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Many to blame for Eagles' woes as search continues

Many to blame for Eagles' woes as search continues

PHILADELPHIA (AP) When a team goes from Super Bowl contender to laughingstock in three months, there's plenty of blame to spread around.

So what went wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles?

Owner Jeffrey Lurie ultimately pinned the team's dramatic fall on Andy Reid because he fired him after 14 seasons as coach. But even Lurie explained it wasn't all Reid's fault, though he wouldn't single out any one else in the organization and absolved general manager Howie Roseman of any blame.

Some of the team's star players had no problem pointing fingers. Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy were extremely critical of their teammates' effort.

The Eagles were widely considered legitimate contenders to win the NFL title when the season began. It wasn't just players, coaches and front-office folks with high expectations, either.

Instead, the Eagles went 4-12. This came after starting off 2011 as a supposed ``Dream Team'' and then going 8-8.

``I think if you had to point to anything, it's when you had as much success as we had and are so close to winning a Super Bowl, at some stage you have an opportunity to think that the next move, even if it's not consistent with all of your previous moves, will be the one that gives you the chance to win the Lombardi Trophy,'' Lurie said. ``I think that in the last couple years, we've done things that have not been as consistent. They've been more scattered in terms of decision-making.''

Lurie obviously was referring to the team's big splash in free agency in 2011. They signed Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin and several other big-name players. None really panned out except Cullen Jenkins.

There were also some questionable coaching moves before that season. The strangest one was Reid moving Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator, and doing it after Jim Washburn already was hired to be the defensive line coach. That combination turned out to be a disaster. Castillo was fired this past October and Washburn later in the season.

``You notice it with any organization that has had a lot of success,'' Lurie said, ``that you will start to reach thinking, `That's the player, that's the method, that's the mechanism, that's the coach, that's the thing that is going to put us over the top.'''

Lurie - and the rest of Philadelphia - hope this offseason results in finding that right ``thing'' this team needs. On Sunday, the Eagles will interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in Denver. McCoy, 40, engineered an offense around quarterback Peyton Manning this season. Denver went 13-3 this year, secured the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and has a bye this weekend. The Broncos ranked fourth in the league in total offense and second in scoring offense.

The Eagles, who finished in last place in the NFC East, have already interviewed Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, and also have interest in some college coaches, namely Oregon's Chip Kelly and Penn State's Bill O'Brien.

Though the team missed the postseason the last two years, as far as Lurie is concerned, the problems go back to 2009 and 2010, even though the Eagles reached the playoffs both seasons. They went to the NFC championship game in 2008 and lost to Arizona as a favorite on the road. Then they signed Michael Vick before the `09 season to be the No. 3 quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. McNabb led them to the playoffs that year, but was traded after a loss in the wild card round.

``You're dealing with a franchise quarterback that was descending and therefore you're even more motivated before a player hits rock bottom or you're without a franchise quarterback, that you're going to reach and do certain things,'' he said of McNabb. ``So I think we lost some of the exact nature of the method that we've all shared that created the success, which was discipline, strategic thinking, and don't do necessarily what is popular, but do what's right. It's kind of a human thing and I take some responsibility for that because I was right out in the forefront: `Let's do anything we can to try to win a Super Bowl for the city and our fans.'''

Looking back, Lurie wishes the Eagles would've stuck to the philosophy of building from the draft and supplementing through free agency rather than trying to fill holes by spending the most money.

``At times, you probably had to be a little more self-disciplined and say, `Doing that and injecting that into the locker room, affecting the chemistry of the team maybe in some way, that's not the best thing to do,''' Lurie said. ``And yet, you're so able to do it because of whatever opportunities we had, maybe in free agency, that it's kind of like indigestion. You have the capability of ingesting more and more but there's a point of diminishing returns and indigestion.''

Changes in the organizational structure began when president Joe Banner stepped down. Banner, a longtime friend of Lurie, seemingly lost a power struggle to Reid and Roseman. Now Reid's gone and Roseman is the last man standing. Even though he's been the GM for the three years, Lurie almost gave him a clean slate.

``I decided to streamline the whole decision-making process for the 2012 draft and offseason and that's the first draft and offseason I hold Howie completely accountable for,'' Lurie said. ``The mistakes that were made in the 2011 draft have little or nothing to do with Howie's evaluations and I think it was important for me to own up to the mistakes that were made and understand where they were coming from. And it was awfully clear.''

The drafts in 2010 and 2011 produced little talent. Only one of the four players picked in the first two rounds - 2010 first-round choice Brandon Graham - appears to not be a total bust.

Who made the picks and the others those years?

``I want to take a much higher road than that and just say that I've had to really go through exactly everyone's talent evaluations and realized that we needed a real streamlining of the process,'' Lurie said. ``I think the 2012 draft, it's promising. We'll know in three years how that is. I want everyone to understand: Howie is accountable, responsible and that's the way it is. But I'm looking at the 2012 draft and offseason as the beginning of when he was given enough responsibility to put his mark on the team in a very dramatic way.''

Banner and Reid may have different opinions.

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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