After a Great Run with the Eagles, Andy Reid Has Simply Emptied out
"People simply empty out."
That's what American author Charles Bukowski wrote in a letter to the publisher who rescued him from what he described as the "steadily diminishing humanity" of a nine-to-five existence and sent him on the path to writing for a living.
There's nothing wrong with this. Reid has had an amazing run as an NFL head coach, starting with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie plucking him from obscurity back in 1999. Reid was the tight ends coach for the Green Bay Packers when Lurie named him the head coach. He is the longest-tenured head coach currently in the NFL.
While the move raised eyebrows at the time, Reid went on to become one of the most successful head coaches of the modern NFL era, leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance back in 2004 to go along with six division titles and five NFC Championship game appearances, including four in a row from 2001 to 2004.
This amazing run of success was accomplished with Donovan McNabb at quarterback. Reid and McNabb grew together as head coach and franchise quarterback, and while they never delivered a championship to the city of Philadelphia, their success over such an extended period of time is very impressive and can't be dismissed.
The transition to a post-McNabb world in Philadelphia has been less than smooth for Reid and the Eagles, from Kevin Kolb being the heir apparent that sent McNabb packing in a trade to the Washington Redskins, to Michael Vick and Reid catching lightning in a bottle after Kolb was injured in the opener back in 2010 against the Green Bay Packers.
Vick's 2011 season saw him struggle not only with defensive coordinator's catching up with how Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg were using him in their offense, but with several injuries along the way.
This season, Vick has turned into a turnover machine, and the prospect of playing rookie third-round pick Nick Foles has gone from being easily dismissed to possibly the last desperate move Reid could make to try to save his job.
Of course, starting Foles would only be the latest desperate stab at fixing what ails Reid's team, the first such instance being the firing of former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. The defense has not only gotten worse since Reid made the move during the team's bye week three weeks ago, it appears to have given up.
For all the legitimate faults Castillo had (and how could an offensive line coach who never should have been handed the defensive coordinator's job not have legitimate faults?) his guys played hard for him. But under Castillo's replacement, Todd Bowles, the effort on the defensive side of the ball has been noticeably lacking. The tackling has gone from passable to atrocious. The team seems to have given up.
Most head coaches in the NFL are lucky to last four or five years in today's NFL. Good coaches can last a decade if they can keep things fresh for themselves and their team—and, of course, win a bunch of games.
Reid has won a bunch of games, but it sure seems like things have gotten stale in Philadelphia. Reid's teams have almost always come out of the bye week a better, more efficient unit and looked like they were ready for a stretch run and to fight for a playoff berth. The 2012 version of the Eagles seems just the opposite since the bye week. They look ready to play out the rest of the season and head home.
This isn't an indictment of Reid. He has given everything and more to the Eagles organization.
Most NFL fans know the family troubles that have haunted him the last few years. His oldest son, Garrett, died of an accidental heroin overdose at the start of training camp this past August. This followed his 2007 arrest when the coach's son was involved in a high-speed crash where police found heroin and over 200 pills in his car. Garrett's younger brother Britt also had problems with drug use and was arrested on the same day as Garrett in 2007 in a separate road-rage incident. Police discovered weapons and drugs in Britt's car.
All the while, Reid coached his team. I can't imagine what Reid was going through while all this was playing out at home, but it's hard to believe it didn't weigh on him and drain him over the years.
"People simply empty out."
Andy Reid has given everything he has. I know the 2012 season isn't over yet, but it may as well be in Philadelphia. The Eagles aren't winning the NFC East, aren't going to the playoffs and Lurie has made it pretty clear that not getting to the playoffs is Reid's ticket out of town.
And before you think the Eagles' owner heartless for likely dismissing Reid less than a year after his son passed away, take into consideration what Eagles beat writer Jeff McLane wrote back in August about Reid and his agent Bob LaMonte attempting to leverage Lurie and the Eagles into contract negotiations—six days after the death of the coach's son. It's a business. Sometimes an unpleasant one.
Andy Reid's tenure with the Eagles has been longer and more successful than anyone thought it would be when he took the helm. He will undoubtedly find another coaching job after his time with the Eagles is over and he takes some time away from the game and is able to fill himself up again.
But right now, he's emptied out.
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