Archive for January, 2011

Looking at the Washburn signing

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Defense wins championships.

It really is that simple.

What is the one constant between the four teams remaining in the playoffs? All four have elite NFL quarterbacks? No—only half do (Pittsburgh and Green Bay). Rather, all four finished in the top 6 in total defense. Can you win without a top flight defense? Sure, look no further than last year’s Super Bowl winner, New Orleans, or several years back when the Colts won it all.

But looking over past Super Bowl winners suggests that you are more likely to win a Super Bowl with a good quarterback and great defense than a great quarterback and mediocre defense. Mark Sanchez is two wins away for the second year in a row. Trent Dilfer won with the Ravens. Heck, even looking at Terry Bradshaw’s numbers (career 50% completion percentage, 212 tds, 210 ints), leaves you to believe that you don’t need Tom Brady to win the big one.

Which is why I think it is incredulous to say Michael Vick can never win a championship in Philadelphia. Despite his shortcomings (which I have been quick to point out all year), I think we all can agree that he is a good quarterback. My criticisms have focused on the fact that I do not think he is an elite quarterback; he cannot do the things other elite quarterbacks can: presnap reads, adjustments at the line, getting the ball out quickly and accurately in the face of pressure. All the little things that are crucial to elevating from good to elite. Listen to the Chicago Bears rave at how Aaron Rodgers recognizes a blitz and gets the ball out in 2-3 seconds before any pressure can get to him, and ask yourself if Vick will ever be that player. I think not.

But that does not mean the Eagles can’t win a Super Bowl with Vick at the helm. Andy Reid will never abandon his pass first philosophy, so we mine as well stop asking, hoping, and praying that he will. But we don’t need that to win. What we need is for the offense to improve at sustaining so that the defense is on the field less, and fresher longer drives (yes, I know, which could easily be done by just running the damn ball more). That will instantly make them more effective. If you also improve the defense through free agency, the draft, and coaching…well then I think we are onto something.

I have to admit, I know nothing about Roy Segrest beyond the fact that the majority of players that he coached underperformed, and then improved once they left the Eagles. By now, we have all heard the stats of Jason Babin and Chris Clemens combining for more sacks last year than Trent Cole and Juqua Parker.

Which brings me to the hiring of Jim Washburn. I love this move. Tennessee has always had a good defensive line, and Washburn seems to be a primary reason for that. The following all had great careers under Washbur: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Tony Brown, Jason Babin, Kevin Carter, Albert Haynesworth, Jevon Kearse, Antwan Odom, Robaire Smith, John Thornton and Gary Walker. Seven of those players (Vanden Bosch, Babin, Carter, Haynesworth, Kearse and Walker) earned a combined eleven Pro Bowl selections under Washburn’s tutelage.

Washburn brings a level of intensity that could instantly improve the Eagles dline. It’s not guaranteed—Bobby April had the best special teams unit for years prior to coming to the Eagles last year. And while the Eagles showed signs of improvement down the stretch, they were far from perfect. But, I think this hiring is a step in the right direction. There is talent there to be sure. And if Washburn can get the most out of his players like he did with the likes of Jason Babin last season, our defensive line won’t need much tinkering to show marked improvement.

(Editors note: When I first wrote this post, I thought I was going out on a limb suggesting the Eagles should sign Albert Haynesworth. I slacked, and didn’t post this since the Washburn signing, and now everyone is talking about it. Oh well, better late than never).

I will go out on a limb and suggest one way to drastically improve this defense: Albert Haynesworth. Yes, I know the risk. He is a malcontent. He is unpredictable. He throws more tantrums than Lindsey Lohan in court. But at his best, he is the most dominant force in the NFL. Oh, and he enjoyed his best years under Jim Washburn.

Chances are, with a defensive line of Trent Cole, Albert Haynesworth, Antonio Dixon, and Juqua Parker/Brandon Graham/Darryl Tapp, the Eagles could have a dominant defensive line. It would instantly improve the rest of the defense, if for no other reason than by making the rest of the d’s job easier. Linebackers would have less blockers to shed, the secondary would have to cover their man for shorter periods of time, and we wouldn’t have to send as many blitzes to generate pressure on the QB. Haynesworth isn’t the end all be all—we still need to address the right CB position (unless Trevard Lindley can step up), and our linebacking corp needs to be revamped (sorry Jamar Chaney, I’m not buying you as the MLB of the future).

Just one final tidbit courtesy of an old story from back in April of 2010. Yes, Haynesworth signed a 7 year, $100 million contract. But last offseason the Redskins gave him a $21 million dollar bonus. Meaning that his remaining contract is three years, $16 million, with $9 million guaranteed.

…..So Big Albert…… How do you like Midnight Green?

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January 22, 2011 1 comment

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