Andy Reid and his minions—Morninwheg & Castillo—MUST GO, and I aim to elucidate why. It makes me sick to see people here talking about making this or that substitution or cutting Ronnie Brown’s dumb ass or buying a new kicker or whatever is going to make the Eagles a Super Bowl threat. I thought Philly fans take pride in understanding the game. This team does NOTHING well for 60 minutes, it's not about making tweaks here and there. The fish rots at the head.
In the first place, Reid isn’t even an in-game coach per se; he scripts a game in his head during practice week, and thus is completely insulated from the flow of actual events that occur in the game. The give and take of the game, the momentum swings, managing the clock-- Reid can't wrap his head around any of this. Everyone knows of his infamous practice of scripting the first 10 plays of the games, but actually he seems to script entire games like that regularly. If the actual results don't match the script, then he "needs to a better job" designing the script. Making in-game adjustments is anathema to everything he stands for.
What this means is that what the opposing defense calls is irrelevant; normally one says of poor coaches that they are "losing the chess match" with their adversary, but Reid doesn’t even know he’s playing in a chess match. He will call the same play whether the defense lines up in an 8 man front or a 2 man front—which is why he abhors his quarterback wielding audible powers, because it makes the game unscripted. His position (and Morninwheg’s) is simply that their plays are designed to work, and as long as everyone executes, the play WILL work because HE DESIGNED IT. The opposing defense is given no credit for thwarting the scheme; failure means that Andy’s team simply didn’t run the play correctly. Thus they "need to do a better job".
Here is revealed the root of Reid’s failure: his overwhelming ARROGANCE. On first down Morninwheg/Reid will regularly call shotgun-empty backfield sets—they are openly telling the defense that the very possibility of a rushing play is precluded. Then they’ll run ineffective playaction all game while running the ball a total of just 12 times out of 68 plays. Can you insult the intelligence of your opponent any more? Do they think they’ll react like practice squad dummies to a playaction handoff?
12 rushes out of 68 plays makes a ratio of 83% pass/17% rush. In a game in which they were leading by 20 in the third quarter, that is unacceptable. 60/40 is a "pass heavy" ratio. 83/17 is insane. Yet Reid called roughly the same crazy ratio in the Chicago game last year with the latter’s safeties playing 20 yards off the line of scrimmage all game, and again in the 13-9 snore of a loss to Oakland 3 years ago—Oakland was the worst team in football whose only strength was pass defense. Both of these games cost the Eagles playoff seeding.
On Sunday in the beginning of the 3rd quarter on first and ten from the SF 21 yard line, three straight shotgun passes were called gaining minimal yardage and resulting in a fourth down field goal. Drive burned only 2 minutes of clock. Next drive: three straight passing plays for nothing. About 1:30 ran off the clock. Punt.
Late in the 3rd, still with a 6 point lead, Eagles have first and ten from the SF 25 yard line…. The call was three straight shotgun pass plays, which didn't pick up a first down and led to a missed field goal. The last playcall was notable in that they didn't even attempt to pick up the first down but only to set up a field goal. It serves them right.
I don't want to hear about Ronnie Brown or the rookie kicker or Jeremy Maclin or anybody else but Reid here. Reid was the one who called that idiotic option pass for Brown, and Brown upped the ante for stupidity by actually trying to throw on his way down. They deserve each other, and the Eagles DIDN'T deserve to win this game. A well-coached team would have held a 35-3 lead at halftime and then ground it out with clock-eating run-heavy drives to seal the deal by the third quarter.
As the years pass by, it becomes obvious that Reid isn’t battling for this city or for his team, but increasingly for himself. His prime opponent is not on the football field but in the press box, in the record books, in the NFL culture. Each year, the pass-run ratio becomes more skewed, Reid's controlling grip on the team tightens, and new blood is stifled as the entire staff has gradually become his yes-men (with the exception of Mudd and Washburn). Andy going to win his way, even if its never been done before, and his stubbornness and delusions have grown to monumental proportions.
