When the man in charge says he's going to tear everything up and the first thing he does is fire the defensive coordinator even though the offense is actually the problem... well, you know things aren't done happening just yet. Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid had a news conference Tuesday to discuss his firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, and he made it very clear that he would continue making decisions and, possibly, changes as this bye week went on.
The topic on everyone's mind is quarterback Michael Vick, who has turned the ball over 13 times through six games. A fan base that is sick of this wants to know whether Reid is too, and what if anything he's going to do about it. This is what Reid said at the news conference about Vick:
"As I sit here today he's the starting quarterback.
"Listen, I'm going through and I'm evaluating everything. I'm looking at everything. Everybody and everything.
"All I can tell you today is what I've got done today. That's all I can do and you can take that however you [want]. I'm trying to give you as much as I can give you at the time. I'm coming forward to you with this and as quickly as I possibly could to make sure I stand up here and tell you as opposed to putting out just a press release and going the opposite direction. So I want to make sure you know, the fans know, and I owe that to you guys, I owe it to them. I know everyone has an opinion. I understand. I've got it. I’m going to take it one day at a time here."
In other words: Stay tuned, and all bets are off. The Eagles cannot go through the rest of their schedule with their quarterback turning the ball over more than twice per game. They need to win more than they lose the rest of the way in order for Reid to keep his job. He knows this, and the way he's acting this week proves that. So as he evaluates "everything," Reid must obviously linger over the issue of Vick, who plays the team's most important position and who has, due to the turnovers, been a far bigger problem so far this year than poor Juan Castillo was.
I do not know what he will do, but at this point nothing would be a surprise. Reid could announce, this week or next, that he's giving the starting quarterback job to rookie Nick Foles or journeyman Trent Edwards. He could announce he's sticking with Vick, and could privately tell Vick he's going to bench him, mid-game if necessary, if the turnovers don't stop. He could do a ton of little things, like move Todd Herremans from tackle to guard and try to improve the offensive line, which is a major problem either Foles or Edwards would inherit and which could render a quarterback switch irrelevant.
My guess is he sticks with Vick for the Falcons game on Oct. 28 but that the leash is short. I think if Vick turns the ball over in the first half and/or the Eagles struggle to score prior to halftime that day, he brings Foles out as the quarterback in the second half. But I think that any Vick benching that happens this year would be temporary, and designed to send a message that helps Vick play better.
Because this isn't about seeing if Foles is the long-term answer. If the Eagles don't win at least six or seven of their remaining 10 games, it's not going to matter to Reid who the long-term answer is at quarterback, because he's not going to be around to coach him. The only reason Reid would go to Foles (or, I guess, Edwards) at this point is if he determined that that gives him the best chance to win games in 2012. And I don't see how he's got anything on which to base that kind of conclusion. You certainly can't decide that based on a couple of good-looking preseason games. It's possible that he's been working Foles more than anyone knows in practice since he closed practice to the media earlier this season, and that what he's seen there could convince him Foles is the better bet right now. Back in 2010, practice performance was one of his reasons for giving Vick this job over Kevin Kolb, so there is some precedent. But at that time, Vick had some NFL track record, and had performed well for Reid in real games. This would be a much bigger jump.
Vick's been bad -- much worse than the Eagles expected him to be. But their options for replacing him are certainly not without their own significant flaws. And this isn't a 2008 Donovan McNabb situation, because Vick is obviously working hard and trying his best. He just can't stop turning the ball over, and Reid and the Eagles can't continue to tolerate it if he does. This is why Reid is likely closer to benching Vick now than he has been at any time since giving him the job two years ago. While I still don't think he does it just now, no one should be surprised if he does. And if he doesn't, no one should be surprised if a healthy Vick fails to finish the next game.
The Castillo firing was a public announcement to everyone in the organization that no one is safe. Castillo is Reid's friend and as loyal an assistant as he had. If he could lose his job, so can anyone else. If Vick didn't get that message, and if it doesn't prompt him to fix his turnover problem, then a quarterback change in Philadelphia is right around the corner.