Eagles lifer sitting this season out

The Eagles won a game. That’s the bad news. The good news is that coach Andy Reid didn’t fix his broken team, despite a 20-13 win over Washington. He simply found an opponent less talented and more clueless than his team.

Andy Reid is still on course to leave at the end of the season. If those words seem like the bitter lament of someone who’s no longer rooting for the Eagles, well, they are.

I decided late last week to root for something much more important than the final 11 games of a doomed season. That’s why I was hoping they’d lose on Sunday — and every game after that until Reid is gone. I still love the Birds, always will. I love them so much, I’m sacrificing 2011.

While the city was applauding the revival of a team that had carried so much optimism a few weeks ago, I had a new perspective. And what I saw was nothing dramatically different than the four pitiful losses that preceded it. Yes, the run defense was better, and — for once — the Birds didn’t blow a lead in the fourth quarter.

Look at the rest of it, through my refocused eyes as a former Eagles fan. The team started horribly, with two penalties on the opening drive and a snap over Mike Vick’s head that narrowly missed being a safety. Will Reid find a way to motivate his players before a game? What does he say in his pregame speech? Does he sing lullabies?

And before we send defensive coordinator Juan Castillo to Canton, let’s consider Rex Grossman. Somehow, he managed to throw four interceptions before his benching — three to Kurt Coleman, who had amassed one pick in his previous 20 NFL games.

The Eagles’ offense was hardly the explosive touchdown machine that had been advertised before the season, either. Because of a makeshift offensive line, Vick resorted to three-step drops for most of the game, thereby negating the deep speed of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. The Birds won the game because LeSean McCoy simply refused to lose, especially on the final drive.

Think about it for a second. Reid escaped with a win despite a still-unreliable offensive line, still-unreliable linebackers, a still-unreliable defensive coordinator and a still-unreliable placekicker. The only thing we can count on for sure is Reid’s insulting attitude. Even after a win, he said the Eagles “have to do a better job” of scoring in the second half. Ugh.

Philadelphia was happy the season didn’t end Sunday. There will be more meaningful games after the bye week, maybe a whole season. But not to me. No, I’ll wait for something more significant to cheer. I’ll save my joy for the long-overdue departure of Andy Reid.

Rookie learns on the fly

Every once in a while, a rookie comes along who acts so stupidly, he needs an instant education. Such was the case with Jason Kelce. And I had the enviable task of serving as his instructor.

After their abysmal loss to Buffalo, Kelce and Evan Mathis stopped outside the gates of the NovaCare Center and urged a couple of fans to take down a sign that suggested it was time for Andy Reid to leave. Exactly what was said between the players and protestors is in question, but Kelce did admit on local TV that he threatened to pull down the sign himself if they didn’t remove it.

The idea of suppressing fan criticism is idiotic on the surface — this being America, and all — but the notion of trying it in Philadelphia is infuriating. I screamed my lungs out in making this point on my radio show last Thursday. This wasn’t the first time I went bonkers in my 22-year stint on WIP, but my tirade got an unusual response. Kelce apologized for his behavior.

The young lineman came on my show the next day, explained that he was just being loyal to Reid, and then acknowledged his mistake. He expressed sincere regret to the protesters, and then he said he was sorry to all Eagles fans.

So what was the lesson of this incident? The lesson was that no one is going to come into Philadelphia and tell the most passionate fans in America how to act.

Short leash for Manuel?

Charlie Manuel made a stunning admission last week, but many fans missed it in the depression that followed the playoff ouster of the best Phillies team ever. He said his players are not

listening to him.

The manager didn’t mean to say it. He didn’t want to say it. In fact, he would deny saying it if pressed today. But he said it. Oh, he definitely said it.

Ruben Amaro, Jr. began the exchange that led to Manuel’s revelation when the GM said the team needs to change its hitting style — to work counts better, to use all parts of the field, to adapt to the different situations that crop up in a game. In other words, to be smarter at the plate.

Manuel agreed with his boss, before reminding everyone that his own specialty is hitting. “I know how good of a hitting coach I am,” were his exact words. Then came the moment of truth. Manuel said he has been trying all year to get his hitters to change their style, with no apparent success. After seven years, the players are tuning him out.

The fact is, Manuel just handed a loaded gun to Amaro, an on-the-record public admission that he is losing his effectiveness as a manager.

If Manuel doesn’t win it all with the Phillies in 2012, don’t be surprised when Amaro pulls the trigger.

– Angelo Cataldi is the host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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