Eagles Wake-Up Call: Defining Pressure For Reid, Vick

A reader asked this week if today’s game against the Falcons is the biggest of both Michael Vick and Andy Reid’s careers.

To that, the answer is no.

Vick has played in an NFC championship game. And Reid has played in a Super Bowl. Those were career-defining games – much more so than a Week 8 regular-season matchup.

Having said that, there’s no doubt that today’s contest is huge for both guys.

When asked during the bye week if Vick was his starting quarterback, Reid hesitated to offer any kind of vote of confidence. Ultimately, he decided to stick with the veteran, but there’s no doubt he at least considered a switch. If Vick turns the ball over and leaves plays on the field vs. the Falcons, this could be it for him. Reid could go ahead and make the switch to Nick Foles – not for the future, but because he thinks the rookie can help him win more games this year. Considering the Eagles can cut ties with Vick after the season, this game has huge implications for the quarterback.

And then there’s Reid. After firing Juan Castillo in the middle of the season, there should be absolutely no doubt that he’s in full, 100-percent, win-now mode. Reid has not won a playoff game since the 2008 season. He sees a talented roster that has been able to produce nothing more than a .500 record in the last 22 games.

If Jeffrey Lurie lets Reid go at the end of the season, he’ll get another job. But it should be pretty clear by now that he enjoys the job he currently has. Reid has poured the last 14 years of his life into trying to bring Philadelphia a Super Bowl. Now he’s five (maybe four?) losses away from having to start over somewhere else.

That is the reality for the coach and quarterback on this Sunday. A loss to the Falcons would put the Eagles at 3-4. They’d likely have to go 7-2 (maybe 6-3) the rest of the way for a playoff berth. Not impossible, but not likely either.

On the other hand, a win would have the city excited about this team. Some want Reid gone under any and all circumstances. Others think they can’t win with Vick. But the majority of the fan base would be invested in a 4-3 team that handed the Falcons their first loss and had an upcoming Monday night matchup in New Orleans.

So yes, it’s only Week 8, and there’s a lot of football to be played. But there’s also a lot riding on what happens at the Linc this afternoon – for the coach, the quarterback and the franchise.


Today will mark the first time Todd Bowles calls a defense since the late 90s at Grambling State. He’ll spend the afternoon on the field, not in the booth. Tim’s got details.

A roundup of national predictions for today’s game.

Looking for previews? Here are my cheat sheets. Ten things to know about how the Eagles’ defense matches up with the Falcons’ offense. And 10 more on how the Birds’ offense matches up with Atlanta’s D.


Andy Benoit of Football Outsiders says the Eagles need to do more to help Vick:

The Eagles could help Vick by treating him more like a rookie (or Alex Smith). They could call more runs and more underneath or split-field passes –- whichever plays with defined-but-limited reads that they prefer. Instead, they’ll likely keep rolling the dice on the big plays. That has its benefits, but with Vick’s weaknesses, it also has drawbacks -– a lot of which aren’t revealed on the television broadcast.

Being close to his sick mother was important for Asante Samuel when choosing his new team. From D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“That was very, very important,” Samuel said. “We are going through a situation in the family. The family is No. 1 to me. I’ve got to do what I have to do to help out the best way I can.”

Inspired by how his mother scrambled to raise the kids and keep the family together, Samuel started a foundation, Bring It Home Moms (bhsinglemoms.org), to help other single parents.

“Growing up in a single-family home, that’s one thing that I realize and one thing that I support a lot, is single parents,” Samuel said. “They have the kids of the future. I just want to help out the best way that I can after going through the situation that I went through.”


Tim and I will be chatting live from the Linc starting at 1. Join us for updates and observations throughout the afternoon.

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