Eagles coach Reid on the hot seat

An unfurled cry for the head of Andy Reid: Fans let their feelings show near the Eagles' S. Phila. training complex.
An unfurled cry for the head of Andy Reid: Fans let their feelings show near the Eagles' S. Phila. training complex. (ASHLEE ESPINAL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 11, 2011

It's gone beyond local media and angry fans now.

The criticism of Andy Reid and his 1-4 team is now coming from national voices and, most damagingly, from opposing NFL players who for two consecutive weeks have called out the Eagles for a lack of fight, a lack of discipline, and a lack of spine against the run.

"I mean, who didn't know that we were going to run the ball? They've been exposed in the run game the entire season," said Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

An unnamed Buffalo player told Yahoo Sports that some Eagles "flat-out give up if things aren't going their way."

The Bills knew several Eagles "have been loose with the ball" and came into the game focused on creating turnovers, said linebacker Nick Barnett.

This all came a week after 49ers running back Frank Gore said his team "knocked the fight" out of the Eagles in San Francisco's win and that in the second half "the Eagles didn't want to play no more."

"Sloppy and dumb," was the description from Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who has often praised Reid.

It all left the impression of the walls closing in around the Eagles coach, with Sunday's game against the Redskins representing his last hope to salvage this season and maybe his job.

Even his normally chummy WIP (610-AM, 94.1-FM) radio show included some pointed questions.

"I love coming to my own show and taking the bullets," Reid said.

"I understand all the criticism," he later added. "When you're losing in the National Football League, that's not a good thing."

Reid disputed the idea that his players quit in either of the last two losses, pointing to the Eagles' late rally Sunday. But he had few new answers for the other mounting critiques.

Reid said Juan Castillo will remain defensive coordinator and that the team will still employ the "wide-nine" defensive front that has left the Eagles linebackers and safeties exposed and the run defense in tatters.

Bills running back Fred Jackson said Buffalo specifically attacked the "wide-nine" with runs and short passes. "It was something we thought we could take advantage of," said Jackson, who had 196 yards of offense.

Reid did not have any personnel changes to announce Monday, though his wording left open the possibility that moves could come when practices resume Wednesday.

Whatever the changes, it is hard to imagine a difference-making player walking through the door at this stage in the season. Instead, it's up to Reid to find a way to eliminate penalties, turnovers, and his team's uneven play.

The problems hurting the Eagles have lingered for four weeks now. What can be done differently this week to fix them? Reid answered with vague generalities.

"We've got to keep working is what we need to do and make sure we're putting guys in the right position," he said.

"We need to make sure that we focus on some of the things we need to get better at and take care of those things.

"We've just got to continue to work our fundamentals and do the right things in practice.

"We've all got to do our jobs better and when we do that we'll get better results."

The questions didn't matter, because the answers were the same. As for the "sloppy and dumb" label: "Everybody will have their opinion," Reid said. "It's America, everybody can do that."

Stunningly, beneath the pile of mistakes and criticism still lies a slim chance for the Eagles in a weak NFC East.

With a win Sunday, the Eagles, at worst, would be within two games of the division lead with 10 games to play.

But any chances hinge on a win this week in Washington.

Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, five teams have started 1-4 and reached the postseason. All won their sixth game.

Thirteen 2-4 teams have made the playoffs since 1990. No 1-5 teams have made it.

If the Eagles can climb to 2-4, they then have a bye and three straight home games with which to recover. Conceivably, they could get back into the playoff mix.

But they are facing a Redskins team Sunday that is coming off of a bye and loves to run the ball.

Lose, and the off week that begins Monday could bring a reckoning.

1-4 Teams in the NFL Playoffs

Only five NFL teams have gone 1-4 to open the season and qualified for the playoffs under the current 12-team playoff format that was implemented in 1990:

 The 2004 Green Bay Packers finished 10-6, won the NFC North title, and lost in the wild-card round.

The 2002 New York Jets finished 9-7, won the AFC East title, won a wild-card game, and lost in the divisional round.

The 2002 Tennessee Titans finished 11-5, won the AFC South title, won a divisional game, and lost in the AFC championship game.

The 1993 Houston Oilers finished 12-4, won the AFC Central title, and lost in the divisional round.

The 1992 San Diego Chargers finished 11-5, won the AFC West title, won a wild-card game, and lost in the divisional round.

Here is what is at stake for the Eagles on Sunday against Washington:

 All five of the 1-4 teams that made the playoffs won their sixth game of the season to get to 2-4.

No team has gone 1-5 and reached the playoffs under the current format, although the Cincinnati Bengals did it in 1970.

Including the 1990 Eagles, 13 teams have gone 2-4 to open the season and reached the playoffs.

- Jonathan Tamari

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, jtamari@phillynews.com or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.

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