The Eagles are gripped now by chaos. There is no other way to look at it. With four games remaining in a down-spiraling season, just hours after a late-night loss in Cowboys Stadium, they abruptly fired defensive line coach Jim Washburn, apparently telling him not to let the door hit him in the wide-9 on the way out.
In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, they now have fired a defensive coordinator (Juan Castillo), a defensive end (Jason Babin), a defensive line coach (Washburn) and, just for fun, a couple of front office executives.
As it turns out, even Nixon’s final days were more orderly than Andy Reid’s.
Washburn had, fairly or not, become a symbol of everything that had gone wrong with Reid’s tenure as coach. He was brought in as part of a radical overhaul of the coaching staff in 2011. He brought with him what was viewed by some as a gimmicky scheme, the wide-9 defensive front, and he was brought in and hired before Reid decided on a defensive coordinator. It was done exactly backward -- and then, when Reid promoted Castillo, his offensive line coach, to be the defensive coordinator, the scheme and the setup and the coordinator made for a trifecta of dysfunction.
It was the kind of gamble that Reid had never taken before. It was the kind of haphazard decision-making that was the exact opposite of Reid’s careful persona. Now, here we are.
I saw Washburn leaving the locker room after Sunday night’s loss to the Cowboys. He was dressed in a suit and tie, as is the custom, and he looked kind of mad at the world, his red face contrasted against his silver goatee. I didn’t think anything of it as Washburn left, by himself, and headed for a team bus -- because after eight straight losses, everybody associated with that team either looks angry or looks like they just witnessed a car wreck.
That Babin was one of Washburn’s favorites went without saying -- he resurrected Babin’s career when they were together in Tennessee, and Babin flourished as a pass rusher for the Eagles in 2011 -- and the team’s decision to fire Babin last week could not have been Washburn’s idea. That Washburn’s personality could be prickly also was not in dispute; he and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg got into it on the sidelines at one point last season, you will remember, and Washburn was very open about being concerned only with his guys and his scheme. Whatever happened behind them was somebody else’s problem.
In recent days, all of those elements must have been shaken into a toxic cocktail -- and it had to be toxic, because there is no way you fire an assistant coach in December for anything short of toxic. And while it speaks to Washburn, and to the perils of losing in the NFL, it speaks more to the head coach.
The thing has spun completely out of control now for Reid. The questions get harder, the answers get weaker, and the one thing you could always say about Reid -- that he was organized, that he could make the trains run on time, and that his teams were always modeled after his persistent, consistent personality -- is now being questioned in the cacophony of 3-9 and the certainty that Reid is about to be fired.
Chaos now defines. Chaos, and losing.