|Reid takes heat for Eagles' so-so start|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 16 October 2008 14:41|
The Eagles (3-3) entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but they're sitting in last place in the tough NFC East at the bye. It's a familiar spot for Philadelphia, which has finished last two of the previous three seasons after going to the Super Bowl in 2004.
Despite an impressive resume that includes six playoff appearances, four straight trips to the NFC championship game and the loss to New England in the NFL title game, Reid has to take the heat for the Eagles' slide.
``We have a lot of work to do,'' Reid said. ``As coaches, we'll go back this week and evaluate what we consider the problems and try to get it straightened out so we can put the players in a good position.''
otball operations, has a tendency to undervalue certain positions (not even counting his reluctance to add a top wide receiver) and his play-calling is very questionable at times.
Reid places heavy emphasis on quarterback and the secondary and building strong offensive and defensive lines. But he overlooked the linebackers for years until recently; never considered it a necessity to have a No. 1 wideout except for Terrell Owens' brief stay; and has tried to plug just any live bodies in some important spots.
Last year, Reid decided to start the season without an experienced punt returner. Greg Lewis and J.R. Reed took turns handling punts for the first time in their careers in the opener and each had a costly fumble, leading to a 16-13 loss at Green Bay. Philadelphia finished 8-8, one game out of a playoff spot.
This year, Reid chose to use an undersized halfback (Tony Hunt) and a converted defensive tackle (Dan Klecko) at fullback. In two of their three losses, the Eagles had crucial breakdowns in short-yardage situations near the goal line. Perhaps an experienced fullback - Hunt was released this week - would've helped the offense score. Or, maybe better play selection could've done it.
Known as a pass-first, run-later coach, Reid has been maddeningly predictable in goal-line calls. It's been one unsuccessful run after another.
nd-goal at the 1 with 5:03 left. Hunt ran off right tackle and was stopped for no gain. Correll Buckhalter got stopped for no gain on a run to the right side. Then Buckhalter was stuffed going up the middle on fourth down. The Bears took over and ran out the clock to secure the win.
The following week, the Eagles were down 23-14 against Washington with 9:08 left. They had a second-and-1 at the Redskins 2 when Brian Westbrook was stopped for no gain up the middle. He lost 3 yards running off the left side on third down, and the Eagles settled for a field goal. They never got the ball back.
With one of the best scrambling QBs in the NFL in Donovan McNabb, maybe Reid could've tried to roll him out and give him the option of running in or throwing for a touchdown. A fade pass to 6-foot-4 wideout Hank Baskett might have worked, as it did in a 40-26 victory over San Francisco last Sunday.
Instead, Reid's philosophy was to try to run it down the defense's throat and it didn't work - twice.
In this division, the Eagles can't afford to lose games they have a chance to win. The Giants (4-1), Cowboys (4-2) and Redskins (4-2) will be tough to catch, so every loss is magnified.
ball, you have to be sharp. The most important thing is that we stay focused on what we are doing and keep ourselves right and get ourselves better.''
The bye came at a perfect time for Philadelphia, which has endured numerous injuries to key starters. Westbrook sat out against the 49ers with broken ribs, but should be ready to play against Atlanta on Oct. 26.
Wide receiver Kevin Curtis is expected to play his first game after missing the first six weeks because of surgery for a sports hernia. Reggie Brown, the other starting receiver, has played in just three games because of hamstring and groin injuries. Two-time Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews has missed the last four games with a back injury.
``It would be nice to get everyone out there playing again,'' Reid said. ``I think that can help you a little bit.''
So would better coaching.