Do the Eagles have a leadership crisis?


Sure seems that the Eagles issues go beyond run defense and red-zone offense and man coverage vs. zone.

Sure seems that the Eagles issues go way beyond turnovers and penalties.

When you blow fourth-quarter leads three weeks in a row for the first time in the franchises 79-year history, its tough not to conclude that theres something missing in that locker room, on that sideline, in that huddle.

And although its a word thats dramatically overused in sports, leadership could be a big part of what this Eagles team desperately needs.

Do the Eagles have a leadership crisis?

They have no Dawk. They have no William Fuller. They dont have a Troy or Sheldon or Seth. A Duce. An Irving Fryar, Jeff Garcia or Jon Runyan.

And when things are going wrong and nobody can do anything to stop it, sometimes you need that voice. You need that veteran to stand up and get through to his teammates and get guys attention, either on the field or off.

Such is the nature of the Eagles roster that almost all the starters are newcomers or youngsters, and its very difficult for guys like that to step up and be vocal when its time to be vocal.

And the risk of a team lacking leadership? Games like Atlanta. Games like the Giants. Games like the 49ers.

Who is there to stand up and just say, Enough? And get through?

These are all questions that Cullen Jenkins has pondered in the last couple weeks.

Eight months ago, Jenkins was a key figure on the Packers Super Bowl-championship team. Eight months ago, he held the Lombardi Trophy in his hands. Eight months ago, he was on top of the football universe. And now hes on a 1-3 team thats lost three straight games in unbelievable fashion, and hes grappling with the challenge of when to try and become the leader that this team desperately needs.

Its tough, because youre not really used to everything, Jenkins said at his locker Wednesday. A little unfamiliar, especially not having an off-season. Ive been here for two months now.

Its kind of hard, because you dont want to overstep your bounds. Youre trying to come in and fit in with your team and not try to do too much and mess up something that was possibly here previously. Its a tough adjustment as far as when do you speak up or say something and how do you do it?

Anybody whos seen him interviewed knows how insightful he is.

And anybody whos seen him play knows how talented he is.

Those are the two things a leader needs. To back it up on the field and to have the personality and credibility where the things you say are taken seriously.

Plus, hes got that ring from Super Bowl XLV.

At times, I talk, but at times you do kind of hold back some because youre just not sure of things too well, he said. Its something that in time maybe you start feeling more comfortable to do things.

Asked if the Eagles are missing that leadership, Jenkins chose his words carefully.

I dont know if were missing it, because we do have it some, he said. But I think maybe it could happen more often.

But its tough because we have so many new people and so many free agents, and you dont know how people are going to react to certain things in certain situations, so its difficult trying to learn everybody.

For us, in the D-line, we feel comfortable enough to be ourselves, because weve been around each other so much, been around each other all day, Jenkins said. But some of the other spots, some of the other positions on the team, you just havent built that relationship with everybody yet.

Of the Eagles 22 starters, eight are new to the team this year and six others are 25 or younger. That leaves guys like Jason Peters, Asante Samuel, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans as the veterans who would normally handle things like leadership, speaking up, rallying the team.

But Herremans said Wednesday that this Eagles team doesnt need more talk, it just needs to go out and play.

I think there has been way too much talk about what we need to do, what we could be, what we should be, he said. Its just time to just be it rather than talk about it. I dont think that anybody needs to speak amongst the team or anything like that.

"If I feel something needs to be said, Ill say it. But as a tackle, you kind of go out there and just work hardand kind of lead by example rather than trying to run your mouth to anybody.

The 1-3 start has definitely hurt me a little more than it has in the past just because we didnt see ourselves in this situation. Were here and we need to correct it.
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