Michael Vick calls players-only meeting as Eagles hope to find solid ground

The Philadelphia Eagles are in shambles right now -- there's no doubt about that. The team that was supposed to be among the NFL's most talented for the second straight season is on track to do just what they did in 2011, when they went 8-8 despite a free-agency haul that had former backup quarterback Vince Young famously calling the Eagles a "dream team."

The nightmare this season has Philly at 3-4, and the recent losers of a game to the Atlanta Falcons that showed just how far this team is from the NFL's elite. In that 30-17 debacle, the undefeated Falcons tore the Eagles' defense to shreds, and quarterback Michael Vick was not effective enough to provide any sort of comeback.

That said, and as much as there have been many calls for Vick to be replaced by rookie quarterback Nick Foles, the quarterback isn't the main problem, especially during the team's recent three-game losing streak. In the month of October, Vick has actually played pretty effectively, completing 69 of 111 passes (a 62.2 percent completion rate) for 677 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Vick's yards-per-attempt rate is down from 7.39 in September to 6.10 in October, but when looking to point fingers at what's really wrong with this team, Michael Vick's performance should probably line up about fourth or fifth.

On Wednesday, Vick tried to take the next step as a quarterback and leader, calling a players-only meeting in which he tried to convince his teammates that the season is not over, and there's still a chance for the Eagles to succeed. Vick was one of 10 players who spoke at the meeting.

Defensive end Jason Babin, who has seen his playing time reduced in recent weeks as the team's pass rush has fallen apart, said that the purpose of the meeting was clear.

"Our situation would be the only explanation for that one," Babin said. "A lot of times it's good for guys to get something off their chest or kind of express how they feel and maybe look at things from a different point of view."

Head coach Andy Reid is most certainly on the hot seat. Before the season, team owner Jeff Lurie made it clear that without a season that ended in a playoff berth, there would be changes made.

After the meeting, tight end Brent Celek made it clear how he and the other players feel about Reid.

"We love our coach," Celek said. "We don't want to see anything happen to him. We want to play well for him. Guys want to play well for him, play well for their own jobs and play well to win football games. That's our goal, to win football games."

As for Vick, the challenge is to keep his head straight in a situation that seems more and more fluid and unsure with every loss.

"I've got to get my swag back," Vick said on Thursday. "I've got to get back to playing football the way I love to play it and not worry about what's going to happen. That's out of my control. All I can control is how I play and how aggressive I can be."

Reid said on Thursday that he never seriously considered benching Vick; just that he wanted to explore all possible options. Reid's most pressing issue: A defense under new management after Reid fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and promoted former secondary coach Todd Bowles played without discipline and effectiveness against Atlanta's multi-dimensional passing game. It doesn't get any easier for Bowles and his charges -- they face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

New Orleans' horrible defense should present Vick with sufficient swag opportunities, so there's that.

''Michael was the quarterback, is the quarterback and will continue to be the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles,'' Reid said on Thursday. ''I can't make it any more clear than that.''

That's one of the few clear things about the team right now. They can only hope that whatever was aired out in Vick's meeting can set things right.

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