1:39 AM, Nov. 8, 2012
There was a time when it made sense to give Andy Reid the benefit of the doubt.
The big binder, a cookbook for success he presented to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie at his job interview in 1999, charted the way to a Super Bowl title.
Reid’s insistence on winning with high-character players, a franchise quarterback and a commitment to building depth and strength along the offensive and defensive lines is a time-tested recipe. And Reid appeared a capable chef.
Ever since, the repeated failure of Andy Reid’s teams to respond in critical situations, which is where the Eagles most assuredly are now, has been well-chronicled.
The importance of building a team with linemen, from the inside-out, is especially paramount. It’s the foundation for football success at the most basic level, which Reid knows full well. Unfortunately, the former BYU lineman doesn’t know a good grunt when he sees one.
Reid has spent eight of his 12 first-round draft picks on linemen since taking over the Eagles in 1999.
How many of those guys were busts?
Jerome McGougle. Brodrick Bunkley. Brandon Graham. The list is long.
The offensive line at this point is incredibly thin, with season-ending injuries to a number of starters, including left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and tackle Todd Herremans.
Mike Vick was probably safer in prison.
The Eagles’ quarterback was sacked seven times Monday night by a then two-win Saints team sporting by far the worst defense in the NFL. He’s already been dropped behind the line more this season than all of last year combined.
Reid said this week that he remains confident in the wildly ineffective backups.
He’s either lying or arrogant, a trait he’s displayed in spades, from drafting Danny Watkins, a 26-year-old offensive lineman with minimal football experience and a chronic ankle issue in the first round in 2011, to his repeated obfuscation in the face of legitimate questions.
Andy Reid is smarter than everyone else, and he doesn’t mind letting you know it. The attitude often proves detrimental.
Perhaps most galling is his teams’ consistent lack of urgency, coupled with his own horrendous history of clock management.
Recall the infamous six-minute drill in the Super Bowl, when, trailing the Patriots by two scores, the Eagles methodically used nearly all of the remaining fourth quarter clock before finding the end zone.
That was eight seasons ago.
And nothing has changed.
If that was how Reid played it with a world championship on the line, why expect anything different with no less than the stubborn coach’s job at stake?
Once again, before a national audience on Monday night against the Saints, the lackadaisical Eagles took their sweet time while trailing by two scores late in the game.
The Birds chewed up nearly five minutes before turning the ball over inside the red zone with less than two minutes to play.
At that point, with so few seconds remaining, actually scoring would have mattered little.
There’s keeping your cool, and then there’s being oblivious.
The Eagles, under Reid, have a long history of coming up empty in critical games and at critical junctures in the season.
And there’s been a steep dropoff with this team since those heady days when NFC Championship game losses piled up like so many wasted timeouts.
Lurie saw the four-game winning streak to end last season, when the Eagles finished 8-8, as a sign that the Eagles hadn’t quit on Reid, that there was fire remaining, that the coach had this group of overpaid mercenaries heading in the proper direction.
But those four victories came in garbage time. That season was long dead, hooked with a toe tag at 4-8.
For 14 seasons, Andy Reid has said the same thing. That he has to do a better job. That he has to put his players in a better position to win. That he takes full responsibility.
Well, taking responsibility means doing more than paying lip service.
In the real world, there are consequences for repeated failures.
Yet here we are again. The Eagles are in a deep hole. Only a speck of hope remains. The ball is in their hands. And time is running out.
Reach Jason Wolf