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History Says: Don't Give Up

Posted Oct 15, 2012

I know how it looks right now. I know how disappointing the overtime loss to Detroit was, and how the first six games of this season have not been satisfying in the least. But hold on to your emotions, if you can ...

We've got two weeks to stew in the anger of the 26-23 loss to Detroit, a game in which the Eagles snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and do so in such a complete, disconcerting fashion. Had it happened as a random loss, well, it would be easier to stomach. That it resembles so much of what we've seen these last two seasons makes it all the more troubling.

More on that, and what the Eagles can do moving forward, later. I know this much, though: If history is any indicator, the Eagles are going to be in the thick of things come December. Andy Reid has won 68 percent of his games after the bye in his Eagles head coaching career.

You don't want to hear that. You want to know how the Eagles have reached the point they are at now, a 3-3 record and severe reasons for concern in just about every area of the football team. You want to know how Reid is going to fix things, who is going to be made accountable and what in the world the Eagles need to do to win seven of their remaining 10 games to reach 10-6 and reach the postseason playing great football.

You want answers, even if Reid doesn't have them right now.

He is in the bunker now, and will be there for the next week. Reid is going to "look at everything," he says. Top to bottom, inside and out with this football team.

This is the time of the season, in a crisis moment, when the players and the coaches throw around weighty words that don't mean a whole lot without actions to back them up. Reid said the offense in the fourth quarter on Sunday against Detroit was "pathetic." Wide receiver Jason Avant used words like "undisciplined" and "embarrassing" to describe the performance.

With that, the players met on Monday, heard from Reid, reviewed the film and were given the rest of the week off. You can feel like Reid needed to punish them to get his point across, but he does what he knows, and he's 13-0 after the bye in his head coaching career and he's given his players a week off every year and then come back with a victory.

Are there going to be significant changes in the days to come? I predict a minor roster move or two, maybe, but nothing dramatic. Will Michael Vick, for example, remain the starting quarterback? Yes. He isn't playing particularly well and the turnovers continue at an alarming rate, but how damaging would it be to have a rookie quarterback playing behind an offensive line that gave up as much as the Eagles did on Sunday against Detroit?

Is Juan Castillo going to remain the defensive coordinator? It certainly appears that way, and he knows he has major work to do, more wrinkles to install. If you don't practice blitzing, and don't really think you need to use it a lot with the defensive line the Eagles thought they had, how can you expect it to work on game day when you suddenly dial it up, as the Eagles did in the fourth quarter on Sunday?

What, you want to know, is going to change between now and next Monday when the Eagles report back to the NovaCare Complex to turn the season in the right direction for good?

I don't know.

I wish I did.

I wish I had some answer to give you, a magical solution to provide. Reid is correct when he says the "players have to play better and the coaches have to coach better" for the Eagles to win. The team is one game out of first place in the NFC East, and goodness gracious the Eagles have five games remaining to play within the division. All is not lost ... 

But there isn't much margin for error, that's for sure. The Eagles let a 3-1 start to the season melt into 3-3 and they're now chasing the New York Giants in the NFC East. That's the focus: Win the division. If the Eagles win out, they win the division. They control their destiny.

However, there are plenty of warts. It's impossible to isolate on one phase of the game here. The problems in the last two weeks were many.

If you believe in the talent on this roster, then the Eagles are to this point an underachieving team. The expectations, certainly, are much higher than 3-3 and living on the cliff every week.

So, Reid retreats to the quiet of his office and the meeting rooms of the NovaCare Complex where he will gather with his veteran coaching staff and attempt to make corrections. It is important to understand that everyone shares in the current frustrations, and that everyone believes the season is still very much alive. History suggests as much, as does a talented roster and six games in which the Eagles were in position to win at least five.

They're 3-3. They are, as coaches have been known to say, what they are, and that is a turnover-prone, under-producing offensive team and a defensive team living off of its pass coverage and stops in the red zone.

It has to get better. It has to get better right now, with so much of the future riding on the success of this season.

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