Thursday, November 30, 2006

Problem #1: Team Chemistry

i've been thinking a lot about potential root causes that derailed this once promising season. while there are obviously a lot of the factors that are contributing to the poor play, i think the single biggest issue here is team chemistry. (i will cover other areas in subsequent posts, e.g. jj's defensive scheme, lack of development of some young defensive players, decline in some of the defensive stars, lack of consistency among young offensive players, poor in-game decision making)

in the nfl, all teams have talent no matter how bad they seem. that's why a team like new orleans can look so bad one year and win their division the next. the difference between a good team and a bad team is quite small. subtleties matter. details matter. one of the things that can differentiate a good team from a bad team is team chemistry and right now the eagles have none. we can make generalizations about the talent on the team or the coaching decisions or the player evaluations, but those factors really have not changed from the organization that went from nothing to 4 straight NFC championship games. the talent on this team is good. they're not playing well, but damn, i've been watching and studying football for a long time, and this roster has a lot of players who can play.

i don't necessarily want to bring me-o into this discussion, but it's unavoidable. the body language of the players on this team has not been the same since me-o came and left. where there was once a team that had great camaraderie, actively rooted for each other, and showed great heart in the face of adversity, you now have a team that is easily frustrated and discouraged, but most critically does not particularly like each other. the offense doesn't encourage the defense. the defense doesn't encourage the offense (with the exception of dawkins). the team dynamic is horrible, much like it was at the end of the kotite and rhodes eras.

emotional wounds take some time to heal, and this team has not recovered from the garbage that went on last season. thinking about it now, realistically, how could it? how quickly can one spouse forgive another for being unfaithful? was it naive to think that a team that had to pick sides last year could come back together as one simply because there was an off-season in between?

this is a big problem for the birds and one that is not easily solved. i'm not sure if they're ever going to fully heal while donovan and players who took me-o's side (like trotter and lito) are on the same team. if trotter and lito were bit players, it might be possible, but you simply cannot have division among the stars can you?

what i know is this, the team dynamic has to change -- it may require the eagles to make some tough "chemistry over talent" type roster moves, it may require big red to be more hands on in team building/healing, heck, it may require a new head coach altogether -- but you're not going to fix this thing solely with structural changes like different game planning or adding players. the eagles are losing games because they cannot handle adversity and that is the biggest problem of all.

Labels:

29 Comments:

Anonymous Phil said...

This may be an issue, but I don't think you can list it as #1 for the following reasons:

1) It's the hardest thing to measure. You can tell when players are playing. You can tell when the coaches aren't coaching. You can even tell when the talent's not there or players are losing a step. There is no way though to measure "chemistry". Too fuzzy.

2) We have no insight into "team chemistry". It's not like any of us are hanging out with the team. Even if we were close to 1 of the players, that wouldn't give us much insight into the "team" chemistry. Just how that 1 player fits in.

An interesting question though would be whether Reid's high character personel strategy is the best one. Basically, he takes only character guys. I'm assuming this is so you don't have any chemistry problems. Maybe TO impact is still lingering, but if it's going to linger this long then the only way you're going to get rid of it is to blow the roster up. Changing coaches won't change it.

9:45 AM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

There is no way though to measure "chemistry". Too fuzzy.

i'm not so sure about that. you can measure a lot through body language and watching the interactions on the sidelines. facial expressions can also tell you a lot. teams have tells just like poker players have tells.

An interesting question though would be whether Reid's high character personel strategy is the best one. Basically, he takes only character guys. I'm assuming this is so you don't have any chemistry problems.

i've decided this is a myth (or andy changed his philosophy). reid was once married to the high character player, but with the number of turds on this roster now (mcdougle, bunkley, justice, LJ smith) i'm not so sure you can say that.

9:52 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"i don't necessarily want to bring me-o into this discussion, but it's unavoidable. the body language of the players on this team has not been the same since me-o came and left. where there was once a team that had great camaraderie, actively rooted for each other, and showed great heart in the face of adversity, you now have a team that is easily frustrated and discouraged, but most critically does not particularly like each other. the offense doesn't encourage the defense. the defense doesn't encourage the offense (with the exception of dawkins). the team dynamic is horrible, much like it was at the end of the kotite and rhodes eras.

emotional wounds take some time to heal, and this team has not recovered from the garbage that went on last season. thinking about it now, realistically, how could it? how quickly can one spouse forgive another for being unfaithful? was it naive to think that a team that had to pick sides last year could come back together as one simply because there was an off-season in between?"

