Andy Reid has certainly gotten the message from Jeff Lurie. The Eagles owner was the first one to downplay... actually that's probably not strong enough of a word, completely render meaningless the last four games of the season that saw the Eagles finish 8-8. Reid said he was happy to see the players come together, but said the fact that they are sitting where they are right now, at home, shows those games can be "fool's gold."
"I think there's some positives that we can take out of it just as far as the attitude of the football team, guys coming together, the young guys improved and there's some good things there that you can take out of it; the bottom line is, and this is where the fool's gold comes in, is we're sitting right here. So we won the last four games but it wasn't good enough. And so, I'm big on the reality of things and we have to do better, the bottom line is we have to do better."
Now how will he go about improving things? For most part, that remains to be seen... However, while most of his introductory remarks focused on the defense, Reid did highlight two important areas that the team also needs to improve on.
On the offensive side, we need to go back and make sure that we take care of business with the turnover situation there. We have five games which we lost in the fourth quarter, which was something that I really wanted to focus on over the last few weeks. And in those five games we only scored three points, so we're better than that and we need to make sure that we dig in on that. And again, I thought we made progress as the season went on on both sides of the football. And then, we have to work on the return game and special teams; the special teams staff will remain the same. We just have to get better in the return phase of special teams.
This point really can not be stressed enough. For some reason a lot of hindsight has creeped in around here and more than person is under the impression that all these fourth quarter collapses were the fault of the defense. But as Reid correctly points out, in nearly all of those losses, the offense also did their fair share of collapsing whether it was by going dormant or committing a killer turnover.
None of that excuses the defense because they played their part as well...but the problems certainly weren't limited to that side.
And yes, the return game... It would be nice to have one. Of course, the Eagles already happen to have one of the best return men in the NFL on the team. Perhaps if they made him more financially secure, he'd start trying to return punts again?