The same group of guys showed up, met with reporters and answered the same questions. They said the team hadn’t quit. They said they still supported Andy Reid. They said they wished they could provide answers for the blown coverages on defense and the turnovers on offense.
It was pretty much a weekly countdown to the end of the season for a team that had underperformed in 2010 and 2011.
But Monday was different. The players had just found out their coach had been fired. They were on the receiving end of a 42-7 pounding the day before. It was time to clean out their lockers, begin the offseason and look ahead to 2013.
It was also a time for reflection. LeSean McCoy looked visibly upset that he would no longer be playing for Reid. As one of the building blocks going forward, he spoke up and said some of his teammates made too many excuses.
And then there was Jeremy Maclin, the former first-round pick who was in the same draft class as McCoy. Maclin’s career began with consecutive trips to the playoffs, but he’s never been part of a team that advanced past the first round.
“I think change needs to come from everywhere,” Maclin said, when asked if the Eagles’ problem had more to do with personnel or attitude. “I think we’re definitely a talented group of guys individually. I think the team unity probably wasn’t there this year. I think we’ve got to respect each other. If you respect somebody, you’re more willing to go out there and play for that person or play for a purpose. I think the lack of respect that maybe some guys have for other guys definitely hurt us.”
Maclin stopped short of saying the team quit, but he suggested that the roster Reid, Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie had assembled had a serious chemistry problem.
“I do think the lack of… I guess, how everybody viewed each other,” Maclin said. “I don’t think everybody viewed each other like a team should.
“It wasn’t nothing to the point where it was killing us, but you can tell amongst players, there may have been a lack of respect for some players by other players. And it may be like that all across the league. I’m pretty sure there’s guys that don’t like each other on football teams. I get that. Respecting is a different story.”
Was the lack of respect different from the previous Eagles teams he had been on?
“There’s always going to be guys that don’t like each other, but I think they were willing to still go out there and play for each other,” Maclin said. “This year, I’m not really sure.”
Maclin didn’t want to name names, but he couldn’t hide his frustration.
“It’s just something that you get a feel about in the locker room,” Maclin said. “It’s nothing that you see people disrespecting each other. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about, you can kind of get the vibe that ‘Ok, he doesn’t like him and they’re in the same room or their lockers are next to each other.’ That’s the kind of vibe. Sometimes, that stuff happens.
“I’m talking about guys who have been in this league and should understand how to be a pro, I feel like, weren’t acting that way. Period. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. That’s what it was. Guys I felt like should have been pros, have been in this league and understand how things go, wasn’t acting like it.”
An uncomfortable environment. Guys not on the same page, unwilling to play for one another. Conflicting personalities.
Maclin loved Reid. After Sunday’s loss, he talked about opening up to his coach when he went through his health scare two offseasons ago. But Maclin indirectly helped explain how bad things had gotten for the coach in his 14th season.
“If this doesn’t open your eyes, I don’t know what will,” Maclin said. “If they’re going to fire the head coach, then there’s a lot of players’ jobs that they can get rid of too as well. You’ve just got to understand that this is not a game, this is a business. And if you don’t come to work and do your job, then there’s a chance that you may not have a job.”