FLOWERY BRANCH — Maybe the elder Jim Mora had it correct in 2006 when he concurred with the basic concept that then-Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was a “coach killer.”
Falcons coaches Dan Reeves and Jim Mora were fired while Vick was the quarterback.
Bobby Petrino signed on to coach Vick. But when Vick was suspended and eventually went to prison on federal dogfighting charges, Petrino grew tired of Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich and went back to the college game.
Now, Andy Reid, the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL with the same team, is doing the rope-a-dope to retain his job.
With Vick manufacturing turnovers at an alarming rate, both men are in danger of losing their jobs as they prepare to face the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Reid’s status will become clear at the end of the season. Reid said he is not ready to walk away from the job he’s held since Jan. 11, 1999.
“I haven’t gotten to that moment,” Reid said when asked if he was ready for his tenure in Philadelphia to end. “I can tell you no. I haven’t felt that way. We love the city of Philadelphia as a family. I’m very fortunate to be doing what I’m doing. I can’t tell you that I’ve haven’t come to that point.”
Reid has battled through the death of his son, Garrett, from a drug overdose Aug. 5, and the Eagles have a 3-3 record. But they have lost three of their past four games.
Vick, as he did sometimes during his tenure in Atlanta, is treating the football like it’s a hand grenade. He’s had five fumbles and eight interceptions to grease the Eagles’ slide.
Reid sent a message to Vick and the rest of his teammates by firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo on Oct. 16.
“It sends a message to everybody,” Vick said. “Coach made it clear that if he felt like you weren’t performing up to your potential or his standards, then you are just going to be sitting beside him.”
Vick is backed by rookie Nick Foles and veteran Trent Edwards. Vick knows that if he doesn’t eliminate the turnovers, that he’s likely next before Reid’s firing squad.
“I just have to stay focused on going out there and when I’m out there, getting the job done,” Vick said. “I can’t play looking over my shoulder. I can’t play worrying about getting taken out if things do not go right. If that’s what happens, then I’ll just stand tall and keep pushing until the next (time).”
Vick knows he has to eliminate the turnovers.
“I’m trying to make all of the corrections that I can before Sunday,” Vick said. “The most important thing is that I have to protect the football. If we do that, we give ourselves a chance to win the game.”
Reid said the coaches can help Vick.
“Coach is trying to insinuate that they can maybe help us out with the play-calling, but still, at the end of the day, the ball is in my hands,” Vick said. “Just like last week against Detroit, I can’t throw the ball up in the air and pray for a guy to make a play. I’ve got to be accurate. … It’s not the coach’s responsibility. It’s my job to correct it.”
One way the Eagles could help Vick is to rely more on running back LeSean McCoy, who appears to be under-utilized. The Falcons are giving up 143.8 yards rushing per game and rank 28th of 32 teams against the run.
“Yeah, I think we’re going to have to run the football and be able to create different looks from the defense,” Vick said. “That’s going to be important. We have to make sure that we get him going. He’s a big part of our offense.”
Reid has posted a 139-93-1 record and is 13-0 after his team’s bye week. He knows a lot is on the line for himself and his quarterback.
“If you ask any player or coach in this league, they are going to tell you that’s all part of this game,” Reid said. “You always have that there, so what you do is, as opposed to focusing in on what you can’t control, you focus in on what you can control and that’s getting yourself better. … That’s the approach that Mike takes and I take [and] our players take and coaches take.”
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