|Players, coaches need time away after Philly's bad start|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 04 October 2007 11:51|
Considered a Super Bowl contender in preseason, Philadelphia (1-3) is off to a terrible start and seems closer toward moving into a rebuilding mode than climbing up the standings.
Perhaps the Eagles wouldn't be in this predicament if it weren't for some questionable coaching decisions.
Reid chose to enter the season without an experienced punt returner after investing one year and a second training camp in fifth-round draft Jeremy Bloom, who was among the final cuts. That move directly cost Philly the opener at Green Bay.
Greg Lewis muffed the first punt he saw in the NFL and it was recovered for a touchdown. J.R. Reed, also seeing his first action returning punts, dropped one in the final minutes, setting up the winning kick in the Packers' 16-13 victory.
Blame that loss on Reid, though a sluggish offense could've made the punts irrelevant with a bit more scoring.
Last week, after a 56-21 victory over Detroit, the Eagles lost 16-3 to the New York Giants. Veteran left tackle William Thomas couldn't play because of a knee injury, so second-year pro Winston Justice took his place.
An overmatched Justice was manhandled by Osi Umenyiora in his first career start. Umenyiora tied a team record with six sacks, four against Justice. Overall, the Giants sacked Donovan McNabb 12 times to tie an NFL record.
For some reason, Reid didn't give Justice any help, leaving him alone most of the time instead of using a tight end or fullback to double-team Umenyiora. Even some of the Giants' rushers were surprised they continued to get one-on-one matchups against Justice.
Better protection could've allowed McNabb a chance to get something going on offense. After all, this was the same team - minus injured halfback Brian Westbrook - that scored eight touchdowns a week earlier, and New York's defense allowed 80 points in the first two weeks.
At worst, the Eagles would be 2-2 if Reid hadn't screwed up the punt returners. Maybe they'd be 3-1 if Reid hadn't left Justice alone on an island. Who knows what their record might be if Jeff Garcia got a contract offer and McNabb had more time to heal from knee surgery and work his way back into form.
Asked to grade his effort, Reid said: ``I'm not very good at grading myself, especially if it's not a very good grade.''
Reid's track record in Philadelphia - six playoff appearances, five NFC East titles, four conference championship games and one Super Bowl in eight years - almost guarantees his job security. He probably isn't going anywhere unless it's his choice.
Reid had a difficult offseason personally. Both of his sons got into legal trouble and he took a leave of absence before the draft to spend more time at home. So, there's been speculation that Reid might step down, but it wouldn't seem likely during the season.
Despite the team's early struggles, Reid gave his players a week off to rest and recover. He wasn't planning a personal vacation, though.
``This week, we'll go ahead and we will self-scout ourselves as coaches,'' Reid said. ``We'll go through every possible detail that there is. We're sitting here 1-3 at the bye. We're going to figure it out and get ourselves right for when we return.''
The time off should help the Eagles because several players are banged up. Westbrook (abdomen) and Thomas missed the last game. All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins (neck) and tight end L.J. Smith (groin) sat out two straight. Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard (knee) hasn't played since Week 1. Left guard Todd Herremans had arthroscopic knee surgery this week.
It's uncertain how many of the injured players will be ready to play when the Eagles visit the New York Jets next Sunday.
``I wanted the guys to get out of here and get themselves healthy,'' Reid said. ``It's a long season and we've got a lot of road ahead of us. We need to buckle down and get ourselves right. Sometimes when you step away, you come back a little bit stronger and that's what I expect our guys to do.''
The Eagles haven't started this poorly since going 0-4 in Reid's first season in 1999, when they finished 5-11.