Rich Hofmann: Would Eagles' Reid bench Vick?

Andy Reid: 'I'll go back and look at everything. I'm not going to sit here and make decisions right now. I'm going to go back and look at it and analyze it.'
Andy Reid: 'I'll go back and look at everything. I'm not going to sit here and make decisions right now. I'm going to go back and look at it and analyze it.' (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: October 30, 2012

WIND BLEW some stray papers across the vacant grass. The television broadcasters who normally do their postgame reports from the edge of the field were gone. The goal posts were tipped over, intentionally, to protect them from the oncoming storm. If only it were that easy.

Andy Reid stands on the edge today. His 14 seasons as the coach of the Eagles have come down to nine games. All of the highs and all of the disappointments are past. Nine games. He has to win at least six of them to survive, and likely more.

Reid has already fired his defensive coordinator, and then witnessed his defense unable to force a punt until less than 6 minutes were left in the game. He has challenged the Eagles as a group, and then watched as they rolled over against the Atlanta Falcons. The quote from running back LeSean McCoy is stark:

"I'm just saying what it looked like, how we played, how the game ended: I didn't see any pride. I didn't see any heart."

The coach, Reid, has a formula - and he has enjoyed much success. The players, to a man, support him. But little is working right now and the calendar remains relentless. He has one more card left to play - or, to use another trite (and more visually disturbing) saying, one last fig leaf left to remove. We all know what it is.

But would he?

Would he bench Michael Vick?

Put it this way: If he does start rookie Nick Foles next week in New Orleans, Reid will have surrendered to his situation. He has never done that before, not really. His moves in the past have almost always been affirmative moves. He generally does not do things out of fear.

Most times, it is really the opposite. Most times, he does things because he believes they are the right things, not the expedient things or the popular things. Making Juan Castillo his defensive coordinator in the first place, making Vick his quarterback, a religious belief in throwing the ball - those are just three examples of a man and his single-mindedness.

This would be different. To bench Vick would be playing to the crowd, and maybe to the owner. It would be not only a resounding admission of a mistake, but it would also be based solely on the notion that Foles could somehow catch lightning in the Superdome, and hang on to it for the next 2 months.

I don't think Reid will do it. I don't think he should do it. But Vick thinks he might, and he probably has a better sense of things than the rest of us. It is getting very weird around here.

"Obviously he's thinking about making a change at the quarterback position," Vick said after the game, a 30-17 loss. "The thing I do know - and I'll go and watch the film and I'll evaluate myself - is that I'm giving us every opportunity to win. I'm trying my hardest. Some things don't go right when I want them to. Some things do. So if that's a decision that coach wants to make, then I support it."

The issue is the inability of the Eagles' offense to get anything done downfield. All year, all they have been able to do is walk the ball up the field. There has been no explosion, no pow, despite McCoy and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and the fellas.

You could argue that there is no time for the deep plays to develop behind a patched and repatched offensive line. Or you could argue that opponents are playing their safeties deep and making the big plays impossible. Or you could argue that there are limited opportunities but that Vick is not seeing them, or is too slow in pulling the trigger.

Asked about throwing underneath, Reid said, "Some of that is the coverage. That's what you're seeing. You're seeing the deep coverage and so you've got to take care of the underneath stuff, and then after the catch you've got to run with the ball and gain yards. Like DeSean did on that one, but you've got to have a number of those. If they're playing that far off, then your underneath game, your short and intermediate games, have to work."

Video in football can be an eye-of-the-beholder thing. It is rare when people are wide-open downfield in the NFL. How Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg view their downfield opportunities is known only to them. If Reid does make a change, he will be telling us - without telling us - that there are shots to be taken, but Vick is not taking them.

It would be the only reason for Reid to gamble everything on a rookie who played a couple of good exhibition games. Because it would be either that or an attempt to create a job-saving narrative that would go like this: "I know quarterbacks, Foles is a quarterback, look how he is improving, just give me some more time with him."

Really, though, it is too late for that. This is about wins and losses now, not narratives.

"I'll go back and look at everything," Reid said. "I'm not going to sit here and make decisions right now. I'm going to go back and look at it and analyze it."

And then we will find out, as Andy Reid stands on the edge, just how desperate he is.


Contact Rich Hofmann at hofmanr@phillynew.com. Follow him on Twitter @theidlerich. Read his blog at philly.com/TheIdleRich, or for recent columns go to philly.com/RichHofmann.

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