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Eagles' loss to Vikings no laughing matter as difficult playoff road unfolds

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V FOR VICTORY WITH BILLY VARGUSBilly Vargus

Before the Eagles took the field Tuesday night, I heard Peter King, the outstanding football writer for Sports Illustrated say on a local pre-game show that Philadelphians underestimate Andy Reid.

I just laughed.

Then Reid went out and showed us exactly the same flaws we’ve seen a hundred times before: Failure to make adjustments during the game, an incredibly unbalanced offense that literally attempted almost 4 passes for every run, and a squandering of timeouts that left him without one late in the game when they were needed most.

And I was no longer laughing as I watched.

Peter King and the rest of the national writers and commentators are right that Andy Reid has put together one winning season after another. They are correct, too, in pointing out that he has taken a team that was not supposed to do anything this year, and gotten them into the playoffs. But to some degree it kind of fell into his lap this season; he took a chance on Michael Vick, an athlete who’s always had amazing physical skills but a lazy attitude. Vick suddenly woke up, decided to take the game seriously, and developed into an MVP candidate.

Now, unfortunately, we are seeing Vick regress again in the last couple of games. For three quarters against the Giants and throughout the course of this game, he has shown an alarming inability to see when the blitz was coming and get rid of the ball quickly. And since the Minnesota Vikings blitzed on virtually every play, it‘s even more alarming that Vick never seemed to figure it out. Obviously, he’s in his comfort zone when he can take a 7 step drop, then drift even further back to see over the big lineman, and then fire the ball 20 yards downfield. But teams are taking that away with their myriad of blitzes, and Vick hasn’t adjusted by taking 3 and 5 step drops and getting rid of it. In the NFL, it’s all about adjustments and counter-adjustments.

And that’s why the Eagles will always come up short of a Super Bowl, because their coach does not make adjustments, either. Time and time again, those blitzes involved the same guy, cornerback Antoine Winfield. And time and time again, he came through clean, untouched. You would think that after Winfield blitzed and got a sack on the second play of the game, the Eagles coaches and players would’ve adjusted. But they didn’t, so Winfield did it again and again, resulting in a second quarter sack and fumble that Winfield recovered and ran for a 45 yard touchdown.

For some reason, LeSean McCoy, when he was kept in to pass block, repeatedly stepped up to help the centers and guards while Winfield came untouched off the edge. But shouldn’t the coaches have done something about that after the second or third time?

Of course, a few running plays might slow down the blitzing, but you know Reid isn’t going to do that. In fact, the Eagles often don’t even present a pretense of the possibility they might run; so every time they line up in a shotgun with an empty backfield, the opponents are going to blitz.

By Reid’s own pass-happy standards, a 60-40 pass to run ratio is a “good balance.” But it was literally about 80-20 Tuesday night. Even though we’ve complained about this for a decade now, Reid is getting worse, not better. That kind of ratio is going to get Vick hurt, because he’s getting hit on nearly every play. As Rodney Harrison, the former star safety turned NBC analyst said after the game, “The Eagles are too unbalanced. They're gonna have to find a way to run the ball and take some of the pressure off Vick.”

Apparently, there’s at least one national analyst who’s paying attention.

Billy Vargus is an Emmy Award Winner for Best Sports Anchor for 2008 and 2009. (Mid-Atlantic region, covering all of Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware.) Bill has been a TV sports anchor in the Philadelphia area for 18 years with the last 12 coming at Fox 29. He’s also had stops at Channel 10, Channel 12, plus at other television markets around the country.He has also served as the pre-game host for all Seventy-Sixers games in the past and also has acted in films, TV shows and commercials.

Billy V can be contacted at billv@philly2philly.com

Thumbnail: Miles Kennedy/Associated Press