What a wild season!! For me, I have been saying we have been playing with house money, and just was happy to watch our Eagles romp over Dallas in Week 17 and destroy the Giants at home last week. I would have been 10x more unhappy with losing last week over this week and probably even would have hurt much, much worse if we didn't win the Super Bowl. Hats off to the Eagles for even getting this far, and congrats to Steelers and Cardinals fans.
A few quick hits to end the Eagles season...
1. Defense wins championships. You hear that mantra all the time. Up until today's game our defense is what carried our team to the NFC Championship, but let us down in the big game. Letting up 32 points, and 3 touchdowns by Fitzgerald is the fault of the defense and coach Johnson.
2. Sometimes I'm tired of hearing how the Eagles need a #1 wide receiver, but after watching Fitzgerald make a 37 year old quarterback look like Steve Young, you wonder a bit. I think we have a good cast of "B" WRs, but hope the Birds make some moves in the offseason.
3. The Cardinals/Eagles was a winnable game, I think the key was the Eagles not adjusting until the second half on defense. If they played the first half defensively like they played the second half, Eagles would be going to the Super Bowl.
4. I'm still thinking that only a few weeks ago everyone, including myself, figured the season was over and today you have people cursing the high heavens that we didn't go to the Super Bowl. Today's game was a perfect example of our entire season, we should never have been down 24-6 to begin with, and that falls on the coaches for being underprepared for today's game.
5. I still think McNabb is a very good quarterback. I still think Reid is a very good coach. Sadly, none can really be called "excellent" until they get a Super Bowl ring. 5 Championship games in 8 years is remarkable, but if you are the owner, something has to be done to fix this. Personally, I think the first step is getting Reid to step down from the GM spot. He had multiple years at the coach/GM position and we need to get someone in there to evaluate talent & the draft day trades a bit better.
Bonus...my top 5 draft or free agent needs...in order of true needs...
So the season is over, where do the Birds need to fill up holes? I still believe that the Eagles have a good core group, i'm not one of those fans who are howling for Reid or McNabb to go (but firmly believe that Reid needs to step down from GM...the experiment is over and no Super Bowl rings means that we have to change something).
Remember that next season, both Runyan and fellow offensive tackle Tra Thomas are among the Eagles' seven potential unrestricted free agents. That group also includes safeties Brian Dawkins and Sean Considine, tight end L.J. Smith, running back Correll Buckhalter and cornerback Joselio Hanson. Receiver Hank Baskett and Nick Cole are both eligible to become restricted free agents.
1. Offensive Lineman. I'd be shocked if the Birds don't use 1 of the 2 1st round picks on someone to replace Runyan or Thomas. Expect Andrews back next year barring any setbacks from his depression, and I would think they slide him to the outside.
2. Safety. I expect that the Eagles will sign Dawkins to a 2 year deal or something, but we have to build for the future now. I love his heart and hard hits, but Dawk is a liability in coverage. Everyone knows it. We need to get some young talent in the secondary.
3. Defensive end. Trent Cole can only do so much alone. This is a definite top 3 draft pick, depending on who falls where. Everyone is double teaming Cole and if the Birds get a great defensive end (Julius Peppers is going to be a free agent for example, imagine landing him...) - we would have an incredible line.
4. Running back. We need to either sign Buckhalter or get another younger 3rd down back or both. Westbrook is an exceptional player, but isn't capable to go the entire season as the only running back. Every year we hear by week 12 that he isn't practicing anymore. The guy needs help.
5. Wide Receiver. I would hope that the Birds pull something out of their hat this year and maybe grab Boldin as a free agent. Imagine Boldin, Jackson and Curtis as #1, #2, #3 WRs, and that wouldn't be too shabby. I wouldn't cry if the Eagles package both #1's, trade up to the #7 or 8 spot and get Crabtree. As much as i'd rather save both those picks for two GOOD players, the Eagles need a "sexy" pick for once. Something like that would placate the fans tremendously during the offseason.