Reid's act has gone stale in Philly

Reid's act has gone stale in Philly

Published Oct. 8, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

Everything has an expiration date, even the best of things.

So it isn’t entirely Andy Reid’s fault that the Dream Team is terrible, heading toward the biggest disappointment in NFL history. Oh, Reid has made some terrible decisions: baffling hires, reckless game plans, confused play calls. He’s still a good coach, even an excellent one. But this is a mix of burnout and inevitability.

The Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Buffalo Bills 31-24 Sunday, falling to 1-4.

They are almost out of playoff hope already.

Reid has gone stale. It happens. He needs to step away from the Eagles, refresh and recharge. And then come back to the game.

He’s not done. He needs a break. He is melting down.

“Guys are just trying so hard to make a play,’’ Michael Vick said, explaining his four interceptions and the team’s five turnovers. “We know what we’re capable of. We know what we can do. . .


“And I think that in the moment, guys are just trying to make the play, and want to be the game-changer. I totally understand. In our position, we’re desperate for a win.’’

Desperate. That’s how Reid looked Sunday.

He tried to jam in an extra play at the end of the first half, with the Eagles trailing, but in field goal range. They were on the 26-yard line with eight seconds left. From that distance, chances for a touchdown were so slim. With that little time, chances for a mistake were high. Vick held the ball too long, and by the time his pass finally fell incomplete, time was up.

The half was over.

“I thought we could get one more play,’’ Reid said, “and have some time.’’

Reid looked desperate on the very next play, too, calling for an onside kick to start the second half. It failed, giving Buffalo great field position with its 14-point lead. Luckily, the Eagles had kicked before officials blew the whistle to start play. A fluke had saved Reid from his weird decision.

But it isn’t just two plays. After last season, Reid fired the defensive coordinator he had hired one year earlier. Then he gave the job to offensive line coach Juan Castillo, who had never coached defense before. Reid has always been an offense guy, too.

Now, the defense can’t stop the run. The linebackers aren’t noticeable.

On top of that, Reid is going to get Vick killed. He is terribly misusing Vick, having him pass too much or relying on him to run out of jams by himself. He is using Vick too much.

And Vick gets clobbered on nearly every play.

Reid is too good for such coaching dysfunction. And now, even his team is reflecting his meltdown.

The Eagles still had a chance to win with 1:23 left. Buffalo had the ball near midfield, fourth down and inches. Everyone knew the Bills would never snap that ball, and instead would just hope that someone from the Eagles would jump into the neutral zone anyway.

Juqua Parker did. So the game was over.

“Listen, I’m not saying anything on that,’’ Reid said. “I’m not going to hang one guy out to dry on a play.’’

Yet with that, he did.

Reid has chased the Super Bowl tail for too long in the wrong city.

Philly has awfully tough fans with big demands. On top of that, he went through very publicized family problems, with sons arrested on drug busts.

At some point, it is just too much. That point might have been three years ago.

But Reid’s painful chase continued. And this year, with so many star signings in the offseason, and with talk of a Dream Team, the demand was that the wait would end.

The same chase in the same town ran down Dick Vermeil, too. He left for an entire generation, came back recharged and won the Super Bowl. Bill Cowher is recharging now.

Pressure on head coaches just keeps growing, and there is no shame in taking a timeout. At this point, it would only help Reid. At just 53, he has plenty of time left in his career.

I’m not saying he should leave Monday. No, he needs to finish the season, then step away. He can’t just leave Vick alone now.

It has to be hard for a guy like Reid, who has worked so hard for so long, to see that he isn’t the answer. Not now, anyway.

A few weeks into the season, I thought maybe the Eagles were following a pattern of the Miami Heat, and just needed time to get all the new pieces to fit together. The Eagles’ early losses could have been attributed to that, or to Vick’s injuries.

But they blew a big lead, with Reid still calling pass plays, against San Francisco. And on Sunday, there were no reasons, no excuses. Vick wasn’t great. Well, that’s not quite right. He was great, and he was also terrible. Some of those interceptions were tipped balls, and flukes. Others were right into a defender’s gut.

Some people will be tempted to blame him, and it’s true that he’s not perfect. But he’s the one leading this team, and if he’s starting to fall apart, it’s because so much has been put on him. Too much. Reid is responsible for putting him in position to succeed.

Running back LeSean McCoy could help. He had just 11 carries Sunday for 80 yards. That’s 7.3 a carry.

But it’s the same story nearly every week with McCoy. And Reid just won’t use him.

Someone asked Reid if he needs to make any changes at all.

“We need to eliminate turnovers, that’s what we need to do,’’ he said.

“And penalties in crucial situations. I think it’s pretty obvious.’’

No, Reid is missing the obvious. 13 years in one head coaching job with the same chase in the same tough town. It’s too much. Reid can’t save this Dream.