At this point, it is not complicated. The longest tenured head coach in the National Football League will put his 14-year stay in Philadelphia on the line this week at Lincoln Financial Field. Andy Reid needs a win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in the worst way imaginable.
Considering he already scape-goated his defensive coordinator at the beginning of the bye week, there is no one left for Reid to blame but himself if things do not turn around soon. The firing of Juan Castillo was billed as the first of a series of upcoming changes made by the Eagles during Reid’s week of introspection. But just four days away from an encounter with the only remaining undefeated team in pro football, Todd Bowles’ promotion appears to be the only major move Reid plans on making.
His big talk of evaluating every aspect of the football team seems to have been nothing more than hollow cover for the callous (although necessary) move that was letting go a loyal lieutenant. Either that, or an assertion that he has fixed everything that ails the 3-3 Birds.
A win over Atlanta would alter the entire trajectory of the Eagles’ season. Confidence would be restored, and Philly could focus its attention on the fact that its football team has beaten some of the premier teams in the NFL. And if the Cowboys beat the Giants late Sunday afternoon, the Birds will be just a half game out of first place in the NFC East.
Should Sunday’s game go the other way however, the narrative that Reid can get his team back on track would evaporate. A loss to the Falcons would mark the first time Reid has ever failed to win in the week following Philadelphia’s scheduled bye. It would also cement the sense that the Eagles were stuck in a southern-tilting spiral.
Most troubling would be the concept that Reid had 14 days to figure out what was wrong with his talented—yet underachieving team—pinned all the blame at the feet of a single man, and did not fix anything.
As a guy who has always been a Reid-supporter, that’s an outcome I simply could not condone.
A loss on Sunday would turn the mood surrounding this football team truly sour. The Eagles are already not all that popular in the Delaware Valley at the moment. Fans find the current regime stale, and have lost faith in their ability to deliver a championship. Should the team drop to 3-4, the fans’ disdain will become palpable and may cause the situation to turn toxic.
For most teams, being a game under .500 after seven contests would not be a death sentence; but considering what was expected of the Eagles this year—because of how disappointing they were last year and because of the gauntlet owner Jeffrey Lurie laid down for Reid to return in 2013—it would be lethal for the Birds.
Andy Reid has coached in a lot of big games in Philadelphia, but if he wants to stay in the city beyond this season, Sunday’s contest is as pivotal as any he’s ever experienced.