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10-Step Process to Rebuilding the Philadelphia Eagles By 2013

The Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) are in a rut with no “bright light” at the end of the proverbial tunnel. They have aging superstars, failing schemes, and a lack of young talent caused by poor draft after poor draft.

But not all hope is lost. The Eagles have the building blocks in place to start rebuilding right away, and it starts from the foundation (or in this case, the top). Here is a ten-step process to rebuilding the Eagles by 2013. Keep in mind: not all of these will happen, but this would be a realistic, cost-effective plan to building a competitive roster by next season.

1. Stay With Nick Foles

Foles is the only viable option (via The Fake Football).

The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of glaring needs, but one they cannot fix in the offseason (poor draft class, no free agents) is quarterback. That leaves two options: Nick Foles and Michael Vick.

If Michael Vick had played well against the Giants in Week 17, there might be a semblance of a conversation, but after that 42-7 blowout loss there is no doubt that the Eagles need to let go of extra baggage. 33 and turnover-prone, Vick is just not the type of quarterback who a new coach, likely a former successful offensive coordinator, will want to build around. Not to mention that he makes $15 million a season, money that could be used wisely elsewhere. Foles is a prototypical pocket passer with the ability to play in a traditional NFL offense, and even Chip Kelly would hate to work with the limping Vick.

Now, Foles isn’t an ideal option, but if you look past his few flaws (holding onto the ball for too long, missing deep balls), he’s played somewhat well this season. With a healthy offensive line and better offensive game-plan, he can be a good enough QB to work with the talent around him.

Cutting Vick would give the team $35 million in cap space going forward.

2. Clean House on Assistant Coaching Front 

The Eagles have officially announced the end of the Andy Reid era, and with that out of the way, I don’t see room for Todd Bowles and Marty Mornhinweg on the coaching staff anymore. Neither did his job very well in 2012, and the new head coach will obviously want to work with his own people. Special teams coach Bobby April, Senior Offensive Assistant David Culley, and secondary coach Michael Zordich also seem likes names that could be gone. In addition, don’t forget that offensive line Mudd coach Howard is set to retire, which will open up a vacancy there. The Eagles truly need to “clean house” this offseason to make a comeback in 2013.

This Eagles coaching staff has done a very poor job over the past two seasons, and the above names (especially the three coordinators – Bowles, Mornhinweg, and April) failed time and time again this season to get their units clicking on all cylinders. In fact, the only one I would even considering keeping is Mornhinweg because of the possibility that we bring in an offensively-minded head coach; that will make sure that the Eagles don’t revert back to the old ways of throwing the ball too much while keeping some measure of continuity on offense.

But everyone knows it’s time for a change, and that change has to start from the coaching staff.

3. Draft Jarvis Jones and Switch to the 3-4

Jarvis Jones is the best 3-4 prospect available (via SBNation).

Before you sigh and shake your head, hear me out. The Eagles defense was the fifth defense ever to allow opposing QBs to complete 60% of passes with 30-plus touchdowns, fewer than 10 INTs and 3,600 passing yards. That’s historically bad defense right there. Seven of the top twelve defenses this year use the 3-4; just think about that for a second: The best defenses in the NFL this year were mostly using the 3-4 scheme. The best? Dick LeBeau and his 3-4 Steelers.

Now, the Eagles are no Pittsburgh Steelers on defense, but with the right personnel moves, they can come pretty darn close. First, they need to draft Alabama rush linebacker Jarvis Jones. With the No. 4 overall pick, it is a toss-up whether they’ll get him, but if he does indeed fall to them, it is a no-brainer: Jones is one of the best 3-4 prospects to enter the draft in the past couple years and would be the perfect fit for rush/weak-side linebacker in the formation across from strong-side OLB Mychal Kendricks. The strong-side backer needs to be solid in coverage, something Kendricks is, while Jones will be the team’s primary rusher from the linebacker position.

People cite DeMeco Ryans’ failures in Houston as a reason why the Eagles shouldn’t switch to the 3-4, but that argument is misleading. Ryans is a prototypical 4-3 MLB, which would make him the perfect candidate to play WILB (“Mike”) in the 3-4. But in Houston he played SILB, strong inside lienbacker, (“Ted”) which didn’t play to his strengths. Signing Larry Foote, on the other hand, would give us the perfect “Ted” ‘backer which would allow Ryans to play the more suitable “Mike” position. That would sure up the linebacker position.

At defensive line we have two perfect DE candidates, Trent Cole and Fletcher Cox (played under tackle in 4-3, meaning he’s more suited to the 3-4 DE position). Nose tackle is the only variable at that point, which could be filled with any mid-level free agent because of the talent at linebacker.

This scheme would make the Eagles one of the best front sevens in the NFL, helping us shut down the run game and get to the quarterback with consistency and ferocity.

4. Trade Back Into Round 1 for Matt Elam, Sign Jairus Byrd

Byrd has 18 career INTs.

