And so begins the first week of the rest of the Eagles' season. There's reason for optimism but there's also the cold, hard reality of a situation that can turn desperate very quickly. It starts with Sunday's game against the undefeated Falcons.
Any conversation about the Eagles' future begins with Michael Vick, who was signed to a $100 million contract before the 2011 season. Six games into 2012 and the are calls for him to be benched are well established at this point. But coach Andy Reid is sticking by his veteran quarterback … for now. Should things go horribly wrong this weekend, however, we could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the Vick era in Philly.
Vick said earlier this week that he's not concerned about those things that are out of his control.
We all just have to go out and play," he said in comments released by the team. "I can’t spend time worrying about what [head] coach’s [Andy Reid] decision is going to be on Sunday. The thing that I know is I’m putting everything into each and every game, and I’m giving it my all. That’s all I can do.”
As for the fear of being benched, Vick's not concerned with that either.
“You just have to stand tall," he said. "It’s not the first time that I’ve been in this situation. I understand that the most important thing is for me to go out there and continue to do my job, and try to help this football team any way I can. ...
"Quite frankly, I know what I can do when I’m out there and I know what has to happen when I’m out there on the football field. That’s just my approach now, to go out there and get the job done, we’ll see what happens.”
Of course, the team's 3-3 start isn't all on Vick -- there's a reason Reid canned defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. That said, most reasonable people would agree that the offense bears much of the responsibility. Beyond the quarterback play -- and the turnovers that have accompanied it -- the playcalling and offensive line have been suspect.
The Eagles have replaced left tackle Demetress Bell with King Dunlap in an effort to bolster the line, and Vick said that the coaches "use(d) the bye to figure out what works and what doesn’t -- what are we excelling at and what we can get better at."
And while this is nothing new, Vick and the coaches get together before games to talk about the plays they like and ones that they don't.
“Every Saturday, we go over what we like and what we don’t like and what we’re going to take out and what we’re going to keep," he said. "It’s just quarterback protocol, and you have to get that done. We just have to execute overall as an offense: we have to be able to protect up front, we have to catch the ball, we have to block downfield, and I have to make throws and can’t turn the ball over. We’re all watching the game and we see what’s going on. That’s just what it is.”
The good news is that the Eagles are stellar coming off their bye. Now it's just a matter of treating every game from here on out like it's coming after a bye week. Meanwhile, Vick, who Donovan McNabb recently advised to play "pissed off," plans to do just that.
“I always play pissed off. More so now than anything.”
Whether it's enough to change this team's fortunes or Vick's job is another issue.