This entire passage pretty much speaks for itself. If TO caused this bunch this much emotional agnst, I've lost interest in rooting for them.

Did you really just compare TO's silliness to spousal betrayal?

Ed Wade

10:26 AM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Did you really just compare TO's silliness to spousal betrayal?

not exactly ben, i compared teammates taking me-o's side to spousal betrayal. yes, one is more important in the grand scheme of things, but with as much emotion as football players have invested in their efforts, i don't think that comparison is completely ridiculous.

11:02 AM EST  
Blogger MS69 said...

"I'm not so sure about that. you can measure a lot through body language and watching the interactions on the sidelines. facial expressions can also tell you a lot. teams have tells just like poker players have tells."

Does that also apply when McMope is sitting by himself on the bench with the towel on his head? When his body language clearly looks to be like he's given up? Or is this more bullshit because your still reacting to T.O. like your the jilted girlfriend.

11:02 AM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

Does that also apply when McMope is sitting by himself on the bench with the towel on his head?

yes, it does. i've never particularly cared much for how he does that. it's one of the reasons why i've never really built an emotional attachment for him.

Or is this more bullshit because your still reacting to T.O. like your the jilted girlfriend.

not sure where this is coming from, but no, me-o in fact is not the issue here. if your little grandstanding rant made you feel better then i'm glad.

the issue is that the team dynamic has been damaged by a) how the team/big red allowed the situation with me-o to linger last season and b) how the locker room split loyalties due to the conflict.

11:24 AM EST  
Blogger MS69 said...

"the issue is that the team dynamic has been damaged by a) how the team/big red allowed the situation with me-o to linger last season and b) how the locker room split loyalties due to the conflict."

The team dynamic is damaged because they are losing. They are losing because the defense isnt talented enough. Anything else is just fluff, sorry. And sorry for being a bit of an ass on my first post. Your still giving TO way too much credit.

11:58 AM EST  
Anonymous Phil said...

There's something to be said for the losing being a cause for poor team chemistry. They say winning cures a lot of ills. We might have a chicken/egg thing here.

12:38 PM EST  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

is anyone else having a problem with posting...I had a nice post and it got erased...anyway, reader's digest version....a lot of valid points mentioned, but what I pay to see (or not pay) is what the Mean Guy does to fix this mess....and I want a realistic, not-thinking-like-Big Red assessment...think like a higher level executive like Joe Banner...and I am assuming that Banner would like to see wins which translates into happy fans which translates into more money

12:41 PM EST  
Anonymous Phil said...

Yeah, the word verification thingy won't ever accept my first attempt at "ikjsxtcv".

Dog, what you want ("high level executive like Joe Banner") action plan could be entirely different than winning a Super Bowl. Exhibit A: Snyder and the Redskins.

How about thinking waaaaaay outside the box: Bring Gruden in on a 1 year contract with a heavy incentive on SB win (say $4 million base + $6 million bonus for a Lombardi). Keep Big Red around to be the HC longer term (call him a consultant in 2007), but have someone come in and really shake things up.

1:18 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

The team dynamic is damaged because they are losing. They are losing because the defense isnt talented enough.

the defense is surely a factor in the losing, and you could say that there are more talented defenses in the nfl, but that doesn't explain why the team dynamic was so bad even when they were winning this season.

Your still giving TO way too much credit.

stop fixating on me-o. he is not the issue here and i have not implied that he is. the issue as i see it is how the situation last season dragged on and divided the locker room. you can trivialize it as ben wants to do, but i've been working within and around teams long enough to know that the personal aspect matters more than the actual talent -- not just in sports but in everything from stocking shelves to programming.

happy people are more productive. teams that like each other work well together.

teams that are unhappy make careless mistakes (dropped balls, stupid penalties). teams that don't like each other give up easily when the going gets tough.

you can have individually strong people that act irrationally because of dynamics like group think.

