By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — They like playing it cool. The players and coaching staff have always been that way in the Andy Reid regime. To a player, to every coach, this week started with the underlying feeling that everything is okay.
So Reid let go of his close friend and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during the bye week. They’ll adjust. So the Eagles have the second-worst scoring offense in the NFC and 30th overall in the NFL. They’ll do a better job with that. So they constantly turn the ball over and blow fourth-quarter leads, seven combined the last two years, the highest in the NFL. New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will cure that.
None of those problems appear to be going away any time soon.
So mark the date. Circle it in red. The beginning of the end of Reid’s 14-year tenure as head coach of the Eagles could begin ticking with a loss to the undefeated Atlanta Falcons this Sunday.
It may mean that much to the embattled Eagles coach, who during the bye week changed his defensive coordinator, admitting to a major faux pas by naming Castillo in the first place,
Reid openly said it wasn’t a move out of desperation, though everything Reid and the Eagles will do over the next 10 games will lean toward desperation, beginning with this Sunday’s 1 p.m. matchup against hometown boy Matt Ryan and the visiting Falcons, arguably the best team in the NFC.
Reid has history on his side, carrying a 13-0 record in games after the bye week. But he, along with quarterback Michael Vick, will also be under the heavy glare of the fans, who have been demanding Reid’s head on a platter since the 10-point, fourth-quarter meltdown against Detroit on October 14.
A loss to Atlanta would drop the Eagles to 3-4, followed by a trip right after Atlanta to the rejuvenated New Orleans Saints, who have back Jonathan Vilma, and then a visit by the Cowboys. These are three games the Eagles could easily drop—falling to 3-6, and it will probably mean the end for Reid.
They yielded an NFL-high 38 turnovers last year, and the Eagles already seem on their way to possibly surpassing that with 17 this season, the second-highest total in the NFL behind the lowly Kansas City Chiefs’ 21.
In the last two years, the Eagles have 55 turnovers, more than any other team in the NFL. The Eagles are minus-9 in giveaway/takeaway ratio, only behind the Chiefs’ minus-15.
LeSean McCoy doesn’t feel any radical changes need to be made to the offense, “Just the amount of turnovers and being more consistent,” he said. “That’s something I really think about is being more consistent—as well as turnovers, penalties, and negative yards on certain plays. It’s hard to make progress on offense when you’re getting negative yards, penalties, and things like that.”
Another Eagles’ downfall could also mean replacing Michael Vick with rookie Nick Foles. Asked if that possibility hung thick in the locker room that Vick might be replaced during the bye week, McCoy responded, “Not at all. I’m not sure anybody in the locker room was wondering that. We all pretty much knew that Mike was the quarterback. He’s our guy and he’s our leader.”
The leader’s time is ticking, along with their coach.
The players and coaching staff are continuing their routine, claiming there is no sense of desperation.
“No, the mood in the locker room [doesn’t get tense],” Eagles’ corner Nnamdi Asomugha said. “No one gets tense or nerves start going a little bit. I think everybody’s just eager to start winning some games. We won early and then the last two, we weren’t able to get. So, I think that’s the mood. We’ve got to put some wins together above anything else.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.