Rob Woodfork, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - As far as football teams go, I know a rotting carcass when I see one. Heaven knows we've seen plenty roadkill here in Washington over the years.
So when I saw the Philadelphia Eagles get blown off of the FedEx Field turf by 25 points at the hands of the Washington Redskins Sunday, I knew I was seeing the end of an era in the City of Brotherly Love.
We've all seen the trajectory of the Andy Reid regime in Philly. After breaking in a rookie quarterback by the name of Donovan McNabb in 1999, the Eagles opened the the 21st century by taking a stranglehold on the NFC East. Philly made deep playoff runs an annual rite, and enjoyed the most consistent stretch of success in their team's history.
However, Reid and company never closed the deal. A 3-point loss to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX was as close as the Eagles would get to a championship.
Now Philadelphia isn't just on the decline...they're in free fall. Sunday's loss was their 6th-straight, dropping them to 3-7. I've long been a defender of Andy Reid, but there's no way anyone could objectively support his return to Philly for a 15th year. His message has grown stale. His team no longer responds. The lucky streak at QB has run its course. Yes, he's still coping with the tragic loss of his son to a drug overdose in August, but Reid's inability and/or refusal to commit to the run, and his consistent game mismanagement predate that unspeakable loss.
If anything has been proven in the NFL in recent years, it's that no matter how good a coach is, there's a shelf life on his tenure. And that expiration date tends to come not long after a decade. Reid appears to be on his way out after 14 years. Jeff Fisher managed to wear out his welcome in Tennessee after 16 full seasons despite a similar career arch as Reid. Mike Shanahan managed to clutch a pair of Lombardi trophies in Denver, yet still saw his 14 year run with the Broncos end badly.
The one thing I'd caution Eagles fans with is this: Be careful what you wish for. You have no guarantee the next guy is going to be better -- especially when the guy you're firing is the best you've ever known.
Regardless of whether Philly fans choose to acknowledge it (and most don't), the Reid Era is far and away the best in Eagles history. Reid has compiled the best win total (129), win percentage (.594) and playoff victory total (10) in team history. He has six division titles and five trips to the NFC Championship game.
To put that in perspective, before Reid took over the Eagles had just two division titles to their name. Philly has made the playoffs 19 times in the Super Bowl era. Nine of those came under Reid. The Eagles have only been to 2 Super Bowls. Reid led them to one of those in 2004.
I don't say this to defend Reid. It's to highlight how hard it is to find a quality NFL head coach.
There's a good chance a Super Bowl winner like Jon Gruden ends up taking the reins in Philadelphia, but that doesn't count for much when you consider no one has ever won a Super Bowl in two different cities. Your chances plummet when the new team has more questions than answers at QB. Just ask Mike Shanahan.
This much is apparent: These final six games of the 2012 season will go down as the ugly end to the Reid era in Philadelphia.
What's still up in the air is whether it will go down as a precursor to better days, or if it's simply the end of an empty golden era for a sad-sack franchise.
Chin up, Philly. At least there's a really cool recap of the other games in Week 11:
Dolphins 14, Bills 19
Now that is what I expected to see from the Buffalo defense this year. As usual, it's too little, too late for the Bills.
Eagles 6, Redskins 31
I know this will sound like hyperbole, but Robert Griffin III has already demonstrated a Jordan-esque ability to call his shot and then go out on the field and back it up. He said he and the Redskins would come out of the bye week better than before, and the newly-minted team captain played perhaps his best game yet in the biggest margin of victory in the Shanahan era. Color me impressed.