PHILADELPHIA — A seven-game losing streak won’t get Andy Reid to change his ways.
As usual, Reid accepted blame and pointed the finger directly at himself following the Philadelphia Eagles’ latest loss, 30-22 to the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.
“I take full responsibility. There’s a way to get through and I’m not doing it right now,” Reid said Tuesday. “Coaches have told you they gotta do a better job. Players have told you they gotta do a better job. End result is you have to do a better job.”
That’s about as far as Reid will go in his criticism of his players or coaching staff. Anyone who wants to see Reid call players out for missing assignments, making mistakes or underperforming will have to wait for a coaching change. That’s just not part of Reid’s philosophy.
“I’m the head football coach of this team,” he said. “It’s my responsibility these guys do their job. Bottom line. It’s my responsibility to deal with those players and coaches man to man. I’m not going to change that now.”
Translation: Reid isn’t going to throw anyone under the bus.
Still, the clock is ticking on Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia after 14 seasons. Disgusted fans who’ve been calling for his ouster for years almost certainly will get their wish. Owner Jeffrey Lurie already made it clear the Eagles needed to make “substantial improvement” after going 8-8 in 2011.
They’ll need to finish 5-0 just to be 8-8 again. That’s “unacceptable” to Lurie, and to fans who haven’t celebrated an NFL championship since 1960.
“I’m coaching to get ready to get after the Cowboys,” Reid said. “I don’t go beyond that. I’m not going to let anything distract that.”
The Eagles (3-8) visit Dallas (5-6) Sunday night, and will again play in front of a national television audience. At least it won’t be at the Linc.
There were thousands of empty seats Monday night and those who showed up lacked their typical luster. The frustrated crowd didn’t even boo as heartily as expected. In sports, apathy is worse than anger.
“This is mentally exhausting,” tight end Brent Celek said. “I am sick about it. I hate losing and it doesn’t get any easier. We just have to turn it around. Everyone has to step up and turn it around.”
Players continue to defend Reid, saying they hear his message. They’re just not making plays at important points in games.
“I feel like the guys respond,” linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “There’s just a lot of misfortune out there. We turn the ball over and not getting turnovers again. Leaving guys open deep is unacceptable. We can’t win like that.”
Changes already have started. The Eagles released two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin hours afterReid spoke to reporters. Babin had 5.5 sacks, down from 18 last year. He signed a $28 million, five-year contract with Philadelphia after going to his first Pro Bowl for Tennessee in 2010.
“We appreciate everything that Jason has given this team over the last couple of years,” Reid said. “We wish him all the best as he continues his career. This gives us an opportunity to give more playing time to some of younger guys in the defensive line rotation.”
Things aren’t going to get any easier. Injuries are piling up, especially on the offensive side.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson was placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season after sustaining multiple rib fractures on a running play against Carolina. Jackson led the team with 45 catches and 700 yards receiving, but only had two touchdowns.
Michael Vick missed his second straight game because of a concussion and still hasn’t passed the final test to be cleared to practice. Rookie Nick Foles hasn’t shown much in 2½ games to prove he can be the quarterback of the future. But he’ll likely have another opportunity against the Cowboys.
LeSean McCoy remains in Phase 1 of his concussion recovery, so he’s a longshot to play at Dallas. Rookie seventh-round pick Bryce Brown had 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Panthers, but also lost two fumbles.
“I thought I did well, definitely thought I could have done a little bit better,” Brown said. “The two turnovers I had, I think cost us the game, so I’m not happy about that.”
On defense, it’s been a nightmare the past five games. The Eagles have allowed five straight quarterbacks to post a passer rating of at least 120 since Todd Bowles replaced Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator. They’ve given up 13 touchdown passes and have zero interceptions in those five games.
There have been several blown coverages in the secondary, leading to big plays. Both of Cam Newton’s TD passes were to wide open receivers.
“Everybody has to do their own job and everybody has to look at themselves in the mirror and try to get something done,” Bowles said. “If you can’t look at yourself in the mirror, then you’re not the guy you thought you were.”