Season Wide Open for Eagles After Bye

Michael Vick Andy Reid
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Sometimes, doing nothing can be the best strategy. Luckily for the Eagles, they didn't have a choice. Week 7 was their bye so, like the rest of us, they had to watch the NFL from their collective couches. And when it was over, the Giants had edged the Redskins and the Cowboys had snuck by the Panthers. The NFC East now looks like this:

Giants, 5-2
Eagles, 3-3
Cowboys, 3-3
Redskins, 3-4

Philly finds itself 1.5 games back of New York, but despite all that happened in the first six weeks -- the fumbles, the interceptions, the questionable playcalling, the shoddy offensive line play and scapegoating the defensive coordinator out of town -- the Eagles are in fantastic shape for the final 10 games of the regular season.

That's the glass-half-full version. The issues that plagued this team in September and October haven't magically resolved themselves. There's no reason to believe that Vick will suddenly hold onto the ball, or that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg isn't in coach Andy Reid's crosshairs. But one thing that might change: the defense's aggressiveness -- and with it -- their ability to hold onto fourth-quarter leads.

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that Reid wanted to replace Castillo after the 2011 season, a disappointing 8-8 effort that saw the Eagles miss the playoffs.

"The Eagles attempted to rehire former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, according to league sources, but he ended up as the Saints defensive coordinator after balking at a chance to serve in the same role with the Colts," La Canfora wrote. "The Eagles were among several suitors for Bowles, Miami's interim head coach at the time. Reid ultimately chose to keep Castillo as the coordinator and named Bowles secondary coach. …

"Bowles' scheme is much more aggressive than Castillo's, and team sources expect the Eagles to bring more pressure under the former NFL safety -- they have just seven sacks this season despite an abundance of pass-rushing options. Bowles, who made occasional in-game calls as a player with the Redskins under former defensive coordinator and head coach Richie Petitbon, is viewed as someone who has been groomed for this type of position for a long time."

That could be the best news to come out of the bye week. Yes, Castillo wasn't the sole reason the Eagles were 3-3 but if Reid can shore up the defense while keeping an eye on the offense (which he apparently intends to do), then this team is better in Week 8 than they were in Week 6.

Ultimately, any long-term success will be a function of Vick's play. Reid said last week that Vick remains the Eagles' starter for now but if he comes out throwing picks and losing fumbles against the Falcons next Sunday, it's safe to assume that the Nick Foles era won't be far off. Plus, as's Geoff Mosher wrote Sunday, "No matter how good Foles looked in the preseason, Vick still gives the Eagles their best chance to win now and to go deep into the postseason."

And despite the perception, Vick's play has improved.

More via Mosher: "Look at Vick’s passing stats over his past three games. He’s completed 63 percent of his throws and registered a passer rating of 91.2, which are much better numbers than those of his first three starts. Those are numbers you can win with."

If not, not only could it be a wrap on Vick's season, but also his tenure in Philly.

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