Deflated Andy, Dispirited Vick
The Philadelphia Daily News - Eagletarian
Deflated Andy, Dispirited Vick
Les Bowen, Daily News Staff Writer
Not much to do today other than try to find a secure spot for my recycling bins, and think about what happened to the Eagles yesterday.
I'm most fascinated by the postgame scene. When Andy Reid trundled into the interview room, I was struck by how deflated he looked. Almost literally. Not making a weight joke here, but we all know the coach has lost more than a few pounds this year, and he's been growing out that brushy mustache until it dwarfs the rest of his features. The man who stood at the podium Sunday, swathed in rain-spattered black, looked like a shrunken, diminished version of the familiar coach.
We've seen Andy lose games before, and then brusquely declare how he has to do a better job. This was different. This time, the 14th-year coach seemed to be questioning himself as much as we were questioning him. I asked Reid if the change in defensive coordinators during the bye week, intended to galvanize the defense, had instead unsettled it.
"How can I stand up here and tell you it didn't, with the way we played?" he said.
That is not an Andy Reid answer. I have been asking this man questions since 2002, and I know an Andy Reid answer when I hear one. An Andy Reid answer to that sort of question usually involves everyone looking in the mirror while sharing pieces of pie.
Reid summoned a tiny bit of snark when ESPN's Sal Paolantonio asked him if he thought the team needed to hear a different voice. Reid asked if Sal wanted to talk to 'em. Otherwise, we seemed to be talking to a man as bewildered by the Eagles' response to the Falcons' sharp, focused play as we were.
I've heard this theory floated by former Eagles such as Brian Westbrook, and I think it resonates: So many of these Birds are not Andy guys. The great free agent coup of 2011, when the Eagles outsmarted the rest of the league by going out and signing everybody on the market in a few days, still resonates. Vince Young and Ronnie Brown are gone, but Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins play on. Plus, some of the young guys who were drafted here have known nothing but struggle and failure; they've heard about Reid's successes, haven't lived them. Remember, the Eagles last won a playoff game in the 2008 postseason.
In the NFL, you can't paper over draft failures with free agent signings. Uusually in NFL free agency, you wind up paying for glittery things a guy now at the end of his prime did while he was playing for somebody else, not what he is going to do for you in the future. That's not the way to win.
Moroever, when guys are drafted together and grow up together, win together, they build a strong bond, among themselves and with their coaches. Guy comes in from some other organization, gets a big guarantee, where's his incentive? What's his bond with you?
Also disturbing was Vick's postgame interview, at the same podium. I don't think Vick was saying he wants to be replaced, when he told us Reid was "obviously" considering a QB change, and that he would support whatever the coach did. I think he was trying to be a team guy, and acknowledging that he has not played well.
I think being unable to get this offense going has sapped Vick. The turnover problems have made him hesitant, tentative. He can't trust his constantly changing o-line, and at 32, Vick can't trust in the one thing he always believed in, his own superior athletic ability, which he used to think could solve any problem.
Vick is a crucial step slower than he was a few years ago, but he isn't as slow as he looked against the Falcons. The QB moved like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
I don't think handing the season over to rookie quarterback Nick Foles is going to save the Eagles, who really can't give up on the playoffs at 3-4. But Reid needs to get Vick's mojo back, and maybe his own, as well. And I have no idea how that is going to happen.