When you listen to as much Philadelphia sports commentary as I do, you start to hear the same narrative over and over.
One of the more common phrases used in reference to Andy Reid’s 14-year tenure is “the definition of insanity: repeating the same experiment over and over again expecting different results.”
At a disappointing 3-4, the future seems bleak for die-hard Eagles fans.
In what is described as a “Super Bowl-or-Bust” season, conviction is mounting among fans that their beloved Eagles may not even make it out of the NFC East, and here are five reasons why fans may be right.
Andy Reid Is Not The Guy For The Job
It’s not hard to see why Eagles fans feel this way. Since Reid took the reins in Philadelphia in 1999, the Eagles’ offense has been much less dynamic than the sum of its parts. A consistent 60-40, and sometimes 70-30 split in favor of pass plays has been especially frustrating considering the fact he has had two of the most dynamic tailbacks in the league at his disposal in Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy.
It’s hard to overstate how little patience fans have for watching the same thing happen to the Eagles year after year. The writing has been on the wall so long it may as well be a mural at this point with painted faces of all the available coaches fans would rather see on the sidelines.
What is so infuriating is the apparent complacency when it comes to Reid’s job by the Eagles’ front office. It’s like watching a man hand a porcelain doll to a child who breaks said doll and feeling your jaw drop when you see the man hand the child another porcelain doll over and over and over again.
Michael Vick Can’t Be Successful Without Being a Turnover Machine
Being a dynamic quarterback like Michael Vick is more of an attitude than a skill. It’s less cerebral than the process Peyton Manning goes through prior to every snap. Vick doesn’t make reads, he has reactions.
He doesn’t rely on preparation, he relies on instincts. The question often arises in Philadelphia whether or not a quarterback such as Vick can ever win a Super Bowl. Who knows the answer to such things, but what has become abundantly evident is the fact that for Michael Vick to be Michael Vick, he is going to turn the ball over.
From 2004 to 2006 – when Vick became an icon - his TD/INT splits were 14/12, 15/13 and 20/13 respectively. Despite throwing nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns in ’04, the Falcons posted an 11-5 record and went to the NFC Championship game.
However, in ’05 and ‘06 the Falcons went 8-8 and 7-9, missing the playoffs both years. My point? The Eagles cannot be successful if Vick doesn’t have the freedom to be who he is; however, the real Michael Vick comes with its sacrifices.
A Defense Without an Identity
In 2011, Reid made the controversial decision to hire Juan Castillo – a former offensive line coach – as defensive coordinator. Defense under Jim Johnson used to be the Eagles’ strength and they have struggled to recapture that over the last few seasons.
Castillo is gone, Todd Bowles is at the helm, and the Eagles are in an identity crisis now more than ever. If last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons was any indication, that identity is still very much in question.
A lot of the blame for the Eagles' losses fall on Vick’s turnovers, and understandably so. However, fans are very aware that the defense had a lead in the fourth quarter for two straight games prior to Sunday and were unable to come away with a win.
You can argue that the defense is ranked 12th in yards allowed, 10th in points per game and seventh in total points allowed, but you can’t argue that blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter is a recipe for winning championships. You just can’t.
More Holes in the Offensive Line than Swiss Cheese
When Jason Peters went down with an Achilles tear in training camp, fans knew it was going to be difficult to replace him. What they didn’t expect is that the loss of Peters may only be the second most devastating loss on the offensive line.
Center Jason Kelce - placed on IR due to a knee injury - has left the Eagles scrambling for a solution. As if Vick was bored and looking for a new challenge, he now has to make reactions that much faster due to having defensive lineman in the backfield before he can make his first read.
A Schedule Not Designed for the Faint of Heart
It could be much worse, but the schedule the Eagles face coming off an early bye week is not the easiest, especially when 10-6 has been established as a minimum to make the playoffs, and that may be lucky to achieve a wild card berth in a strong NFC.
Coming off the bye they faced Atlanta at home, and then travel to New Orleans in one of the most difficult places to play in the league. They will also be at Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay and will close the season at the Giants. They could feasibly finish this 9-game stretch at 5-4, leaving them at 8-8 overall yet again.
Make no mistake, Eagles fans have had enough and if a legitimate playoff run is not achieved in 2012, it will be hard to justify staying with the status quo yet again. Owner Jeffrey Lurie backed himself into a corner last season when he said 8-8 wasn’t good enough.
How many porcelain dolls will Eagles management keep handing Andy Reid until they finally decide to move on? When will Reid, notorious for his loyalty, decide to make a change at quarterback? Only time will tell, but with each loss, the fans become more vocal about their displeasure.