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Reid rang the panic alarm with his firing of Castillo- was it too soon?
With 3:30 left in the 4th quarter on Sunday, the Eagles had the ball and the lead against the Detroit Lions.
On 3rd down, Michael Vick's pass to a wide open Jeremy Maclin was batted down by Ndamukong Suh. If Suh's hand is a little to the left, Maclin is likely still running. If his hand is a little to the right, the Eagles are 4-2 heading into the Bye Week and feeling great about the season going forward.
If his hand is a little lower, Juan Castillo still has a job.
But Suh did block the ball. And with it, he seems to have knocked down the entire Eagles season.
The Eagles record might say 3-3, leaving them only 1 game out of the division. But the message from Andy Reid does not. With the firing of Juan Castillo today, Reid not only pressed the panic button, he beat it to death with a bat. While making the announcement, he also did not say whether more changes would be coming.
Who will be calling the plays? Reid says as of right now it is still Marty Mornhinweg, but wouldn't commit.
The quarterback? As of right now, Vick remains the man- but still has to be evaluated.
Reid did not just leave the door open for changes speaking at the podium, he knocked a hole in the wall using a wrecking ball. By doing so, Reid- a man who has been known for staying the course and keeping the boat afloat during his career- not only shook the boat, but now has it filling faster than maybe ever before.
Make no mistake about it- the Eagles season is sinking, and fast.
How combustible is the situation right now at the Nova Care Complex? Lose against the 6-0 Atlanta Falcons, and this season could officially implode just 7 games in.
Imagine if the defense gets lit up by Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones (like many defenses have) and the Eagles blow another lead. What if Vick turns the ball over 3 times and the offense once again can get nothing going. How could Reid trot Vick and Mornhinweg out there after that? Especially after showing the coordinator of the best unit on the team the door. If Castillo isn't a good enough job, how could Reid possibly think Mornhinweg and Vick are?
A loss against the Falcons would drop the Eagles to 3-4 with a new quarterback likely coming, and maybe even a new offensive coordinator. Meaning a tipped ball by Suh caused the Eagles to abandon ship on 2 coaches and a franchise quarterback. Those changes could even come sooner.
Sound extreme? It might, and it is. The move Reid made by firing Castillo goes against everything Reid has ever done. Since his arrival in Philadelphia, Reid has never pressed the panic button the way he did on Tuesday. Reid has been maybe the best coach in the league at keeping things steady. Even last season, when the Eagles dropped to 4-8, the sense of panic never reached the level it did today. Fans might not like it, but getting that Eagles team to 8-8 without the locker room going to war was a great coaching job by Reid. Very few coaches could have kept the locker room on his side or intact through that.
Now? Coaches are being fired. Players are calling out not only the coaches, but their teammates as well. Effort has been questioned and the word "selfish" is being thrown around. All of this is happening at 3-3, when virtually none of it happened at 4-8.
The craziest part of all of this is that it didn't have to be done. Castillo was doing a good job- his defense was 13th in the league in points allowed, and had turned in some very impressive games this season. Vick is struggling, but a strong performance against the Falcons would silence most of his critics. Beat the Falcons, and the Eagles are 4-3 coming off of a victory over (arguably) the best team in the league. I wrote after the Lions game how close it was to exploding. How much this team needed a win over the Falcons for their confidence. A win could have done it. The Eagles were one game away from turning it all around.
Reid changed all of that today.
The firing of Castillo showed how desperate Reid is right now. He can see the writing on the wall, and knows that if things don't change, he is going down. And unlike in the past when he has asked his players to stand next to each other in tough times, Reid has entered "every man for himself" mode. Castillo- his employee of 18 years and a man he asked to coach the defense- was the first to get it. If Castillo can get it after the performance his defense has put up in 6 games, anyone can. Mornhinweg will likely be next, followed by Vick- a man who nearly broke down for Reid on TV when asked about how hard he would play for him. Reid is casting blame to everyone but himself in an attempt to save his own name and job.
He can say he will evaluate himself, but that carries about as much weight as the "it was me" excuse in a break up.
The situation has gotten ugly at the Nova Care. Players and coaches know no one is safe and now have to watch their back. All because of Reid's premature pressing of the panic button.
What will happen over the next 10 games of the Eagles season is not known. After today, nothing is known.
It is all up in the air. And falling- fast.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks