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On a 1-3 Start for Andy Reid’s Eagles

Oct 4, 2011, 12:58 PM EDT

Even the most faithful Andy Reid supporters are having trouble coming to the head coach's aid after a 1-3 start, but the Eagles' season isn't over yet.

These are trying times for a so-called Eagles apologist. Does one simply swallow their pride, admit they were wrong about this organization, and join the “Fire Andy Reid” mob?

For the first time since I began contributing to T7L, I am speechless. This team truly defies explanation. The defense blows fourth quarter leads, but is fairly solid in the second and third. The offense gains tons of yards, but couldn’t find the end zone with a GPS and a bus to carry them there. Special teams giveth, and special teams taketh away.

Their deficiencies are numerable and plain to see, but even supposed areas of strength look suspiciously like weaknesses. Pro Bowl-caliber players come up small in clutch situations. Expensive free agent additions are exposed. The quarterback can’t stay healthy, and the coaching staff doesn’t have a clue.

The result: the Birds are 1-3. The club has lost six of its last seven games that counted. They’ve dropped fourth quarter leads for three consecutive weeks. Philadelphia resides in last place in a weak NFC East.

By and large, people are fed up. A few of us are racking our brains for answers, while others are content to bury their heads in the sand. There isn’t a soul sticking up for Andy Reid though — as there shouldn’t be — and a quick poll would undoubtedly reveal the overwhelming majority no longer expect the Eagles to make the playoffs.

It’s hard to blame anyone for losing faith. The first four weeks of the season have deteriorated past the point of the wildest worst case scenarios, and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the head coach needs to do to get his squad ready to play.

And yet, are we to believe this season is already over?

***

A lot of our readers probably don’t realize or remember (or care) I haven’t always been one to give Andy Reid a pass. For the most part, I’ve remained a fan of his work, but between the 07-08 seasons, I too flirted with the idea he was no longer the right head coach for the job.

Donovan McNabb was recovering from a torn ACL, and Andy seemingly had him dropping back to pass 100 plays per game. Clearly rusty and his athleticism diminished, McNabb was incapable of executing the offense at that volume. It appeared Reid was trying to get his quarterback killed, perhaps to make the impending decision about Donovan’s future easier.

Not that there is any truth to that, but the front office could have sold Kevin Kolb to even his most jaded detractors if Donovan had his legs sheered off by Osi Umenyiora.

Of course, he survived, and the team even went on a little winning streak to close out their 8-8 season. It was just enough to keep the dogs at bay.

Then 2008 picked up where Bad Andy left off, with the Eagles digging the grave where play-calling balance was almost laid to rest. The slow start culminated in an epic three-game winless streak that included a tie against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, and finally resulted in McNabb being benched for the second half of a blowout at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.

Their record 5-5-1, the playoffs were a remote possibility… which naturally was when they suddenly figured some things out. The Birds won four out of their last five, and enough crap broke the right way for them to sneak into the postseason. They nearly made it all the way to the Super Bowl, long after most folks had given up on in November.

I admit, up until minutes before the 44-6 thrashing of the Cowboys to propel the Eagles into the dance, I half wished it would all shake out so that game meant nothing, and win or lose, we might see the last of Andy.

***

But those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

’08 was my first season “covering” the Eagles, and I learned a lot about not writing off teams or individuals too soon. We left that group for dead, then they appeared in the NFC Championship game, a destination that was in line with our expectations. Andy Reid was a buffoon who was accused of losing the locker room, but he made some adjustments and turned their season around.

If the Birds fail to reach the playoffs, by all means, Jeffrey Lurie should fire Reid. If they are eliminated in the first round, or don’t make an otherwise convincing run, the front office most certainly should explore other options. The only excuse that’s left is individual players and possibly coaches have been at the heart of many of this club’s damning mistakes, but since Andy chose the roster and his staff, that dog won’t hunt.

Having said that, we would all do well to be reminded the date today is October 4, and the Eagles have 12 games to go. Realistically, they probably need to finish 9-3 to earn a spot in the playoffs — give or take a win — and as outlandish as that has to sound in light of what we witnessed through the first four weeks, it’s not statistically impossible.

If they somehow make it into the bye at 3-3, how bad is the situation really? None of their rivals appear poised to run away with the division, or look incapable of falling into a three-game skid themselves. 10-6 or 9-7 could be enough to take the NFC East this year, and once a team is in the playoffs, there’s no telling how far they can go.

Which is why the “Fire Reid” camp might as well take a break. Nobody is getting canned after four weeks, and after waiting 12 and a half years, you can surely wait the extra three months, since everybody is so thoroughly convinced there is no reversing the tailspin.

Without much physical evidence to the contrary, there is little choice but to agree with the doubters that this time Andy Reid may not be able to correct course enough to save this season, or his job. But what do the Eagles have left to lose in 2011 besides more games?