NEW ORLEANS — It should be shocking, the way the Eagles humiliated themselves on national television in a 28-13 loss to the Saints on Monday night.
But didn't we see exactly the same game last year in Seattle? A defense that has no interest in tackling or contact, an offense that just can't get started. It was all there in that nationally televised debacle.
It was all there again Monday night. There was Nnamdi “Night Train” Asomugha shrinking from contact, allowing running backs to sprint free. There were the same inept safeties, serving up first downs to Drew Brees on demand. There was an offensive game plan designed to subject Michael Vick to as much punishment as possible.
The Eagles can't score. The Eagles can't stop anybody. The Eagles are 3-5 this year, 11-13 over the last two years. The Eagles are finished.
The 2011 Eagles quit on Andy Reid, and now the 2012 Eagles have quit on Andy Reid. Maybe this time, Jeffrey Lurie will recognize it. Last year, fooled by four no-pressure wins against bad teams, Lurie did not. When he explained sticking with Reid for another season, a major reason was that, in his opinion, the team kept playing hard for him.
It was a mirage, and now it has been blown away for good. These Eagles watched all three NFC East rivals lose on Sunday. They were handed an opportunity to get back to .500, gain ground in the division and wild-card races, and restore meaning to this season. They faced a 2-5 Saints team with no running game and a historically bad defense.
And they responded with another putrid performance, their fourth loss in a row.
How bad was it? Check your Twitter feed. Marcus Vick, the quarterback's brother, tweeted that he wanted the Eagles to trade Michael to save his life. Adam Taliaferro, who was paralyzed playing football for Penn State, asked his followers “can I borrow someone's spinal cord” so he could play instead. Hugh Douglas, who used to get sacks when he played defensive end, tweeted that his former team has “no heart! no pride!! No guts!!”
The Reid Epoch is clearly over. It's just a matter of timing now. Lurie could walk into the NovaCare Complex auditorium at noon and announce a change or he could stick to his policy and wait for the season to end. It doesn't really matter.
The argument for doing it right away is a sound one. Clearly, Reid is unable to prepare this team to behave like an NFL team. It is hard to explain how that came to be. He used to be a very good head coach. A man doesn't just forget how. But this situation has gone completely sour. It's over.
By pulling the trigger immediately, Lurie would send the ultimate message to this collection of soft, disinterested mercenaries that their halfhearted attempts at blocking and tackling just won't cut it. Make Marty Mornhinweg the interim head coach, get through the second half of the year, and then find a new coach.
In most sports, that's what you would do. Baseball, basketball, hockey — you can change coaches in midstream and turn a season around.
But this is football. Changing coaches isn't going to fix this team. There are just too many problems, and all of them are the product of flawed decisions by Reid and general manager Howie Roseman.
This is a team with about $20 million in salary-cap space, but with no depth. This is a team built on the alleged genius of Jim Washburn and Howard Mudd but gets dominated on both lines. This is a team that can never seem to find capable safeties or linebackers, that has drafted abysmally. This is a team that beats its chest at every opportunity, then beats itself when it gets out on the football field.
That is not going to get fixed this season. In the past, it is true, Reid's teams had a habit of getting better in November and December. But that is all very much in the past, the days when Reid's teams won after every bye week and played tough and smart and, if anything, overachieved.
It isn't so much that Lurie should allow Reid to finish the season. It's more like he should make him see it through to the end. Reid built the ship. Let him steer it all the way to the bottom.
Put another way: We have to watch this mess every week. Why should the guy who made it get off that easy?
In 1999, Reid hired Jim Johnson to run his defense and drafted Donovan McNabb to play the most important position. Those two decisions led to the excellent run Eagles fans enjoyed from 2000 through 2004.
His decisions to fill those key spots with Juan Castillo and Michael Vick will prove to be Reid's undoing. And make no mistake, he is undone.