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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — High and tight is a term used for a Marine haircut, but the Eagles can apparently use some of that Marine discipline when holding on to the football.
It was one crucial point of many that Andy Reid broached at his day-after press conference in response to the four fumbles and five total turnovers the Eagles committed in their 34-13 fiasco against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night.
The five giveaways gave the Eagles an NFL-high 34 this season (21 fumbles and 13 interceptions) and 72 turnovers over their last 30 games—also a dubious mark that tops the NFL during that span.
A drained Reid took questions, and stressed that for three quarters the Eagles played well against the Bengals. Then with 5:58 left in the third quarter, the wheels fell off under a deluge of turnovers, losing the ball four times over five plays.
“For three quarters, I thought we played good football until we hit that 5:58 mark in that third quarter and then we went turnover, turnover, turnover, with the interception for a touchdown, the fumble for a touchdown and another fumble, they were able to get a field goal from that, and then the muffed kickoff,” Reid said. “They ended up scoring a touchdown on that. Four out of five plays, they put points on the board. So we went from 13-10 score to 34-13 in just a matter of minutes. It’s a shame. Turnovers destroy you in this league.
“There’s one thing that if we didn’t know it before the season, we surely know it now that sitting there at minus-22 in the giveaway/takeaway area, it’s tough to win football games. I know you guys have done your homework on this but you have 123 points scored on 34 turnovers and you’re only getting 33 points on your 12 takeaways. That’s a bad stat. So, what do you do? You continue to work at keeping the ball high and tight. You keep emphasizing it for all positions. It’s important that you don’t let anything slide during practice, keep trying to get yourself better as a football team, which we’ll do. This has not been an effort thing. You saw our guys playing their hearts out all the way to the end of the game. But you’ve got to take care of this business here. The young guys have to grow up quickly and the old guys that had the turnovers have got to make sure that they detail their work, don’t try to do too much [and] make sure that you take care of business when you have the football in your hand.”
Another aspect Reid addressed was how effective the defense has been since the Wide-9 was scuttled. Post Wide-9, the Eagles have produced eight sacks in two weeks, using the Wide-9 scheme, they had 13 sacks in 12 games.
“The guys are playing the combination game, playing both the run and the pass and doing a good job of transitioning from their gap responsibilities,” Reid said. “We’re still putting in the nine techniques on passing situations and using a couple of different looks when it could be a run or a pass.”
Reid also spoke about Bryce Brown’s penchant for bouncing runs outside, saying, “There were probably a couple there that he could have kept inside, but for the most part, there were a few of them out there, but there were two or three that he could have kept inside and should have kept inside. He needs to play. I haven’t sat him down because of the fumbles. I felt like he did miss a lot of football [not playing in college]. The thing he needs most is to be out there playing, and learning the game. This is a kid who doesn’t want to make mistakes.”
Reid confirmed that LeSean McCoy wasn’t ready to go. McCoy has been out since suffering a concussion in the Eagles’ 26-23 overtime loss to Detroit on October 14. But when McCoy is healthy, Reid said, he would use him, along with Brown, who’s rushed for 528 yards on 103 carries, and has scored four touchdowns this season. Brown’s also fumbled four times.