2:46 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

what I pay to see (or not pay) is what the Mean Guy does to fix this mess....and I want a realistic, not-thinking-like-Big Red assessment

i still need to think about that. i'm going to post what i think the problems are bit by bit and continue to think about solutions.

2:47 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

How about thinking waaaaaay outside the box: Bring Gruden in on a 1 year contract with a heavy incentive on SB win (say $4 million base + $6 million bonus for a Lombardi). Keep Big Red around to be the HC longer term (call him a consultant in 2007), but have someone come in and really shake things up.

i've thought a lot about gruden the last few weeks as well, but personally i don't want him. gruden still runs the worst coast offense and i remember being frustrated when he was here.

i recall countless 4 yard passes on 3rd and 6 or 8 yard passes on 3rd and 10 in the gruden called offense.

i recall gruden's inability to get charlie garner the ball on a consistent basis.

maybe i'm not remembering things correctly and he definitely deserves some benefit of the doubt for winning a SB, but he's not my first choice.

2:53 PM EST  
Anonymous Phil said...

I think Gruden's grown somewhat as a play caller since he's been here (this was effectively his first real job afterall back in the 1990s). Think his motivational abilities would work on a 1 year basis (heard TB's already tired of it). Basically what I'm thinking (and this isn't a fully fleshed out thought yet) is that the Eagles need someone to shake things up. I don't necesarily want to boot Reid to the curb (yet) as he retains the benefit of doubt for a bit longer.

3:46 PM EST  
Blogger MS69 said...

test

8:11 PM EST  
Blogger MS69 said...

"stop fixating on me-o. he is not the issue here and i have not implied that he is"

The only reason why I mentioned him is because its the only concrete example you gave for why the chemistry of the team might be screwed up. You didnt seem to offer much other than a purge of anyone who supported TO. Not sure how that would make people respect the "heart and soul" of the team more though.

8:44 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

The only reason why I mentioned him is because its the only concrete example you gave for why the chemistry of the team might be screwed up.

a butterfly flaps it's wings in china, setting off a string of seemingly minor events, which ultimately ends up in a hurricane hitting florida. the butterfly caused that, but was that the real problem? the fact that me-o set off the course of event is almost irrelevant at this point.

you may disagree with me that team chemistry is a major issue, but i don't think you can disagree with me that the major reason that team chemistry is screwed up (even when they were winning earlier this year) is as a result of what that locker room went through and how it was divided.

You didnt seem to offer much other than a purge of anyone who supported TO. Not sure how that would make people respect the "heart and soul" of the team more though.

what point are you trying to make here? here is what i wrote:

what i know is this, the team dynamic has to change -- it may require the eagles to make some tough "chemistry over talent" type roster moves, it may require big red to be more hands on in team building/healing, heck, it may require a new head coach altogether -- but you're not going to fix this thing solely with structural changes like different game planning or adding players. the eagles are losing games because they cannot handle adversity and that is the biggest problem of all.

my point is that it's a problem. what's your point exactly? that i don't have a solution? nice work.

9:15 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

I think Gruden's grown somewhat as a play caller since he's been here (this was effectively his first real job afterall back in the 1990s). Think his motivational abilities would work on a 1 year basis (heard TB's already tired of it). Basically what I'm thinking (and this isn't a fully fleshed out thought yet) is that the Eagles need someone to shake things up. I don't necesarily want to boot Reid to the curb (yet) as he retains the benefit of doubt for a bit longer.

you're probably right about how he's grown as a play caller. i haven't paid enough attention to tampa to say either way, but one thing i do know is that he seems to have andy's number in game planning. probably a good move if they can make it happen... even if it is more worst coast offense (shudder)

9:19 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a big problem is their QB is nuts. That black on black crime comment should've sounded a lot of alarms. he is thin-skinned and sensitive and he doesn't want to be the man when the going gets tough. Oh he'll play hard and make some awesome athletic plays, but he won't suck it up and kick an ass or tell someone to shut the hell up and play. When your trigger man is off, your whole team is off-see Delhomme, Bledsoe, E Manning, Brunell for examples of QB playing off and disjointed on talented teams and killing those teams. QB is the toughest position to field in any sport and ours wasn't getting it done the second half of the season. he was super up through Dallas and then he just went into a coma, as if he had reached his own personal zenith and everything else was samll potatoes. I love the guy's athleticism and he may be the most talented QB they've ever had, but he is an enigma. He just doesn't have "it" week in and week out. I am really doubting him as someone who will ever take them to the promised land. He isn't comfortable being the man, and when your entire offense and team is predicated on your QB, that means you won't win. they are not the only tesam having this problem, but every team with solid athletes but poor QB play is doomed.

