NFL

Unbeaten after byes under Reid, Eagles face 6-0 Falcons

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Associated Press
10/26/2012 4:44:04 PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- Whether they're cellar-dwellers or Super Bowl contenders, the Philadelphia Eagles don't lose after a bye.

Under coach Andy Reid, the Eagles are 13-0 after a week off since 1999. Stretching that streak to 14 won't be easy, however. The Eagles (3-3) host Atlanta (6-0) on Sunday.

"I think the coaches use the bye to figure out what works and what doesn't, what are we excelling at and what we can get better at," quarterback Michael Vick said, trying to explain the team's success. "That is just coaches and their philosophies and the way they think. It definitely helps and it's something that you have to do. Hopefully, we can get this thing turned around and I'm optimistic that we will."

While some coaches hold a few practices during the bye, Reid always give the Eagles the entire week off. Some players stick around the practice facility, work out and get treatment. Others stay away for the whole week, spend time with family or take a short vacation.

There's no second-guessing Reid on his approach. His formula has certainly worked well through the years.

"I definitely feel refreshed," All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy said. "It's a whole week to just relax. I'm feeling better."

Winning their first game after a bye has usually kickstarted a strong run for Philadelphia. Since 1999, the Eagles are 84-39-1 after their bye and only 45-45 before it. They've had a winning record after the bye 12 of the last 13 seasons.

"You just have to come out fresh and start fast," said Vick, who is 11-4 as a starter after the bye over the last two years. "You just have to get better. I can't attribute it to anything. It's just me trying to play good football."

Coming off consecutive losses on the final play after blowing fourth-quarter leads, the Eagles' coaching staff had plenty to work on the past two weeks. Defensive co-ordinator Juan Castillo was fired and replaced by Todd Bowles, who was the secondary coach.

Bowles didn't have time to make major changes or install a new system, so he used the extra time to tweak a few things. The defence is ranked 12th in total yards and 11th in points allowed, which is better than average in both categories. Their biggest problem has been protecting leads late in games.

"It was more or less, in your bye week, you get to self-scout a lot and you get to see a lot of things that you're doing wrong and right and you try to fix the things you're doing wrong," Bowles said. "I don't think it was more or less of us being unpredictable. It's just more or less of us correcting the things that we need to correct that people are taking advantage of."

On the offensive side, the problem is simple. Turnovers have hurt the Eagles, especially inside the red zone. They have 17 giveaways, including five inside the opponents' 20.

That's why the Eagles are 30th in scoring -- their worst ranking under Reid -- despite being seventh into total yards.

"You make adjustments every week in this league. Every week. The bye week gives you some time to spend on some of the fine details," offensive co-ordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "There was a host of fine details, virtually with every player and then as a unit and as an offence, to certainly try and help, most of which was focused on the turnover ratio.

"We want to try and help there just a little bit."

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NOTES: RG Danny Watkins is doubtful for Sunday's game because of an ankle injury. Watkins missed practice the last two days. Rookie Dennis Kelly, a fifth-round pick out of Purdue, would start in his place. Reid called Watkins' injury a "chronic" one. ... If Kelly starts, the Eagles will have two new starters on their offensive line. King Dunlap is replacing Demetress Bell at LT. "Any player who is playing at this level, you have to have confidence in him," Vick said.

Andy Reid (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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