Game against Cowboys could make or break Eagles' Andy Reid
Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012
By BOB GROTZ
PHILADELPHIA — Andy Reid could find out today who Eagles fans hate more, him or the Dallas Cowboys.
A bad loss to the reviled Cowboys (4:25 p.m., Fox 29, WYSP 94.1-FM) in this meeting of odious 3-5 teams, and it will get ugly on what otherwise figures to be a beautiful and unseasonably warm day.
“I look forward to bringing them into Lincoln Financial Field, which is a tough place to play for opponents in front of our fans,” Reid said of the Cowboys. “Our goal is to give our fans something to cheer about and we appreciate their support.”
Reid and Cowboys counterpart Jason Garrett are desperate. There’s still enough season left to reach the playoffs but not so much to burn another game.
Reid, with 14 years on the job, is the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL. Despite his best efforts, the Eagles have been unable to respond sufficiently to warrant his coming back for a 15th.
Reid has tried almost everything, to no avail.
The offseason rallying call was for the Eagles to build on the momentum of that season-ending four-game winning streak.
The Eagles opened the 2012 campaign with two straight victories, although they weren’t real far from being 0-2. They’re one loss away from Reid’s first five-game losing streak.
The next motivational tool was the weekly sacrifice of a linebacker who played special teams. Obviously that didn’t work as the Eagles still aren’t playing great on special teams, much less worried about turning the ball over or creating turnovers.
During the bye week, Reid axed defensive coordinator and long-time friend Juan Castillo, one of the hardest-working guys on the staff. Interim coordinator Todd Bowles has been ineffective, to be kind. Castillo might have given the Eagles a better chance to beat these Cowboys.
All the Eagles need is for Tony Romo to play elite rather than the guy who’s thrown a league-high 13 interceptions. The Cowboys average a pitiful 18.8 points, 26th in the league entering the contest.
Reid got everyone on the team thinking when he left starting quarterback Michael Vick twisting in the wind. Eventually Reid offered a belated vote of confidence.
Did it help? Vick threw for 272 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his next start. But he was sacked seven times and the interception was returned for a touchdown in a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Only two teams entering play today average fewer points than the Eagles (16.2) — the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Arizona Cardinals.
Even a players-only meeting the week before the Saints game didn’t help. The Eagles’ cause wasn’t furthered by the season-ending foot injury to right offensive tackle Todd Herremans. Subsequently Demetress Bell gets a third chance to prove he can play, when he lines up at left tackle against Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware. King Dunlap moves from left to right tackle and rookie Dennis Kelly stays at right guard.
That brings us to the Eagles’ current motivation — division games.
Eagles coaches and veterans are trying to rally around the success they’ve had against NFC teams, including the Cowboys.
It makes sense. The Eagles swept the Cowboys last year and, including a victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants this season, have won six straight division games.
Familiarity breeds contempt. It also makes it easier for players to prepare and focus.
“The best part about playing these guys is I’ve played them something like 10 or 12 times,” tight end Brent Celek said of the Cowboys. “You know what the players’ strengths are, what their weaknesses are and what you’ve got to do against them. You’ve just got to execute. So that’s a good thing. It’s totally a good thing. We’ve got to get going.”
Starting today, three of the Eagles’ next four games are against NFC East opponents. They tackle the Washington Redskins next week and in three weeks, the Cowboys in Texas.
“One of the things that we have had the past couple of years is the way we host the division games, the intensity that we have played within them and the way that we’ve come away with wins,” defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. “I think a great way to get this thing turned around would be a win in our division.”
Starting today, seven of the Eagles’ next eight games are against non-winning teams. The Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals are the non-division teams on the schedule.
Of course, it’s just talk. Too much talk for a team with just three wins.
“It might give you confidence,” Vick said. “But you’ve still got to go out there and play. It can relax us instead of motivating us.”
Reid doesn’t need to be relaxed. On this day, anything short of a win could be catastrophic.
Bob Grotz's 5 Keys to the Game:
1) Run the ball
2) Get the lead
3) Run the ball
4) Force Tony Romo to dink and dunk
5) Run the ball
The Pick: Offense: Cowboys
Special Teams: Cowboys
The Pick: Cowboys
The way these teams are playing, the losing coach might not survive another week. Pity Fox Sports anchor Joe Buck. This game figures to be duller than his old hair color.
Cowboys 19, Eagles 16
1 reply to this topic
Posted 11 November 2012 - 09:28 AM
Posted 11 November 2012 - 12:47 PM
The loser of this game is going to be the joke of the NFC !