Following Thursday Night’s 31-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Philadelphia Eagles are now 4-8 and in last place in the NFC East. Much like the ends of the Rich Kotite and Ray Rhodes eras, this season increasingly has the feel of Andy Reid’s last.
As the death knell begins to ring louder on this Eagles team with each passing loss in the final weeks of this nightmarish season, there is one thing that’s never been more evident: these are the end days of the Andy Reid era.
Regardless of whether or not Owner Jeffery Lurie actually pulls the proverbial plug on the 13-year Reid regime, this is a coach that has lost his locker room and who’s errors in judgment more than justify his dismissal.
The Eagles are now 4-8 and last in the NFC East. Philadelphia trails the Lions, Giants, Seahawks, Cardinals, Bears, Redskins and Buccaneers in the wild card race. Plainly, the Eagles, despite what the players try to convince themselves otherwise, are a bad football team that is playing out the string at this point. The lion’s share of the blame falls on the broad shoulders of Reid.
Since going to the NFC Championship game in January 2009, the Eagles have not won a playoff game. They have lost in the wild card round each of the last two seasons and will not make the playoffs this year. True, Reid’s teams made the postseason 9 of the last 12 years, but while that run of success that culminated in a Super Bowl appearance at the end of the 2004 season, it is history nonetheless. The Eagles have regressed every season since 2009 and the reasons are the same issues that go unaddressed year-in and year-out under this regime.
Anyone familiar with this franchise can rattle off the list of mistakes like the lyrics to their favorite Christmas song. Reid’s team has been unable to close out fourth quarter leads, he awarded Michael Vick a $100 million extension, he failed to address the linebacker position despite playing the wide nine which puts emphasis on physical linebackers being able to fill wider gaps and perhaps most daunting; he elevated Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator before the season began.
It’s becoming apparent that this team’s fundamental flaws run deep in both it’s construction and the philosophy of it’s head coach. What’s also clear is that all of the offseason spending and talent that was added in August was simply window dressing for a team filled with flaws. The expectations they created hid the moves that were not made and the mistakes that were.
Who can forget the undisciplined play that has become this team’s calling card? Or the penalties. The Eagles rank 12th in the league in penalty yardage, losing 50 yards per game. And, of course, there’s the matter of Reid’s team quitting on him, like tired dogs, in Week 13 against the Seahawks.
While the Arizona loss in Week 11 may have broken this team’s back and it’s psyche, dropping a game to Seattle in the embarrassing fashion of a 31-14 loss was the final nail in the coffin. It’s one thing to allow 38 points to Tom Brady and Co, but to follow that effort by giving up 31 points to the 28th ranked offense in the league is unacceptable. The lack of effort shown by the team throughout the nationally televised game is a direct indictment on the head coach.
The much maligned WR DeSean Jackson was seen ignoring QB Vince Young on the sidelines in Seattle. The offense walked off the field and to the sidelines while Reid challenged a first quarter interception, rather than remaining on the field and showing confidence in their coach. Jackson jogged through his routes throughout the night and RB Ronnie Brown looked perplexed whether or not to touch the ball on a kickoff about to go out of bounds.
It’s Andy Reid’s responsibility to get his team ready to play and they haven’t been anywhere near prepared on several occasions this season.
They say that a team takes on the personality of it’s head coach and for more than a decade, Andy Reid teams were known for tenacity, aggressiveness and perennially one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the NFL. This season, the adjectives are much different. Sloppy, inconsistent, disinterested and gutless come close to adequately describing this abject failure.
If there is one statistic that serves as the summation for the Eagles mounting disappointments this season, it is their (-13) Turnover Ratio. It is nearly impossible to win games consistently in the NFL and turn the ball over with such frequency. Injured starting QB Michael Vick, who was given a $100 million contract from Reid and the Eagles based on six great games last season, has 11 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and more turnovers in the red zone than any team in the NFL. On the other side of the coin, the Eagles defense does not create turnovers, ranking 15th in interceptions and 21st in fumbles recovered. Put it simple, Castillo’s scheme and the personnel at his disposal are ill suited to create turnovers, which change the tide of the game.
As this meandering walking nightmare of a season winds down to it’s final four games, against the Dolphins, NY Jets, Cowboys and Redskins — which could all conceivably end up in the loss column for the Eagles — on the surface it looks as if there’s no possible way that Reid keeps his job after the season. His fingerprints are all over this failed blueprint. However, there is one thing precluding the cutting ties with the architect of this team for the past 13 years; his contract. Reid still has 2 years and $10 Million Dollars remaining on his deal, which would be a hard pill for the economic minded Lurie to swallow.
After eight losses, each more troubling and disheartening than the last, Reid’s reply to nearly every query into what went wrong and when has been “I have to do a better job there.” Telling, that response that has been echoing through both the Novacare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field for the last 12 years.
Just as the end days appear to be upon us, it is abundantly clear that it’s time for Reid to ‘Do a better job” somewhere else.
Matt Lombardo is the Lead Writer for Taking It To The House. Matt is also the Philadelphia Eagles beat reporter and a host for 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, NJ. Matt can be reached on Twitter @MattLombardoPHL or by Email at MDLombardo@yahoo.com