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BIRDLAND: Zombie Birdhouse

Photo by HUGGIE!

BY JOE PAONE IGGLES CORRESPONDENT This week on “As the Bird Turns,” things get even more bewildering. But that’s why you keep tuning in, right? Right?? The defense reached yet another new low, barely offering token resistance to a Dallas offense that hasn’t exactly set the world on fire this season. Our old nemesis Jason Witten once again had his way with us, but so did all of the other Cowboys skill players. Tony Romo threw only five incompletions—none in the second half (!)—and averaged 11.2 yards per attempt and 13.8 yards per completion. Let that sink in. Dallas must have thought they were playing their scout team.

But wait! The offense was… impressive? It was another one of those Ultra-Balanced Offensive Game Plans for Backup QBs (34 passes, 26 runs) that we’ve seen over the years. You know, the one where they commit to the running game. The one where people always ask, “Why won’t they use this game plan with Donovan McNabb/Michael Vick?” Because they won’t, that’s why.

Nick Foles made great strides this week, displaying a preternatural calm in the pocket, hanging in there, making good reads and quick decisions, finding the open receiver. A few more games like this and he might, possibly, be legitimately considered The Answer at QB as long as he doesn’t need to throw 50 times a game. Think of a Joe Flacco/Ray Rice kind of arrangement. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Brent Celek, with several key catches and gutsy runs after them, and Jeremy Maclin, whose stat line was weak but whose downfield blocking was superior and notable, both proved they are true leaders on offense, and true keepers.

Poor Bryce Brown, had another brilliant rushing game, but again it was marred by a backbreaking fumble. He’ll learn how to hold on to the ball over time. My question: Is there enough room on this team for Shady McCoy AND Bryce Brown? Both of these guys have the talent and drive to deserve at least 20 touches per game. Brown rushed for 178 yards last week, and 169 yards this week. This is not a backup running back. Neither McCoy nor Brown has the upper hand in my mind right now. Interesting problem to have, especially considering that the Eagles have such depth at exactly zero other positions.

Has the patchwork offensive line turned a corner? On the heels of last week’s completely adequate performance, last night they surrendered just one sack and blew open numerous gaping holes for Brown.

Meanwhile, Alex Henery continues to be awesome. What a great draft pick! For real.

Then there were the non-players.

Andy Reid was fiery last night. You could tell how much he wanted this game.

Jeff Lurie was… well, “glum” doesn’t come close to describing the miserable face he exhibited during every candid shot of his suite. My wife said it looked like he ate a bad pepper. For three hours.

And then there was now-former defensive line coach Jim Washburn. I saw him standing by himself on the field and smiling like a Cheshire cat before the game. It looked like he was on edge and begging to be fired.

Andy claims full responsibility for the release of Jason Babin, the dismissal of Washburn and the decision to start Foles the rest of the way. So the question is, what do Andy’s moves signify?

Why would he make so many drastic moves with four games left in what is presumably his final season? These are odd decisions to make in-season, especially by an allegedly lame-duck head coach allegedly playing out the string.

Is it because he is the ultimate professional, a man who cares deeply about the long-term future of the organization that made him a very rich, very successful man? I think that’s definitely part of it.

Or is it also because he doesn’t plan on going anywhere, and he’s showing his bosses why he shouldn’t?

Where do Lurie and Howie Roseman stand on all of this?

Is there actually a chance that Andy could return next season? If you remove the horrific PR that would result from bringing Big Red back, I think Lurie would actually re-up Andy in a heartbeat. Personally, and this makes me part of a very small minority, I’d actually be OK with that. Considering the continued development of Foles and the offense, do the Eagles really want to disrupt that momentum going into next year? Or do they blow up the coaching staff and entrust Foles to an unknown commodity at head coach? Do they strip Andy of all of his titles save for coach, and entrust the draft to Roseman or another personnel-focused hire? Do they keep Andy and bring in a defensive coordinator with an NFL pedigree to rule that side of the ball with an iron fist?

When it comes to Andy Reid, I believe we’re all focusing too much on the negatives and not nearly enough on the positives. The negatives certainly have caught up with Big Red, and it’s clear that the fan base will not accept a 15th year of him on the sidelines. But…

The plot continues to thicken. And you have to admit, it’s interesting to watch… largely unlike the Eagles’ performances on the field this year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Paone has attended nearly every Eagles game with his dad since 1978 and he has the lasting psychological scars to prove it. He also runs a PR firm, plays rock music, and hunts New Yorkers for sport. You can follow him on Twitter  @Birdlandia or contact him at  BeeElevated@gmail.com.

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