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Fire Andy Reid? Only the first step in fixing Eagles

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For the seventh time in eleven games, Andy Reid’s post-game assessment of his team’s performance followed a familiar theme.  Andy Reid photo: (Boston Herald)

The reporters questioned the team’s abundance of turnovers and penalties, questionable play-calling, third-down struggles, and defensive ineptitude.   

Reid stuck with his career-long strategy of taking the blame for his team’s problems. As usual, continued to respond to any and every question by saying that he simply has to do a better job of preparing his men to play.

For members of the media, an Andy Reid press conference is kind of like playing a match against one of those backboards you see at some tennis courts. You can hit any shot in your arsenal. And regardless of the force, spin or direction, the result is the same: a flat return right back in your direction.

The only thing different after the Eagles’ embarrassing 38-20 dismantling by the New England Patriots was a new question about the home crowd’s demands to fire the coach who insists that the buck stop with him.  

In response to that question, Reid simply replied, “The way we played, I can understand it”.

Eagles fans are hoping that Jeffrey Lurie has begun to understand it.  After 13 years with Andy Reid, it is time for a better answer, both in press conferences and on the football field.   

Reid’s Eagles are a team with a flawed philosophy, dysfunctional coaching staff and undisciplined habits. And for the first time, this season’s team seems all too ready to quit fighting when times are tough.

The only prescription for those symptoms is a change in leadership. And the change begins with the firing of Andy Reid.  

Finding a new head coach can have a massive positive effect on a franchise. Simply compare the train wreck that was Mike Singletary’s 49ers to the turnaround of the year that has occurred under Jim Harbaugh.

But, with any turnaround, there is more to be done than just the firing of the old coach.  For the Eagles to be competitive with the Packers, Steelers and Patriots of the NFL (if not the Arizona Cardinals), there are a number of things that need to change within the NovaCare Complex and the team’s on-field product.   

So, here’s how the Eagles can fix the mess that they find themselves in:

1. Fire Reid

Okay, so this one really is pretty simple. But his firing also implies that the disastrous experiment of Juan Castillo will end. Unfortunately, Reid’s firing may mean that a fine coach like Howard Mudd moves on as well, but that may just be the cost of doing business.  

2. Re-assign Howie Roseman and Hire a New G.M.

Lurie isn’t selling his team anytime soon, and he probably isn’t getting rid of team president Joe Banner. And after Howie Roseman delivered every high-profile free agent in the NFL during a limited signing period, his skills could be useful in the team’s front office. But, signing free agents and evaluating talent that will build a winning franchise are two different things. If the Eagles still want to compete with for Super Bowls every year, it is time to get a general manager that can draft talented players and let him do his thing.

3.  Find Immediate Help with 3 High Draft Picks

As it stands, the Eagles would have the 9th, 38th and 46th picks in April’s NFL Draft.  With Reid gone and a new GM in place, the team can scrap its absurd philosophy of ignoring impact linebackers and trying to run a high-octane attack with scrap heap offensive linemen.  A new GM may actually use those high draft picks to take talented players as opposed to packaging them for multiple low-round “sleepers” who get cut during training camp. Just imagine the improvement in the Eagles defense if they can come out of a draft this year’s version of Von Miller  or Patrick Willis. DeSean Jackson (Philly.com)

4.  Cut Ties with DeSean Jackson

Ask yourself this question? What do teams like Pittsburgh, New England, and Green Bay have in common?   

The answer: None of them are interested in me-first players who bring more drama than production.  It would be a shame to lose a talent like Jackson and get nothing in return, but if the Eagles are trying to build a tough team that is ready to start winning again, they are better off not giving $10 million a year to a player who is afraid of contact and in love with stupid decisions.

5.  Bring Back Physical Defensive Play

One of the most disappointing things about the 2011 Eagles is their complete lack of physical play on the defensive side of the ball.  The team is now built around defensive ends who rush straight upfield and a secondary that is all but allergic to hitting. The NFL has become a league dominated by high-scoring, passing offenses.  But, while teams like the Packers, Saints, and Steelers have won Super Bowls  with game-changing offensive weapons, they all feature hard-hitting aggressive and athletic defenses. Any team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations must have a defense that can make big stops at the most intense points in a game. Sadly, the current version of the Eagles’ defense lacks that type of toughness.

The Eagles are still one of the NFL’s youngest teams, so if they fire Reid, they still have some of the pieces in place to quickly become relevant again. Unfortunately, there is also a good chance that Lurie and Banner decide that Reid deserves the chance to turn things around in 2012.  

The decision to commit another season to Reid would be a mistake that delays the fixing of a flawed franchise for yet another year. It is time to start repairing some of the damage that has been done to a former top-tier franchise through bad leadership, bad coaching, and bad personnel moves.

 

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com.   You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net  

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Photos: Reid (Boston Herald)
DeSean Jackson (Philly.com)