After Giants Rout of Eagles, Reid is Reportedly Fired; Players Point Fingers at Each Other

Comcast is Reporting that Reid Will Be Fired, Players say Team didn’t Buy into Reid’s System

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun

Andy Reid Coaching in what is likely his final game with the Philadelphia Eagles. Photo By Webster Riddick.

Andy Reid coaching in what is likely his final game with the Philadelphia Eagles. Photo By Webster Riddick.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.–The Andy Reid era in Philadelphia Eagles football mercifully ended not far from Exit 16W off the New Jersey Turnpike with a beatdown your mama or daddy used to give you when you really screwed up.

After all the talk last week of playing the role of spoiler and winning for Reid by Eagles players, the Giants ended the competitive portion (and we use that term loosely) of this game early, jumping out to a four-touchdown lead at halftime.

For the record, the final score was a resounding 42-7 rout of the hapless Eagles at MetLife Stadium by the Giants, who were eventually eliminated from playoff contention when the Chicago Bears defeated the Detroit Lions.

“It was embarrassing, I don’t think I’ve ever lost like that high school or college,” said Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant. “It was definitely embarrassing. I hate to see Coach Reid go out with a performance like that which was totally inexcusable, definitely lackluster. Just bad.”

Of course, the only thing suspense left in this game is the time of Monday or Tuesday’s press conference announcing Reid’s imminent firing. Reid has put together an outstanding record during his 14-year tenure in Philadelphia, but his time has apparently run out.

Comcast SportsNet is reporting that the decision has already been made, but the team has yet to confirm it or announce a press conference.

“Either way, I understand,” Reid said after the game. “So that’s how it is, this is the business that I’ve chosen. I’ve been very fortunate to have been here as long as I have and if I’m here again, I’ll love every minute of it. If I’m not, I’ll understand that, too.

The Eagles were awful on defense as Giants quarterback Eli Manning blew up the Eagles weak secondary with five touchdown passes while throwing for 208 yards on 13-of-21 passing. The Birds defense couldn’t stop the pass or the run as the Giants scored on five of their first six possessions.

On offense, Michael Vick showed the rust of not playing since Nov. 11.  Against a swirling wind, Vick, at times, overthrew open receivers including a pass to tight end Brent Celek on the game’s first possession that was intercepted by safety Giants Stevie Brown.

Vick, who was presumably auditioning for other teams around the league, didn’t necessarily play the game of his life, completing 19-of-35 passes for 197 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Inside the locker room after the game, the Eagles came as about as close to pointing fingers at each other than at any time during Reid’s tenure as head coach.  During his post-game press conference, Vick didn’t openly throw his teammates under the bus, but the implication was there.

“It’s frustrating, it’s difficult because me, I leave it out there on the field, I give it everything I got.” Vick said. “I wish I could play other positions, but I can’t. You do the best you can and that’s all you can ask of yourself.”

Later in the press conference, Vick said that his teammates should feel the kind of anger and embarrassment that he felt about the season and in this last game against the Giants.

“I’m not saying my teammates gave a lack of effort and I noticed it, I just know that we can play better, “Vick said. “You’re down 21-0 and the first quarter is not even over, what is that? We don’t know.  I just notice that it is a big difference than what we were going through last year and the year before. It shouldn’t be that way.

“If I had to sit here and be candid right now, if every guy were to come up to this podium, they should say the same thing I said verbatim.”

Avant took it even further and said players weren’t buying into Reid’s system and that the team needs to find players who are willing to follow to coaches orders regardless of who’s coaching the team.

“It’s not a Coach Reid thing, it’s definitely a player personality and characteristic problem,” Avant said. “One thing that I do know is that we need guys that will buy into a system no matter if it’s Coach Reid’s system or anything else. I’m hoping and praying that it’s Coach Reid.

“But if that’s not the case, you’re still going to have the players to be responsible and accountable—not to allow the amenities of the NFL to distract them from what this game is about which is playing hard for a team and playing hard for the city of Philadelphia.”

Avant said that when he first came here as a rookie in 2006 there were stand up guys like Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook and Jeremiah Trotter that set a good example to give their best effort for the team under any circumstance.

“When you have a younger team, there has to be a maturity level that previous coaches had to have taught them,” Avant team. “This team will be better, but the young players have to mature as well.”

Eagles 2012 Season: What Went Wrong?

Alex Henery's 26-yard field goal was the game-winning field goal in the Eagles 19-17 victory on Sept. 30. It was the last victory before the Birds season spiraled into an eight-game losing streak. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Alex Henery’s 26-yard field goal was the game-winning field goal in the Eagles 19-17 victory on Sept. 30. It was the last victory before the Birds season spiraled into an eight-game losing streak. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

PHILADELPHIA–The last time the Eagles played the New York Giants back on Sept. 30, the Birds came away with a 19-17 victory to give them a 3-1 record and had fans excited about a possible run for the postseason.

