For the record, I personally like the new Andy Reid.
After years of gruff, vague answers to incredibly fair questions from the media, Reid really has turned over a new leaf in 2012. While he hardly doles out an abundance of information, he does seem to be making a concerted effort to at least let the fan base know why their football team is making the decisions that they are.
He was forced to do exactly that during a rather somber press conference on Tuesday afternoon, when the coach discussed the dismissal of long-time assistant and second-year defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. The move was one Reid would clearly rather not have made, but he was left with little choice. After Castillo’s defense blew its second consecutive fourth-quarter lead and lost for the sixth time in the last season-and-a-half when holding an advantage entering the final period, he had to go.
The grand experiment of transforming your offensive line coach into your defensive coordinator has mercifully been abandoned. Obviously it should have never happened in the first place, and for that Reid deserves a lion’s share of blame. Unfortunately, it cost a good and loyal man (although a bad defensive play-caller) his job.
Nevertheless, I applaud Reid for the decision he made. The Eagles are 3-3, not 0-6. Their season is far from a lost cause and with a 14-day stretch between games, if it is to be saved, now is the time to fix what’s broken. If Reid thinks Todd Bowles gives his defense the best chance to win games, than he’s the guy that needs to be in charge.
Hopefully this might be a signal of more change ahead from the notoriously stubborn head coach.
He said he was evaluating everything on Tuesday, including who his starting quarterback would be moving forward. When asked if Michael Vick was still the first string quarterback, Reid basically replied for now. He also said he would be going back, reviewing and evaluating every single turnover Vick has committed this season.
By the time Reid is done, it might be time for kickoff next Sunday against the Falcons. After all, that does require dissecting a mind-numbing 13 giveaways from the veteran QB. To me, a change at the position is warranted, but there are other things the coach can do to improve his sketchy offense as well.
As much as I enjoy the personality of the new Reid, I’d like to see him game plan more like the old Andy. First thing I would suggest is for Reid to restore himself as the primary offensive play caller. When Marty Mornhinweg was given that responsibility from the head coach in 2006, it was because Reid had fallen into a self-described play-calling funk. It seems to me like Philly’s offensive coordinator has fallen into a similar predicament right now.
In the glory days of the Reid era, the Eagles thrived on a devastatingly effective short-passing game. Despite Donovan McNabb’s issues with accuracy and a lack of a vertical threat at wide receiver, Philadelphia consistently produced a potent offense thanks to a well-crafted offensive scheme that moved the chains consistently and produced plenty of long, methodical drives.
The Eagles of the last few seasons have featured a feast-or-famine offensive philosiphy. Their quick-strike capability can be devastating, but if the big play is taken away, the Eagles struggle to score points.
Sunday was the perfect example of this. Despite the fact that the Lions were giving Philly’s receivers a huge cushion and were pretty much conceding five-to-10 yard passes on every play, the Eagles consistently tried to force it down the field. The result was a pair of interceptions, plenty of drive-halting sacks, and even more frustration.
Reid made the change he had to on the defensive side of the ball on Tuesday. Now he must do the same to help kick-start his offense or his 14th season in Philadelphia will likely be his last. If that was the situation I found myself facing, I’d want to have as much say over my fate as possible.
It will be interesting to see whether Reid feels the same way.