John Smallwood: Andy Reid's praise of his Eagles? Sorry, not buying it

Andy Reid tries to calm his team during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Andy Reid tries to calm his team during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 08, 2012

I DON'T BELIEVE Andy Reid.

On Tuesday, during his day-after-game news conference, Reid kept a straight face and responded with conviction when asked whether he still had faith in his players.

Even with the prevailing thought that the Eagles again showed little heart during Monday's 28-13 loss to the Saints, their fourth consecutive defeat, Reid vouched for his players.

"Absolutely," Reid said when asked whether he still had confidence in his team. "They are a close bunch and they have character. They fight. They battled through last year and won games at the end, but it was too late. They'll continue to battle through now, and good things will happen."

Sorry, coach, but I'm not buying it.

I don't see what you see in this bunch, and, frankly, after being around you for 13 1/2 seasons, I don't believe what you said.

No way.

You've built teams composed of guys who were nothing but high football character.

You had players so competitive, you never had to say peep in the locker room, because you knew they would clean up any issues about desire and determination before they were allowed to become a problem.

To say it simply, Andy Reid has coached too many players of high character, motor and competitive spirit to be so confused that he puts this collective lot in the same category with them.

We're talking the likes of Brian Dawkins, Hugh Douglas, Donovan McNabb, Chad Lewis, Jeremiah Trotter, Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, Troy Vincent, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas - heck, even placekicker David Akers.

You need only one hand to count the number of current players who have made the type of competitive commitment to this organization, coach and fan base as those guys.

You could disagree with Reid about many things during his tenure, but until now, having a team that was fully committed to the program was not one of them.

I can remember only two or three times during his first 12 seasons when Reid was asked whether he was concerned that his players were tuning him out.

Since the middle of last season, it seems as if it is now the first question asked as soon as Reid says, "Time's yours."

"I think they can feel that," Reid said when asked whether he still had his players' attention. "There are enough alum who have been here for a number of years and have worked with me who can talk to the other guys.

"They understand. They feel that it's just a matter of getting a few things tightened up here to get it right. We're all in this thing together.

"Is there a frustration that things aren't going well? Absolutely. But these guys want to do well.

"The coaches want to do well; the players want to do well. They are battling to get that done, working hard to get that done.

"That isn't the problem right now. The problem is, you've got to get some things bouncing your way. Create things going your way. We make a couple of plays here and there and this thing turns around."

That sounds more like a wing and a prayer than a plan of action.

Perhaps that's all there is.

You examine this collection of high-priced, free-agent mercenaries and wonder what commitment they have to Reid other than their paychecks.

They have no true connection to the past or what it took for the Eagles to get to where they were.

Few of these players are among the ones who sacrificed sweat and blood to carry out Reid's vision to build this franchise into one of the more respected in the NFL.

Most of these guys don't seem to care that Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has already said that 8-8 won't be good enough for Reid to keep his job.

There is no "run-through-a-wall" loyalty to Reid. To too many of these guys, he's just another coach.

In his heart of coach's heart, I think Reid knows that.

Of course, he can't say it - not with half a season left to play; not while the wild-eyed fantasy that this can still be turned around still exists.

Asked whether he still believes he can turn things around, Reid replied: "Absolutely. I like these players and what they represent. I think they are a tough bunch. It's my responsibility to make sure they are going in the right direction, the same direction.

"Right now we are off a little bit, but we can straighten that up. It doesn't take much. The margin between winning and losing in the National Football League is very small.

"We just need to do the things to put things together, and we'll start winning football games. The players want it, and we will be there. We are all in this together."

Sorry, coach, I'm just not buying it.


Contact John Smallwood at smallwj@phillynews.com. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/JohnSmallwood.

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