Of all the positions that disappointed in 2012, safety was the biggest failure. Former second-round draft pick Nate Allen was supposed to blossom at free safety in his first fully healthy season, but instead his flaws were much more prominent than his positives. Fellow young safety Kurt Coleman seemed to be on the uptick after his two-interception performance in Week 1, but since then he’s been nothing but inconsistent. Both Coleman and Allen were benched for Colt Anderson at one point due to their inability to make plays in coverage, and while Anderson may have been serviceable, he isn’t good enough to play safety on a contender. Luckily for the Eagles, they have options through the draft and free agency.

With Florida strong safety prospect Matt Elam reportedly set to enter the 2013 draft class, the Eagles now have a way to get their man in the late first round. In the regular season, Elam has been the tone-setter for the dominant Florida defense, recording 65 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, five passes broken up, and four interceptions. He’s been one of the nation’s best defensive backs and can play both the run and the pass, something Coleman could never do. His ferocity and consistency are two things that make him worthy of a first-round pick, and the Eagles will be happy to give up a 2nd, 4th, and 7th to get him. That would take care of the strong safety position.

The Eagles’ next free safety can come through free agency, whether it is San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson or Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd. Byrd, a younger, more consistent player, is the better option. He’ll be looking for approximately $7.5 million a year, a price the Eagles will be willing to pay for their first dominant safety since Brian Dawkins. Byrd has proven to be one of the league’s top free safeties if not the best; he in the upper echelon which includes Ed Reed and Eric Weddle, two guys who turn good defenses into dangerous defenses. With 76 tackles, four forced fumbles, and five interceptions, Byrd is the definition of a play-maker. He can play over the top and man-to-man.

Byrd is everything the Eagles need in a free safety, and the pairing of him with Elam would turn safety from a liability to a strength on this defense.

5. Sign Ryan Clady or Jake Long, Move Herremans to RG

Long would make the Eagles offensive line great (via Wikipedia).

The one position where this season isn’t representative of talent is offensive line, where injuries forced the Eagles to revert to using guys like Jake Scott, King Dunlap, Dennis Kelly, and Dallas Reynolds in important roles this season. Those are just not guys who will play much if at all next season.

But improvements can still be made. While Evan Mathis (LG), Jason Peters (LT), and Jason Kelce (C) are sure-fire starters for next season, there is no doubt that there needs to be a shuffling on the right side of the line. Todd Herremans looked out of sorts at right tackle this season before suffering a season-ending injury, which leads us to believe that his most productive position is right guard. With that in mind, someone will need to come in and take over the right tackle position. Luckily for the Eagles, there are two perfect candidates: Jake Long and Ryan Clady.

Clady has been Peyton Manning’s rock this season, allowing only three sacks on his way to a third Pro Bowl selection. Despite another injury, Long remains one of the league’s top offensive tackles, a perfect blend of technique and athleticism. Long is more likely not to be re-signed by his current team, the Miami Dolphins, and adding him on a $11 million per year deal would be worth forming one of the best offensive tackle pairings in history, comparable to the days when the Eagles O-Line was anchored by Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan.

Not only would this deal leave the Eagles with $18 million remaining in cap space, but would transform a good offensive line into the league’s best. That’s called giving your young quarterback something to work with.

6. Cut Nnamdi Asomugha, Promote Curtis Marsh, Re-Sign DRC

Like safety, cornerback was a disaster. Unlike safety, there will be no easy fix this offseason.

Brent Grimes is the only good free agent cornerback worth pursuing, and for that reason, his price tag will be inflated. Therefore, the Eagles will have to make do with what they have and hope that improved safety play will reduce the amount of mistakes their corners make.

That said, Nnamdi Asomugha must go. He makes too much money to make boneheaded plays every game and his money could go towards the rest of the roster. Curtis Marsh has shown this season that he can be a better cornerback on a game-to-game basis than Asomugha and still has the speed and athleticism to play with today’s receivers. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played somewhat better than Asomugha this season, and few teams will be willing to pay big money to sign him this offseason. With a revamped roster, DRC could be excited to rejoin the Eagles at a reasonable price ($9 million per year). The cornerback position won’t be a strength, but with good safeties, they won’t be a liability anymore.

7. Trade DeSean Jackson, Acquire Dwayne Bowe

Bowe would be a great fit (via Getty Images).

This is an issue where many might disagree with me, but DeSean Jackson doesn’t give the Eagles the best chance to win for two reasons: first, he still doesn’t give it his all (as alluded to by LeSean McCoy in his recent comments). Second, the Eagles already have another small-ish receiver (Jeremy Maclin), and No. 18 showed tremendous late-season chemistry with Nick Foles; he had 386 yards and two touchdowns in a five-game stretch with Foles. He is a much better candidate to become a star with Foles at the helm, and Jackson showed this season that his big-play ability has started to wane with defenses seeing more and more tape.

