Eagles Wake-Up Call: Drastic Move Coming From Reid?
Owner Jeffrey Lurie put a number on it during his preseason address, confirming that another 8-8 year would not be enough for the head coach to stay.
That means the Eagles need to go at least 6-4 (possibly 7-3) for Reid to stay put.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Reid is overly concerned with his job security. If Lurie does let him go, he’ll find a job elsewhere. But yesterday’s comments made Reid sound very much like a guy who is willing to do something drastic during the bye week to get his team on track. There were words like pathetic and ridiculous, along with non-committal answers to questions about his coaching staff and his players. Reid didn’t sound like someone who believed his team would be just fine if it stayed the course.
Remember, this goes back to the offseason. The Los Angeles Times reported that Reid was ready to walk away if he didn’t get more control in personnel decisions. And there was also the split with Joe Banner, which the team tried to spin as no big deal. But the entire offseason had Reid’s stamp on it. There would be no excuses in 2012.
Now, six games in, his team is .500, just like last year.
So what could Reid possibly do to shake things up? It comes down to two areas – the coaching staff and personnel.
Let’s start with the latter. Some are calling for Michael Vick to be benched. I don’t see it for a number of reasons. For starters, this offensive line played as poorly Sunday against the Lions as it has at any time all season. While Vick has not played well, inserting Nick Foles gets you nowhere. The rookie won’t stand a chance with this group blocking (and yes, I know he played in front of a leaky line in college, but don’t see how that’s relevant here).
The other thing with Vick is that he’s actually improved in certain key areas – like against the blitz. After the Cardinals game, it looked like he may never get there. But in the past three games, he’s been outstanding making the right reads and right throws against extra pressure. Against the Lions, he was 10-for-15 for 157 yards against the blitz, by my count. And overall, he’s completed 63.2 percent of his passes the last three weeks. As we’ve discussed at length, it’s the turnovers that have killed him.
The area where it might be more likely to see a personnel change is along the offensive line. This, of course, would be far less drastic. Maybe King Dunlap or Dennis Kelly in for Demetress Bell? Steve Vallos in for Dallas Reynolds at center? What about shifting Evan Mathis to center? It’s probably a longshot, but he’s been the backup there the past two weeks. If there are any offensive linemen without jobs right now, the guess here is that the Eagles will at least make a call or two and bring them in for tryouts. I don’t know if any of those moves improves this unit, but I do know that the Eagles’ offense can’t get better with the group playing like it did on Sunday.
And then, there’s the coaching staff. Would Reid be willing to strip Juan Castillo of play-calling duties on defense and hand them over to Todd Bowles? Overall, the defense has played well. But in the last two years, the Eagles have blown six games in which they’ve led going into the fourth quarter. The defense has allowed 77 points in those defeats – the latest of which was Sunday’s meltdown vs. Detroit. Remember, in the offseason, Reid wanted to add Steve Spagnuolo to his defensive coaching staff, so a shake-up would not be completely out of nowhere.
And finally, there’s the offensive play-calling. Is Reid ready to snatch those duties back from Marty Mornhinweg? We’re six games in, and the Eagles are averaging 17.2 points per game. That’s second-worst in the league, ahead of only the Jaguars. Reid, an offensive coach, has to be embarrassed by that number. The only time it’s been worse during his tenure was in his first season here when the Eagles averaged 17 points per game. That team featured Doug Pederson throwing to Torrance Small and Charles Johnson. Not Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy.
As Tim pointed out on Birds 24/7 Radio yesterday (on 97.5 The Fanatic every Monday from 6 to 7!), perhaps if Reid is going to go down, he goes down on his own terms and calls the offense once again.
Those are Reid’s options for a shake-up, as I see them. The players have the week off. When they return, we’ll find out which (if any) path Reid has chosen.
WHAT YOU MISSED
I put up the offensive line game review. Danny Watkins, Demetress Bell and company continue to struggle.
Jason Avant sounds as frustrated as any player in the Eagles locker room. He’s tired of hearing about how much talent this team has. Tim’s got the full story.
Was Nnamdi Asomugha right to question Castillo’s blitz calls? I went back and took a look.
Trent Cole said the Eagles got enough pressure on Matthew Stafford, even though the team doesn’t have a sack in the last three games.
And finally, a look at Eagles snap counts from Sunday’s game. Riley Cooper got back in the mix, and Phillip Hunt has nearly been phased out entirely.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
SI.com’s Peter King has the Eagles 15th in his power rankings:
The story about Michael Vick carrying the ball around the Eagles’ practice facility all week, reminding himself to not drop it so much, didn’t work so well in the loss to Detroit. He fumbled for the 30th time in his last 30 games, and threw two more picks. That’s 13 turnovers in six games. It has to stop or an 8-8 season will follow.
In his day-after dissection, Paul Domowitch of the Daily News makes a good point about the Eagles’ lack of safety depth:
The Eagles’ lack of depth at the safety position came back to haunt them Sunday after Nate Allen left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Colt Anderson. Anderson is a terrific special teams player, but he’s not a guy you want on the field playing safety against a potent passing offense like the Lions.
The players get the week off, but we don’t. Plenty to discuss, analyze and report on Birds 24/7. So check back early and often.