EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - They made it easy.
With their atrocious farewell performance here Sunday, the Eagles removed any doubt about what needs to be done. It starts with the dismissal of Andy Reid, obviously, but it should not end there.
If Howie Roseman is going to remain in charge, as it appears, then he should start general managing immediately. Before the close of business Monday, Roseman should cut ties with a handful of the players most closely identified with this horrendous season.
Don't wait until February to release Michael Vick. Do it now. Don't hem and haw about whether to offer Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a long-term deal. Wish him luck and tell him to enjoy the free-agent market. As for his partner, Nnamdi Asomugha, he should be given his walking papers, too.
Danny Watkins? Good luck with the firefighting career, kid. Nate Allen? Thanks for stopping by.
Usually, when a team is making a coaching change, the smart move is to let the new staff come in, evaluate the roster, and make changes as needed. And there may be players who struggled this year who will thrive under new coaches. That happened the last time the Eagles were this bad, in 1998. Plenty of defensive players from that 3-13 squad were part of successful teams once Reid and Jim Johnson arrived.
But those were guys like Brian Dawkins, Jeremiah Trotter, and Hugh Douglas. They were the right kind of players to build around. These players are not.
There has been some understandable speculation about whether Vick would be a better fit than Nick Foles for a coach such as Oregon's offensive innovator, Chip Kelly. And maybe, if you could send Kelly back to 2002 to work with the young Vick, that might be true.
But this Vick, injury-prone and turnover-prone and approaching 33, is not the right quarterback for the Eagles to build around. It would be ludicrous for this franchise to waste another year while a new coach figures that out firsthand. If you're a coach who runs any variation of the option-read offense, the last thing you need is a quarterback who turns the ball over twice a game.
Go one step further. The Eagles should disqualify any coaching candidate who indicates he wants to evaluate Vick. That's a sure sign of a guy who wants an excuse to waste a season puttering around.
As for those defensive backs, they were the primary reason this team gave up 33 touchdown passes. Worse, they looked as if they wanted no part of tackling anyone for long stretches of the season. They are the antithesis of Dawkins and Vincent.
It took until the final quarter of the final game, but Asomugha was finally benched after committing his second pass interference penalty of the day. That should be his final play as an Eagle.
Rodgers-Cromartie is a slightly tougher call. His interest in the game seems to come and go. He clearly has talent enough to be a good cover corner. But do you really want to invest big money in the hope that he'll come to play every week? It would be smarter to send the message to the rest of the locker room that there's no place for halfhearted players here.
Ultimately, that was Reid's undoing - loading his team with mercenaries who were never fully invested in the Eagles. There is no reason to wait to get rid of the most egregious offenders.
Watkins' case is a bit different. He actually is one of those players who could be salvaged in the right circumstances. It isn't Watkins' fault he was taken in the first round and forced to learn Howard Mudd's unorthodox techniques. But he is also 28 years old and was benched in favor of a guy signed off the street.
If Roseman is going to succeed as a GM with a new head coach here, the worst thing he can do is cling stubbornly to previous draft mistakes. Allen, the second-round pick benched in favor of Colt Anderson, is another prime example.
The Eagles' rebuilding process will really begin when a new coach is hired. That's no reason not to give him a head start. Vick, Asomugha, and the others made that easy.