The Philadelphia Eagles' bye week began with a bang, with the firing last Tuesday of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and a pledge by coach Andy Reid to evaluate every aspect of the team in search of improvements. But it appears, as the Eagles get back to work and prepare to face the undefeated Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, that Castillo's firing and the promotion of Todd Bowles to replace him could be the only changes.
Philadelphia media outlets reported late last week that Reid would stick with Michael Vick as his starting quarterback. And after practice today, the Eagles' offensive linemen all indicated that they'd been led to believe there'd be no changes in the starting O-line lineup. Per Jeff McLane:
Center Dallas Reynolds confirmed that he was still the starting center.
"As far as I know," Reynolds said. "Until they come and say otherwise, yeah."
The Eagles don't have many options after their starting five. Steve Vallos backs up Reynolds but he was not active for the last two games. Evan Mathis was the emergency backup center for both games, but he's still starting at left guard.
Danny Watkins has had his ups and downs throughout this season and increasingly has come under fire for his performance. He declined to answer questions when a reporter approached him because, he said, he read a few stories that he did not like.
There's a way to make those stories better, Danny, and it's to play like a first-round pick. But regardless, this appears to be an issue similar to the Vick one. A lack of quality options behind the starters makes it difficult to change for change's sake. Reynolds and Demetress Bell are already backup options who are playing because of injuries to starters Jason Kelce and Jason Peters. And while Jeff's story also includes information about Peters returning to the practice field, it doesn't sound as though they anticipate him helping anytime soon, if at all this season. So they're stuck with what they have and a need to improve the play of an underperforming unit.
The Eagles are 13-0 in the weeks directly after their byes during Reid's time as their coach. Eagles fans and the 1972 Miami Dolphins are all rooting for that remarkable streak to continue this weekend against the Falcons. But Atlanta is averaging 28.5 points per game while the Eagles are averaging 17.2, and the Falcons are coming off of their bye week, too. There may not be changes to the offensive starting lineup this week, but if the Eagles are to have a chance to go to 4-3 instead of 3-4, there will need to be changes to the way that offense has played.