The decision has been made.
The die has been cast.
Andy Reid's 14-year career as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles has come down to next Monday night's game against the New Orleans Saints, and Reid has decided to cast his lot with quarterback Michael Vick.
It is a decision that will either be the nail in Reid's proverbial coffin or will buy him a few more weeks. But, make no mistake, the inevitable is coming. Barring some miracle, this will be Andy Reid's last season as coach of the Birds, and it will definitely be Michael Vick's last season in the midnight green and white of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick has become Reid's main man and the two are married to one another. Instead of a happy fruitful marriage though, the two have become millstones around each other's neck.
Reid will get a job elsewhere next year—possibly San Diego.
There may be another team willing to take a chance on Vick as a starter, but surely not for the $100 million to which the Eagles signed him.
More than likely Vick will find a home somewhere as a backup quarterback content to hold a clipboard as long as the checks clear.
In the summer of 2009 after being released from prison and being allowed back into the NFL by commissioner Roger Goodell, Michael Vick became a free agent. Eagles' starting quarterback at the time, Donovan McNabb, sent Andy Reid a text message: "Sign Him." Reid responded: "You're killing me."
Oh, how right Reid was.
Since that signing, Reid has become enamored with Vick. He admitted that a part of his affection for the notorious quarterback comes from his personal experience dealing with his own two sons' struggles with drug addiction and problems with the law.
Since that signing, the Eagles have fallen from perennial contender to mediocre middle-of-the-packer.
The Eagles jettisoned Donovan McNabb in 2010 and went to Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb after Kolb struggled early in the 2010 season and Vick flourished.
The highlight of the season was when Vick led the Eagles to a dramatic fourth quarter comeback in the Meadowlands against the New York Giants. It was the highlight of the season and of Vick's tenure as the Eagles' starting quarterback.
The team didn't win again that season and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers.
Vick's half season of glory for the Eagles convinced them to sign him at the age of 30 to a six year, $100 million deal.
Since that Giants game on December 19, 2010, the Eagle have gone 11-15. With Michael Vick as starter during that time, the Eagles are 10-12.
What happened basically is the league figured out—yet again—how to beat Vick, and he can't make any adjustments to save his game.
Yet Reid stubbornly is sticking with his guy.
Vick is a turnover machine. There's no denying this.
A great number of sports writers and talk show hosts in this area jump to his defense saying he's not the main problem with the Eagles. Admittedly, he's not the main problem, but he is one of the problems.
Special teams is a disgrace.
The play calling is suspect and the offensive line is riddled with injuries.
However, if Vick didn't keep coughing the ball up during those games with the fourth quarter blown leads against the Steelers and Lions, those wins would have been much, much more difficult if not mathematically impossible for the opponents.
If Vick could run an offense and read a defense the team would be scoring more than 17 points a game.
The offensive line is battered with injuries, but there were stretches during McNabb's tenure that he was behind a line with replacements and rookies. He managed to win. Also, behind an offensive line that was healthy last season Vick was still mediocre and prone to drive-killing turnovers.
It also doesn't help that Vick reportedly is consistently calling incorrect audibles at the line of scrimmage, which probably isn't making life easier for an o-line with three replacement players.
Marty Mornhinweg is a bad offensive coordinator and his play calling has been suspect since his hire in 2006, but Jeff Garcia and McNabb didn't seem to have trouble putting up points and winning games. Those two didn't have the weapons on offense that Vick has, either.
So, it comes to the game against New Orleans Monday night, where the 28th ranked offense takes on the league's worst defense.
Reid has stacked the deck in favor of his guy.
Instead of going to back up rookie quarterback Nick Foles and letting him get his feet wet against the Saints' horrid defense, he's once again throwing a lifeline to Michael Vick.
With the Eagles receivers, tight end Brent Celek and running back LeSean McCoy, there's no excuse if the Eagles don't score at least 31 points.
Then the Eagles will be 4-4 at the midway point. They'll still technically be in the playoff hunt and can sell that to the fans and themselves. Vick's apologists in print and radio can point to the four touchdowns he hung on the woeful Saints as a sign he's returned to those fleeting moments of glory from 2010.
The death march will continue.
They may even be able to sneak into the playoffs—their schedule is certainly soft enough—where they'll undoubtedly be demolished on the road by one of the four division winners. Vick will be gone and Reid will follow him shortly thereafter. .
The flip-side is Vick continues to struggle against a defense that most successful college programs could score on, and then the bottom really does fall out. Vick will run out his remaining two months in Philadelphia wearing his straight brimmed Eagles cap and holding a clipboard on the sidelines.
By staying with Vick and not going with Foles, Reid has signed his own pink slip.
Reid's only hope was Foles stepping in and showing some promise. Then Reid could probably sell owner Jeffrey Laurie on the premise that with a full year with Foles at quarterback as Reid coached him up, then the Eagles could turn their franchise around.
It'd be a tough sell, but better than the alternative.
Andy Reid has decided to stubbornly stick with Vick because going with Foles will mean Reid would have to admit he made a series of bad mistakes.
Mistake one: You can look and see it was a mistake to trade McNabb instead of Vick. This would have set up a quarterback competition between Kolb and McNabb for the starter's job in 2010. Kolb had the promise of the future, and McNabb was coming off of one his better seasons in 2009.
Mistake two: You can look and see naming the 30-year-old, injury prone, Vick starting quarterback and signing him to a long-term deal instead of trading him when his trade value was its highest and sticking with Kolb—the quarterback Reid and his coaches were molding to take the reins of the franchise for three season—was a mistake.
Reid keeps making mistakes.
Sticking with Vick will finally be his undoing.
Its just a question of whether it is next Tuesday or this coming January.
By allowing Vick to play the terrible New Orleans Saints, Reid has bought himself and his quarterback a little bit more time.
Just a little though.