I think the TO hangover is all about McNabb at this point. he still hears the voices and jeers from his black on black crime. His head is still thinking of retorts to TO jabs instead of thinking how not to throw INT touchdowns to Rhonde Barber. McNabb needs psychiatric help or this team is sunk.

Bumble

10:14 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Test

Captain

12:34 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bumble, I think you have a point on the McNabb issue. He definitely seems to lack the mental toughness, and I've never seen him get in a guys face or try to motivate the guys by speaking up. In some way he reminds me of Eric Lindros --- He's the best player on the team, but he just wants to be "one of the guys". At least Lindros would beat the hell out of somebody once in a while.
This team is severly lacking in confidence and swagger. We sure as hell had it when T.O. was here, but now it is gone. I think his meanness makes an excellent point about the team chemistry -- guys who do not like each other do not play well - dropped balls, stupid penalties etc. An excellent point!! Look at Greg Lewis. He was definitely T.O.'s boy. Great catch in the super bowl (we would have lost that game had Westbrook not run back that punt for a TD in the final 2 minutes. I still see that replay in my dreams at least once a week), and a very good job as 3rd rcvr all year. T.O leaves, and the guy goes in the tank. Why ?? Is he unhappy here??
Another thing -- where has Andy's discipline gone ?? Does anybody remember what he did to George Hegamin ?? I forget if Hegamin broker a team rule or commited stupid penalties, but I recall Reid making him push a blocking sled the length of the field (I think Andy may have even been standing on it), and then cut him anyway. Where was the punishment for Trent Cole costing us the Giants game, McDougal and Gaither also made inexcusable penalties that cost us W's, it seems that these guys were let off with a slap on the wrist....WHY ??? There are so many problems here I don't even know where to begin. JJ's got to go - even if it's not all his fault. Every team in the NFL has seen the films, I am tired of seeing EVERY blitz get picked up EVERY time he tries it. When did Sheldon Brown stop looking at the QB, and just try to slap the ball away from the rcvd AFTER it's in his hands ?? JJ used to be able to leave Sheldon & Lita out on an island like he did with Bobby & Troy while all the other guys wreaked havoc. Now these guys get schooled weekly by 2nd rate rcvrs playing with backup QB's !!! How did it go so bad so fast ????

Captain

12:35 AM EST  
Anonymous Phil said...

5's motivational technique is to be highly supportive of his teammates, not to "get up in their face". We might be able to argue whether that's always the correct approach, but I'm not sure we should really be down on him for that.

McNabb was also posting some great #s earlier this year in this version of the worst coast offense. The number argue the problem is not the QB (anyone out there think he's not top 5 or 6 in the league?), it's not the offense.

8:43 AM EST  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

wow! good job, men....I think Mean Guy is dead on with team chemistry....I think the Captain and Bumble are dead on with personnel assessments and I think I am dead on with Andy being arrongant and probably not a good a coach as we initially thought...he isn't...I am sorry, he isn't....he is getting out coached by almost every coach...and I am talking game planning, motivation and in-game adjustments (think Seattle, Denver, Colts, Titans, Giants the past 2 years)...right now this team just stinks...MS69, what don't you get about Mean Guy's assessment? I think he's dead on...he's not harping on it, he's just saying that that the TO situation was the catalyst for this drastic turn of events and the snowball effect hasn't stopped...I think at least Mean Guy?, correct?....to make it worse, this team needed Andy and senior leadership's (ie Dawk, Trot, Don) to turn the rudder, but they haven't been able to and it just continues to steer off-course. With any company, you can have a bad employee that gets in others ears with what's wrong with the company...and this "bad seed" could be right (we've all seen this) about some points, but wrong about others and just make the company weak....you need strong management and strong willed employees to preach to others that while the company may have it's weaknesses, in general it's a good company. Leadership is key during these times and the Eagles just haven't been able to turn it around, most likely having the root cause as last year's TO situation.

