A Regime Change Could be in Order for the Philadelphia Eagles

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bill-swift - September 5, 2012

After a 2-14 season, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay decided it was time to gut the infrastructure of the team and start anew. Out was the current head coach, but more importantly out was longtime franchise player Peyton Manning and the man responsible for bringing him to the Colts back in 1998, team president Bill Polian.

The NFL is a success driven business and when teams grow accustomed to a certain level of success, even the smallest deviation can be grounds for dismissal. With the 2012 season set to start on Wednesday it appears that one team has already been put on notice by the owner that a regime change may be in order if the team does not get back to its winning ways.

Since the turn of the century the Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the more competitive teams in the NFL. Largely behind the leadership of head coach Andy Reid and now-former quarterback Donovan McNabb the Eagles won the NFC East six times, went to the playoffs nine times (from 2000-11), played in five conference championships, and made it to the Super Bowl once.

It is easily a resume that any player or coach would be proud of, but in the NFL the name of the game is not what have you done but what are you going to do next. The Eagles have lost the last two playoff games they were in ('09 and '10) and struggled to finish 8-8 last season after an uncharacteristic spending spree in free agency the previous off-season.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie has made it no secret that he is not pleased with the current state of the team, and has alluded to the possibility that another lackluster finish could mean the end of Andy Reid's time with the organization:

There's no question what I said -- we need substantial improvement. We have a very good team, I think, on paper. Paper doesn't get you that far if you can't maximize it.

Lurie has effectively put Reid on notice; win or you're gone.

Lurie has allowed for injuries making it hard to win, but barring an extraordinary number of them to key players it would be hard to see him keep Reid should the Eagles not do well.

It is entirely possible for the Eagles to make a deep run into the playoffs. They have one of the better running backs in the league in LeSean McCoy. DeSean Jackson is one of the best deep threats in the league; Jeremy Macklin, Jason Avant, and tight end Brent Celek are all capable receivers as well. The team had the best defense in the league during the preseason and hasn't ranked lower than 12th since the 2007 season.

The problem has been at quarterback. Since McNabb left the team has not had a franchise type QB that it could count on. The hope was that Kevin Kolb could become that player, but injuries opened the door for Michael Vick. While he has played well when on the field, the problem is keeping him on the field. Even if he does remain healthy this season Vick is 32; at best he has a few years left, but with the way he plays (and gets hurt) it could be a lot less.

For Reid to save his job he needs to win this year and find the next franchise quarterback for next season. The team can get out of Vick's contract without too much pain next season if it wants to. Judging solely off of preseason play it appears as if the team could have its next franchise quarterback in rookie Nick Foles.

The preseason is just the preseason though. A lot of players and teams look great then, but flop when the regular season starts. It may sound strange, but the Eagles just might want to let Vick be Vick so that they have a good excuse to give Nick Foles a try during the regular season.

It could mean the difference between remaining the longest tenured coach in the NFL and the unemployment line for Andy Reid.

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