Dear Mr. Lurie,
As a die-hard Eagles fan and a completely unqualified but strongly opinionated and loudly mouthed observer, I suggest you read this letter with the intent to follow its every recommendation if you ever want to see a Super Bowl again. First things first: Please, I beg of you, ignore these ridiculous cries for heads to roll down Broad Street. Don't fire Andy Reid...ever. Don't trade away Donovan McNabb...yet. I know the current trend for teams on the decline or those that have been hiding out beneath the cellar steps for several seasons has been to clean house and begin rebuilding, accepting that the next few years could be kind of rough...but that won't work here in Philadelphia. Not in this city, where its never OK to be content with defeat, where a losing season is never the result of surrender, and the "wait till next year" mantra doesn't forgive a miserable performance on Sunday. Don't be fooled by Miami and Atlanta's turnarounds. You don't have a legendary NFL team-builder stalking your front office, all the while "burdened" by the weight of two Super Bowl rings (Bill Parcells). You don't have a stud rookie quarterback who looks like a young Peyton Manning with a little more confidence and a much better supporting cast (Matt Ryan). What you do have is a coach who can draft with the best of them, build strong lines on both sides of the ball (and we all know games are won and lost in the trenches in this league), and successfully operate a West Coast style offense when his teams are healthy. You also have a veteran quarterback with the leadership qualities than garner the respect and best efforts of his teammates, saddled with a backup quarterback who is bound to have a Craig Nall- like NFL career. If you get rid of the coach and hand the reigns to that bum Kevin Kolb, you're left with the Oakland Raiders, minus the versatile stable of running backs.
This Eagles team is good. We all saw it early this season, when McNabb looked like an early MVP candidate and Westbrook wasn't nursing ribs and rusty ankles. Today, against the Cardinals (a game in which Arizona is getting 2.5 points) your Eagles will sit pro-bowlers Asante Samuel, Shawn Andrews, and possibly even Brian Westbrook, with Correll Buckhalter out as well. Everyone wants to know where the Eagles' running game went, and I suggest the first place they look is the trainers' room. When this team is healthy, it can play with and defeat the best teams in the NFL. Hell, the "mighty" Giants only squeezed past the Eagles by the edge of Eli Manning's awkward heel. Everyone's favorite Dallas Cowboys are a muffed handoff attempt away from last place in the Division. You have the 6th rated overall defense in the land, 5th best against the pass, and a rushing defense that is holding its opponents to a sub- 100 yard average this season. When your offense stops slumping like A-Rod in the playoffs, you are going to be great again.
Don't jump the gun here, Mr. Lurie. You don't need to deconstruct this struggling squad, but that doesn't mean the pieces aren't in place for you to start preparing for the future. To think that McNabb is going to lead this team to glory for years down the road is more than wishful thinking, but you can't be serious about Kevin Kolb, who can't seem to figure out how to wear his helmet correctly without looking confused and out of place. Don't be complacent, don't accept defeat. Instead, follow this list of recommendations and everything will be just fine:
1. Do everything you have to do to draft Nate Davis, whether he comes out this year or next. The hero of Muncie, Indiana has the size, the arm, the feet, and the accuracy to take over for McNabb, plus he can throw the kind of short- game touch pass that McNabb never really figured out.
2. Let Reid do what he does best, develop your offensive line through the draft. Find that next big man that will give your running game the holes up the middle its been missing without Shawn Andrews this season.
3. Find a free agent running back or draft one if you have to, and make him a bruiser, why don't you. Two back systems are the norm in the NFL now for a reason...it works because it keeps your playmakers healthy and on the field late in the season.
4. Get the Titans' OC Mike Heimerdinger on your payroll (and get Marty Morningwheg off of it). Mike's worked under Coach Shanahan in Denver, and is currently setting a standard of success in Nashville. Reid can run his west coast offense, but when he needs the running yards, there really isnt another qualified coordinator (who isnt going to be a head coach next year, ahem, Josh McDaniels, ahem) that is more certain to call the right play right now than Heimerdinger.
5. Finally, don't forget about Reid's success, specifically how consistent it was with a healthy squad. Five NFC East Titles (he's batting .500, Jeff, how can you ignore that?), four straght NFC Championship appearances, a three point loss to an NFL Dynasty in the Super Bowl, and an unmistakable change in culture in a city that has already erased the horrendous Ray Rhodes years from its collective mind. Loyalty and faith have their place in this league. I don't even need to leave the state to give you an example of a team that has weathered tough years, retained coaching staffs with incredible consistency, loyalty, and devotion, and reached the mountain-top in reward...the Pittsburgh Steelers. Good coaches are few and far between. Give Reid the supporting cast he needs and he'll give us all what we want.
Please give a desperate fan his wish this Holiday season and keep the Eagles afloat. Don't buy the hype. Be the owner you've always been, the one that looks out for the best interests of the team and doesn't live and die by the dreadful predictions of ESPN's analysts, who are paid to promote the doomsday atmosphere in offices around the NFL and keeps that network in operation. Do You, Jeff, Do You.