Quarterback Nick Foles has become the latest failure for Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid and his embattled team management.
Harsh? Sure. But the same can be said for the entire 2012 Eagles season. Foles is a rookie whose first NFL start came in Sunday’s 31-6 loss to the Washington Redskins only because turnover-prone Michael Vick was sidelined with a concussion.
But Foles and his wobbly performance as Vick’s understudy symbolized much more: The disappointing starting debut of the former University of Arizona standout has become another blemish on an Eagles’ regime that has been in charge for 13 years.
It’s an administration quickly approaching lame duck status after the Eagles dropped their fourth consecutive game, each loss by 13 or more points, for the first time since 1976.
“I take full responsibly for that,” Reid said after his first defeat at FedEx Field since 2008 and his sixth loss in a row overall. “It’s my fault that’s the way things are going.”
Foles, who was drafted in the third round, didn’t help bolster his boss’ job security much.
He threw interceptions on his first two drives as a starter. He tried to force a ball to tight end Brent Celek, a pass that deflected directly toward Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Hall returned the ball 22 yards to the Eagles’ 9-yard line, which set up the first of four passing touchdowns for the Redskins’ more impressive rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
The second Foles’ interception wasn’t as excusable. There was no tip. Foles threw toward a well-covered DeSean Jackson. The result was an easy pick for safety Brandon Meriweather, who saw his first action of the season after a knee injury.
“I’ve played bad games before. This was one of them,” Foles said.
Foles completed 21 of 46 passes for 204 yards and the two interceptions, along with three fumbles (all recovered by the Eagles). He was also sacked four times, although Foles’ offensive line arguably performed better than what Vick had played behind recently.
The most troubling number for the Eagles — who entered the season with high expectations as a possible NFC East favorite — is their record. Philly stands at 3-7, and no team in NFL history has recovered from that mark to make the playoffs. The Eagles can only lose once more to have a shot at the mediocre .500 record they posted a season ago, a repeat performance that owner Jeffrey Lurie has said would be "unacceptable."
Afterward, Reid was pounded by questions about whether he has a future in Philadelphia.
“We need to get ready for the Monday night game (against Carolina),” Reid said when asked if he’d be around by season’s end.
Celek said he’d understand if ownership is as frustrated as the no-nonsense fans in Philly.
“I wouldn’t be happy if I was them,” Celek said. “I’m sure they’re not. This is a talented team and us (as) players, we’re not making plays. I don’t get it.”
Have Reid and his coaching staff lost this locker room? Eagles offensive lineman Evan Mathis said the team’s failings can’t be attributed to them.
“I’m hearing everything they say,” Mathis said. “I can’t speak for everyone. I’m taking the coaching to heart. I know most guys on this team care. I say `most’ because I can’t speak for everybody. If I see somebody who is a problem, I’d confront him. I still think this team has heart.”
Jackson did just that — confront some teammates — after LeSean McCoy fumbled late in the first half, the Eagles’ third turnover of the game. The Redskins converted a field goal to go up 17-3 at the break.
“It was very frustrating,” Jackson said. “Once again, we’re continuing to make the same mistakes and committing turnovers. After a while, you get tired of it. I let them know it’s not OK to continue to make mistakes.”
The offense is hardly the Eagles’ only phase that’s been lacking. Griffin gashed Philly’s secondary repeatedly downfield, the most stunning example being a 61-yard strike to Aldrick Robinson in the second quarter. Robinson blew past Eagles corner back Nnamdi Asomugha and had the whole end zone (and then some) to himself.
Griffin was spectacular, completing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards, and he added 84 more yards on the ground.
The Eagles secondary has now given up 14 touchdowns since forcing its last interception, a second-quarter pick during the team’s Week 6 loss to the Detroit Lions. Clearly, firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo during the bye week following that Detroit game hasn’t solved much.
“It seems like it has been sloppy play for like the last three or four weeks,” Asomugha said. “I feel like we just haven’t played at the level we have been playing at (before)."
One coaching decision by Reid that could have implications beyond Sunday was the decision to leave McCoy in the game with a legitimate chance to win well out of hand. McCoy was laid out by Redskins safety Madieu Williams, leaving the Eagles tailback motionless for several minutes with 1:45 remaining. McCoy sat up on his own but was carted to the locker room for evaluation.
Reid announced McCoy had sustained a concussion.
“We were trying to catch up and win the game,” Reid said when asked why the All-Pro running back and playmaker remained in the contest
Trailing by 25 points; under two minutes remaining in regulation. McCoy’s presence wasn’t going to change that. Reid’s math clearly isn’t very good.
Add that to the list of reasons why the only coach the Eagles have known since 1999 may be counting down his final days running the show in Philadelphia.