing a blatant hold or pass interference because hes about to give up a touchdown what, 10 different times this year? And yet you do nothing. And this isn't even mentioning the tackling in general on this team, which has been atrocious ever since the very first play from scrimmage against the Eagles this season, when the Rams' Steven Jackson ran for a 54-yard score from behind midfield. Who knew what a harbinger of things to come that one play would be for the 2011 Eagles defense? Well, Andy, your hand-picked guy has led the way with this defense, starting with a couple of the team's biggest offseason pickups, and it has just gone from unthinkable to hideous to putrid as the season has worn on. Last Thursday's 31 points given up to the laughable Seahawks with my dead grandma at quarterback was just the latest in a season full of embarrassments on the defensive side of the ball, and all the while, you have done nothing, nothing at all, to improve things or shake things up. You have simply stood by and fiddled while the Eagles' season burned to ashes.

And lastly, while we're on the topic of Week 13's Seahawks loss, the way this Eagles team has just given up here these past couple of weeks, it is just inexcusable and, once again, absolutely, positively all on your shoulders as the head coach. There is just nobody else to blame for the complete and total lack of heart on this team, none. As far as im concerned, we could take Mike Vick, LeSean Mccoy, Brent Celek and Alex Cooper on offense, and Trent Cole and Jason Babin along with Asante Samuel on defense, and throw every single other player on the team out and start over. At first it was just DeSean Jackson throwing in the towel on the season out of frustration and anger, but now, in a very similar story during your 11 years leading the team in Philadelphia, it has infected the whole team just like it did with TO –- the Eagles are all now a bunch of non-caring losers on this team, plain and simple.

In summary, I blame you as our head coach about 75% overall for the problems of this year’s Philadelphia Eagles. Which, after 11 years of consistently blowing clock management in-game and of rock-solid consistency in stepping down in the big spots, it is clearly time for you to move on. We need to bring in someone new to head this team in 2012, someone with a fresh face for these players, and for these fans who so clearly deserve better. Someone who will not get embarrassed in almost every game by letting the clock run out before we can kick field goals, someone whose players are not so ill-prepared that they are constantly wasting much-needed timeouts before the time when we actually need them. Someone who, while being a disciplinarian, understands far better than you do how to coexist with the ridiculous personas and out-of-control mindsets that, like it or not, now populate all professional sports in this country, with football being absolutely no exception whatsoever.

I want to say again that I truly am thankful for what has been a solid 11 year run in Philadelphia. Believe me when I say, I honestly do not expect to bring in another head coach who will find a way to win five NFC Easts in 11 years. That's never happened before here, and it probably never will again. But like mostly all other Philadelphia Eagles fans at this point in time, I am way beyond the point where I would trade five division titles in 11 years, all for just one Superbowl victory. In a split second. And although I have little doubt that you will take the Chargers, who have long suffered under the hand of the legal idiot known as Norv Turner in San Diego, or some other similar team, and in just a season or two turn them into an 10-6, 11-5 or better type of team. When it comes to regular seasons, you have proven yourself to me beyond a doubt, and I don't doubt that you will have many successes in the regular season to come, nor that you will walk right back into a head coaching job should you so desire within weeks of your firing by the Eagles after this disastrous regular season comes to a close. But the fans of Philadelphia, which despite the recent success of the Phillies, has always been a football town first and foremost, deserve better than you. We deserve better than to go into every season just waiting for the implosion between you and our star player, and always knowing that no matter how good we perform in the regular season, the playoffs are always looming right around the corner, where we know going in we are going to come up just short, and get out-coached when it counts the most.

Give me Bill Cowher. Give me Jeff Fisher. For Christ's sake, go and find a way to bring Jon Gruden back here where he was the O-Coordinator many years ago and got his start before finding his way to the Monday Night Football booth. But most of all, just give me some hope. At this point, now that this disastrous regular season is more than 3/4 gone, Eagles fans just want hope for a championship more than anything else, and you, Andy Reid, are simply not the guy who can bring us back that hope.

Happy Trails, Andy. I will always think fondly of your 11 years here. And when we do finally host that parade down Broad Street with the Superbowl trophy floating by with our name on it, I will think back to the moment of your firing, with a smile.

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