Even Giants players thought the Eagles were going to win the NFC East.

“At that point in time, I thought they were definitely going to be the team to beat,” said Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. “They had everything going and they were on a nice winning streak. They were doing some good things. I was definitely thinking, in my mind, that they were going to be the team to beat.”

Unfortunately, that turned out to be the last game the Eagles would win before an eight-game losing streak destroyed the Birds season and perhaps signaled the end of the Andy Reid era in the City of Brotherly Love.

“We finished the game,” Reid said about the Eagles win over Giants in September. “We finished it with a win and we’ve had a couple since then that we haven’t quite finished in the fourth quarter or the other team started fast and we’ve been playing a catch up game. We just didn’t take care of business in the end there.”

This Sunday’s matchup with their bitter archrivals from North Jersey will close a bad season for the Eagles and possibly put an end to the Giants slim playoff hopes. When you’re coming into the game with a 4-11 record and facing an off-season filled with questions, spoiling your division rival’s postseason chances is the only joy you can get.

Everyone from fans to media folk is trying to figure out how a season with that kind of promise could deteriorate into the nightmare of a year that will end with double-digit losses.

Was it a couple games here or there? How much did injuries to the offensive line hurt the offense? Was it a defense that got torched badly in that eight-game losing streak?  Was it the firing of former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo?

“We’ve had chance after chance to win games and we shot ourselves in the foot whether it be turnovers, big plays on defense, special teams—not making plays consistently,” said Eagles safety Kurt Coleman. “It hasn’t been all-round great year for us as a team.”

You could get a variety of different answers and they would probably all be right in some way.

Perhaps it was the first two games during that losing streak—losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions—that sent the Eagles spiraling into the abyss.

When you look back at the 16-14 loss to the Steelers, the Eagles had several chances to win that game only to have something go wrong.  On their second drive of that game, the Eagles drove to the Steelers three-yard line, but quarterback Michael Vick fumbled the ball at the one.

But the Eagles eventually rallied to take a 14-13 lead with a little over six minutes left.  But the Steelers went on a 14-play, 64-yard drive to Shaun Suisman’s game-winning field goal. The key play on that drive was a conversion on third and 12 by the Steelers.

“To me, that was a game we should have won and we didn’t get it done,” Coleman said. “We had them third and 12 and had them backed up. It was inexcusable for them to get that first down, they did and they ended up getting the field goal to beat us. That would have put us at 4-1.”

Perhaps the most painful loss of the Eagles losing  streak was when they blew a 10-point lead to the Lions in the last 5:18 of regulation and eventually lost in overtime. It was a winnable game that ultimately led to the firing of Castillo as defensive coordinator. The Eagles season took a nose-dive of biblical proportions as losses blowout to the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins put the Birds into a deep hole.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said it was the 31-6 loss to the Redskins (Nov.18)  where he figured that things had spiraled to the point of no return.

“The bleeding didn’t stop,” Asomugha said. “When we played Washington that’s when it hit up front when it was like what? Really?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravens and Giants Prove that Defense Still Matters in the NFL Playoffs

By Chris Murray

Giants Defensive End Osi Umenyiora Strips Aaron Rogers, causing one of four Packers turnovers in Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoffs.

For the Chris Murray Report

The Sunday games of this weekend’s NFL playoffs was a reminder that no matter how explosive your offense is during the regular season, the strength of your defense will ultimately determine how far you advance in the postseason.

Yes it’s that old cliché about defense winning championships, but in today’s games it was the defense that helped both the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants to clinch spots in next week’s conference championship games.

In Green Bay, the Packers (15-2) came into their NFC Divisional Playoff game with New York Giants (11-7) with the league’s highest scoring offense at 35 points per game. With quarterback Aaron Rogers, the league’s highest rated passer, under center this game was supposedly a mere formality on the road to defending their Super Bowl title.

But the Packers also have the league’s worst defense and Giants quarterback Eli Manning exploited it to the tune of 330 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-33 passing. Perhaps the big back breaker came seconds before halftime when Manning hit Hakeem Nicks on a 37-yard touchdown pass to give the Giants a 20-10. Green Bay would come no closer than 10 points for the rest of the game. Nicks ran roughshod through the Packers secondary catching seven passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

On the defensive end, the Giants roughed up the Packers explosive offense by sacking Rogers four times and forcing four turnovers. It didn’t help that Green Bay receivers dropped numerous and if the Giants defense didn’t make the sack they forced Rogers to overthrow and under-throw his receivers.

“We just boosted it up a notch. We just came out here and played even harder and we just rose to another level,” said defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. “Our cornerbacks and safeties did well and our defensive line did a great job. That’s all that really counts. Everybody played as one.”

