- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | Though Andy Reid is typically as emotional and loquacious as a cinder block, the Philadelphia Eagles’ coach was clearly both humbled and irate over his team’s performance in a 13-9 loss at the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

“It’s the NFL, and you better be ready every week to play and execute,” Reid said after the Eagles (3-2) yielded six sacks in the loss to the Raiders (2-4). “I’m saying that as coaches and players, starting with me. Anything less than that and you’ve got a problem.”

Reid is hoping Sunday’s hiccup in Oakland will serve as a wake-up call to his team, making any further letdown lectures unnecessary as the Eagles head into Monday night’s division opener against the reeling Redskins (2-4) at FedEx Field.

“It’s a good lesson to learn in that no team’s as good as you think in this league and no team’s as bad as you think in this league,” Reid said. “There’s too much talent and too much good coaching in this league to slight somebody. … Coming off a game like we just had, you should feel a little desperate.”

The Raiders exposed Philadelphia’s three greatest deficiencies: depth along the offensive line, speed at middle linebacker and the pass-happy playcalling that has been the largest criticism of the Reid regime.

Following last season’s run to the NFC championship game, the Eagles made the decision to release the offensive tackles who had been the cornerstones of their line for a dozen seasons, Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas. The team acquired Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters from the Bills in the offseason. But Peters and three of the other players expected to help replace Runyan and Thomas - Shawn Andrews, Stacy Andrews and Todd Herremans - have been dinged up this season.

When Peters was injured in the first quarter against the Raiders, the Eagles had to go with King Dunlap at right tackle. A second-year man from Auburn who spent his rookie season on the practice squad, Dunlap was overmatched by Oakland All-Pro defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who sacked Donovan McNabb twice and spent the rest of the afternoon in the Philadelphia backfield.

“I’m not going to point any fingers here, but there were some fundamental breakdowns,” Reid said. “It was good experience for [Dunlap]. He can see where he needs to be now.”

Defensively, the Eagles absorbed a blow when middle linebacker Stewart Bradley blew out his ACL in August. In a seemingly desperate move, the team re-signed former standout Jeremiah Trotter to help shore up the position several weeks ago. But the 32-year-old Trotter seems to have lost a step and was beaten badly by Oakland tight end Zach Miller for the only touchdown in Sunday’s game. On Tuesday, the Eagles acquired Will Witherspoon in a trade with the St. Louis Rams to boost their linebacking corps. The Rams received rookie receiver Brandon Gibson and a fifth-round pick in 2010.

Finally, the Eagles still have major issues running the ball. They rank 26th in the NFL in rushing offense (100 yards a game), and Reid’s critics say the shortcoming has as much to do with Reid’s lack of commitment to the ground game as it does with the Eagles’ personnel. Though all-purpose dynamo Brian Westbrook lacks the durability to log 25 carries a game, promising rookie LeSean McCoy (45 carries for 175 yards) gives the team a versatile option to split the load.

But Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg still seem reticent to commit to the running game. Against the Raiders, the Eagles rushed just 14 times compared to 46 passes, even though McNabb and the passing game were sputtering against heavy pressure from Oakland’s front. Meanwhile, Reid’s critics are eager to point out that former backup Correll Buckhalter has blossomed in Denver with an NFL-best 6.7 yards an attempt.

“Coming out, I thought we could have run a little bit more, yes,” Reid said.

Reid even largely seems to have abandoned his Wildcat package with controversial free agent Michael Vick. The electric quarterback has been a nonfactor for the Eagles through five games, playing only two snaps Sunday and losing 4 yards on a reverse on his lone touch.

Said Reid: “We just didn’t get to [the Vick package] this week. We didn’t feel the situation was right.”

With consecutive games on the docket against the team’s NFC East foes - at Washington, New York, Dallas - Reid and the Eagles are about to get a pretty quick read on their future.

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