Team owner Jeff Lurie has gone on record to say that improvements are needed and that “8-8 is unacceptable.” The Eagles are currently 3-9 and riding an eight-game losing streak.
In a recent blog post, I unveiled my 2012 edition of the “Can I see you in my office?” awards, better known as my annual “Coachey” awards. This is when I roll out my list of NFL coaches, across three categories, who could be facing the ax. This year’s headlining coach is Andy Reid.
Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, they have had six different head coaches, five different general managers and one lone playoff appearance. With new owner Jimmy Haslam at the helm, the franchise appears to be revamping from the top down.
Haslam has appointed former Eagles team president Joe Banner as the new CEO, joining former Eagles player personnel executive and current Browns GM Tom Heckert.
Banner, Heckert and Reid have a well-established history. From 2001-2009, they led the Eagles to seven playoff appearances, five division titles, four NFC title game appearances and one NFC championship.
While the fate of head coach Pat Shurmur has not been decided, his 8-20 record with the Browns and the firing of the guy who hired him—former team president Mike Holmgren—doesn’t really make a strong case to keep him around.
It then begs the following question: Could there be some whispers between old acquaintances about a possible reunion? The other question would be, now that Heckert makes roster decisions—he was more of an advisor in Philly since Andy Reid had the final say on football ops—could the three of them co-exist at this point in their careers? Also, is it certain that Banner will retain Heckert, a remnant of the Holmgren era?
Coaches will say on the record that you don’t discuss a coaching job while a coach is still in it, especially if the current coach used to work for you (Shurmur spent seven years under Andy Reid as the quarterbacks coach). However, like players and coaches say over and over, “football is a business.”
Joe Banner is a former business owner and has spent over 10 years as an NFL executive. He knows what it takes to win and likely knows Shurmur is not it. Should Reid be fired, what kind of package could Banner offer to lure Reid to the Browns?
Aside from management, several of Reid’s old proteges are on the Browns coaching staff. Current offensive coordinator Brad Childress spent seven years under Reid, the last three as the offensive coordinator.
Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron was the Eagles defensive backs coach in 2010. Quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple spent 2007-2008 as an offensive assistant with the Eagles and defensive backs coach Tim Hauck was a safety in Philadelphia from 1999-2001.
Also, if Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera—another “Coachey” recipient—is shown the door at season’s end, he could be on a short list to join Reid wherever his next coaching stop is (served as Eagles linebackers coach 1999-2003).
On the players’ side, the Browns have some young weapons, who could become a cohesive offensive unit with the right tutelage. Trent Richardson is having a good rookie season and has just fewer than 1,100 combined rushing and receiving yards.
Reid would likely bring his longtime running backs coach Ted Williams with him, who oversaw the successful careers of Brian Westbrook and Duce Staley. Receiver Josh Gordon is starting to come on since the Week 10 bye. Josh Cribbs has been a staple in Cleveland and always remains a threat when he’s on the field.
Given Reid’s particular taste for quarterbacks, he would likely want to gauge the long-term potential of Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy for himself. Given the lower salaries for top draft choices and the likelihood that the Browns will be drafting in the top 10, Reid may be looking to find his own guy in the draft.
Could this reunion prove successful? It’s certainly possible. Each of the aforementioned coaches brings more experience than when they previously worked together.
Banner, Heckert and Reid have a track record for success and with Banner running the organization, he could serve as a buffer should Haslam begin to worry or have doubts about Reid’s abilities.
All that being said, unless two key moves are made, Browns fans could be left wondering “What if…?”
Follow Walt J as he comes to you on his blog “Live From AREA 49″ with his rants on the world of sports from the fan perspective. Whether it’s picks against the spread, fantasy football tips, or sheer frustration with your team, AREA 49 has a place for you. Follow him on Twitter at @a49_waltj and @area49sports, and on Facebook.