So far this season, Eagles coach Andy Reid has demoted or fired his left tackle, his weak-side linebacker, his punter and his defensive coordinator.
Will his quarterback be next?
That’s the big question that will be answered later this week. And the odds are heavy that Reid won’t bench quarterback Michael Vick. As bad as the Eagles have played so far and as inconsistent as Vick has been, there are still nine games left to play and the Eagles still have a legitimate shot at the NFL playoffs. So, it’s hard to see Reid shaking up his team that much.
At the same time, Reid might be getting desperate. He knows he needs to make the playoffs, at minimum, to keep his job. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made that clear before the season began when he said that last year’s 8-8 record wasn’t good enough.
But the problem for Reid might not be his record this season (3-4) as much as how his team has attained it. The Eagles commit too many dumb penalties and make too many careless mistakes and have too many breakdowns on both sides of the ball. On offense, teams aren’t allowing them to throw the deep passes that Reid and Vick love so much and, on defense, the million-dollar players the Eagles have added in the last couple of years – Jason Babin, Nnamdi Asomugha and Demetress Bell, to name a few — haven’t earned those fat paychecks this season.
So, Reid knows he has to win and he has to win now. And that means he has to make a critical decision – do the Eagles have a better chance of winning with Vick or rookie Nick Foles at quarterback?
If this was earlier in Reid’s career, when he had more job security than any coach in the league not named Belichick, I could see him going with Foles. Reid used to be able to look further down the road than the next stop sign and six years ago he might have figured he could deal with Foles’ inevitable growing pains because of the valuable experience the rookie would get that would pay off later.
But there is no “later’’ for Andy Reid anymore. And despite all of Vick’s faults and flaws, the Eagles still have a better chance of winning with him behind center than a kid who has never played in a real NFL game before.
Personally, I’d prefer to see Foles simply because it would be different and certainly more interesting that watching Vick throw another pass at a receiver’s feet or – worse – into a defender’s hands. Plus, going with the rookie the rest of the season would at least give us a long look at the kid who might end up being the Eagles quarterback of the future.
Of course, there’s another move Reid could make that would shake things up even more than benching Vick, and that would be firing himself. After all, Reid tells us time and time again that he’s responsible for everything. He’s got the big title – Head Coach/Executive Vice-President of Football Operations – and he made the decisions that have made the Eagles what they are today. He hired Juan Castillo to be defensive coordinator. He decided Michael Vick would be his franchise quarterback. And he selected all those draft picks who have done nothing except take up roster spots – of the nine Eagles who have played in the Pro Bowl, only three were drafted by Reid.
When Andy Reid tells us that he’s to blame for what’s wrong with the Eagles, he ain’t lying. But we don’t expect Reid to resign and he shouldn’t resign or be fired. After 13-plus years of mostly good football he’s earned the right to ride out this season and finish what he started. And who knows, maybe they do turn it around – stranger things have happened.
But, for the first time since he landed in Philadelphia in 1999, Reid doesn’t appear to be in control of the situation. Things are falling apart and he doesn’t know how to fix them. Well, from this vantage point there are three things Andy Reid can do that could make a difference — bench Michael Vick, fire himself, or pray.
Right now, that third option appears to be his best bet.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.