Something is wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles. Something is wrong with the way they tackle, with the way they block, with the very way they play while holding what should be an insurmountable lead. Something is wrong and the answer is not as simple as bad play-calling or a couple of missed field goals from a rookie kicker who might be on the way back to Nebraska with suitcase in hand. The rot is deeper. It is in the soul of a team that was once one of the toughest in the NFC East.
Michael Vick understands this. Whatever your opinion of the Eagles quarterback – and opinions of Vick will be forever polarized – he is the leader of the Eagles, the one the players trust most and perhaps even listen to more than the coaches. Late Sunday afternoon, after an inexcusable 24-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, he sat behind a small table, looked in the cameras and said the thing his coach couldn’t or wouldn’t. “I heard Steve Young, a couple of weeks ago mention when he played it was a sense that came over him and the sense was: ‘Over my dead body, I will not lose this game, I will not let this guy in front of me beat me,’ ” Vick said.
“It’s just that ‘over my dead body’ perspective you have to take.” Perhaps, given his past, this was not the best choice of words. But it was exactly what he needed to say. And as he said it, you could see he had carefully chosen this message, that he considered the implications and delivered it anyway because a tamer thought would not have the shock value the Eagles now need at 1-3 and in last place in the NFC East. “That’s gut check,” said Vick, after Philadelphia dropped its third straight game. “Some people have it and some people don’t but we’re going to find out who’s got it.”
A month into the season the Eagles are in danger of falling far behind the Redskins (3-1) and Giants (3-1) in a division they were supposed to win. But that message cannot be given by their coach Andy Reid, who sat at the same table as Vick on Sunday and muttered over and over through gritted teeth: “I have to do a better job as the head football coach.” The players are not going to listen to this. They are not going to hear Reid growling in a Monday morning meeting. They will, however, listen to Vick. He sat comfortably behind the table on Sunday, frustrated but not anxious. He didn’t scream. He didn’t intentionally look glum. He simply stared and said the thing everyone on his team needed to hear – that they weren’t playing with the kind of desperation necessary to win in this league. He is probably not the best one to be talking about dead bodies. Yet with the Dream Team crumbling fast, there was no one else to say the words that needed to be said and so he put them out there.
“Over my dead body.”
- You: Vick takes part in walkthrough, likely to practice (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Eagles should know after practice if Vick OK (espn.go.com)
- Andy Reid: 5 Adjustments He Must Make Now to Save the Eagles’ Season (bleacherreport.com)