Sometimes, you have to pick your spots.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Andy Reid might have picked the worst one.
With the season hanging in the balance, the Eagles coach decided to bench DeSean Jackson, after the receiver missed a special teams meeting. Jackson was inactive yesterday when the Eagles hosted Arizona at Lincoln Financial Field.
With one of the team’s most dangerous weapons out of the game plan, the Eagles’ offense looked out of sync, mired in quick sand, as Mike Vick turned in his worst performance of this nightmare season in a 21-17 loss.
“Honestly, it was tough,” Vick said. “Playing without a guy you go to war with each and every week and you believe in, have confidence in and him not being there, it was a blow for everybody, not just me. Hopefully, he’ll see that and understand that.”
Maybe. But even if Jackson sees the error of his ways, it’s probably too late for a team that once had Super Bowl aspirations. The Eagles would have to run the table — win seven straight games — just to finish at 10-6.
“We still have opportunities,” Vick said. “Lord willing, maybe we can end up at 10-6. Who knows? Nobody believes it but us.”
The players insist they’re not giving up, not on the season or the coaching staff. In fact, almost everyone agreed with Reid’s decision to bench Jackson.
“You tell me, if a guy doesn’t do the same things everybody else is doing, then what would you do?,” LeSean McCoy said. “Coach Reid is very fair with these things. DeSean will tell you that.”
And, despite a 3-6 record, there doesn’t seem to be any finger pointing. No lack of trust in the coaches to get it fixed.
“We’re still with him [Reid],” McCoy said. “He’s a fair coach, a good coach. We love him to death.”
Three things we saw
1. Fifth amendment — For the fifth time this season, the Eagles entered the fourth quarter with a lead and couldn’t hold it. The Cardinals outscored the Eagles 14-3 in the final frame and have been bested 60-23 in the fourth this year. The key play came when John Skelton hit Larry Fitzgerald on a 37-yard bomb that set up the game-winning score. Inexplicably, rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett was left alone to cover Fitzgerald on the play.
2. Feed the beast — LeSean McCoy came in as arguably the hottest running back in the NFL, but saw just 14 touches (for 81 yards) in this one. On a day when Mike Vick was very
inaccurate (16-of-34, two picks), Reid wouldn’t commit to the ground game and the Eagles got burned. In one critical stretch in the fourth quarter, the coach called nine straight pass plays.
3. Blame game — You can’t blame the coaches for all the mental mistakes. The Eagles were called for 11 penalties (minus-97 yards), including two — a false start on Riley Cooper, illegal holding on LeSean McCoy — on what turned out to be the team’s final drive with under two minutes remaining.