I think the reason why Reid was so successful in the beginning is he had a good plan to fix the disaster that was Ray Rhodes...PLUS there was good leadership who were sick of being tagged losers by the media, fans, et al. There were good players then who got pissed and Reid's plan was fresh and the talent, and yes Rhodes teams had talent, flourished....now, the leadership from that era has lost a step, are not as good and the young guys have only seen the good times...now there is adversity and we don't have the players to get out of it. And I am talking mentally tough players. Not that they are bad, but team chemistry in football is so key and we are unable to get out of this funk. And Andy's preaching and talk has grown stale....what is the answer? I don't know, but I agree with point #1 that team chemistry is a huge problem. The young leaders have not stepped up and it may take a new coach to bring that out or bring new leaders in. But Big Red is not going anywhere....so I think we better get used to losing I am sorry to say.

8:51 AM EST  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

One more thing, and I hope that I don't run all over the place with this, and I have thought about this a lot...I have picked on Andy for personnel assessments, but I wanted to kinda give him a break with one thing...some of the Big Names that have been busts....McDougle, Fred Ex, Bunkley so far....were no brainer high picks on everyone's board....you can't blame him for them....it's the middle rounds and second day picks (well he did draft Barry Gardner and McCoy high, as well as No Show Gocong) that you need to find the diamonds in the rough with and they haven't been too solid. When the Eagles had Modrak, they had a decent little scouting crew...ask Bumble, they had Marc Ross who played football with him at Princeton....when Reid had ultimate dictatorship he canned all of them...again I will stand by the overall personnel assessment being suspect, arrogance, et al.....and I hope I didn't go all over the place. Bring in a new GM, bring in a new head coach and GM, or make Andy GM, but Andy needs to be relieved completely of one of those duties and we all know Heckert is not calling the shots with this.

9:31 AM EST  
Blogger MS69 said...

Big Dog,

Here's my take:

Where I disagree with TMG, if there's a division in the lockeroom then its btwn the team and Andy rather than any hangover towards each other for the TO debacle. TO only made worse feelings that were already there. This year I think they've tuned Reid out and he doesnt seem to be the same either.

Personnel decisions are way more of a factor then whether they like each other. I dont know if Trotter likes McCoy and Jones but I think he knows they cant play. So now he's trying to do too much and it winds up costing them as a LB unit and one that wasnt too hot to start with.

OT-Is anyone else having problems posting? I have to press publish 5 or more times til it shows up.

12:22 PM EST  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

Ms69--I think you, TMG and I are all around the same page, but not necessarilly on it 100%....I don't think the team is against Andy per se....I have read in the past that there are some factions that feel Donovan is getting gross favoritism by management...not just financial, but other things....I feel, and I think TMG feels that TO really brought this to light as well as other things about Don. It's inherent that not all players love their coach, it happens in all sports and I'm sure there are players that don't like Red, especially since he is involved with personnel issues in his VP role. I still don't think it is the players vs. Reid as much as it is a real schism of some of the older players that have been around v. Donovan that TO really got the ball rolling on. And that may have perpetuated itself to a bunker mentality, such as offense v. defense....whatever the case it is obvious that there are some off-the-field issues to go with some suspect personnel.

2:38 PM EST  
Anonymous Phil said...

Enough already. Let's get on with Problem #2 (aka JJ must go).

3:07 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JJ didn't get stupid over night. the guy can coach. Why i would let him go is he seems to have lost his creativity. his blitzes haven't evolved, he isn't using the players he has well eniough, and I attribute that to him being an old guy who's just not as into it as he used to be. He isn't a worse coach, just a more tired guy. Fresh blood would be good here.

Bumble

3:23 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. I am 100% in agreement, you said it better than I could have. JJ's not a bad guy, but fresh blood is needed. NEXT !!!!

Captain

4:24 PM EST  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home