November 28, 2011

Coming apart at the seams.

A college friend of mine used to have a saying that we all loved. Maybe it was the way he said it (or the frequency of use) more than the saying itself, but every time something would go awry or someone would get a little too graphic with a story, he'd yell, "That shit is gross!"

Those words kept ringing in my head throughout yesterday's Eagles game.

I've alternately cast the Eagles aside and believed in their potential to bounce back, but now we know for sure. This is a bad football team, one that's coming apart at the seams.

I don't think the Eagles will fire Andy Reid. He's got two years left on his contract, and the players still seem to have his back. Plus, there would have to be a sterling replacement lined up: Jon Gruden, Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher. No matter what you think about Reid and his 2011 season, he's proven himself many times over as a successful head coach; it wouldn't make sense to replace him with anyone less qualified.

But if Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner come to a lesser conclusion -- that Juan Castillo must go -- I don't see how they can relieve him of his defensive coordinator duties and keep Reid onboard. Castillo is Reid's guy. Andy stuck his neck out for Juan, and so far, Juan has not delivered.

Maybe Reid and Howie Roseman didn't supply Castillo with the defensive personnel necessary for success; he didn't have much to choose from in the linebacker and safety department. But the facts are the facts: After 11 games, the Eagles have given up 251 points (21st in the NFL) and 344.6 yards per game (15th in the league). Sean McDermott's defense allowed 321.1 yards per game in 2009 and 327.2 yards per game in 2010. And that got him fired.

You don't need numbers, only eyes, to know that Tom Brady picked the Eagles defense apart last night. They're not the first team he's torched, nor will they be the last, but the disorganized mess that spent three hours chasing after Deion Branch and Wes Welker did not inspire any sort of confidence or hope for the future. This wasn't another blown fourth-quarter lead, but it was the worst home loss since 2009 and the fourth-most points allowed at home in 13 years under Andy Reid.

And now the fans are calling for not only Juan's head but Andy's, too. Will that sway Lurie at all? Will the sight of thousands of  ticket holders streaming out of Lincoln Financial Field in the third quarter have any impact on the owner's state of mind regarding his floundering franchise?

Eagles fans have always been both passionate and reactionary -- present company included -- but an adjective no one's ever used to describe them is "apathetic." Yet I suspect that's how most fans will feel in the weeks to come; the season is cooked, the coach has all but worn out his welcome, every player not named LeSean McCoy (and maybe Jason Peters) has underwhelmed in one way or another. Perhaps an abundance of apathy, not rancor, will inspire change.

At this point, it's all but impossible to argue with the growing disinterest. This was, and I guess still is, one of the more overhyped, disastrous seasons in recent sports history, Philly-based or otherwise. There's no easy way to right the ship; the talent is (arguably) there but the results are nowhere to be found. Maybe the only real question going forward is, massive overhaul or tweak and pray? Either way, the skies over Philadelphia football seem to keep on getting darker.

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