|Surrounding Michael Vick with talent hasn't added up to wins in Philly this season. (US Presswire)|
I don't want this to be correct. I like Andy Reid. He's an excellent coach. Check that. He's an excellent coach in serious trouble.
There is probably an 80-90 percent chance the Philadelphia Eagles will fail to make the playoffs and that is also the percentages of Reid getting fired if the team doesn't make the postseason.
This is the feeling of almost every personnel director and coach you speak to around the sport. The feeling is that Reid is working on borrowed time. "No playoffs," said one team executive, who likes Reid, "and it's a virtual certainty he's gone."
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But it's an amazing thing. No coach engenders more respect from his peers than Reid. Speak to other head coaches and assistants about him privately and there are few who will say anything negative about Reid. Quite the opposite. Many will say he is one of the more tactically sound coaches they've ever seen.
None of that matters now. Coaches and personnel men say there's no way Reid can survive if the team fails to make the postseason. It's not set in stone. It's not 100 percent, but considering the massive amount of cash Philadelphia spent this offseason, and the assemblage of talent, no coach -- short of a multiple Super Bowl winner -- can survive a non-playoff season after such a gathering of talented players.
Is it fair? Not really. We've seen throughout NFL history that all-star teams rarely work. Some do. The undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins were (in some ways) one of the great all-star teams ever. They had several critical homegrown components such as draft picks Bob Griese, Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick. But players like Paul Warfield, Earl Morrall, and many others were brought in from the outside (including Nick Buoniconti) and Don Shula's talents made the team gel extremely quickly. Not in one year but Shula took what then was maybe the worst franchise in football to three Super Bowls in three years, winning two and having a perfect season in one of those years.
No, Eagles management didn't expect a perfect season, but they expected a playoff run, even if it was unrealistic because most all-star teams, unlike the Dolphins, crash and burn. The Redskins tried it. The Jets have tried and so far it hasn't delivered a Super Bowl. It almost never does, but Reid is going to get the blame because it was expected he'd be like Shula and create some sort of exponential growth of chemistry.
"I think everybody expected a little bit more [of the Eagles]," Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck told the Jim Rome radio show this week. "I think with the talent they have on their football team, they can be one of the most dangerous teams in the league. When they put it together, the thing I was quoted saying is, 'You can't buy championships.' And what I meant by that is, you've got to build chemistry.
"You can have all the talent in the world, if you're not out there playing as one, if you're just 11 individuals, you're not gonna beat anybody in this league. And I think right now that's some of the issues that they're having. Nobody can question how talented they are, nobody can question how good of a coach Andy Reid is. Everybody knows that. You need more than talent in this league, because every team has talent."
Ding, ding, ding. Winner.
And if Reid can't pull an Eagle out of a hat, he's going to pay with his job. It's an unfortunate truth but it's the likely the truth.
2. A small, sick, twisted part of me thinks that Penn State will clean house and have Matt Millen, the former Penn State defensive lineman, and the man who singlehandedly wrecked the Detroit Lions franchise, return to the school as athletic director.
3. One thing is clear when it comes to teams defending Michael Vick. They are backing off the line of scrimmage more and forcing Vick to throw. This isn't a new approach, but it seems teams are finding new success at doing it. "We have the athletes to do it," linebacker Brian Urlacher told me. "We can pull it off. Are other teams pulling it off, too? Maybe. But he's such a threat still."
4. By the way: the Bears are playing up the underdog role. I'm told in practice leading up to the Eagles game the coaches made sure players were aware of media picking against them.
6a. Champ of the week: Eli Manning. Playing on a sub-Aaron Rodgers level, which is a pretty damn good level.
6b. Chump of the week: Penn State apologists. So maybe that should be chumps of the week.
6c. Tweet of the week: "…just ate crackers + nutella in sweatpants in the airport and that's as close to being a middle aged housewife as I'll ever get. Thanks" -- NBA star Blake Griffin.
7. The name that keeps surfacing as a Joe Paterno replacement at Penn State is Jon Gruden.
8. We're starting to run out of candidates that can beat the Green Bay Packers.
9. What got fat ass Albert Haynesworth cut was his effort during the game against New York. It was, in a word, deplorable. The Boston Globe detailed some of the dogging, and basically Bill Belichick had no choice but to release him. My guess is some really stupid team will give Haynesworth another chance because there are plenty of really stupid coaches who think they can turn any player around. So Haynesworth will sign on somewhere but Haynesworth will never have any type of real impact on an NFL game ever again.
Tweeted former NFL defensive lineman Warren Sapp: "last thing you want to do is show up and be a turd that Belichick cuts. But that's what (Haynesworth) was."
10. Despite public proclamations, few people in the Indianapolis organization expect Peyton Manning to play this season.