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Q&A with Bleeding Green Nation

This week Kevin had a chance to talk to JimmyK (our good friend Jim Kempski) over at Bleeding Green Nation) about our upcoming showdown of epic proportions.

1) For years everyone has mocked the Redskins for bringing in high-priced free agents. Yet the Eagles go out and do the same thing, against their normal frugal ways, and it completely implodes on them. The fans took the bait and of course were all calling for Reid and Castillo's head. What do you make of your season in review and expectations for 2012?

While the Eagles brought in a number of free agents, I don't think their new crop of players were the reason for their disappointing season. I'd put their acquisitions into the following buckets:

Fantastic additions:

- Jason Babin, 5 years, $27.7 million - 18 sacks.
- Evan Mathis, 1 year deal, money unknown - Played at a Pro Bowl level at LG.
- Cullen Jenkins, 5 years, $30.4 million - Disruptive force on the interior DL.
- Derek Landri, 1 year deal, - Another disruptive force on the interior DL. Plugger/hustler type. Makes things happen.

Disappointing season, but still a great player:

- Nnamdi Asomugha, 5 years, $60 million - In Oakland, the Raiders camped Asomugha out at RCB and left him there. He jammed receivers at the line all day, every week, and he was incredible at it. QBs didn't even bother looking that way. This season, it's been really difficult to pin down exactly what Asomugha's role was, really, but they've been using him in a wide array of looks. For example, against Dallas earlier this season, one play he'd be covering Jason Witten, and the next he'd be on Dez Bryant. There aren't too many people on the planet that can shut down a couple of players like that with two completely different body types and skill sets. Still, at times he struggled with what the Eagles asked to do on defense, especially early in the season. He was toasted by Victor Cruz a few times, and that was much publicized (turns out that Victor Cruz is actually really good), and he's committed far too many penalties. But as the year has progressed, he's gotten better and better. He's still probably the most talented corner in the division, and as an Eagles fan, I'm still very much on board with the signing.

Backups at positions of strength that signed one-year deals, were complete garbage, and won't be back:

- Vince Young, 1 year, $4 million - In case you missed him on the Thursday night game in Seattle, VY is awful.
- Ronnie Brown, 1 year, $1 million - His goal line (pass?) was the dumbest play I've seen by a Eagle in years.
- stev smit, 1 year, $2.3 million - Had a chance to make a big play against Arizona on something like 3rd and 18. Went down, ON HIS OWN, a yard shy of the first down. Hence the stopping short on spelling out his full name.

Afterthought signing that wound up starting, with disastrous results:

- Jarrad Page - Just a debacle at safety. Maybe the worst Eagles starter since Mike McMahon. Already cut.

Didn't make the team:

- Donald Lee
- Johnny Lee Higgins
- Ryan Harris
- Anthony Hargrove

The Eagles were smart in the way they structured the contracts of the players they signed. Most of them were one-year deals, so they won't affect the team long term. I don't think there's a lot of regret for the players they signed to longer deals (Jenkins, Babin, Asomugha), which is in contrast to some of the Snyder-era disasters like:

Jeff George, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier, Jeremiah Trotter, Renaldo Wynn, Randy Thomas, David Patten, Adam Archuleta, Laveranues Coles, Mark Brunell...

(cigarette break)...

Brandon Lloyd, Jason Taylor, Antwaan Randle El, Fred Smoot, Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall, Derrick Dockery, etc etc etc.

Anyway, back to the Eagles. Obviously, 2011 was a train wreck. Blown 4th quarter leads, bad red zone D, atrocious linebacker and safety play, a sprinkling of key injuries, just outright stupid football, and most damaging... leading the league in turnovers.

And yet, I think the expectations will still be very high in 2012. The Eagles have the 3rd ranked offense in the NFL. Somehow (and I really have no idea how this is possible), they have the 8th ranked defense. They have by far and away the best OL in the division. The DL is ridiculously deep and talented. Explosive weapons all over the offense. There's no shortage of talent.

2) Speaking of 2012, any regrets with that Vick contract? It's a lock he'll never play 16 games. VYoung is surely gone and that leaves Kafka, whose name sounds like a Libyan General.

The 5 year, $80 million deal Vick signed is pretty much what you can expect to pay a top 10 QB these days in the NFL. Profootballtalk categorized it like this<>:

"as a practical matter it’s probably worth $48 million over three years."

Year 1 is in the books.

Michael Vick is an awesome player. He wasn't the guy that was the NFL MVP runner up in 2010, and I don't think any sensible Eagles fan (I know, I know, oxymoron) realistically thought he would sustain that level of play. There are 32 teams in the NFL, and as I know better than anyone, Super Bowls aren't won easily (or in my case, ever). But if the Eagles find themselves with a healthy Michael Vick heading into the tourney in 2012, is he capable of doing some serious damage? You bet your ass he is.

Obviously, the trick is to get into that position. As you were so kind to point out, he'll always be an injury risk because he takes so many shots. If they do lose him for a cluster of games, the Eagles will need to have a guy that can fill in and weather the storm. I like Mike Kafka. He looked really bad in training camp as a rookie in 2010. This past year, he was easily the most improved player in camp. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have a history of developing QBs. Maybe Kafka will continue to improve and make himself into a quality backup QB in the bigs. If the Eagles sign a veteran QB in free agency, I'll take that as a sign that they don't think Kafka is ready to be that guy. If they draft a kid to develop, I'll take it as a sign that they do think he's ready.

3) Eagles have won 3 in a row, which will likely be 4 in a row. What coaching and personnel changes would you make? (I heard Peyton Manning is available)

- Starting at the top, Andy Reid isn't going anywhere. I think. Juan Castillo was in over his head from Day 1. As the season progressed, the defensive gameplans got better, but he's done-zo as the defensive coordinator. Maybe he'll accept a demotion to some other position on the defense. We'll see. There's been a lot of talk about Steve Spagnuolo re-joining Philly as the DC, assuming the Rams fire him. That'd be just fine with me. Otherwise, all the other assistants are probably safe.

- The Eagles have a decision to make on DeSean Jackson. I suspect he'll get the franchise tag.

- Asante Samuel will probably be gone next year. They'll likely ride with Nnamdi on one side, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the other, and the underrated Joselio Hanson as the nickle. On the one hand, there are no shortage of NFL teams with terrible corners, so there will be interest in Asante. On the other hand, Samuel has a hefty contract. He's due $8.4 in 2012 and $10.4 in 2013, and he's 30 years old. Not sure what the market will be for Samuel. Optimistically, a 3? Realistically, a 4 and change? Don't know.

- Need to lock up Evan Mathis and Derek Landri long term.

- The linebacker position has been a cavalcade of awfulness over the entire Andy Reid era. I keep expecting them to fix it, and every year they don't. I expect them, probably foolishly, to fix it this offseason (puts a dollar in the lie jar).

4) Who are you rooting for in Cowboys vs Giants and what's your game prediction?

The Eagles get a better draft pick if the Cowboys win. I actually wrote about it at BGN, and looking back I hate the way I worded it. I won't be rooting "for the Cowboys." I'll be rooting for the Giants to lose.