That’s why the Eagles need a big, possession receiver to go along with Maclin. Introducing Dwayne Bowe, who in 2010 (the last time he had a consistent quarterback) recorded 72 receptions for 1162 yards and 15 touchdowns. That is the type of production the Eagles need out of their No. 1 receiver, and like I’ve said, he’d be the perfect partner for the shorter, faster Maclin. Bowe will cost the same as Jackson (approximately $10 million per year), and trading Jackson to a team like Cleveland or Tennessee could yield a first-round or second-round pick (which the Eagles could then use to get Matt Elam).

8. Hire Mike Singletary as Defensive Coordinator

The Eagles need a defensive coordinator who will toughen up a soft defense and help the team transition to the 3-4. Mike Singletary fits that description perfectly. The former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and current assistant head coach/linebackers coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Singletary has worked with both the 4-3 and 3-4 extensively. He knows how to run both, and has been successful with both (in San Francisco his 3-4 philosophies led to the creation of what is one of the league’s best defenses).

This would allow Singletary to run a multiple front defense next season, something he did extensively with the 49ers. This type of defense would help the personnel and other coaches transition to the 3-4 scheme entirely, not to mention that Singletary’s defenses have always been some of the toughest. Jim Johnson’s defenses were tough, and they were the best in the league. Since then, the Eagles have grown somewhat softer, and their performance has suffered accordingly.

9. Hire Mike McCoy as Head Coach

McCoy can fix the Eagles offense, and even their team.

This is the formula that worked between 1999-2004: an offensively-minded head coach (Andy Reid) paired up with a great defensive coordinator (Jim Johnson). That is the formula that this team needs to revert back to in order to attain success once again.

Among the top candidates for the Eagles’ head coaching position, many are offensive gurus: just look at Chip Kelly (college’s top offensive innovator) and Greg Roman (run-first offensive coordinator in San Francisco). Even Dirk Koetter, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator who just re-signed with the Falcons, was a top candidate.

All of them are great names, but I don’t think any are likely to join the Eagles. Like I said, Koetter already re-signed, Kelly is likely to remain at Oregon, and Roman hasn’t been sought after publicly by the Eagles. I wouldn’t want those guys over Mike McCoy, anyway. Why? Because McCoy can run the type of offense that Philadelphia needs.

Denver’s offensive personnel was similar to what I’ve set up for next year. Two solid starting wide receivers (Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker), a good running game, and a quarterback with a good arm but limited mobility. Foles may not be Peyton Manning, but he plays a similar game. Even with such talent in the passing game, Koetter never leaned too far towards passing. He always factored in Willis McGahee and the Broncos’ potent running game, something Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg never did. With LeSean McCoy and considerable talent at wide receiver, McCoy is the perfect man to come in and transform the Eagles into one of the league’s most dangerous, balanced offenses. Oh yeah, and he is the perfect candidate to groom quarterback Nick Foles.

Not to mention that he will bring the passion and attention to detail that the Eagles need following a 4-12 season.

10. My 2013 Philadelphia Eagles

In conclusion, this is what I would want the Eagles to look like next season:

Offense (3 WR Formation): Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek, Jason Avant, Jeremy Maclin, Dwayne Bowe, Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Jake Long

Defense (Base 3-4): Fletcher Cox, Cullen Jenkins, Trent Cole, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Larry Foote, Jarvis Jones, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Matt Elam, Jairus Byrd

Special Teams: Alex Henery, Matt McBriar, Jon Dorenbos

Coaches: Mike McCoy (HC), Matt Nagy (OC), Mike Singletary (DC/Assistant HC)

Please leave your thoughts on the Eagles offseason below and tell me which of the above steps you agree/disagree with!

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Categories: Eagles, Editorial

Author:Manav Khandelwal

I am the founder of Khandyman Sports, and follow all Philadelphia pro sports teams religiously. I also write for the Hoop76, covering the Sixers for ESPN, and am a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News.

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6 Comments on “10-Step Process to Rebuilding the Philadelphia Eagles By 2013”

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  4. lamontee curb
    January 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    I like it all but now ol chip iz here and yes d jack can go for bowe he iz bigger and has a good attuide and charater I belive the eagles has a shot at edd Reed for 1 or 2 seasons and still draft erik and luke

    • lamontee curb
      January 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      On top of that I fill like jason clece is still young as we know .know the packers snd jeff Saturday isent paning well and the packers also starting a rookie center as well think the eagles should take a strong look at saturday and long at left OT move todd back to RG the problem iz eagles give up on vets that can help out in playoff situations the team iz already too young and need to leave the 4/3 alone that Defence doent often win u titles more have came from the 3/4 out look bannersbanner shouldent b shook up on changing to 3/4 thore for cox and jenkins could go to LE’s since jenkins played the position better than DT spot then draft size at NT make cole drop weight play him at OLB behind jenkins

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Positives and Negatives of Hiring Chip Kelly | Khandyman Sports - January 19, 2013

    […] if you read my Eagles “10-step plan” from a couple weeks ago, you’ll know I’m a fan of the 3-4. The Eagles have many […]

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