On a 1-3 Start for Andy Reid's Eagles

On a 1-3 Start for Andy Reid's Eagles

These are trying times for a so-called Eagles apologist. Does one simply swallow their pride, admit they were wrong about this organization, and join the "Fire Andy Reid" mob?

For the first time since I began contributing to T7L, I am speechless. This team truly defies explanation. The defense blows fourth quarter leads, but is fairly solid in the second and third. The offense gains tons of yards, but couldn't find the end zone with a GPS and a bus to carry them there. Special teams giveth, and special teams taketh away.

Their deficiencies are numerable and plain to see, but even supposed areas of strength look suspiciously like weaknesses. Pro Bowl-caliber players come up small in clutch situations. Expensive free agent additions are exposed. The quarterback can't stay healthy, and the coaching staff doesn't have a clue.

The result: the Birds are 1-3. The club has lost six of its last seven games that counted. They've dropped fourth quarter leads for three consecutive weeks. Philadelphia resides in last place in a weak NFC East.

By and large, people are fed up. A few of us are racking our brains for answers, while others are content to bury their heads in the sand. There isn't a soul sticking up for Andy Reid though -- as there shouldn't be -- and a quick poll would undoubtedly reveal the overwhelming majority no longer expect the Eagles to make the playoffs.

It's hard to blame anyone for losing faith. The first four weeks of the season have deteriorated past the point of the wildest worst case scenarios, and it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what the head coach needs to do to get his squad ready to play.

And yet, are we to believe this season is already over?

***

A lot of our readers probably don't realize or remember (or care) I haven't always been one to give Andy Reid a pass. For the most part, I've remained a fan of his work, but between the 07-08 seasons, I too flirted with the idea he was no longer the right head coach for the job.

Donovan McNabb was recovering from a torn ACL, and Andy seemingly had him dropping back to pass 100 plays per game. Clearly rusty and his athleticism diminished, McNabb was incapable of executing the offense at that volume. It appeared Reid was trying to get his quarterback killed, perhaps to make the impending decision about Donovan's future easier.

Not that there is any truth to that, but the front office could have sold Kevin Kolb to even his most jaded detractors if Donovan had his legs sheered off by Osi Umenyiora.

Of course, he survived, and the team even went on a little winning streak to close out their 8-8 season. It was just enough to keep the dogs at bay.

Then 2008 picked up where Bad Andy left off, with the Eagles digging the grave where play-calling balance was almost laid to rest. The slow start culminated in an epic three-game winless streak that included a tie against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, and finally resulted in McNabb being benched for the second half of a blowout at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.

Their record 5-5-1, the playoffs were a remote possibility... which naturally was when they suddenly figured some things out. The Birds won four out of their last five, and enough crap broke the right way for them to sneak into the postseason. They nearly made it all the way to the Super Bowl, long after most folks had given up on in November.

I admit, up until minutes before the 44-6 thrashing of the Cowboys to propel the Eagles into the dance, I half wished it would all shake out so that game meant nothing, and win or lose, we might see the last of Andy.

***

But those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

'08 was my first season "covering" the Eagles, and I learned a lot about not writing off teams or individuals too soon. We left that group for dead, then they appeared in the NFC Championship game, a destination that was in line with our expectations. Andy Reid was a buffoon who was accused of losing the locker room, but he made some adjustments and turned their season around.

If the Birds fail to reach the playoffs, by all means, Jeffrey Lurie should fire Reid. If they are eliminated in the first round, or don't make an otherwise convincing run, the front office most certainly should explore other options. The only excuse that's left is individual players and possibly coaches have been at the heart of many of this club's damning mistakes, but since Andy chose the roster and his staff, that dog won't hunt.

Having said that, we would all do well to be reminded the date today is October 4, and the Eagles have 12 games to go. Realistically, they probably need to finish 9-3 to earn a spot in the playoffs -- give or take a win -- and as outlandish as that has to sound in light of what we witnessed through the first four weeks, it's not statistically impossible.

If they somehow make it into the bye at 3-3, how bad is the situation really? None of their rivals appear poised to run away with the division, or look incapable of falling into a three-game skid themselves. 10-6 or 9-7 could be enough to take the NFC East this year, and once a team is in the playoffs, there's no telling how far they can go.

Which is why the "Fire Reid" camp might as well take a break. Nobody is getting canned after four weeks, and after waiting 12 and a half years, you can surely wait the extra three months, since everybody is so thoroughly convinced there is no reversing the tailspin.

Without much physical evidence to the contrary, there is little choice but to agree with the doubters that this time Andy Reid may not be able to correct course enough to save this season, or his job. But what do the Eagles have left to lose in 2011 besides more games?

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

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Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

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Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

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USA Today Images

Soul drop 1st road game of season to Gladiators

The Soul fell on the road to the Cleveland Gladiators, 63-49, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

The loss was just the second of the season and the first away from the Wells Fargo Center for the Soul. Quarterback Dan Raudabaugh completed 25 of 44 passes for 342 yards and seven touchdownsi in a losing effort.

The Gladiators were led by receiver Quentin Sims, who finished with 10 receptions for 114 yards and three touchdowns, and signal caller Arvell Nelson who completed 22 of 36 passes for 307 yards and seven touchdowns.

Next week, the Soul travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks on Saturday, June 4. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and 97.5 The Fanatic.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.