BLOG: I’m Black And Gold With Envy

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By Andy Wheeler

I haven’t checked in for a while. The Eagles season has come and gone and here we are left watching our neighbors to the west go to the Super Bowl…AGAIN!

I’m not mad…a little jealous maybe…but I don’t understand how the 2 stadiums can be 310 miles apart, yet the Birds can’t seem to follow the road map the Steelers have laid out to success.

For as long as I can remember Steelers football has consisted of the following…a running game and a hard hitting punch you in the mouth defense. That’s it. I mean Bradshaw, Swann and Stallworth consisted of a pretty good aerial attack…but I’ve never thought of the Pittsburgh Steelers as drop back and chuck it. To quote Beasley Reece “Lynn Swann BARELY made the Hall of Fame because they always ran the ball”

That simple game plan since 1972 has netted them a whopping 25 playoff appearances, 20 division championships, 8 conference championships and 6 Super Bowl’s…with a chance for one more in 2 weeks. That’s under 3 head coaches and 1 owner. All followed the same plan.

It’s literally astounding.

The closest the Eagles have come to that kind of success was when the 2 teams merged during World War II to form the Steagles.

Since 1972 the Eagles have had 19 playoff appearances…which isn’t so bad, 8 divisional championships, 2 conference championships and 0 Super Bowls. That was under 9 different head coaches and 3 different owners.

Sounds like the gold standard should be renamed the “Black and Gold” standard.

Stability, running the ball, great defense…if I owned a team and saw what they’ve done…let’s just say that imitation is the highest form of flattery.

While the Steelers have stuck with the same plan what seems like year after year, the Eagles have changed offensive philosophy’s so many times I can’t count. And now we employ the most prolific passing coach in the history of the league. That same coach doesn’t seem to get that even though the league is made to pass now, that running the ball effectively and often wins games. Don’t believe me…Black and Gold are the colors of proof.

The Eagles defense has had a few rays of dominance here and there but it’s been since the early 90’s since they could have been considered “Smash Mouth.”

Under Andy Reid there has been a significant defensive decline as his 12 years have progressed. When Reid first got here, he had a defense built and drafted by one of the greater defensive minds that has ever coached in the NFL, Ray Rhodes. Say what you want about Ray Bob, but the man knows defense.

Reid inherited a defense with Hugh Douglas, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Al Harris, Kelly Gregg, Hollis Thomas, and Mike Caldwell. That was the core of the defense that got the Eagles to 4 straight conference championship games.

Jim Johnson was a defensive genius no doubt, but I’ve often wondered out loud to myself if Johnson wasn’t necessarily a genius at game planning, but at covering weakness created by Reid. You may say what weaknesses?

Reid has never valued linebacker ever…they’ve even admitted it. Since Reid inherited 3 Pro Bowl linebackers (Reese, Trotter and Willy T…and Ike made it for Special Teams) it’s been a revolving door from year to year of guys that were low round picks or cheap free agent fill-ins as the Defense Reid inherited aged.

Since 1972, the Eagles have had a Linebacker in the Pro Bowl 13 times in 39 years. None of them were drafted under Andy Reid. Now Reid has invested (or wasted depending on your point of view) 2nd and 3rd round picks in linebackers…but the names Barry Gardner, Matt McCoy, Quintin Caver and Stewart Bradley have yet to instill fear throughout the League.

How about the Black and Gold? Since 1972 there have been 7 total seasons that the Steelers haven’t sent at least 1 Linebacker to the Pro Bowl. 7 seasons out of 39!!!!! This season they have sent a linebacker to the Pro Bowl for the 9th time in the last 11 seasons and the 17th time in the last 21 years!!!!

That might be the first place the Eagles want to start on the Steelers road map. Harrison, Lambert, Ham, Lloyd…that’s frightening. 26 Seasons out of 39 without a Pro Bowl linebacker, 32 out of 39 seasons with a Pro Bowl linebacker. 0 Super Bowls vs. 6 Super Bowls (with a chance for one more in 2 weeks).

Running the ball would be the next place…but the next time the Eagles run the ball as a primary part of their offense, either all the Quarterbacks will have contracted Ebola before the game or Andy Reid will be coaching somewhere else.

Numerous times I’ve had the argument with Beasley that the Eagles need to run. “It’s a passing league, it’s a passing league” he says. Yeah well we’ve thrown the ball more than anyone else since Reid got here…and the Steelers have continued to run the ball…and they have 2 Super Bowl wins (with a chance for 1 more in 2 weeks) and we have none.

The Eagles have gotten the stability part of things right with Reid. Pick a guy, stick with him if he has success and see where it goes. But I think the end of this run is coming pretty soon.

To have a coach here this long that can’t just look 300 miles away for a road map of how to fix things after seeing his air it out all the time philosophy and bend but don’t break defense isn’t working infuriates me.

Running the ball and Defense wins Championships….it’s as simple as Black and Gold.

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