By Justin Adkins:
At his last day-after-game press conference of the season, Andy Reid was asked if embattled defensive coordinator Sean McDermott would be back next season.
The not-known-as-locquacious Reid’s answer was typical:
Of course, this is the same Reid who proclaimed that both Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb were his 2010 starting quarterbacks, so while McDermott is here now, that could definitely change. Especially with former NFL head coach and experienced defensive mind Dick Jauron still on staff as the secondary coach.
McDermott hasn’t been given the optimal assortment of personnel to run an effective defense, so it’s no surprise that the man responsible for that personnel continues to speak highly of his defensive coordinator.
“You’re dealing with a guy who is a tremendous worker and a very smart individual,” Reid said. “I look at it a little different than what [the public does] in that, I’ve seen him work with young guys, and I’ve seen him work through injuries, I’ve seen him stay positive through those situations and still put us in a position to win football games.”
“And knowing that he is going to do nothing but improve as a coach – just like all of us – with experience. And so I have a lot of respect for him and the way he does business.”
McDermott at least knows the deal and acknowledges his spot on the hot seat.
“It comes with the territory,” said McDermott. “Anytime you coach in this league, it comes with the territory. Listen, at the end of the day we lost in the playoffs, and there are a lot of teams sitting at home that would have loved a chance to play in the playoffs. That said, we can get a lot better.”
His defense finished 21st in the league in points allowed, which, at the end of the day, is the most important stat — and it’s not good enough.
McDermott knows corrections need to be made.
“We’re going to learn from our mistakes, starting with me. I’m going to learn from my mistakes, be a man about things and look to come out and have a great offseason and come back next year stronger than ever.”
Aside from a general talent upgrade, his defense needs to learn how to defend the red zone. The Eagles allowed an atrocious 78 percent score rate to opponents in the red zone this season, worst in the league. Not surprisingly then, the Packers scored a touchdown on all three of their trips there in this past Sunday’s season-ending playoff loss.
To his credit, McDermott’s players appear to respect him.
“You can’t always put it on him,” said linebacker/defensive end Moise Fokou. “We’re all out there fighting, battling for him. He even says, sometimes he’s going to make a bad call. He doesn’t know exactly what the other team is going to do. But he tries to make the best call to allow us to give us a chance.”
Of course, Fokou is going to be fighting for a roster spot this offseason, so it’s in his best interest not to rock the boat.
Veteran pass rusher Darryl Tapp, understands the talk as well.
“When you’re not winning, everybody gets heat, from the top down. They’re going to criticize coach Reid, they are going to criticize coach [offensive coordinator Marty] Mornhinweg, McDermott, all the way down to the players. Honestly, all of us could be gone next year.”
Tapp’s definitely right about one thing — with the need for another infusion of talent, there are very few roster spots guaranteed next year. Second-year players Brandon Graham and Nate Allen will need to overcome critical injuries, veterans like defensive tackles Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley will need to hope that their spotty performance and high pay will allow their continued existence as Eagles, and the linebacker mess will need to be resolved ASAP. Then there’s the starting cornerback spot opposite Asante Samuel. It’s not a pretty picture.
So while Reid says McDermott will be back, his pants are most certainly on fire.
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