Gadget Play Shows Andy Reid’s Desperation

Riley Cooper Laying Down in the End ZoneIt’s election day. All over the country, Americans are doing their civic duty by turning up at the polls, either ready to hold accountable the politicians for the shoddy job they’ve done over the course of their respective terms by voting for the challenger or ready to reaffirm the civil servants they believe have done a satisfactory job while in office by reelecting them.

In the Philadelphia region, I can’t tell you which presidential candidate the citizens are voting for, but I can tell you this: A overwhelming majority of them wish they were instead voting for the next coach of their beloved Philadelphia Eagles.

Not since George Washington became the first president of our fair union has such a diverse group of Americans been so united in a singular issue–it is time for Andy Reid to go. Following another lackluster performance by his football team, Reid has now become the definition of lame duck, as his departure seems all but certain (if Jeffrey Lurie doesn’t fire Reid after another disappointing season, we may see a revolution more bloody than any history has given us to this point, and it will occur at Lincoln Financial Field).

Despite the way he coolly deflected questions about the status of his job in the post-game press conference, Reid knows his time is short. Deep in his gut, he knows the reprieves have run out, that a city is calling for his head and Lurie can no longer ignore the wolves at his door. For proof, look no further than a peculiar play call Reid and special teams coach, Bobby April, executed on a kickoff in last night’s game.

The play in question came with the Eagles trailing 28-13 in the third quarter, essentially on life support following a long touchdown drive by the Saints. If you missed it, Deadspin has the video (albeit with Spanish commentary) here.

Watching that video, what does that play say to you?

Firstly, all criticisms of Reid aside, it was a brilliantly creative play (Riley Cooper hiding by lying down in the end zone was a fantastic wrinkle) and the perfect call in that situation. The team executed it to near perfection and it almost resulted in the jump-start the Eagles needed to get back in a game they desperately needed. That needs to be said.

However, the key phrase in that description of the play is “almost resulted.” It almost worked. It didn’t, because Brandon Boykin threw the ball forwards instead of backwards and Cooper caught it ahead of Boykin instead of behind him, yielding a penalty flag.

Instead of a well-designed gadget play that turned things around for the Eagles, the sequence appears a desperate, failed last gasp for air by the head coach in an attempt to save the game and, by extension, the season and his job. That’s what Reid has been reduced to now–a man willing to try anything and everything to stay afloat. Instead of six points, it set the Eagles up for terrible field position and a fruitless offensive drive. The fact that it didn’t work tells me the stars are now aligned against the hefty red head who has called Philadelphia home for over a decade. Nothing he tries, even the most unique of gadget plays, will work.

Andy Reid rose to prominence in Philadelphia with the pickle juice game in Dallas. If you remember that game, you remember Reid gained popularity when he made the gutsy decision to attempt an onside kick on the opening kickoff, a play that worked perfectly and gave the Birds the momentum on their way to a blowout win over the Cowboys. He became popular then. And even though it was his second season, that was when Reid became a beacon of hope to the citizens of Philadelphia. It’s only fitting, then, that his final season will be remembered for the niftiest failed gadget play I’ve ever seen.

Reid is a man desperate for reelection, only his once magnetic and daring play-calling is no longer fooling the constituents of his district. If his head were on the chopping block that is an election ballot tonight, he’d lose to the challenger in a landslide. And he knows it.

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Ryan Dinger

Along with The High Phive, Ryan also writes for Phillies Nation and The Grapevine. While his sports expertise lie with the Phillies and the Eagles, he is a diehard fan and avid analyst of all five major Philadelphia sports teams. Follow Ryan on twitter @Ryanfromjersey.