Eagles Wake-Up Call: A Franchise Seeking Stability

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy ReidSometimes, it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture.

After the Eagles’ 30-17 loss to the Falcons Sunday, I was thinking about the state of the franchise. From 1999-2009, the first 11 years of Andy Reid’s tenure here, you often heard the word “stability” associated with the Eagles.

It was coach and quarterback. Reid and Donovan McNabb. For 10 of those years, Jim Johnson ran the defense. And throughout it all, Joe Banner stood by Jeffrey Lurie, working with Reid (and others) to determine the direction of the franchise.

You knew what you were getting with the Eagles. A team in contention pretty much every season. Eight playoff berths. Six division titles. Five NFC title games. And one Super Bowl appearance. An established record of consistency and winning, even if they never quite brought the Lombardi Trophy home.

The results in those 11 years make what’s happened in the past two rather remarkable. Here’s a brief timeline of what I’m talking about:

February, 2011 – In pretty much an unprecedented move, Reid announces he’s promoting Juan Castillo from offensive line coach to defensive coordinator. Castillo would get a 22-game, 20-month run before being fired during the bye week of the 2012 season.

August, 2011Michael Vick signs a six-year contract extension. Fourteen months later, he has no clue whether he’ll be the starter in the team’s Week 9 matchup at the Saints. There’s a real possibility he could be benched for a rookie third-round pick. Not because the Eagles are building for the future, but because Reid might think Nick Foles gives the team a better chance of winning right now.

November, 2011 – Amid a season of frustration and failed expectations, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and defensive line coach Jim Washburn have to be separated after a heated verbal exchange on the sideline against the Patriots.

March, 2012 – The Los Angeles Times reports that Reid was ready to walk away from the Eagles if he didn’t get more personnel control. He got it. And he stayed.

June, 2012Joe Banner steps down as team president. The Eagles try to put a positive spin on his departure, but it seems evident that he simply was no longer needed, given the roles of Reid and general manager Howie Roseman.

August, 2012 – Lurie is asked if another 8-8 season will be good enough for Reid to return. He says no. Whether on purpose or by accident, he puts a number in the back of everyone’s head just before the regular season begins.

October, 2012 – Following Castillo’s dismissal, Todd Bowles takes over, and the defense allows the Falcons to score on their first six possessions (touchdowns on the first three). Players talk both on and off the record about a lack of passion and energy. For the first time in 14 seasons, Reid loses following the bye.

Which brings us to where we are today. In the most unusual of seasons, the Eagles are 3-4. It’s impossible to look at each week – each win and each loss – and not think of the bigger picture. Reid needs to go 6-3, maybe even 7-2, to return.

If not, Lurie will be tasked with determining the future direction of the franchise, and part of his focus will be figuring out a way to regain stability.

WHAT YOU  MISSED

Despite how some perceived his post-game comments, Michael Vick is not ready to give up the starting job. T-Mac’s got the latest on the QB situation.

The Eagles made changes to their offense during the bye week. A look at those tweaks, plus a review of how rookie Dennis Kelly and the rest of the offensive line performed on Sunday.

An anonymous Eagles defensive player criticized the team in an interview with a national reporter, saying the Birds played without energy and passion vs. Atlanta.

The Eagles adjusted their defensive line rotation, giving Brandon Graham more snaps and Jason Babin less. Here’s the breakdown.

LeSean McCoy said he didn’t see any pride from the Eagles.

And if you haven’t done so already, be sure to give Birds 24/7 a like on Facebook.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

SI.com’s Peter King thinks Reid should give Vick one more week:

And I look at the fact that the Eagles, 3-4, can still save their season, and they go to the team playing the worst defense in NFL history next Monday. The Saints have allowed more yards over the first seven games of an NFL than any team ever has. This is the kind of game made to give a struggling team confidence. And Reid has invested so much time and effort in Vick — who didn’t turn it over once Sunday in the loss to Atlanta — that to yank him now Reid would have to have an inordinate amount of trust in rookie Nick Foles to win big. I think there are too many signs that Vick and McCoy could bust out in New Orleans for Reid to yank Vick now.

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com doesn’t think benching Vick would do the Eagles any good:

I think Foles would struggle just as badly, if not worse, behind an Eagles offensive line that’s playing without three starters. I think the defense is falling all over itself because it doesn’t know who’s supposed to be in charge, who’s supposed to be playing and what they’re supposed to be running. I think the entire Reid program in Philadelphia is collapsing in on itself, and that Reid can change coordinators or quarterbacks or his socks or the pregame warmup music and none of it would make a difference. The only thing benching Vick would do at this point is underline, in the locker room and for the outside world, just how desperate a man Andy Reid is. I don’t see how it would help the Eagles win more games.

COMING UP

It looks like the Eagles are off today and there’s no media availability because of Sandy. But we’ll still have plenty to chew on at Birds 24/7. Hope everyone’s safe out there.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kevbauder Kevin Bauder

    I can’t stand the bloated ego that Peter King has become. He is completely out of touch. What signs has he seen that Eagles fans have missed? Break out game for Vick against NO? Is he joking? The OL is as bad I have ever seen it under Andy Reid. That is no one’s fault but Reid and Roseman. Danny Watkins just can’t play in the NFL, The LT combo is Bell & Dunlap is a joke, And not having a reliable back up center is inexcusable. We need to clean house and start over.

    • miked718

      Couldn’t agree more about King. It started last season and now this season his column is barely readable when it used to be a must read for me.