Throughout the 2011 season, the Packers simply outscored their opponents while ranking at the bottom of the league statistics in total defense and passing defense. The saving grace for the defense was that it had the best league’s best takeaway/giveaway percentage.

However, it was the Giants defense that came up big against the Packers high-powered offense. They held Rogers to under 50 percent passing. They were the ones forcing the turnovers and they slowed down the Packers offense.

If there was an MVP in this game, it was the physical Giants defense that dictated the outcome as well as the Packers 32nd ranked defense’s inability to stop Manning and the New York offense.

(from left to right) cornerback Jimmy Smith, safety Ed Reed and middle linebacker Ray Lewis celebrate stopping the Houston Texas offense late in the game.

Meanwhile in Baltimore, the defense coming up big is a familiar story.

The Ravens jumped out to a 17-3 thanks to a pair of turnovers that gave the offense a short field to score touchdowns in the first quarter.

After the first quarter, the Ravens offense scored just three points for the rest of the game and managed just 227 yards of total offense. The Texans offense, thanks to the running of Arian Foster who gained 95 of his 132 yards in the first half, cut the Ravens lead to 17-13 and seemed to be on the verge of taking control of the game.

But in the second half, the Ravens held the Texans scoreless, forced two turnovers including a drive-killing interception by Ed Reed. Foster was held to just 37 yards on the ground in the second half.

“Defensively for us to come out and pretty much pitch a shutout that’s our standard of football,” Lewis said after the game. “You really have to take your hat off to our team.”

For all the talk of high-powered offenses like the Saints and the Packers dominating the 2011 season, you still need a solid defense to ultimately win a Super Bowl. For all the points and yardage those two teams racked up during the regular season, they are out of the playoffs because their defense failed to stop the other team’s offense.

Baltimore proved today that even when your offense is in a deep freeze, a good defense will not only keep in the game, it can also help you win it.

With Win Over Washington, Birds still have a shot to win the NFC East

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the CM Report

LANDOVER, Md.–If there is any conclusion that you can come to with the Eagles 20-13 victory over the Washington Redskins is that they not only have a pulse, but they still have a legitimate shot, even at 2-4,  at winning the NFC East.

Huh? Did I really say that?

I know optimism is not necessarily a Philly trait, but if look at the rest of the NFC East, it’s a division that’s fit for the taking provided that one of the four teams in question- the Eagles, Redskins, Cowboys and Giants don’t  shoot themselves in the foot.

That’s something that all four teams have had a tendency to do with alarming consistency so far this season.

What has to bother the Eagles and their fans about their current record is that the four games they’ve lost were winnable. Take away the turnovers, mental lapses by both players and coaches, and plain old lack of execution, the Birds could be 5-1 or 6-0 instead of 2-4.

“Every game we’ve lost so far has been because of us,” said Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who caught four passes for 46 yards. “We’ve been stopping ourselves. As long as we can come out here and not have turnovers. As long as we can stop doing that part of the game and stick with what we do best which is go out there, fly around and make plays and take advantage of what the defense gives us.”

Sunday’s win over a first-place Redskins team that doesn’t scare anybody seem to lift the spirits of a team mired in a frustrating four-game losing streak.

“We know right now how our division is as far as record,” Jackson said. “We’re actually not at a bad spot. Even though we would like to win more games than we lost, we still have a good chance to win out and just keep winning and still have a chance to control the NFC East.”

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said winning Sunday’s game will be the start of a rebirth of his team once they come out of the bye week when they host another NFC East team—the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct.30.

“We’ve got to start from (Sunday) and in each and every game,” said Vick, completed 18-of-31 passes for 237 yards with one touchdown and one interception. “We’re going to enjoy this victory and this bye week and start the season all over again. We definitely feel good where we are right not. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done. ”

For the much maligned Eagles defense, which after being beaten up on for the first half and part of the third quarter of the loss to Buffalo, came out Sunday and intercepted Rex Grossman four times. More importantly, they held on to a lead and didn’t give up too many big plays as they have in their four-game losing streak.

“That’s progress for us,” said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. “A lot of times you’ve seen something wrong that happens in the second half, then it’s like,’oh no, how do we respond. But today something wrong happens, you know what to do, let’s fix it.

“It wasn’t a perfect game obviously, in the second half they made a couple of plays, but after that we came through and we were able to stop them.”

Asomugha said that while the defense had a nice outing against the Redskins, they still have a lot of work to do.

“We haven’t been where we wanted to be and the fact that we got a win today is something we can build on,” said Asomugha, who had a bone-charring tackle on Redskins tight end Chris Cooley in the first half. “But at the same time, we’ve got to keep everything in perspective and play it one game at a time.”

The winner of the NFC East will be that team can avoid assisting their opponents efforts to give them a butt-whuppin.  Stay tuned.