Andy Reid is on the hot seat, and he's trying everything possible to keep that at bay.
Coach Andy Reid just popped into the press room to tell reporters that practices will be closed from now on, citing "competitive balance.''— Eagles RapidReports (@CBSEagles) September 13, 2012
Now, this is an interesting decision, because the Philadelphia Eagles also face a tougher challenge in Week 2. The Baltimore Ravens are coming to the City of Brotherly Love and pose a greater threat than the Cleveland Browns.
Interestingly enough, the Browns nearly upset Philadelphia in Cleveland, and perhaps Reid was feeling the pressure. After all, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie basically lit the spark that once again inflamed the proverbial hot seat in August.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made his annual state of the team address Thursday afternoon, prior to the team’s exhibition finale against the New York Jets, and said that another 8-8 season would not be enough to save 14-year head coach Andy Reid.
“No, it would not,” Lurie said.
So with a closed practice, is Reid getting desperate to save his job?
The short answer is, "no".
For the more detailed version, let's break down why this isn't as desperate as it appears.
Will Get Team Back Into Focus
To say that Reid and the Eagles offense performed well in Week 1 would be plain wrong. The Browns limited Philadelphia to 17 points and forced five turnovers.
Sure, the Eagles racked up 456 total yards of offense, but that doesn't get wins. Also, Philadelphia was flagged for 12 penalties that accumulated to 110 yards. That lack of discipline against a Super Bowl contending team such as Baltimore will cost Philly the game.
It almost cost the Eagles against a far less threatening team in Cleveland.
Closing the practice will allow the coaches more direct attention, and it will take pressure off the players. It's to constrict the focus on execution and pre-snap reads, which ultimately leads toward greater chemistry and timing.
This is about mental preparation, and Philadelphia has to get back into a rhythm if it wants to avoid a loss against Baltimore.
Closed Practice Isn't a Call For Desperate Measures
If Andy Reid was desperate to save his job, the Eagles would have more fancy play calls to move the chains.
However, Philly recorded 25 first-downs against the Browns and were a solid 8-of-19 on third down. In addition, the running game was quite effective, as LeSean McCoy compiled 110 yards and averaged 5.5 per carry.
The Eagles offense was moving at will, but Michael Vick's ill-advised throws resulted in turnovers, and Cleveland did tighten up inside its own red zone. What's not getting enough credit is Dick Jauron's defense.
Philadelphia won the time of possession battle 35:58 to 24:02 and only managed 17 points. We have to acknowledge the stellar performance by the Browns defense, because they are simply a lot better than advertised.
So, the closed practice is just another way of Philly buffing out the rough spots. The offense is solid; it's just finishing drives and limiting turnover opportunities that needs fixing.
Subject of a Smaller World
Ten years ago, this would not have been a big deal, and it shouldn't be one today. However, the NFL is so popular, and the advancement of technology such a factor in the fan experience, that a closed practice immediately raises eyebrows.
We're so used to the access provided through television, Twitter and numerous other outlets, that when a team needs to hunker down and focus, all of a sudden it becomes "desperate."
No, it's not desperate, and it never will be.
That said, Reid certainly does need to get his players to focus at the utmost level for Week 2. From an all-encompassing perspective, the Eagles weren't entirely ready for the Browns, but they snuck out with a win.
Fortunately, Philadelphia's defense never broke and was able to force four turnovers of its own.
Still, wanting a more discreet practice environment heading into a big game can't be looked at as desperate. Reid and the Eagles know that Week 1 was not a performance indicative of their 2012 potential, so removing the transparency simply allows for a more narrowed focus.
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