      • Big Red Hater

        I don’t read it anymore either, he is unreadable, all rah-rah stuff about anyone that will return his calls. 4000 words of nonsense about his personal issues….virtually no criticism, no insight, all drivel

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Gagme-Buresch/208301607 Chris Gagme Buresch

    I agree with Sheil. As much as some fans didn’t like McNabb, he kept us relevant in the NFL and teams were wary when they played us. For years, Reid ignored the glaring fact that Donovan needed weapons and doesn’t do anything about it until 2004? The missing on draft picks has been a HUGE needle in our side. This has set this team back years and because of this they had to bring in these free agent mercenaries who really couldn’t care whether they bring a championship to this city or not. I’m talking about Nnamdi, DRC and Babin. Babin is more concerned about his stats and who gets elected President, then bringing a passion to his career. This team needs to get back to great drafting and with that, i don’t think Reid can possibly be our coach. Bad decision after bad decision has hampered this team. I’m originally from Philly, but left in 2006. have been a fan since 1973. I have seen some awful teams. But this is the team with missing heart. I just don’t think a number of the team just care enough and have shut down in times of failure, when they need to step up harder, what they have done pre 2008. I think it’s finally time for change. Some fans don’t want this change and are scared of rebuilding, but it needs to happen to right this ship. I look at the 49ers and their 2nd year coach who is just bringing it and totally turned that franchise around since the time he got there. That’s exactly what Philly needs. i don’t think Lurie would ever make a change midseason and he shouldn’t. It serves no purpose at all. But after this year, I want to see a change

    • saunhi

      I like both McNabb and Vicks work ethic.

      Ditka (Espn) weighed-in while reviewing game footage- Vick is getting no time with this line. Therefore they must run 40 times a game, and forward not sideways. The group consensus was Vick has been forced to play on pure instinct.

      Scapegoating is human nature.

  • http://twitter.com/ScottJ610 Scott J

    The team has lost it’s passion because it’s lost confidence in Reid and Vick. I think what we’re seeing is how Reid has been a fraud for the past 13 years. He had great success when he had a McNabb, Jim Johnson, and players like Dawkins and Trotter who he didn’t draft. He also had great coordinators who have left to have success on other teams. Now that all these guys have left, Reid has needed to rebuild his team — which he has failed at! It’s been one stupid move after another.

  • BlindChow

    Every time an analyst predicts the Eagles’ players might find success in their next match-up (“They can run against the Falcons!” “They can get sacks against the Cardinals!”), the game turns out the opposite.

    Domo’s Day-After Dissection at philly.com offers an interesting look at Vick’s bad decision-making against Atlanta. Bad quarterback play is more than just turnovers; it’s about moving the ball when you need to move it. Vick missed plenty of check-down opportunities, stared down his receivers, etc. At the end, he seemed like he was playing scared; scared of getting hit, of turning the ball over… He gave up. If that’s the way he going to be playing from now on, you might as well stick in someone who’s hungry to play.

    • Cranky Caucasian

      Let me start by saying I was never a Vick basher. I was hoping he finally got it on how to play QB, and add in his physical tools and he’d be a monster to defend. But this season especially, I’m seeing him make bad decisions that don’t show up on the stat sheet but still have huge effects on games. Like not forcing throws on 4th down when it doesn’t matter if it gets picked, but you absolutely need to try and give your WR a chance to make a play. During two minute drills, dumping it off to a player for a minimal gain and no chance to get out of bounds instead of throwing it away, where seconds are more important than yards. Little things that a 32 year old QB should know better. Add in the fact that he can’t hold onto the ball and is completely unable or unwilling to learn how to slide, and I’m ready for a change. I no longer believe that Vick gives them the best chance to win, I’d rather roll with the unknown of Foles. This team doesn’t seem to have the heart to want to win anyway so why not roll the dice and see if they can get lucky for a change?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Gagme-Buresch/208301607 Chris Gagme Buresch

        agreed on Vick. Plus fans have to face the facts that Vick has lost a step. He’s not the same player he was 5 years ago, let alone 2 years ago. he can’t get away from a 250 defensive lineman, that says a lot. Love the Walter avatar too! Great stuff

  • Big Red Hater

    who cares about Peter King – he is an unreadable dope, writing about his coffee and beer and his love of Andy Reid…..so sick of him being quoted here.
    Big Dumb Red should be fired today, this team is in a death spiral.

    I cannot understand Jeff Lurie just taking this crap.. I think Cristina Lurie has more balls than he does.

  • faffy

    It started with signing Asante and the trend of getting guys who are me guys. They then let Dawkins go and has slowly gone down hill from there. Bad decisions by coach and front office on who they have brought in.

  • FMWarner

    I agree that after this season it’s probably time for Reid to go. Sheil’s timeline shows that he doesn’t have the same control he used to. But let’s not pretend that this means Reid was never a good coach or that the people who’ve been calling for his head for five years are right. It’s the same thing that happened after McNabb played poorly in Washington. “See, rest of the league? We Philly fans were right about McNabb all along!” No, no you weren’t. Both McNabb and Reid were great for this franchise, and their time ran out. But that doesn’t mean their history should be rewritten.

  • BrianAK

    Since Jim Johnson died not only hasn’t the defense been the same but neither have the eagles. I think we now realize how much he (and 20) brought to the team, not just the defensive side of the ball. Reid hasn’t been the same coach since. Either that or he just isn’t the coach he thought he was without those 2 hall of famers. Andy has had some comebacks before, but it now seems that he is out coached every week. The stability he used to bring has been gone for a couple of years now. Too bad this season is lost before he moves on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Gagme-Buresch/208301607 Chris Gagme Buresch

      That was also same time McNabb left and team hasn’t been same since 2008. Think it’s combination of both really. The inability to hit on draft picks has also killed the Eagles. I looked at 1st 3 rounds today since 2000. Not many good picks there and that’s the difference between constant teams and ours.