It's almost a tautological statement at this point to say that the Dallas Cowboy’s 2010 season was a massive letdown, especially after going in touted as Super Bowl favorites. It was widely believed that they would be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium. The team was stacked full of mature talent, had a defensive genius as head coach, and blessed with a boy wonder as offensive coordinator who studied under the likes of Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman. And so it shocked not only Cowboy fans, but the entire league, when by the halfway mark of their season they were a dismal 1-7. Despite ending the season 6-10, it will go down in history as one of their greatest disappointments. However, it looks as though another NFC East team is in the throes of a monumental meltdown sure to rival that of Dallas’s 2010 season.
Taking the field Sunday against a surprising 3-1 Buffalo Bills team, the 1-3 Philadelphia Eagles tried hard to forget the previous week’s loss to the 49ers. In that game they were up 23-3 with 9:30 left in the third quarter, and they self-destructed. Like their rivals the Cowboys did on the same day against the Lions, the Eagles allowed a surging Niners team to creep ahead and win the game 24-23. However, on this particular Sunday, the Eagles found themselves as the come-from-behind team hoping to pull off what the Niners had done to them the week before. In the end, the Bills defense was too much, and Vick threw a pick six that put Buffalo up for good and sent the Eagles home 1-4.
Although there is enough blame to go around as to why the Eagles are 1-4, the Eagles need look no further than head coach Andy Reid. Surely as players and coaches look at tapes of games, scrutinizing every play, looking for ways to improve, to be more efficient, they not only evaluate whether a player is doing their job, but how a player is doing his job and how he can do it better. Yet when Reid reviews the tapes of starting quarterback Michael Vick, does he really believe Vick is at his best when he is stuck in the pocket? What was seen in the Eagles’ loss to the Bills was a head coach’s near refusal to run plays that allows Vick to do what he does best, run. Even during the third quarter when Vick had a 53 yard run that made him the NFL’s career leading rusher for quarterbacks, surpassing Philly’s own Randall Cunningham, Reid insisted on calling plays that kept Vick in the pocket.
At one point in the game, commentator Brian Billick frustratingly wonders why the Eagles do not call more plays where Vick can roll out and give them the best chance to extend the play. For a team who entered the season with the moniker “the Dream Team,” it is anyone’s guess as to when and how they will recover. Until then, NFC East rivals will revel in their demise.