Vick Deserves Another Chance To Lead The Eagles In 2013
Coming into the 2012 season, the Philadelphia Eagles, who finished last season 8-8, were expected to regain their championship contender form. With a full off-season, improved offensive line and a revamped linebacking core led by new acquisition DeMeco Ryans, they appeared to have the necessary parts to make a run at the Super Bowl.
The troubles began for the Eagles in training camp. Before tragedy struck two other NFL teams, the Eagles suffered one of their own. Andy Reid’s son, Garrett Reid, died of a heroine overdose. (The younger Reid was working for the Eagles as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the time of his death.)
Michael Vick, who was close with Garrett, lent his support to the elder Reid and vowed to win for his son.“Our entire season will be dedicated to Garrett,” Michael Vick said, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “And I’m personally dedicating my season to coach and to my teammates. This season will be dedicated to Garrett starting tomorrow.”
Although the Eagles had their struggles in the first four games of the season, they positioned themselves to re-enter title mix, if they could start to click on all cylinders.
Everything sounds good in theory…the Eagles season would soon take a turn for the worse. After two straight losses, Reid considered a quarterback change, but in a surprising move, he fired(scapegoated) Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo during their bye week. Reid seemed remorseful over naming Castillo, who was the Eagles’ offensive line coach for 12 years before being name defensive coordinator, to the post in the first place.
“I put Juan in this situation and things didn’t work out the way I had hoped,” Reid said. “I take full responsibility for putting him in that situation.”
A few games later, Vick suffered a concussion and the Eagles got an earlier-than-expected look at Nick Foles. Foles didn’t fare much better…the Eagles continued to struggle…and Reid make another shocking move…waiving starting Defensive End Jason Babin, who had 18 sacks in 2011 and was a favorite of Defensive Line Coach Jim Washburn.
Subsequently, Washburn was fired the very next week. According to sources within the Eagles lockeroom, the axing was a long-time coming. Washburn’s disdain over Babin’s ouster only sped up the process.
Reid on Washburn’s departure: “I would just tell you that there were things that I was disappointed in, and as time went on . . . I just thought it was the right thing to do.”
With Vick still suffering concussion symptoms, Foles continued as the Eagle starter. He improved steadily. And with Vick refusing to renegotiate his 15.5-million dollar 2013 salary, the 6’6, 243 pound Arizona product was not only Vick’s replacement in the present…but for the foreseeable future.
It was only fitting that Foles would break his hand and give Vick the opportunity to start, presumably, his final game as a Eagles against their division rival, the New York Giants. Chris Canty, a Giants’ defensive linemen, understands that Vick will try to ball in his final game.
“Oh my gosh. We were talking about it,” Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty said with a chuckle at his locker Wednesday. “Just … that guy … it’s only fitting he’s starting in the final game of the season … probably his final game as an Eagle … against the New York Giants.
“Perfect story line. Only fitting.”
Even though Vick doesn’t view the game as an audition, he wants to put on a show. “It’s our last game in our 2012 season, and I would much rather be out there. I want to get a win for Coach Reid, and I think my teammates will rally around that. It’s our own little Super Bowl in our own right,” said Vick.
It’s more than likely Vick’s last game in an Eagles uniform, but I have to ask: Should it be?
I say that for one reason: The Eagles’ downfall is NOT HIS FAULT.
Vick, who was a runner-up for the 2010 MVP, has had his struggles as the Eagles’ starter–namely a high turnover rate, which is why most analyst say he shouldn’t return as the Eagles’ starter. In Vick’s defense, I feel there are other factors that have contributed more to the Eagles poor play.
The Eagles featured one the most explosive offenses in the league during Vick’s first two years as the starter( 2nd in total offense 2010, 4th in 2011). This season the offense started to suffer because of a high-risk, high-reward mentality. As NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner pointed out early in the 2012 season, the Eagles consistently run plays that employ only two receivers…and they usually were running 20-yards down the field–forcing Vick to throw into double and triple coverage.
I see Reid giving Vick the play now.
Reid: Vick, we going deep on this play to either DeSean(Jackson) or Jeremy(Maclin).
Vick: Who’s the check down?
Reid: What check down?
Vick: Coach Reid, you know this doom-to-fail play probably won’t work, right.
Reid: You run a 4.2. …You will save the day as usual.
Vick: Ok coach. I got you. You got my back if the play go wrong.
Reid: What you say Mike? I can’t hear you…my headphones messing up again.
Vick: Not again. I’m screwed.
To go along with risky play-calling, Vick suffered behind the worst offensive line in the league the past three years. I’ll hit you with a stat. Vick, who only weighs 205 pounds, got hit on 32.8 percent of plays this season. I don’t care how good a quarterback is suppose to be. If you are getting hit one out of every three plays, you will not be able to efficiently run an offense. You know what happens to Tom Brady when he gets hit? Two Super Bowl losses. And people expect Vick to work miracles.
While the Eagles defense showed improvement early in 2012, the defense has been soft for the most part. They lost five fourth quarter leads in 2011. You add two of those games to the Eagles win total. What do you have? A playoff berth.
Which brings me to me to Reid. In the 2011 off-season, he made an ill-advised coaching hire–Juan Castillo.
Castillo, who previously coached the Eagles offensive line and last coached on the defensive side of the ball at Kingsville High School in 1989, asked Reid to consider him. After several other coaches turned down the job, Reid decided to promote Castillo to the position.
I’ll put it this way. Castillo becoming a defensive coordinator, after years of coaching offense, is like Lil Wayne deciding to do a Rock-n-Roll album. Oh, wait, that’s a bad example. A better example would be if Kim Kardashian, after years of getting famous for ruining entertainers and athletes careers, decided to show an actual talent.
Reid forgetting who writes the checks was another major blunder. While being questioned by reporters , Reid’s agent, Bob Lamonte, let those in attendance know that his client would coach the Eagles as long as he desired.”(Jeffrey)Lurie has stated again and again, any time that I’ve been with him, that was as long as he’s the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles Andy Reid would be his coach,” LaMonte said. “And I’d say the proof of the pie is in the pudding. He’s been here 14 years.”
Lurie didn’t take to kindly to the comments, saying, “”Bob is a great agent who we have an outstanding relationship with,” Lurie said in a statement. “As much respect as all of us have for Andy Reid, it is the nature of the profession that all coaches, executives and players are evaluated each year. That’s the way we have always operated. But our focus right now, and I know Andy feels the same way, is solely on the upcoming 2012 season.”
Aside from the disrespect that Reid displayed, the comments highlighted a bigger problem: complacency.
It’s why Reid felt that he could hire an offensive line coach to run an NFL defense and not fire him when his unit started to giving up fourth-quarter leads.
When you combine boom-or-bust play-calling, poor offensive line play, soft defense, a venturesome coaching hire and complacency, what do you get? Two straight years fishing after the regular season.
I know the problem with the Eagles. …And it’s not Vick.
Given the chance in 2013, Vick(minus Reid) could become that superstar again. He wouldn’t just save the day…but win games, as well.
By Jeremiah Short
Follow this writer @DaRealJShort or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.