McMullen: Accountability Only Hurt Mike Groh
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - A week ago before the dog pile started to descend on the rabbit that is Mike Groh, the question was already asked at 973espn.com.
That thesis sped up from zero-to-60 in record time after Groh got a little too honest during his weekly press availability on Tuesday, just days off the 48-7 drubbing in New Orleans where the defensive struggles could be explained by Drew Brees and the lack of cornerbacks but the offensive woes were more difficult to comprehend.
When addressing why Philadelphia hasn't been able to integrate Golden Tate as quickly as say Dallas with Amari Cooper, Groh claimed mixing in a weapon at midseason has proved "challenging."
"I don't know if it's been more difficult, but it's been challenging to integrate him," the OC admitted. "Certainly, with the way we weren't able to stay on the field the other day, and finding a rhythm for the offense, that part of it, then everything becomes a bit disjointed. If we can do a better job of staying on the field and having drives, then everybody gets more involved in the offense."
The disconnect seems to be the redundancy of Tate and Nelson Agholor, players who excel most in the slot.
"Roles changed a couple weeks ago, so, again, [we're] trying to find a rhythm with the substitutions and getting guys in the right spots," Groh said. "We haven't done a good job with it in the last two weeks, or good enough, to get the results that we want."
The plan seems to be moving Agholor outside the numbers more even though previous attempts at that have been unsatisfactory with the idea that the Southern Cal product's speed and athleticism fit better than Tate, who actually excelled outside earlier in his career.
The better path forward is using Tate outside in 12 personnel and on first- and second-downs when in 11 packages and then move him inside for situational football, think third-down or red-zone plays but for whatever reason the Eagles seem slow to acknowledge that Tate's resume dwarfs the incumbent's.
From a personnel standpoint, the Eagles offense looks stronger than the one that ended the 2017-18 campaign as Super Bowl LII champions.
Carson Wentz is back under center, Jason Peters is the left tackle again instead of Halapoulivaati Vaitai and the receivers corps just added Tate.
Injuries to top running back Jay Ajayi and the projected deep threat outside the numbers in Mike Wallace have certainly hurt but not enough to explain a puzzling downtick in performance.
And for those looking for the simple explanation they've settled on the most obvious one" the loss of Frank Reich to Indianapolis, where the former offensive coordinator is doing a bang-up job with Andrew Luck and the elevation of Groh to Reich's former role.
The whispers have certainly been heard by those in the NovaCare Complex and a wearied Groh took them head on Tuesday.
"I'll let everybody else make that evaluation, but I'm certainly excited for Frank and the success that they're having in Indy," Groh said when asked if he thinks he is doing Reich's reputation justice in Philadelphia.
The shadow being cast over Groh is probably not a fair one because it's not his offense and he doesn't call the plays but the altar is being prepped for sacrifice and a rare moment of accountability has only pushed Groh closer to what might be an inevitable demise unless the Eagles turn it around in the final six games and find a way to win a poor NFC East.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen