The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles season will come to a merciful end this Sunday against the Washington Redskins. However, in reality their season ended on Christmas Eve once the Giants won the battle of New York.
This is why Andy Reid should be playing the back-ups this week. 2011 is over, it’s time to think about 2012.
If anyone can give me one good reason why the starters should play, I’m all ears. I’ll even stand up and give you a little golf clap. But remember, it has to be a good reason.
There is absolutely no value in playing the starters this week. Sure, the players are competitors and they want to compete, that I can understand. However, they’re supposed to be like that.
The coaches are the ones who should be thinking about the future, not the players.
There is no value in playing Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Jason Peters and Brent Celek.
We all know what those guys can do. Plus, there is the inherent risk of injury to a star player in a meaningless game that, at this point, would impact their 2012 season.
Just ask Minnesota Vikings fans how they feel about losing Adrian Peterson to a torn ACL and MCL. Peterson will likely miss at least half of the 2012 season and probably won’t be the same player next year when he does come back.
That same fate could await any player that steps onto the field this Sunday.
Why risk the 2012 season just to get a completely meaningless win? Is watching Michael Vick take brain-rattling hits worth it? Do we want to see McCoy get carted off again but have it be more serious this time?
Again, it’s not worth it. If the Redskins had anything riding on this game then, yes, you play the starters and compete to the best of your ability. But they don’t, and neither do the Eagles.
And don’t give me any hogwash about “finishing strong” or “not having a losing season” or anything about carrying momentum into next season. Because that’s what all that is: hogwash.
If you want to be realistic here, the only thing that is riding on this game is draft positioning. Therefore, losing this game actually has more value than winning it.
As things stand right now, the Eagles have the 13th overall pick in next April’s NFL draft, according to Mike Sando of ESPN.
If they lose against Washington, they won’t end up with a lower pick. In fact, if the Eagles lose and the Cardinals, Chiefs and possibly the Bills all win, they could jump as high as the 10th overall pick.
However, if the Eagles win and finish 8-8, they could drop from pick No. 13, all the way down to the 17th or 18th slot. That might not sound like much, but four slots in the first round of the NFL draft is significant.
It could mean the difference between getting the impact player you covet or deciding to trade down, or even out of the first round altogether.
Furthermore, if the Eagles decide that they want to use their extra second-round pick in a trade package to move up, it would be better value and easier to do from slot No. 13 (or higher) than it would be from slot No. 17 (or 18).
Just prior to the Eagles’ current three-game win streak, I wrote an article discussing this very topic. I felt that, after the Eagles dropped to 4-8, the season was over and the only silver lining in this dreadful season would be a good 2012 draft position.
All the Eagles had to do was to continue losing. Or, at least not win all four remaining games.
But here we are, three weeks and three wins later and no playoffs. Ugh, can’t this team do anything right? (a hint of sarcasm there, but true!)
Trust me, when the draft rolls around, nobody will care that the Eagles beat the Redskins in Week 17 of 2011. If anything, everyone will be wishing the Eagles just went 4-12.
My last, but not least, reason for playing the back-ups this week is simply for roster evaluation. Let’s see what these guys have. Let’s get some tape on them so that the coaches can make better judgements about them.
How far has Mike Kafka come? Is he ready and/or capable of being the No. 2 quarterback next year?
Can Dion Lewis contribute more in the running game? It would be good to see him for a full game in the backfield because his kick-return skills are horrible. Seriously, it almost seemed as if he would average more yards on a return just by downing it in the end zone.
Is Jaiquawn Jarrett the strong safety of the future? He needs more playing time because he might be heavily counted on for next year.
How far has Curtis Marsh come this season? He was a third-round pick so he needs to start seeing the field to see what kind of potential he has. Asante Samuel will likely be gone so Marsh could be counted on to play a more significant role next season.
Other players like Winston Justice, King Dunlap, Phillip Hunt, Riley Cooper, Clay Harbor, Cedric Thornton, and any of the young linebackers would also benefit from playing time.
All of these guys would certainly “compete” and if they play well enough, they could still win the game anyway.
Reid has already stated that the starters will play this week. He keeps saying the same old things about getting better as a team and only focusing on this week.
The only reason to play the starters and go all out for the win is to “save face”, as if they actually can. I guess 8-8 sounds worlds better than 7-9.
A win or loss this week will not have any bearing on Reid’s job security. For the record, I believe he’ll be back next season regardless.
If it’s acceptable for teams to rest their starters before the playoffs start, it should be acceptable for a team to play their back-ups in a game that has no impact on anything related to the 2011 season.
For the Eagles and Reid to jeopardize the 2012 season by way of injury to a prominent player or acquiring a stud player in the draft, it’s extremely short-sighted and egotistical.
Play the young guys and let them get some much-needed experience. There are no negatives in doing so, only positives. Likewise, there are no positives in playing the starters, only negatives.
Maybe Reid will only play the starters for a little while before putting in some back-ups. It would actually be the only thing that would make this last game interesting.