Eagles should think twice before cutting ties with Big Red.
It's a foregone conclusion Andy Reid will no longer be the Philadelphia Eagles head coach after this season. Reid, the longest tenured NFL head coach, has been on the Philly sidelines for 14 years. Fans in the City of Brotherly want Big Red out of town...yesterday. Should Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie listen to his fan base or is this a case of be careful what you wish for? I say the latter.
Reid to the Philly press Monday:
"I'm standing in front of the team and saying these are the things we need to do, one of which is to continue to battle. I think (resigning) would be a cop-out. That's not how I see things. That's not the way I'm wired. We're going to keep battling and do it as a team. I'm not going to tell the guys one thing and then do the other."
He's not going down without a fight. Will a team that seemingly has quit on Reid suddenly get a charge and go to battle for their beleaguered coach? Pride does come before the fall, but if this Eagles team allows itself to be bombed again and again by their NFL peers, shouldn't their jobs also be in question?
Former NFL linebacker Hugh Douglas, 4th in career Eagles sacks, offers this perspective:
"No matter what anybody says, you can fake like you're playing hard, but the eye in the sky don't lie. It's obvious that the tackling and effort that's being given, that these guys are just mailing it in. You know when a player has given up. I guess they think that if Andy loses his job, that they have job security. That's not the case. These guys don't even seem like they wanna play. I thought Big Red should have taken a year off just to take a breather after Garrett's death, but wherever he lands, he'll be fine."
Andy Reid is 24th all time in NFL regular season wins and 13th in playoff victories. His teams are usually prepared on both sides of the ball and feared by the opposition whether home or away. It wasn't until this forgetful season that Reid lost a game after a bye week. He was 13-0 before losing to Atlanta 30-17 on 10/18. That's consistency through proper preparation.
Andy Reid develops quarterbacks. It's known that one of the reasons Andy Reid was hired is because of an extensive notebook he brought to his Eagles interview. When Reid was a quarterback coach on Super Bowl winner Mike Holmgren's staff in Green Bay, he wrote down everything. Soaked up anything Holmgren offered in case he got that head coaching shot. His first move was to draft a quarterback -- his Brett Favre if you will. As it turned out, Donovan McNabb, his first ever pick, became arguably a Hall of Fame caliber QB. Together, the coach and QB went to 4 straight NFC Championship games and 5 in 8 years. Philly lost a close Super Bowl XXXIX 24-21. Though the two never got back to the big game, winning 92 times in the NFL is model consistency over a ten year period. When Donovan went down with injury, Reid plugged in signal callers no one thought could do the job. In fact, it was in 2006 that Jeff Garcia guided Philly to the playoffs, after McNabb tore an ACL. At the time, Philadelphia was 5-6. The Eagles finished 10-6 and lost to New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs.
And, of course there’s the Michael Vick ressurrection. Vick in 2010 threw for 21 touchdowns and just 6 picks. He played sparingly in 2009. To have the year he had in '10 can directly be attributed to Andy Reid and also Donovan McNabb. McNabb simply eased Vick into Reid's offensive terminology. Reid, because he knows the position, gave Vick his NFL life back. Doesn't matter if it was AJ Feeley under center battling the undefeated Patriots or Kevin Kolb putting together back to back 300 yard games in his first two starts, Andy Reid puts his field generals in position to win long before the opening kick off.
Reid never throws his players under the bus. I asked Reid -- after a loss to Dallas -- why Jason Witten was able to catch the rock on a game clinching 3rd and 1 when every Eagles fan watching knew he was the target. His response was as stock as Rasheed Wallace’s "Both teams played hard": "I guess I have to do a better job of putting the team in a better position." He chuckled when saying this, like, “Who the hell is this cat asking me anything about football when I know my team left it all out on the field?” He's right. No matter what went down, Andy Reid supported his players. Even in this 3-7 season, the first time you hear Reid chastise his players publicly will be the first. As Douglas reinforced: "Our teams wanted to do everything for him because we knew he had our backs. We played hard every single play."
Reid knows the Philadelphia fans and he definitely knows the media. Talk radio in the city simply has to say the word "Eagles" and the board is lit up in seconds. Everyone has an opinion and, though many of those fans want Reid gone at season's end, the next coach will most definitely catch the same wreck if the team underperforms. How will he respond?
Despite not winning a championship since 1960, the Philadelphia fan-base has this entitlement that they deserve a ring. As if they will be in line to be fitted when the Eagles do win a Super Bowl. That's cool but they must understand that Andy Reid is a helluva coach. He knows the town, has been through personal hell with the addiction and subsequent death of his son Garrett and still put the team back on the NFL map and consistently kept it there. The Eagles organization is one of the best in sports and though Reid doesn't handle all personnel matters, he gets it done on the field. Three losing seasons out of fourteen is remarkable in this day an age. Be careful what you wish for Philly. What will you do if the next coach has nothing near the career in Philadelphia of Andy Reid? Throw snowballs at yourself? Boo yourself? Fire yourself? You have a great coach. If you kick him out of town just because he hasn't gotten you over the hump, what will you do when there is no hump? Be satisfied in the professionalism of Andy Reid.