For the third consecutive week, the Philadelphia Eagles snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Actually, this time, it was more like the bowels.
Consider that the Iggles had a 23-3 lead on the San Francisco 49ers with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter. Consider that a 20-point lead at ANY point in the game should be snug as a bug in a rug when you count up the talent on the defensive side of the ball for Philly. As the cherry on the considerational sundae, there is the fact that the Niner offense is led by that immortal field marshal, quarterback Alex Smith.
There's a win that's been chewed up and partially digested, yet Philadelphia finds itself in the same position as it found itself after three of its four 2011 games: wondering how they vomited up a fourth-quarter lead and turned it into a loss.
I'm not one for blaming coaches when there are elite athletes on the field, getting paid millions of dollars to perform, but there's an exception to every rule.
And Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid appears to be it.
Way Too Much Talent To Be 1-3
Like I said, I generally don't like to let the players off the hook for poor performances because, at least in the case of professionals, they are grown men who should be held accountable for their actions or inaction.
However, look at all the talent the Eagles boast—Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Steve Smith, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Asante Samuel, Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins and the list goes on.
These guys didn't suddenly forget how to play the game or age by a factor of 10; the fourth-quarter leads built by these very individuals belie such a notion.
The Niner game was a perfect illustration of this principle.
With the enormous talent disparity between the Philly defense and San Francisco offense, it shouldn't take coaching genius to put the Eagle personnel in position to close the door.
Three Quarters Forward, One Game Back
The stars were good enough to put the Iggles in position to win over three quarters, so they should be good enough to hold that lead. There are only two possibilities as to why they've failed to do so for three games and counting: (A) the game plan is to blame or (B) their play is.
In both scenarios, it's on Reid and his coaches to rectify the issue.
The Eagles need to adjust their fourth-quarter approach to replicate the results through three quarters. Whether that means dialing up the pressure, dialing back the pressure, giving primary defenders more rest early in the game or something else altogether depends on the circumstances.
That's where Andy enters the picture. He gets paid to prepare based on those circumstances and the outcomes suggest he's not earning his keep.
The Demise Is in the Details
Nor is this the first time we've seen cracks in the Philly coach's supposed armor.
Rarely if ever could you describe the Eagles as overachievers during Reid's tenure at the team's helm. Even during those glory years when the big fella led Philadelphia to four NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl in eight seasons, an argument could be made that Andy and his charges underachieved.
Think about it—they boasted one of the best quarterbacks in the game, despite what the delusional naysayers claim, in Donovan McNabb. Additionally, they featured a nice balance of elite talent on both sides of the ball.
Yet look at the sides that bounced them.
In 2002, the Eagles got booted by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's no great sin to lose to the champs, but getting beaten by Brad Johnson? Suspect.
In 2004, you've got another mulligan as the Eagles made it to the big game, only to meet the dynastic Pats and Brady.
And then you've got the final insult to injury when Philly got handled by a 9-7 Arizona Cardinals squad in the 2008 NFC Championship Game.
Throw in a few early playoff exits and failures to even qualify for the second season, and you've got a coaching resume that looks good, but should almost certainly be much better.
Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice...
Yes, Reid has enjoyed a lot of success as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach. But he's also enjoyed working with a ton of talent, usually more than his opposite number.
Given the context, more should be expected from his teams, yet they often deliver less.
As evidenced by Sunday's debacle versus the 49ers, the coach seems content to coast on the stacked deck he's often playing with rather than taking proactive measures to ensure even greater success. That hasn't hurt his reputation to date, but things could be changing after the Eagles went all Miami Heat in the offseason.
Now, there's nowhere to hide for the man heralded by many NFL observers as one of the best coaches in the League.
And that ain't good because reality isn't a good look for Andy Reid.