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How Do Eagles Rebound Next?

In the hours -- literally -- after the 35-31 loss in Atlanta, Reid stood before the Philadelphia media and left them slack jawed. Reid explained that he approached quarterback Mike Kafka's first full offensive series the wrong way and, in fact, sent the wrong message to his team.

"I didn't do a very good job in this game. I have a young quarterback in Mike Kafka that I was way, way too conservative with, I think that sent a message to our football team, and not a positive message. For those first couple series that he was in," said Reid. "I did something that I normally don't do, in particular I do have trust in Michael and how good he is, and by sitting on the ball I think that sends a message to everybody, and it's not a positive message.

"So I'm kicking myself in the tail for that right now. It's my responsibility to make sure that we play reckless, aggressive football, and when the head coach doesn't do that, that's not a good sign."

It was a brilliant, perhaps strategic, move by Reid. He made himself the focus and, most important, let every player in his locker room know that Reid has his back. The loss in Atlanta was a team effort, everyone agrees, but Reid took it a step further by telling his players that the loss was on him, on the big guy, and that he will never allow that to happen again.

When you have a team still in the process of learning about each other and about how the collective group will respond to pressure, you look for a rallying moment. You look for leadership.

Reid stepped up on Monday and accepted responsibility.

The players appreciated the move, for sure. They spent Monday in meetings and in film review at the NovaCare Complex, shrugging off the late night and the disappointing close to a thrilling game. There are lessons to be learned from a loss like that, and for those new to the program -- and there are 21 new players on this 2011 53-man roster -- one of the most important is this: Reid has the players' backs. He will push them and he will be a demanding head coach, but he will accept blame when blame is due.

It was the kind of move the great coaches make. Reid, in his subtle way, did just that with a verbal admission, the kind of thing that can take a team a long, long way when the times are tough.

  • The news was positive regarding quarterback Michael Vick's health on Monday. I spoke with Reid in the early evening hours prior to his meeting with head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder and Reid said that Vick was responding well the day after suffering a concussion. It is too early to say whether Vick will play on Sunday, but the initial steps after Vick was injuried were positive.
  • Kudos to Kafka for the way he performed in Atlanta. For a kid who had not taken a single snap in a regular-season game, he was so very poised and cool under pressure. I liked his decisions. I liked his arm strength and his accuracy, and I loved the way he ran over to Jeremy Maclin to help him up and offer words of encouragement after Maclin was unable to hang on to Kafka's fourth-down pass late in the game. Kafka is going to be a great leader when he has his chance to take over a team in this league.
  • I'm watching the Giants play the Rams and, honestly, both offenses are struggling so much. One area where the Eagles must improve is against the no-huddle attack. I would not be surprised to see Eli Manning use it quite a bit on Sunday afternoon.
  • The Eagles had a good tempo out of the huddle in Atlanta and set up at the line of scrimmage in plenty of time to give Vick a good look at the defense. As a result, the Falcons had zero sacks, and Vick generally had good time to set up and throw the football.
  • Lost in the shuffle was Danny Watkins' debut on special teams. The Eagles are still pushing him and it is not impossible to imagine him getting some reps at right guard in the relatively near future. The kid has a world of talent.
  • Week by week, you see wide receiver Steve Smith working his way more into the offense. He had a couple of catches in traffic and is going to prove to be an excellent piece in this offensive puzzle.
  • You've heard this before: Take away Michael Turner's 61-yard run in the fourth quarter and the Falcons averaged less than 3 yards per carry. Problem is, you can't take that run away. The Eagles don't mind giving up an 8-yard run here or a 10-yard run there, but they have been gashed twice in two games up the gut. It's going to be interesting to see the adjustment defensive coordinator Juan Castillo makes, because there is no doubt the Giants are going to try to run and run and run on the Eagles defense.
  • Keep an eye on the health situation at defensive end. If Darryl Tapp (pec) and Juqua Parker (ankle sprain) can't play against the Giants, the Eagles will be left with Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Phillip Hunt. Cullen Jenkins can play defensive end in spots, too. Would the Eagles bring in a defensive end or promote Daniel Te'o-Nesheim from the practice squad if they feel the pinch?
  • It is easy to criticize Reid for not challenging the interception Vick threw early in the third quarter, but he explained why he didn't challenge: The coaches never saw a replay that gave them a chance to make a challenge. That, plus Atlanta rushing to the line of scrimmage, allowed the Falcons to get a play off before the challenge flag could be thrown. Reid did get one right when he challenged a call that gave wide receiver Julio Jones a reception. The review overturned the call.
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