Andy Reid truly did raise the bar in Philadelphia. Had he been fired even a season sooner than he was, I would have claimed that Reid was in fact a victim of his own early-career success with the Eagles, but the reality is that not even Reid—truly an excellent coach—deserved to keep his gig after what happened to this team in 2012.
Reid went all-in on this team in 2011, and a 12-20 record in the two years that followed just wasn't acceptable. He knew it. We all knew it. His three Coach of the Year awards couldn't save him, nor could his five NFC Championship Game appearances.
Three primary reasons he's out of a job today:
1. The Signing Splurge of 2011 That Backfired
Michael Vick, Vince Young, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin. Not pretty.
There's a chance all four of those guys aren't on the team next season, along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was acquired in a trade with Arizona.
2. The First Four Picks of the 2011 Draft
Danny Watkins was benched this year for an off-the-street scrub. Jaiquawn Jarrett is no longer on the roster. Curtis Marsh hasn't earned the chance to see the light of day. Casey Matthews was a disaster as a rookie and was barely a factor in Year 2.
3. The Juan Castillo Mess
Castillo hadn't coached on the defensive side of the ball in over a decade, and he'd never done so at the professional level. That didn't stop Reid from naming him defensive coordinator in 2011. Castillo was in over his head, and it also didn't help that Reid brought in prickly defensive line coach Jim Washburn before promoting Castillo to be Washburn's boss. Castillo's defense couldn't make tackles in 2011 and couldn't make sacks or cover receivers in 2012. Both he and Washburn are already gone.
The problem is that Reid had the final say on everything above.
I'm not going to suggest that one man overseeing personnel as well as the coaching staff and the on-field preparation process can't work. It does in New England, for example. But more often than not, it's more beneficial to find a happy medium somewhere between having a football czar juggling every aspect of a franchise and a situation in which there are too many cooks in the kitchen.
This team isn't far off, especially on offense. Now, they need two or three strong football minds to work together to get things back on track. General manager Howie Roseman is one of those minds. He deservedly has taken some heat for that 2011 draft, too, but Reid called those shots (and the 2012 draft is looking a whole lot better thus far).
With Reid and Joe Banner gone, Roseman will need help managing personnel and strategizing for the draft and free agency. And so the key now will be to find a strong offensive mind (preferably one who can groom young quarterback Nick Foles) and a strong defensive mind, with one of the two newbies becoming head coach. Those three should be capable of working together throughout the year.
Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly are the most popular candidates to replace Reid. But if either won't buy into that notion of shared control, the Eagles have to move on. They can't let one man hijack this operation, and there are plenty of strong candidates who would fit nicely into a cooperative system (think: Mike McCoy, Greg Roman, Mike Zimmer, Ben McAdoo or even Jay Gruden).
It's time for the Eagles to go in a new direction. They need to find coaches who want to be part of the solution, rather than the entire solution.