Reid Wants To Talk Football, Not Concussions

26 09 2011

by Bob Ford, Inquirer Sports Columnist

There really wasn’t much for Andy Reid to say after Sunday’s confounding loss to the New York Giants, or at least there wasn’t very much he felt like saying. Either way, Reid’s day on the sideline will have to speak for itself, because there wasn’t a lot of explanation afterward.
LeSean McCoy
The answers to the final seven questions of his postgame news conference were:

“I thought it was the right thing to do.”

“I can’t remember that to be honest with you.”

“I went with Kafka.”



“Uh . . . their penetration.”

“We’ll see.”

For fun, try to match the answers with the questions below:

“What happens if you go swimming too soon after lunch?”

“What is it that makes nails stick into wood?”

“Who did you choose as the greatest author of the 20th century?”

“Why did you help that old lady across the street?”

“What is the capital of Wyoming?”

“What is the opposite of nope?

“When we open our eyes, what will happen?”

The actual questions weren’t that great, either, but they were legitimate and probably deserved a better hearing than Reid gave them. By that time, however, he had tired of the proceedings and just wanted to get out of there.

The earlier questions involved why he chose to go for a first down on a fourth-and-1 situation in the fourth quarter, and why Michael Vick continued to play despite having sustained a broken hand, and whether Vick’s concussion from the week before had bothered him at all.

“Let’s talk some football here,” Reid said impatiently when he was asked the part about the concussion, as if Vick had gotten it walking into a door or something.

You want to talk some football? All right, here’s some football. With a two-point lead in the fourth quarter and the ball near midfield, you punt on fourth down. Even if you think you’ve got a spiffy play picked out. Even if your running back is over 100 yards on the day.

You punt because what can happen if you make it is outweighed by what can happen if you don’t. It’s just the percentages. So what happened? LeSean McCoy lost 3 yards on the play, and New York got the ball just 20 or so yards from being in range for a field goal that would give them the lead.

It turned out they didn’t have to stop there. The Giants drove for a touchdown, and, just to show that wasn’t a fluke, they drove for another, and that was that.

The Eagles’ defensive players were bummed in the locker room after the game because this was the second straight game in which they had surrendered a fourth-quarter lead. They said they felt bad because Reid showed faith in them by going for the fourth down, when, in fact, the truth is exactly the opposite.

Reid didn’t go for it because he thought the defense would hold down the Giants if the try failed. He went for it because he had no confidence the defense would hold regardless of whether New York started on the 46-yard line, the 20-yard line, or the 1-yard line. That’s probably closer to the truth.

He was trying to get more points right there because he had a quarterback on the field with a broken hand that was rapidly swelling and a backup quarterback with no experience. (And a third-string quarterback who is either still hurt or hasn’t learned the offense, because there’s no way on God’s green earth to choose Mike Kafka over Vince Young otherwise.)

Reid went for it on fourth down because he had a lead, but he didn’t think he had enough. He was right about that, and it was a judgment based on watching the defense come apart in the first quarter. The secondary was awful to the point that safety Kurt Coleman was benched. The linebackers gave up big plays again, with Casey Matthews’ getting burned by Brandon Jacobs the lowlight this time. The defensive line wasn’t getting to Eli Manning often enough, and apparently Juan Castillo didn’t trust the coverage enough to call many blitzes.

Yes, it was awful, but you still punt the ball and make New York put together a long drive.

You want to talk more football? Fine. You don’t return your quarterback to the game with a broken bone in his hand. Vick got hit by Chris Canty on a completion to Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter. He had put his right hand up to protect his head and Canty smacked him.

After the series, Vick was examined on the sideline, then went to the locker room for X-rays. He came back out just in time to start the next series (and as he ran onto the field to replace Kafka, Vick slapped hands with the exiting replacement, using his broken hand).

Reid said it wasn’t a displaced break – meaning the bones were still lined up – and the decision was that Vick could return to the game. No. That’s wrong. This is the most important player on your team. He has a broken bone in his hand. If he gets hit there again, it could be disastrous.

But the head coach put him back in because – regardless of what he has said – he didn’t trust the backup to get the job done. At the end of the drive, he went for it on fourth down because – regardless of what he has said – he didn’t trust Castillo’s defense to stop the Giants.

And that’s why the news conference came to an abrupt conclusion. After this game, in which everything he did went wrong, in which he ultimately lost faith in those around him, he didn’t even trust himself to keep saying nothing.

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