Eagles Wandering the Desert After Loss to Bengals

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The Philadelphia Eagles' 34-14 loss to Cincinnati on December 13th was an overview of the entire 2012 season; occasional bright moments that turned out to be nothing more than mirages in a desert of disappointment.

The Birds played reasonably well for 30 minutes against the Bengals, building a 13-10 lead by halftime but then promptly surrendered 24 second-half points

They turned the ball over five times, including one stretch of three turnovers in a span of four offensive plays. They also had a punt blocked on their way to their ninth loss in their last 10 starts.

LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick didn't play because of concussion issues; it's hard to see any benefit to using either player in the final two games of the season, at home against the Redskins on Sunday and on the road against the Giants the following week,

Both those games have huge playoff ramifications; for the Giants and Redskins that is.

From the Eagles' point of view they are essentially preludes to the 2013 season; useful only as a forum for talent evaluation.

The question is who will be doing the evaluating. Andy Reid is all but gone; Howie Roseman, the general manager is more bean counter than football savant.

Who should replace Andy Reid? The always-excitable (to put it kindly) fan base would prefer someone made in its own image; someone who wears his emotions on his sleeve in the manner of the now-retired Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden. There has also been some speculation about Chip Kelly, now at the University of Oregon.

But there should be no misconceptions. The Eagles need more than a quick fix.

Take note:

• The quarterback is unproven. Much of the enthusiasm for Foles is rooted in the fact that he is not Michael Vick.

• The offensive line has been a patchwork unit all season long. If upgrades aren't forthcoming it won't matter if Foles is the second coming of Joe Montana.

• Until alleged defensive guru Jim Washburn was sacked and the Wide Nine defensive scheme with him, there was no consistent pass rush.

• For much of 2012 the defensive secondary has displayed a reluctance to tackle.

In short, the Eagles need a complete engine overhaul, not just an oil change. Whoever is going to take over as coach needs to be someone committed to the long haul. While hiring a big name might excite the local populace, we're not sure that's the way to go.

Had the Jets been more successful in New York this season Michael Pettine's name likely would have been a candidate to take over in Philadelphia. The Jets' defensive coordinator grew up in Philadelphia and started his coaching career there. But with Jets floundering Pettine is no longer a hot property.

One possibility is Jim Caldwell, the former head man at Indianapolis and the recently installed offensive coordinator in Baltimore. Caldwell has 12 years of experience at the NFL level, including three seasons in charge of the Colts.

He also spent time as an assistant at Penn State early in his career, which would garner him support from the locals.

Caldwell knows a thing or two about working with talented quarterbacks.

And whoever next year's coach is, one of his first tasks and arguably his most important one, will be critiquing the work of quarterback Nick Foles, who has now played six games. At times he has been extraordinary, on other occasions, merely ordinary. In six games he's hit 59.4 percent of his passes, with a quarterback rating of 77.7.

The Birds will likely head in to next season with Foles as their number-one quarterback if for no other reason than there are no Andrew Luck or RG III types available in the upcoming draft.

Unless he falls flat on his face in camp next year Foles will be the one under center at the start of 2013.

Whoever the new coach is, the Eagles will be a team in transition next season. It will take time to turn this franchise around. It's up to next year's coach to get the ship pointed in the right direction.

Rick Woelfel lives in suburban Philadelphia. He's had a career in print and broadcast journalism that has spanned more than three decades and writes for an assortment of newspapers, magazines, and websites.

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