Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and coach Andy Reid had a particularly long one-on-one meeting this week to help clear the air about a number of issues, two team sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The sources indicated that the meeting, which occurred a few days after Vick publicly suggested he might be benched, was extremely productive. Ultimately, Reid came to the conclusion that he might have lost his players psychologically had he benched Vick.
"Mike ain't the problem," a defensive player emphasized on Thursday night. "Look, we all know he's struggling. That ain't some secret. But we're not helping him and that's the problem. The defense isn't helping him, the offensive line isn't helping him. None of us. We all gotta help each other and that's what we talked about."
The player went on to say that if Reid had benched Vick, it would have reflected badly on the coach just two weeks after he dismissed defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.
"This ain't time to be throwing people to the street. We already had that with [Castillo's firing] and that didn't work," the defensive player said, referring to a 30-17 home loss to Atlanta in the first game after Castillo's dismissal. "We gotta hang together."
The Reid-Vick gathering was in addition to a players-only meeting that the Eagles held Thursday in hopes of turning around their 3-4 start to the season.
One of the internal issues was tension between Vick and the coaching staff, with the quarterback believing some of the assistant coaches were pushing to have him benched, according to a source familiar with the situation. After the loss to Atlanta, Vick said he thought he could be benched in favor of rookie Nick Foles.
After a report surfaced early in the week that Reid was going to bench Vick, the coach announced his decision Wednesday to stick with the veteran. Even more, he displayed some of his strongest support of the season for the embattled quarterback.
The question now is whether that will help the embattled coach survive. Reid is in his 14th season and there is clear pressure to improve upon last season's 8-8 finish. That season came after the Eagles went on a player-acquisition spree, adding veterans such as defensive end Jason Babin, cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.
Most of those players are together again for another run, but the start of the season has been problematic, featuring several narrow wins and losses that were highlighted by Vick's turnovers. The defense was having trouble with late-game adjustments in the first six games, but then allowed scores on each of Atlanta's first six possessions.
Another source said that the players-only meeting was productive even though it was not always pleasant. Players implored each other to talk amongst themselves, man-to-man, rather than go straight to the media.
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