Monday, November 24, 2008

One More Move

Eagles coach Andy Reid promised changes heading into Sunday’s game and he certainly delivered. Aside from the demotions of tight end L.J. Smith and linebacker Omar Gaither, Reid also made a little halftime switch that’s drawn some attention.

Now it’s time for one more move: take the play-calling away from Marty Mornhinweg. Whatever loyalty Reid feels he owes Mornhinweg as a fellow former college and pro assistant and Mike Holmgren disciple has long been repaid. At the expense of the Eagles.

It’s time to cut the cord.

Mornhinweg has proven he is incapable of helping an NFL team win. His quarterbacks and skill players may put up gaudy numbers—Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia and Steve Young had Pro Bowl seasons for him—but winning is what counts in the NFL. And Mornhinweg has a track record of failure.

In his last two seasons as offensive coordinator in San Francisco, the 49ers went 10-22—before a 12-4 season after he left to become the head coach in Detroit.

The Lions then went 5-27 under Mornhinweg, giving him the worst winning percentage of any Detroit coach to last a season. He was the worst coach for perhaps the worst NFL franchise ever. And he’s all ours.

Mornhinweg is now in his third season as the Eagles offensive coordinator, and the team has gone 23-19-1, with one playoff appearance (assuming the Eagles miss the playoffs this year—a pretty safe assumption.) The Eagles were 31-17 in the three seasons prior, with two NFC title game appearances, and one Super Bowl showing.

The combined record of teams Mornhinweg led as either head coach or offensive coordinator in his most recent seven years: 38-68-1, with one playoff appearance.

That’s 107 games over the course of seven seasons—enough to get a pretty good read on a coach’s ability. Or lack thereof.

Football is a team game. To win, the offense has to be effective and balanced enough to sustain drives and keep its defense off the field for long stretches. Three-and-outs and failed third-down conversions cripple a team’s defense.

The Eagles had six possessions of three plays or less by halftime alone in Baltimore’s 36-7 rout Sunday. And in their last three games, the Eagles have converted just nine of 42 third-down opportunities.

Kolb, assuming he’s named the starter, deserves to show what he can do in a balanced offense, not one that throws the ball 61 percent of the time, as the Eagles have this season—which is even higher than the 55 percent of the past two seasons.

The offense’s failures are not all on McNabb—or Kolb. Mornhingweg and his play-calling sit at the core of the Eagles’ offensive woes. It’s time for someone else to call the shots.


Anonymous said...

There seems to me to be some sortta correlation between the Phillies winning and the Eagles success.

John, we need you to go back and look, but didn't the Eagles do well when the Phil's clinched, advanced in the post season, and win the Series? But since the confetti (though not Utley's language) has been cleaned up, the Iggles seemed to have lost their mojo.

Could it be they were swept up in the Phillies euphoria? And now, facing another four months of without the local Boys of Summer, the Eagles are suffering through a sort of depression? I think Reid would do well to have Manuel stop by Thursday night before kickoff...

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that Mornhinweg is the one calling the plays - Looks to me that Reid has been carrying around the Chili's menu of plays most of the years.
I think you should emphasize taking play calling away from both Reid and Mornhinweg - but who is your next choice?? Ron O

John Roach said...

Re: the first comment: the Eagles weren't doing better when Charlie and the Boys were playing--they were just flying under the radar. They were 2-3 on Oct. 5. They then won 3 in a row while the Phillies were winning the Series--but those games were against the lowly 49ers and Seahawks, and the rookie-QB Falcons. Phillies magic or bad NFL teams?

Ron, re: your comment: Mornhinweg is calling them. I saw that in one of the stories, though I didn't tag it. Reid, as you note, is ordering from a Chinese menu for after the game.