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Washburn firing not a bad move by Reid

Andy Reid can't hope to dispel the disappointment surrounding the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles before the end of this season, but he is making great strides erasing the memory of the 2010 Tennessee Titans.

Former Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)
Former Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)Read more

Andy Reid can't hope to dispel the disappointment surrounding the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles before the end of this season, but he is making great strides erasing the memory of the 2010 Tennessee Titans.

Reid had another crumpled idea hauled from the driveway early Monday morning when the tow truck backed up and removed Jim Washburn from his position as defensive line coach. That did nothing to change the particulars of the wreck itself, but at least he doesn't have to look at the steaming reminder of it during coaches' meetings anymore.

His other big news of the day was making Nick Foles the quarterback for the rest of the season, but that is not in the same category. Reid wants to see what Foles can do, and doesn't want to see Michael Vick concussed again (as he most certainly would be), and, aside from his tacit acknowledgment that the wins and losses are now pointless, that switch should elicit little more than a shrug.

It will be variously speculated that Reid made the moves in an attempt to save his job, but this is more likely a case of simply seeking a peaceful, quiet end to the current mess before whatever comes next. Reid will stay or go on the whim of owner Jeffrey Lurie, who must decide between the devil he knows and some anonymous angel of indeterminate wingspan. If Lurie wants to break his own preseason promise, no one can stop him. It's not like he rents the team and needs to make good on a security deposit.

Reid didn't act to save his job - assuming he still wants it - in getting rid of Washburn, but for the simple reason that the line coach can be a royal pain in the rear end. When things are going well, as they did with the Titans and, at least statistically, last season with the Eagles, Washburn is "colorful" and "idiosyncratic." When they aren't going well, the quotes in his Zagat's review aren't as glowing.

One week after the Eagles released Jason Babin, the defensive end whose career Washburn handcrafted in Tennessee, Reid rid himself of the mad carpenter as well. The timing of the announcement, very soon after the team's charter touched down following a long flight from Dallas/Fort Worth, leads to obvious speculation that more than just roasted almonds were exchanged en route.

The Eagles officially deny there was an altercation of any kind, but there is also an organizational state of denial in place, so that doesn't mean much. It doesn't really matter, either. If, say, Washburn got into it with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles somewhere over Kentucky, that would be just a logical extension of his personality, not an unexpected divergence.

When Babin was jettisoned - another move that wasn't satisfactorily explained, by the way - it was just a matter of time before Washburn became too annoying to keep around. Now, time is up, and while the mood might not be any perkier around the Eagles, things will be significantly quieter.

Reid shook awake Tommy Brasher, retired for seven seasons, and gave him the job of making sure there are at least four linemen on the field for the defense in the remaining games. When Brasher left the Eagles after the 2005 season - at least he saw what was coming - his regular line that season had been Javon Kearse, Hollis Thomas, Darwin Walker and N.D. Kalu. Welcome back, Tommy. Go get 'em.

The dismissal of Washburn is not only another embarrassment for an organization that has devolved into a leaguewide joke, but an admission by Reid that when he decided on a bye week defensive shake-up, he couldn't even fire the right guy. At the moment, Juan Castillo is the Eagles Defensive Coordinator of the Year. If Castillo's firing was an indication that Reid sided with Washburn and his whacked-out scheme over a more time-tested approach to defense, then that's an awful indictment right there of the head coach's grasp of things.

Before the bye, just as an example, the Eagles defense was excellent in getting off the field after third down, allowing opponents to convert just 29.1 percent of the time (23-79). In the six games since, opponents have converted 51.4 percent of third-down tries (37-72), which is beyond awful. Quarterbacks have had too much time, or have been able to escape pressure, and while the resulting effects are most noticeable in the defensive backfield, the problem begins up front.

Reid might have to endure that until the end of the schedule, but he didn't have to endure the bitter, old line coach. The last thing he wanted was young players like Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Fletcher Cox being soured by the rancid atmosphere. How things are done around the Eagles may be changing very soon, but for the moment, Reid's ramrod devotion to proper football behavior still holds sway.

Reid knows there has been a bad wreck this season, and he is beyond trying to patch it with duct tape. The Eagles are totaled and Reid was at the wheel. Monday was just his way of saying that some others have to pay their deductible, too.