Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Changes Andy Reid Must Make to Save His Job

Sam RuckyCorrespondent IIISeptember 26, 2011

Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Changes Andy Reid Must Make to Save His Job

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    It's official. Andy Reid is on the hot seat. 

    For the second consecutive week, Andy Reid was out-coached on the offensive side of the ball. For the second consecutive week, he was unable to motivate his "Dream Team". For the second consecutive week, he allowed his team to cough up a second-half lead. For the second consecutive week, franchise QB Mike Vick was injured due to poor play-calling and not nearly enough protection. 

    The Philadelphia Eagles didn't invest over $225 million this offseason for a mediocre team. They invested for a Super Bowl. And if "Big Red" doesn't make these changes—NOW—he may find himself out of a job before Halloween. 

Change No. 5: Use Play Action

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    While there were few bright spots for the Eagles Offense during their Week 3 loss to the G-men, one of them was the play of RB LeSean McCoy. The Eagles third-year back carried the ball a career-high 24 times for 128 yards and a TD—an excellent performance. 

    What blows my mind is why Andy Reid absolutely refused to use play-action despite the fact that McCoy was absolutely gutting the Giants' defense. What is the point of having game-breaking wideouts like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin if they are never used? Why sign Steve Smith and Jason Avant if they're only going to be on the field for 10 to 15 plays per game? 

    The most obvious situation for play-action was on the Giants' goal-line in the third quarter. The Eagles had a first-and-goal from the Giants three yard line. Four runs later, Alex Henery was kicking a field goal. 

    The Eagles can and should certainly run the ball near the goal-line. But they also must use their wideouts, TEs and Mike Vick. They need to employ play-action more often, especially when LeSean McCoy is running as well as he was against the Giants.

Change No. 4: Get Smarter on the Goal Line

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    The Eagles need to take a page out of the Patriots' or Packers' playbook and use spread formations on the goal line. 

    The best approach (at least for now) is for the team to use a three- or four-WR set with LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek split out (if in a three-WR set). Line Vick up in the shotgun and force opposing defenses to pick their poison. 

    If the opponent comes with a heavy blitz, a simple screen or quick slant should be good for six. If the opponent rushes four with a spy on Vick, a quick draw to McCoy or a two-step hitch to Celek or Avant should be sufficient.

    If the opponent goes to a dime package, allow Vick to run a sneak or QB option with McCoy. If the opponent plays a stiff zone, run a WR screen or an overload to Vick's left. 

    However, if the Eagles and their smaller offensive line think they can play power football against a bigger, stronger opponent, they are wrong.

Change No. 3: Find a Quality LB

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    Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo made a wise adjustment by moving second-year player Jamar Chaney to the MIKE position and rookie Casey Matthews to the WILL spot. After watching Matthews get torched by an opponent for a second consecutive week, Castillo needs to make another move: Matthews to the bench. 

    This isn't entirely Matthews' fault. The NFL lockout prevented OTAs, Mini-Camps, coaching sessions and more. But right now, that is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that for the second consecutive week, a blown assignment by No. 50 has cost the Eagles. 

    Veterans Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson are still available. The Eagles should give one or both of them a call. Casey Matthews may develop into a very productive professional football player in time. However, the Eagles aren't a rebuilding or developing team; they're a group built to win now. Matthews is only hurting them in that department.  

    If Peterson or Tatupu can't be had, the Eagles have plenty of excess draft picks that could be used in a trade. Players like D.J. Williams of the Broncos, Derrick Johnson of the Chiefs and 

    Rey Maualuga of the Bengals could all be had for the right price. 

Change No. 2: Utilize Vick's Arm & Big-Play Ability

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    Mike Vick is the NFL's most dangerous playmaker with the ball in his hands. He has the strongest arm in the NFL, is one of the league's most dangerous players running the ball and is as elusive as anyone in the open field. 

    Why Andy Reid refuses to utilize Vick to his fullest potential is beyond me. Yes, the Giants' safeties were playing deep at times during the first half (and for almost all of the second half), but they were flying downfield as soon as wideouts DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin broke off their routes. 

    Vick can throw a ball 70 yards downfield with a flick of his wrist—and he should be doing it regularly. Even if DeSean Jackson is well-covered deep, Vick should throw one long in the first quarter, especially on a second-and-short play. For those worried about a turnover, it's certainly possible for an NFL QB of Vick's caliber to intentionally overthrow a WR to prove a point and force a defense to remain honest.

    If the Eagles remind the Giants of their big-play ability early and often, the Giants' safeties won't be able to play downhill on the pass. That should create space over the middle for guys like LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek, Jason Avant and Steve Smith. And as soon as the Giants move their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, a bomb over the top to a streaking Jackson or Maclin can go for six. 

    But none of that will happen if opponents know the Eagles won't throw deep if the WR is covered.  

Change No. 1: Get Mean

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    The most significant difference between a all-time great coach like Bill Belichek and a very good, but not great coach like Andy Reid is attitude. 

    Andy Reid is a "nice" coach—he doesn't take pride in humiliating opponents, he doesn't demand excellence from his players and he certainly doesn't live to break his opponents. Belichek does all three every week. 

    After witnessing "injury-gate" in Week 2 and the conditions on the field at the Linc, Belichek would have come out running nothing but a hurry-up offense. He'd rotate WRs to Aaron Ross' side of the field, sending each on go routes, double moves and stop-and-go patterns. Whether or not the ball ever went to Ross' man is irrelevant.

    What is relevant is the fact that by the fourth or fifth 50-yard sprint down the field in sweltering heat, Ross (or any other CB) would be begging for air. And then Brady and Belichek would go after him. 

    There would be no mercy breaks. There would be no huddles or chances for Ross (or anyone else) to leave the field. There would only be more go routes, more double moves, more stop-and-go patterns until Ross blew a coverage, at which point it would go for six. The next series after that would be more of the same. Over and over and over again. 

    That's how a mean coach game-plans. Andy Reid needs to get mean. He needs to learn how to destroy opponents. He needs to demand excellence from his players and punish those who fail to give it to him. He needs to be more like Bill Belichek and less like Santa Claus.