Monday, November 5, 2012

Andy Reid’s Days Are Numbered In Philly

A long time ago, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie should have parted ways with embattled coach Andy Reid. A long time ago, the Eagles should have moved in another direction for the betterment of their team. The level of tension and criticism, which coaches and pro athletes commonly tolerates on the east coast, is anything but respectful and kind to Mr. Reid.

That might be east coast bias? Um, no east coast bias here.

No one is kidding when they say the Philadelphia Eagles are an absolute mess, amid a publicity outcry as ineptitude and struggles from quarterback Mike Vick creates a ruckus in the City of Brotherly Love. It’s anything but lovely in Philly, and more than ever, it’s becoming hell on earth every week for a team that seems to be in a state of confusion, not sure which direction to take to resolve these repeated letdowns. The endless uproar of a quarterback controversy is taking away from what could and should have been an efficient season, with the entire Eagles’ ingredients, possessing the qualities of presumably a Super Bowl team.

Turns out the Eagles aren’t a legitimate threat as everyone had made them out to be, but an utter disappointment, leaving fans wondering and thinking about what direction this team needs to take to heal the wounds. Reid and Vick’s careers are in absolute uncertainty — a rational sentiment that inevitably comes to one’s mind. The Eagles, who are just 3-4 this season, haven’t stood up to expectations. This team was supposed to be the self-proclaimed “Dream Team,” an overhyped team operated by an inept Reid, whose coaching tenure is numbered.

Fourteen years now, and Reid is finally hit with more scrutiny, clearly ridiculed and loathed for his stubbornness and inflexibly. Philly fans are unhappy – not content with Reid. With time winding down, disgruntled Philly fans had enough of Andy Reid, and people locally have called in to sports talk radio ripping and venting their anger toward him. Early in the season, Lurie addressed the team with his unambiguous statement and said that another 8-8 season would not be tolerated. In clarity, Reid’s coaching job could be on the line, even though Lurie has been loyal and given his coach more elbowroom than most coaches in a risky business.

The final days of a reign looms for Reid and even he knows that himself, but not worried about his job status and is just taking it day by day to avoid unnecessary stress, while dealing with heavy burdens and criticism for sticking with Vick and not giving the starting nod to backup Nick Foles. This would be a good time to experiment and explore other options. This would be a good time, though some fans are satisfied and prefer to see Vick engineer the offense, to bench him in favor of the rookie quarterback and see what he can produce for the second half of the season. Vick, who has nine touchdowns and eight interceptions, lacks a sense of awareness and has been too clumsy.

The struggles that have haunted the Eagles through the first six weeks are Vick’s ball security issues and Reid’s decision to not demote him and not make a drastic change for the sake of the franchise, as Reid desperately should be trying anything to save his job. But it’s a bit too late. Nothing can save Reid’s job, not even Foles, not even a hapless defense, not even team executives. The firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during bye week and awarding Todd Bowles a challenging role, the Eagles’ new defensive coordinator, certainly wasn’t enough.

No matter what Reid does at this point, no matter what direction he takes, he’s on his way out of Philly by the holiday season and should be dismissed. He’s the longest-tenure NFL head coach, and the most polarizing coach ever — it would be the end of his coaching era in Philly. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship Reid and Lurie built over the years, just doesn’t seem relevant. Lurie is running a business, not having a family reunion. He is trying to put the best product and coaching staff on the field and, at the end of the day, it’s all about winning if nothing else.

It was Reid’s idea to give Vick the starting job and replace the veteran quarterback with a beleaguered Donovan McNabb, who was wrongly blamed and then ran out of town by bitter and ungrateful Philly fans. If nobody else had confidence in Vick, following a dogfighting scandal that killed his credibility and reflected on his image in a negative way as he had fallen from grace, Reid did and gave Vick a second chance after paying his debts to society. When he bankrolled a dogfighting ring, which was perceived as Bad Newz Kennels, he was portrayed as a criminal and now he’s a scapegoat on the field, sputtering badly after three straight losses. For one, Vick’s offensive line is horrendous and cannot protect him from taking a brutal beating that usually results in a fumble or either an interception, as he’s forced to get rid of the ball to avoid a boisterous pass-rush.

It’s becoming a weekly trait, as Eagles defense, under Bowles, continues to struggle collectively. They’ve got a lot of major problems defensively – missing too many tackles, bad penalties and few stops on third downs. So, it’s not only fair to blame Vick, but the quarterbacks do take 90 percent of the blame when something goes wrong during the regular season as it has in Philly. Vick isn’t getting it done, but Reid insists that he’s his guy. That’s where Reid is making his mistake and where he will cost himself a job as Eagles head coach, especially if this team misses the postseason, which they probably will at the rate the Eagles are playing.

Stop being the Eaglets.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize it is time for a new regime in Philly, time to cut ties with Reid and ride the coaching carousel during the offseason. A lot of the blame in recent memory, particularly after a humiliating 30-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, has been placed on Reid and Vick. Frustrated and disillusioned, fans showed up at Lincoln Financial Field, booing and jeering Reid. They were chanting “Fire Andy,” in a game that the Birds were outplayed and outcoached.

I’ve tried defending Andy for many years. I cannot much longer. It’s time for a change and he won’t be coaching the Eagles much longer. Barring a change of culture, Reid’s theory of doing a better job is getting old and Vick should be benched. If he’s not athletic or accurate, maybe it’s a sign that this team now requires a change … or else no success for a non-talented, broken and underachieving franchise, unable to make strides and dominate the NFC East – with LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek. There’s no question, after his gruesome crime off the field and recent struggles, that Vick has turned into the most polarizing figure in the NFL, if not in sports.

Vick is either loved or hated but Reid is scorned completely, with profoundly uncheerful fans that can’t wait to celebrate his demise to erase the long-suffering of losses and endless woes. This gives a person every right to be skeptical and unsure about Vick. But it’s rational to assume that Vick is gone if Reid is fired at the end of this season, when he was the one coach who gambled and recruited the troubled star player, and then made him a starter. This late in Vick’s career, he’s not an elite quarterback, although at one point he was a prodigious athlete before sent to prison for his dogfighting scandal. The more he throws, the more likely he will throw the ball to the opposite team for an interception. The more he holds on to the ball, the more likely he fumbles. By the end of every game this season, when he’s turned over the ball 50,000 times, we think of his poor accuracy, his apathy and his lack of maturity.

Meanwhile, if he can’t win eight games at the most, Reid is definitely hitting the road and won’t ever be appreciated by unsympathetic fans.