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Eagles' final grades not for faint of heart

Report card slams almost every Eagles player, coach and exec with roles in disastrous season.

Nick Fierro

10:41 AM PST, January 3, 2013

PHILADELPHIA

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— Thankfully for the Philadelphia Eagles, the countless guilty parties behind this recently completed 4-12 catastrophe don't have to bring this final report card home for their parents to sign. Because if they did, there would be hell to pay.

The 2012 season proved to be the all-time worst for perhaps the team's all-time best coach, Andy Reid, who was mercifully fired the day after it ended.

More heads will roll in the coming days and weeks. And it won't be enough.

But hey, if you're allowed 90 players to start training camp, you might as well wait to see if some of them, such as guard Danny Watkins, safety Nate Allen and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Curtis Marsh come around.

All were part of an epic failure in which not one position group proved to be anything above average.

Worse yet, the season ended with the worst kind of finger-pointing — the anonymous kind, in which wide receivers Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy questioned the heart and dedication of some unnamed teammates.

General manager Howie Roseman assured the public he took copious notes in exit interviews with the players, so the Eagles "can get to the bottom" of what went wrong. But it's hardly a safe bet, based on the way he operated in the last offseason, that he'll interpret those reports correctly and/or act accordingly.

Fact is, just about every player and person involved had their fingerprints all over the crime scene at Lincoln Financial Field, which should have yellow tape all around it until they can clean up the bloody mess left behind by Reid and his forces.

So for better or worse, we present to you the Eagles' final report card:

Quarterbacks: D

Michael Vick proved beyond a doubt that what you see from him now is what you're going to get: a Wildcat specialist only who can no longer be a winning starter in today's NFL because of his turnovers. He might function decently in a run-first system, but how many of those are left? What we saw from Nick Foles in the second half of the season was encouraging enough to bring him back for a shot at being the starter next year, though certainly not totally convincing.

Running backs: C

LeSean McCoy's numbers were way down from his All-Pro season of 2011, but that was due to his missing time with a concussion and a poor offensive line. Bryce Brown has all kinds of ability but fumbles way too much. Dion Lewis is an effective backup. Chris Polk is still an unknown because a toe injury kept him from getting on the field in the second half of the season, when he was needed most.

Receivers: C

Losing DeSean Jackson, a player with offensive instincts as good as McCoy's, hurt, because Jeremy Maclin proved in his fourth season that he will never be better than what he is — a decent second or good third receiver. Nothing more. Riley Cooper improved, and Jason Avant was as steady as ever. Just wish he and Jackson would have led more. They apparently knew what was going on, but they didn't take steps to fix it.

Offensive line: F

Perhaps if the makeshift group that wound up playing most of the time had practiced and played together for most of training camp, it would have been better. But it didn't, thanks to injuries to its three best players and ineffectiveness of the two highest-paid guys remaining, Danny Watkins and Demetress Bell.

Defensive line: C-

Hard to really assess because of what we learned of position coach Jim Washburn and end Jason Babin after they were cut loose. Lots of mixed results. Rookies Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry performed very well, as did emerging third-year end Brandon Graham. Cullen Jenkins and Cedric Thornton were just so-so. Derek Landri and Trent Cole took a step backward.

Linebackers: C

Rookie Mychal Kendricks' play improved after he was switched to the weak side, where he belonged all along. DeMeco Ryans was solid in the middle all season. Not sure what to make of Akeem Jordan and Jamar Chaney. All should have done better in the first half of the season, especially in pass coverage.

Secondary: F

Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, both Pro Bowl players in past incarnations, weren't even close this season. Safety Nate Allen lost his starting job for the second time in two seasons, this time without much of a chance to get it back. Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson, as good as they might have been in run support at times, were in over their heads in coverage.

Special teams: F

Why the Eagles decided to cut punter Chas Henry in favor of Mat McBriar is one of the big mysteries of 2011. It didn't work out. Alex Henery is emerging as a competent field-goal kicker but struggled with kickoffs early in the season. Their return teams and coverage teams were below average to bad.

Coaches: F

Everything Andy Reid did backfired on him for two straight seasons. The same was true for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles until reputed cancers Jason Babin and Jim Washburn were eradicated. Reid finished with a career-worst record of 4-12 and was fired, rightfully, by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who inexplicably still called the decision one of the toughest he's ever had to make. Huh?

General manager: D

Hip boots were needed to wade out of the NovaCare Complex on Monday, after hearing all the double-talking, spin-doctoring rubbish spilling from owner Jeffrey Lurie's mouth about only holding Howie Roseman accountable for the 2012 draft, which appears now to be a very good one. Roseman, he said, was the best talent evaluator of anyone in the building. Maybe so, but he also had major input in the 2010 and 2011 drafts. And even if he didn't, the 2012 offseason moves he made to kill the offensive line's depth and failure to recognize that safety Jaiquawn Jarrett couldn't play killed the on-field product. Roseman, a diligent and tireless worker, may turn out to be a great general manager someday. But he isn't right now.

nick.fierro@mcall.com

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