Pissed off. Frustrated. Furious. Angry. Embarrassed. Hopeless.
These are the different emotions I have felt since the Eagles 31-24 loss in Buffalo. I’m sure many of you feel the same. Every single one of them is justified. This team is in a complete state of disarray. They are flailing. They’re a wounded deer waiting to be put out of their misery.
Too many mistakes, both mental and physical. Too many missed tackles. Too many turnovers. Too many first and goal’s ending in a field goal. Too many clock management issues. Not enough big plays. Not enough concentration. Not enough hunger. Not enough turnovers created. Not enough coaching.
That last word is the only one that matters right now: coaching. This entire season can be laid at the feet of only one man: head coach Andy Reid. Until yesterday, I had an excuse to every criticism of this team. “Let them gel.” “The talent is there.” “Castillo just needs to get his feet wet.” “Linebackers aren’t important when you have their secondary.” But you know what? I’m done now. Just done. This debacle is Andy Reid’s fault, and there’s no way around it.
For the past 12 years, I have been one of Andy Reid’s biggest supporters. I’ve defended his record, his division titles, his overall playoff success. I had a slew of facts I could rattle off against any Reid detractor in any argument I could get myself into, and they were all valid. He has been an extremely successful coach in this city who is unbelievably under-appreciated (sounds familiar to a certain QB we ran out of town, huh?). I have never believed in the “time for a new voice” reason for a coaching change. If your current coach is one of the best ones available, as Reid has been throughout his tenure, you don’t change just for the sake of change. The NFL is a league that runs through coaches like Tiger Woods runs through escorts and call girls. When you can achieve stability at that position with a quality coach, you don’t just give it up.
With that said, Reid’s time is up in Philadelphia after this season if they don’t pull off a miracle playoff run. Yes, they are undisciplined. But I put a lot of that at the feet of the players themselves. Coaches can’t do much more than tell Jason Babin to line up onsides. If he decides to line up in the neutral zone on 3rd and 4, that’s on him. Yes, his clock management is awful, but that’s never been his strength, and you could look the other way when they were going 11-5 year after year.
The biggest on-the-field problem is the defense. The defense’s failures can be completely attributed to his decision to hire Juan Castillo as his defensive coordinator. At the time of the move, I was in full trust of Reid’s decision. “The guy knows coaches,” I said. Well, it’s safe to say I was very wrong and that experiment has failed miserably. The biggest problem with this situation is that he can’t do anything now. You cannot fire a major coach at midseason without admitting to the locker room that this season is over. That’s something you can do at 1-8, but not 1-4. We’re stuck with Castillo for the rest of the year, so get used to seeing Nnamdi used in zone and DRC sitting on the sidelines.
But, this isn’t even the biggest reason for this long-time Reid-lover to pull a complete 180 and call for his head. In professional sports, you can win and you can lose. If you lose with inferior talent or a subpar front office, that’s one thing. But, when you lose when given Lamborghinis and Porsches, you lose something much, much more important.
This is the only thing in pro sports that a coach cannot afford to lose if he wants a chance at keeping his job: the locker room. And I believe the downward spiral is in full swing, with the inevitable result being the players turning on Reid and refusing to play for him. He’s been losing it more and more by the week this season, as evidenced by the Eagles completely giving up, trying to do their own thing outside of the game plan, and making idiotic penalties. If the players thought they were letting their coach down, these types of mistakes just do not happen. If there was any accountability in that locker room, these types of mistakes just do not happen.
It’s been an amazing run of football for 12+ seasons. He took this team from last place to the top of the NFC, and that shouldn’t be forgotten. He drafted the best QB and RB in the history of this franchise. nine division titles. five NFC Championship games. one Super Bowl appearance. I’m very thankful for Andy Reid’s time in Philly, as he reintroduced football to a city during one of its darkest sports times. But, if a coach loses his locker room, he has to go, no matter his won-loss record. Just ask Terry Francona.