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Who is to blame for mess in Philly?
The “Fire Andy” chants were a bit more subdued Sunday, a product of approaching Hurricane Sandy rather than the product Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid put on the field in a 30-17 loss to the undefeated Atlanta Falcons.
This storm will pass by midweek. Reid’s future here has a bit more staying power, although ownership has forecasted a regime change after 14 seasons if this 3-4 Eagles team fails to make the playoffs.
“At this point, we’re not thinking about that,” Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “We’re thinking about playing for the postseason. You can’t say it’s early in the year anymore. It’s midway. We should be doing better at this point. . . . It’s embarrassing.”
Reid also called this performance in what could have been a statement game for the Eagles “embarrassing.” This was the debut of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who took over after Juan Castillo — who had been with the Eagles for 18 years in various capacities — was fired before the bye week.
With Castillo out, the next logical member of the Eagles personnel to draw scrutiny is quarterback Michael Vick. The good news — not that there was much — was that Vick, who entered with 13 turnovers, didn’t fumble or throw a pick today.
He was also, however, ineffective. Much of that could be attributed to the Eagles’ offensive line, but Vick will still get much of the blame.
“Obviously, he’s thinking about making a change at the quarterback position,” said Vick, who was 21 for 34 for 191 yards and a TD. “The thing I do know ... is that I’m giving us every opportunity to win. I’m trying my hardest. Some things don’t go right when I want them to. Some things do. So if that’s a decision that Coach wants to make, then I support it.”
Reid said he would “go back and look at everything,” although he stopped well short of committing to a change at QB that would promote rookie Nick Foles.
Still, much of Sunday’s trouble was linked to the Eagles defense. Philadelphia — which had never lost a game after a bye week under Reid — was picked apart by the Matt Ryan-led Falcons offense from the first drive onward. The Falcons had at least a field goal on their first six possessions of the game en route to Ryan’s 262-yard passing and three-touchdown performance.
The Falcons weren’t forced to punt until there was 5:35 left in regulation, hardly the debut Eagles defensive players wanted for their new coordinator.
“For us to go out there and play like that, that’s not acceptable,” Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “All you can do is look at yourself. You can’t look at (Bowles) and say, 'Coach did this. He called that.' No. You have to look at yourself individually.”
The Falcons felt so confident in their game plan — or maybe the Eagles’ inability to adapt — that they ran the same shovel-pass play twice in the red zone. The first resulted in a 3-yard TD for running back Jason Snelling in the first quarter; the second was an 8-yard Snelling pass and catch that moved the chains before Matt Bryant's field goal in the third quarter. The Eagles also fell victim to screen passes with regularity.
Secondary coverage was shoddy, and there was no better example than Ryan’s 63-yard TD pass to Julio Jones. Jones ran right past Asomugha, one of several high-profile players Reid brought in before last season.
The Eagles’ defensive front wasn’t much better. Tackles Cedric Thornton and Cullen Jenkins did pick up the Eagles’ eighth and ninth sacks of the year, but Ryan typically had plenty of time. The front was only slightly better on run defense, at least if you take away Jacquizz Rodgers’ 43-yard run in the third quarter that made several would-be tacklers look foolish.
“We did it to ourselves,” Eagles defensive end Jason Babin said. “They didn’t make us make mistakes. We knew what we were going to do and we practiced it. We just didn’t execute.”
Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel, who had spent the previous four seasons with the Eagles, made some social media ripples after Castillo was let go on Oct. 16. He repeated the gist of the Twitter message as he held court in front of his locker to bask in the outcome.
“You can’t always blame somebody,” said Samuel, who was traded to the Falcons for a seventh-round pick. “Sometimes you have got to take the fall yourself.”
Samuel said Reid avoided him after the game. “He didn’t speak to me. Like it was my fault. I was like, `What’s up, Coach?’ Can you believe that?”
Reid, however, won’t be able to dodge Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie if the team continues to trend downward. Lurie said before the season an 8-8 record would be “unacceptable,” a comment many interpreted as an ultimatum.
In this city where fans will continue to voice their disapproval of Reid, Lurie is the only person who can do anything about it.