Everything you needed to know about Sunday’s debacle in the desert involving the Eagles trip to Arizona was evident after the first three plays of the game.
Michael Vick and the Eagles offense trotted onto the field. Three plays, three passes, time to punt.
Some things never change. Andy Reid being chief among them.
On a week when Vick had lost his starting center, the backup left tackle who was already subbing for the injured All-Pro was out, and a starting wide receiver was on the shelf.
So, of course, Reid decides to put Vick’s life in danger by banking on throwing the ball all afternoon.
The results were about what you would expect.
Vick was running for his life, getting hit on seemingly every play, and of course coughing the ball up.
Part of the blame for hits certainly lies with Vick. I am becoming more and more convinced that - just like his coach - he’s not going to change. He will continue to handle the ball like a stick of dynamite. He will continue to hold onto the ball too long. He will continue to make bad decisions, leading to more turnovers. And he will continue to struggle when it comes to recognizing the blitz and shifting gears.
Sifting gears is not something Reid has to worry about. He only knows one - the forward pass.
This despite having the best running back in the game in LeSean McCoy, who instead was having struggles of his own picking up a non-stop barrage of blitzing Arizona Cardinals.
All the telltale signs of another classic Reid loss were there early: an over-reliance on the forward pass, penalties, a wasted timeout.
Having played a horrid first half, the Eagles looked like they were still going to climb back into the game when DeSean Jackson corraled a pass from Vick at the Arizona 1 yard line. Then another odd thing happened. Instead of diving into the end zone, Jackson seemed instead to back off, and was tackled at the 1.
That’s when I saw another classic Andy Reid end of the first half coming. I said to myself, ‘How are they going to botch this so they don’t score.”
It didn’t take long. Having already wasted a timeout at the start of the quarter, Reid was now out of timeouts with about 16 seconds in the half. That pretty much ruled out the run. If you don’t make it the clock runs out.
Instead Vick again dropped back, got blindslided by another blitz and promptly coughed the ball up again. A Cardinal promptly caught it and paraded down the sideline for a TD. Instead of it being a 17-7 game, it was now 24-0. Game over.
One other thing I noticed during that return. All an Eagle had to do was knock the guy out of bounds. There was no time left, it was either a touchdown or halftime. No Eagle managed to lay a glove on the guy.
That tooks us to the second half, and another classic bit of Reid strategy. Hearkening memories of the Super Bowl, Reid started running the ball, reeling off a couple of long drives that resulted in two field goals - and most of the third-period clock.
After the game, Reid was his usual self.
Yes, he trotted out the now classic, “I have to do a better job” and “I have to put players in position to make plays.”
Reid is never going to do that. Because Reid does what he does.
And it doesn’t work. It didn’t then, and it doesn’t now.
Don’t look for this to change.
Vick will never be able to hold up under this kind of pounding.
If he does, I’m not sure he still has the skills he showed off so amazingly two years ago.
The time may not be his anymore.
Nor Andy Reid’s.
The time for this duo - and this team - might be over.