Scapegoat – n.) A person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.
The proper noun for scapegoat added a new definition on Tuesday, Juan Castillo.
It seemed like only a matter of time before some type of shakeup occurred in the Philadelphia Eagles organization and sure enough two days after one of the most devastating losses in recent memory Andy Reid not only followed through with his winds of change sentiment, but he also appeared to hit the big red panic button.
That panic button was installed by Eagles’ owner Jeffery Laurie after he stated in the offseason that another 8-8 season would be unacceptable. Well after six games there was Reid sitting in his captain’s chair starring at that intolerable number:
An 11-11 record in the last 22 games gave Reid enough of a sample size to end an era that many questioned from the beginning, when all along those questions should have been focused on the person who made that decision.
Big Red’s power in the Eagles’ organization has now appeared to reach punch drunk levels. The firing of Castillo makes you wonder if Reid purposefully placed the former offensive line coach in a blunderbuss position. Think about it, would you want the prospect of a future head coach (Steve Spagnolo) directly under you in the coaching hierarchy of your club in a season that has a predetermined end to your career if your team doesn’t make the playoffs? Instead Reid hired one of his long time friends in the business to head most of the defense. That’s right most of the defense, not all, just most of it. Defensive line coach Jim Washburn gets to have one segment of the defensive eleven while a coach that specialized in one segment of a team his entire career now had to figure out how to not only call plays on Sundays, but make adjustments on Sundays, then make adjustments on top of those adjustments, and on top of making those adjustments make sure that his game plan works with the game plan of his defensive line coach. (who is punch drunk on power himself, there’s a reason Washburn and Fisher had a falling out in Tennessee.)
It sounds like Reid went to the grocery store and bought all of the ingredients for a meal that is called failure, but to me the food had a funny smell to it. Big Andy isn’t the type of coach that makes bold decisions on the fly and hopes that they work. He’s a calculated individual that loves to be in control, just watch one of his press conferences in the last five years. He doesn’t give the media any information so therefore writers have to draw their own conclusions. This isn’t an accident. Reid hiring Castillo was not an accident or an experiment. Reid hired Castillo knowing that if the team struggled he could easily pull the plug.
There’s one huge problem though, he waited too long. If Reid would have fired Castillo at the end of last year’s 8-8 debacle, people wouldn’t have reacted in a puzzling manner towards the move. The firing of Castillo this past Tuesday became the lead story on Sportscenter; Philadelphia beat writers wondered if this was a move that was forced by Laurie (credit to Philadelphia Daily News’ Jeff McLane on that). Reid made sure to deflect the notion of that in his weekly 12 o’clock press conference and reiterated that this was a decision that was made after re watching the first six games of this season and some games from last year. The decision was his and his alone, after all Reid is the only one with the blueprint.
That blueprint featured an expiration date for Juan Castillo, Reid just needed the right situation to pull the trigger. Andy pulled out the gun after a devastating loss to the Detroit Lions in week six which featured the best receiver in the league single handily tear apart a defense in the fourth quarter and an overtime period. Yes the defense deserved some of the blame for the epic meltdown, but what about Marty Mornhinweg’s (or Reid’s) offense gaining a total of 97 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime combined? Keep in mind that 70 of those yards were on a Jeremy Maclin touchdown pass that featured blown pass coverage that has only been seen when a 10 year old plays a game of Madden. Take that touchdown out and you have a total of 27 yards in 19 minutes.
An even more frustrating number for Eagles fans: LeSean McCoy, 14 carries, 22 yards.
14 carries for a running back that has a knack for closing games.
14 carries for a top three running back in the league.
14 carries for a running back that has drawn comparisons to the best running back in the history of the league.
Let’s face it, Reid isn’t going to change his offensive philosophy of airing it out. He fell in love with the 2010 version of Michael Vick and is unwilling to change his viewpoint of the embattled quarterback. Reid’s recently endorsed his quarterback (for now), but he’s not blinded to Vick’s ridiculous amount of turnovers. However I just don’t see how Big Red can sit number seven in favor of a rookie who wasn’t drafted to start a regular season game this year. Anyone who honestly believes it is a good idea to bring in Nick Foles to replace Vick needs to hand in their television remote and have FOX, CBS, NBC, and ESPN blocked from their cable or satellite service.
Foles would be hindered by the same problems that Vick has to deal with on a weekly basis: offensive line play that is deteriorating every week, an offensive game plan that isn’t set up to succeed, and most importantly the weight of a volatile fan base that would likely hinder the growth of the young quarterback. The former Arizona Wildcat isn’t ready for the Sunday crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. I still wonder if Michael Vick is ready to face an unstable group of 60,000 eight times a season. I’m beginning to wonder if Andy Reid is still able to block out the massive group of fans who pay a ridiculous amount of money to watch a team play undisciplined football for three hours on Sundays or Mondays (I refuse to acknowledge Thursday night games).
While he likely isn’t done re writing equations on the blueprint, there is one item that is written in pen; it’s the equation that displays how Andy Reid has double knotted his coaching legacy to Michael Vick. It is almost impossible to say how Eagles’ fans will remember Reid after his time does come to an end, but if the loss to the Lions in week six was just the tipping point, the conversation will begin with how Andy lost sight of how his kingdom walls fell down brick by brick.
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