The Eagles packed up their belongings today and said goodbye to their 2011 season, which actually left town without them a while back, as they stumbled to 1-4 and 4-8.
"I'm a fan of the game. I'm going to watch the playoffs," said quarterback Michael Vick, who will be 32 when he takes his next snap. "I'm a fan of all the quarterbacks in this league, I like to see them excel, as well. It's going to be tough ... but I'll continue to tune in."
Vick acknowledged that he watched the Giants' victory over the Cowboys Sunday night, hours over finishing up his own season with a 34-10 victory over the Redskins. The Giants are 9-7 and are going to the playoffs as the NFC East representative, even though they had a negative-6 point differential. The 8-8 Eagles, 5-1 in the division, were plus-68, which ought to be impossible without posting a winning record, but was not, as it turned out.
"I'm proud of Eli (Manning, the Giants' QB). He stepped up and played a great game. They really gelled, like us, at the end of the year," Vick said.
Well, no, Mike, there was a crucial difference. The Giants didn't play great at all down the stretch, but they started out 6-2, so they didn't need to.
The Eagles' start killed their season, several players reiterated yesterday -- whether because of all the changes in personnel and coaching that had to be assimilated, or just because they lacked sufficient urgency and focus early.
"It is what it is," Vick said. He said this season's failure "is going to motivate us to work harder .... It's very disappointing."
Vick had to leave two games with injuries, and the Eagles blew fourth-quarter leads to lose both of them. Then they went 1-2 when Vick had to sit with broken ribs. "I have to be available for 16 games for this team. I've got to hold myself accountable," Vick said. "I've got to get away from trying to do too much, and understanding that waking up Monday morning (not) sore doesn't mean that you didn't go out and give it your all. I think it means you played smart, and I went into the game yesterday with that mindset. I went into the game with that mindset. That's how I want to play this coming season -- protecting the ball, playing smart, not taking unnecessary hits, and being there for my team. That's what means more to me now than anything."
Defensive end Juqua Parker, the oldest Eagle at 33, heads into an uncertain future as an unrestricted free agent, one of 11. The rest of the list: Victor Abiamiri, Ronnie Brown, King Dunlap, DeSean Jackson, Derek Landri, Trevor Laws, Evan Mathis, Owen Scmitt, Steve Smith and Vince Young. Antonio Dixon is a restricted free agent.
Parker said he wants to return, doesn't know if that will be possible. He said the same goes for defensive line coach Jim Washburn -- he said Washburn has told him he would like to be back. Obviously, that would be complicated, if the Birds hire a new defensive coordinator, as many people expect.
The Rams fired head coach Steve Spagnuolo today, as expected. Spagnuolo, a former Eagles defensive assistant, has been widely linked to the Eagles' situation. Eagles coach Andy Reid is not scheduled to talk to reporters until after an address from team chairman Jeffrey Lurie later this week. The Eagles declined to make defensive coordinator Juan Castillo available to reporters yesterday or today.
Oh, and unofficially, the Eagles draft 15th in April.