Published October 18, 2012
| Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA – Knowing Andy Reid's job with the Philadelphia Eagles would be in jeopardy if the team finishes 8-8 again, some fans have already started a countdown.
Three down. Five to go.
That's how the anti-Reid groups viewed Philadelphia's 26-23 overtime loss to Detroit. Instead of being outraged that the Eagles blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, they see what they consider a bright side.
A losing season or even a .500 record likely signals the end of Reid's tenure in Philadelphia. Team owner Jeffery Lurie already said that a second straight 8-8 finish would be "unacceptable."
So with the Eagles at 3-3 at their bye week, some die-hards who usually spend Sundays wearing green face paint plan to do the unthinkable and root against their beloved Iggles.
"This team isn't good enough to win the Super Bowl," a caller said on a postgame radio show. "I'd rather see them lose out so they can fire Andy and get a coach in here who can win us something."
Reid feels their pain.
"I can understand their frustration, absolutely," Reid said. "I clearly understand that. I feel the frustration. I mean, I understand. I've got it. My job and responsibility is to get it better; not only for them but for this football team, to get it better. They have my word that I'm going to do that. I'm going to get it right."
To that end, Reid took an unusual step for him. He fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo two days after the brutal loss to the Lions and replaced him with secondary coach Todd Bowles. It was the first time in his 14 seasons Reid dismissed a coach during the season.
While it seemed like a desperate move, it's obvious Reid has never felt less job security than he does now. Lurie didn't specify what it would take for Reid to stick around. But it's clear the Eagles need to make a deep run in the playoffs.
"I want to be the best football team we possibly can be," Reid said. "Right now we're sitting here at 3-3. That's not good enough for what I think we have here. It's not good enough. Now we happen to have a bye, so I have a period of time to make sure I evaluate it and try to make it as right as I possibly can. And then I don't care about anything else. That's what I want to do. I want to make sure that gets done. I'm not going to lose focus on that."
Reid has won more games than any coach in franchise history. He's led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl loss.
All that's left to accomplish is to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy. But critics don't think Reid can get the job done, and many have been calling for his ouster for the past decade. Even before the Eagles lost the 2005 Super Bowl to New England, Reid wasn't a popular coach in this tough-to-please, sports-crazed city.
It has already been a difficult year for Reid. His oldest son, Garrett Reid, died during training camp after a long battle with drug addiction.
Now Reid had to fire a coach he considers a good friend. Castillo joined the Eagles in 1995, four years before Reid. His switch from offensive line coach to defense was stunning and turned out to be the most scrutinized move Reid ever made.
"We all know how much I care about Juan Castillo as a person and as a football coach," Reid said. "However, I also have always said that I'm going to do what I think is best for the Philadelphia Eagles and at this time, 3-3 obviously puts you as an average football team, and right now I think we're better than that."
That isn't necessarily true.
The Eagles were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders last year after a slew of big-name additions in the offseason made them a "Dream Team" in one player's mind. Instead, they failed miserably to live up to the hype.
With a couple more key acquisitions, the Eagles again were considered legitimate contenders in the NFC this year.
An 11-14 record in their last 25 games suggests otherwise. Perhaps the Eagles are simply a mediocre team. Considering each of their wins were decided in the final seconds and came by a 2-point margin or less, the Eagles are fortunate they're not 0-6 or 1-5.
"I just get so tired of the 'talented' talk," veteran wide receiver Jason Avant said. "I don't want what the outside world views as talent to infect our team. Talent and potential is dangerous because you'll get complacent. We have to go out and show it. Right now, we're a 3-3 team. That's who we are. It's not that we're a talented 3-3 team. It's that we're 3-3 and they have players on their team, whatever team we're facing, that are just as good as we are. If we take that mindset that anybody can beat you, you'll focus and concentrate harder and you'll play better."
Reid's decision to fire Castillo was somewhat curious because the defense has actually outperformed the offense so far. With Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles have dynamic playmakers. Yet they're next-to-last in scoring.
Castillo's defense failed to hold late leads in consecutive losses and wasted fourth-quarter advantages seven times in his 22 games learning on the job. But Vick and Co. haven't scored more than 24 points in the first six games.
Vick has regressed since his Pro Bowl season in 2010 and has become a turnover machine. He has eight interceptions and has lost five fumbles.
If Reid can fire Castillo midseason, benching his $100 million quarterback for rookie Nick Foles isn't out of the question.
"I'm evaluating everything," Reid said. "I'm looking at everything, everybody and everything."
It doesn't get easier for the Eagles after their week off. They host Atlanta (6-0) on Oct. 28. History is on Philadelphia's side, though. The Eagles are 13-0 after a bye under Reid.
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