Anytime the Eagles lose a game the blame usually finds its way squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. And that’s not always fair. Players have to execute. Last night, the Eagles’ linebackers didn’t react, their offense didn’t convert on plays where there were opportunities to do so, and Michael Vick had a stretch of three turnovers just prior to and after halftime. Throw in the Jeremy Maclin drop, a key injury to Vick, and boom–it’s the recipe for a loss.
Lost in the chaos of the night’s events, however, were two absolutely woeful decisions by Andy Reid that greatly harmed his team’s chances of getting out of Atlanta with a win. Let’s take a look.
1) Nice challenge, big guy.
In the third quarter, Michael Vick was intercepted by Falcons’ cornerback Kelvin Hayden. Initial replays provided no indisputable evidence that the ball was not intercepted. Still, Reid should have thrown the flag for a few reasons: it would have slowed the game down, Jason Avant was going wild, imploring his coach to challenge the play, and, uh, most important–it was not an interception.
Initially, none of the shots NBC showed indicated a reason to reverse the call on the field–it was minutes later that a back angle replay revealed that Hayden didn’t have possession. Surely, you can’t blame Reid for that, right?
To Hell with that. Sure you can.
The missing replay that indicated the ball had in fact hit the ground certainly would have been shown had Reid challenged the play. The Eagles would have kept the ball, Tony Gonzalez would have never made a ridiculous touchdown grab in the back of the end zone, and we all would have lived happily ever after. If you want to give Reid a free pass on that one, go ahead. But I’m not.
2. Bet you’ve never heard this rant before.
Andy Reid is notoriously terrible with clock management. For years, Reid has infuriated Eagles fans with inexplicable timeouts that have later come back to haunt his team. Last night was no different.
After Dunta Robinson applied his cheap shot hit to Jeremy Maclin, Reid elected to use his first timeout of the second half. It wasn’t necessary. Get Maclin off the field, run the next play, save your timeout. Easy, right?
Not quite. Instead, Reid elected to take a timeout which preceded a three-yard run by LeSean McCoy. Way to cook up something wild there, big fella.
Then, late in the fourth quarter with the Eagles facing a critical fourth and four, Reid elected to use his second timeout. While it’s certain Reid wanted to prepare his quarterback for the game’s deciding play, the use of his second timeout gave the Eagles absolutely no chance to get the ball back with a reasonable chance to score when they failed to convert.
Instead of getting the ball back near midfield with five seconds left, there would have been just under a minute to go. That’s plenty of time to move the ball 45 yards. The use of the second timeout turned what would have been an extremely important drop by Maclin into a deadly one.