Remember back in August, days before the start of the 2012 season, when Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie announced at a news conference that he's looking for "substantial improvements" and called last year's 8-8 mark "unacceptable?" Because we're guessing coach Andy Reid vividly recalls Lurie's words even if, at the time, he would only say that he was unconcerned by the remarks.
Well, six weeks into a 3-3 season and Reid's seen enough underachievement. He fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who dutifully fell on the sword in between packing up his office. Whether Reid was motivated by Lurie's comments six weeks ago or if, as he noted Tuesday, this is about being better than "an average football team" is another issue.
CSNPhilly.com's Geoff Mosher wonders if it's the former.
Reid has had several 3-3 teams make the playoffs -- three of which went to the NFC Championship game -- without him making a major coaching change smack dab in the middle of the season. He’s never done anything this drastic outside of benching a player for poor performance or stripping a coach of play-calling duties (which happened to be himself).
So why now? Is it because he’s nearing the end of a contract that has just one year left after 2012 and won’t be addressed until after the season? It it because the owner said in September that another 8-8 season wouldn’t be good enough for Reid to keep his job?
Hey, it's a fair question. And it was put to Reid Tuesday.
“I don’t go there,” the coach said. “I don’t worry about it. You worry about what you’ve got to that day and have a plan (of) how you’re going to attack that team. That other stuff I don’t even get into.”
Not publicly, anyway.
Whatever Reid's true motivation, this much is certain: Lurie was never sold on Castillo, the longtime offensive assistant, moving over to defensive coordinator before the 2011 season. We know this because Lurie said as much.
"Yes I did (have reservations)," Lurie said according to the Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Domowitch. "But I let Andy make that call. I respected his decision. He felt it was the best thing to do at the time, and I don't interfere in that area."
And that's the thing: Reid has complete control over hiring and firings, which at the end of day makes him ultimately responsible. Plus, Lurie said he had no interest in getting involved in staffing issues.
"I will never do that,'' he said via Domowitch when asked whether he had anything to do with the decision to relieve Castillo of his duties. "The way I operate, a coach is responsible for his staff. [He needs to] succeed or fail based on who he chooses and his own performance. I don't trigger that.''
But Lurie does write the checks.
Whether Reid admits it or not, this had to factor into his decision to make a change now. A change, many fans might argue, that was misguided since it's the offense -- and quarterback Michael Vick in particular -- that bears plenty of responsibility for the team's inconsistent start. Reid addressed that, too.
"As I sit here today (Vick's) the starting quarterback," Reid said.
Not a ringing endorsement, but we've heard that before. Whether it lasts is another matter entirely.