PHILADELPHIA – Michael Vick was defeated on the field, and looked beaten on the podium, all but resigned to the fact that his games as the Eagles quarterback are numbered.
LeSean McCoy, as dogged a player as any on the Eagles, stood at his locker and asked where the team left its pride, its heart.
And coach Andy Reid even tossed out "embarrassing" as the word of the day for Philadelphia's 30-17 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
Was it really eight years ago when Reid and the Eagles beat the Falcons in the NFC title game in front of a stadium stuffed with euphoric fans and not ones chanting "Fire Andy" during the worst loss of the season?
This latest loss was as bleak as it gets for the Eagles and Reid is running out of time to salvage the season — and his job. Owner Jeffrey Lurie put Reid on notice following an 8-8 season that he had to win big for a 15th season. Reid knows if the Eagles continue to spiral from a 3-4 start toward a double-digit loss total, Lurie is prepared to make sweeping changes from his coach down to his quarterback.
Reid might beat him to the punch with the quarterback.
Reid has every reason to give the turnover-prone Vick the hook and start preseason star Nick Foles when the Eagles play Monday night at New Orleans. That would be a hard swallow for Reid only a year after the Eagles gave Vick a $100 million, six-year deal (although only about $40 million was guaranteed). Reid refused to comment on Vick's status after the game and his normal Monday press conference was scrapped because Hurricane Sandy hit cities along the Northeast corridor.
Vick, who has eight interceptions this season, didn't put up much of a fight for his job after he was a pedestrian 21 of 35 for 191 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. He said only that he would support whatever decision Reid made.
"I think there's a lot of things that I can do better," Vick said. "I'm trying to do everything that I can to put the ball in the end zone to give my guys every opportunity."
Not even a new defensive coordinator and an off week could help the Eagles from turning the tide on Sunday. A home loss to the Falcons was Philadelphia's fourth in the last five games. The Eagles are 2.5 games behind the Giants in the NFC East after leading them by one game just one month ago.
The Eagles are loaded with offensive playmakers who have put up huge numbers in the past, from Vick to McCoy to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. For whatever reason, the offense has been as explosive as a wind blower, and each wasted drive only hastens the urge to dump salary and clean house.
McCoy said the Eagles showed no pride in a listless performance that included only 5 yards in the first quarter.
"I didn't see any pride. I didn't see any heart," McCoy said. "This is the whole team, myself included. We didn't get it done today."
For one week, at least, the decision to fire defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and replace him with Todd Bowles backfired. Matt Ryan threw touchdown passes on Atlanta's first three possessions and the Falcons (7-0) would score on their first six.
With few options for improvement left on defense, Reid's biggest shakeup would be at QB.
Foles, a rookie third-round pick from Arizona, was impressive during the preseason and has fans clamoring for a change. Of course, in Philadelphia, like so many NFL cities, one of the most popular players on the team is usually the backup QB. Just ask Vick, who sat behind Donovan McNabb for a year.
Reid hitched his ride to McNabb when they were both in their first season in Philadelphia in 1999. Sure, there was some risk, but McNabb delivered on his projection as a franchise QB and the duo helped the Eagles reach five NFC title games. Reid dumped McNabb for Kevin Kolb, then hastily traded Kolb to work on the untapped potential in a superstar like Vick. Vick guided the Eagles to an 8-3 record in 11 games as a starter in his first season playing full-time since 2006. He's struggled since then and played nothing like a franchise quarterback who can lead to his team to the Super Bowl.
"I don't know if playing like a franchise quarterback means throwing three or four touchdowns week in and week out and doing everything right," Vick said. "But I know I've been there before and despite it all, I still feel like I do a lot of positive things out there and that's all I can ask."
Vick will know soon if those positives will earn him at least one more start in New Orleans.
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