A once promising football season fell apart at the end and it’s the worst season the coach has ever had. The quarterback was talented, but inconsistent and turnover-prone, and the offense never really got on track. Meanwhile, the defense had problems tackling ball-carriers and covering receivers and mental mistakes killed them. The overall picture of the team was so bad, eventually a coordinator was fired.
Worse, a once-loyal fan base is disgruntled and/or disinterested and the only thing worse than anger is apathy.
So, we’re talking about:
a. The Eagles
b. The Blue Hens
c. All of the above
It you guessed (c) you are correct.
The Eagles and the University of Delaware had terrible seasons in 2012, although the Eagles aren’t done stinking up the joint quite yet. Both Eagles coach Andy Reid and Delaware coach K.C. Keeler have heard plenty of criticism, much of it justified, although Keeler’s job is safe while it appears a sure thing that Reid will be fired when the Eagles finally stumble to the finish line.
And that seems fair, because Keeler has won a championship and been to three title games and Reid has never won a championship, falling short in his only Super Bowl appearance.
Both coaches had to deal with the longest losing streaks of their careers this season – Reid’s team has lost six straight going into Monday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers, the Eagles longest losing streak since 1994, and Keeler’s team lost their final four games, the Blue Hens’ longest losing streak since 1967.
Both coaches have also had a lot of success in the past, but they work in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. Because of that earlier success, nobody really doubts their coaching ability. Despite the fact that Reid fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and Keeler fired offensive coordinator Jim Hohher, the problem with both teams isn’t the Xs and Os as much as the player on the field who execute them.
It’s about talent, as it almost always is. Both the Eagles and Blue Hens have talented players, but just not enough of them. And both teams had problems at quarterback, the most important position in team sports. In the past, that wouldn’t have been an insurmountable problem for Delaware, but this is not the run-oriented, Wing-T team your father followed. The Hens, like most college teams today, use a spread offense that passes the ball as much it runs with it.
But that’s also why the Hens will bounce back quicker than the Eagles. Delaware has developed a pattern in the last decade of attracting Division I (or FBS) quarterbacks who are unhappy with their playing time and want to go to a Division I-AA (or FCS) school where they can play right away.
That approach has paid off big time for Delaware, as transfer quarterbacks like Andy Hall, Joe Flacco and Pat Devlin led them to playoff berths and playoff successes. But all of those QBs had something else in common – they struggled some in their first seasons at Delaware and then blossomed in their second season.
And that gives Delaware a hope for the future that the Eagles don’t have. Hens quarterback Trent Hurley showed flashes at times this season, his first at Delaware after transferring from Bowling Green, and if history repeats itself, he should have a big season next year.
The Eagles, meanwhile, have no idea who their quarterback will be in 2012. If Reid goes then QB Michael Vick will also probably go, and rookie Nick Foles didn’t show anything in his first NFL start on Sunday that makes you think he’s going to be the next Peyton Manning. You certainly can’t judge him after one game and perhaps Foles will develop into a franchise quarterback, but it’s far from certain.
K.C. Keeler and Andy Reid — two proud and successful coaches who had to endure ugly, ugly seasons. One of them will get a chance at redemption at his current job and the other will seek it elsewhere.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.