It is the same arrogance that drove Reid to draft a nobody old fireman instead of a blue chip offensive lineman with the first pick in the last draft, and choosing another secret Reid gem, Nate Allen, over the smart money in Earl Thomas. Andy thinks he's smarter than everyone else. With the notable exception of some skill players on offense (Maclin, Jackson, McCoy), literally every single other pick—from o-line to the entire defense—has been wasted the past 2 draft.
We don’t know the intricacies of the Eagles draft practices, but a cursory glance at defensive picks made during the Jim Johnson era would suggest that JJ’s sovereignty over the defense extended to Draft Day as well. During JJ’s tenure Trent Cole, Quentin Mikell, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, and Michael Lewis were drafted—each of whom made at least 1 pro bowl—as well as other quality starters like Mike Patterson and Stew Bradley.
It was Reid’s arrogant conviction—his offensive philosophy carried over to his dabbling in defense—that this is purely a passing league and that stopping the run (just like running the ball) is wasteful and unnecessary. Hence he went into the season with no legitimate leader/enforcer (safety or MLB) on the middle of the field to call plays and set the tone. (BTW, if you ask my opinion, SS Jarrad Page wins prize for the absolute worst player on a very bad defense. He takes 5 seconds to read "run" and fill the lane—on all 4 long runs on us in each game this season—Jackson’s 47 TD, Turner’s 62 yarder, Bradshaw’s 37 yarder, and Gore’s 40 yarder—he filled FAR too slowly and didn’t even approach the runner until it became an open field tackle. That’s 200 yards over 4 rushing plays because your "strong" safety is a non-factor in run support)
It was Reid’s arrogance which led to his hiring of Juan Castillo. Anybody who advocates firing Castillo but not Reid isn’t thinking properly. Castillo couldn’t have been hired by anybody else BUT Reid; he wouldn’t have even gotten consideration here or anywhere else for the job.
Reid doesn't want any amped-up blue collar caches on his team (Rob Ryan? They never extended the offer...) that go against the grain of his soft white-collar coaching style and his all-important ego. So he hires one of his minions-- guy who looks like he should be janitor-- as DC. Castillo's indebtedness to Andy ensures that Reid now has a permanent say on the defensive side of the ball-- as long as he stays here.
The only hopes I have now for this season is that the Eagles don’t turn the ship around and give Reid an excuse to stick around for another year by sneaking into the playoffs, only to be caught with their pants down and eliminated by a real coach. We know that Reid will not be fired during the season, so the Eagles must miss the playoffs. During Sunday's postgame press conference, Reid sounded like he was verging on a total psychological collapse, which is encouraging. We'll need to see more of that to force Lurie & Banner to decide he isn't fit to coach anymore by the end of the season.
Meantime this season should be used to separate the wheat from the chaff. They should put the fireman in for DeVan to see how he does. Same with Jaiquan Jarrett; if he doesn’t "know the scheme" yet-- that's good because it sucks, and if he can’t cover my mother at least he can tackle. The safeties on the field now can’t cover OR tackle. Clear out the benches of all the old detritus; throw guys like Keenan Clayton and Akeem Jordan into game situations and see if they can show competence or improvement. If not, dump ‘em at the end of the season and start fresh with the draft and free agency.
Reid isn’t a Philly guy, he never was and he doesn’t belong here. For years his ineptitude and small-mindedness on offense was covered up JJ’s havoc-wreaking defense. It was that defense under JJ which carried the team to the Super Bowl, with two genuine quarterbacks in Trotter and Dawkins while on the other side of the ball the QB was a smiling clown completely incapable of manufacturing comebacks. THE DEFENSE was the identity of those great mid-2000s teams, and we will never again see a defense like that with Reid and his crew running the whole show.
Reid, Morninwheg and Castillo absolutely need to be gone by the end of the season if anyone wants to sniff a Super Bowl anytime soon.