The Eagles still hadn't won a championship, hadn't won a playoff game since 1995 and had gone 9-22-1 in the previous two seasons. The rabid local fans preferred a big name with a big reputation, but they swung and missed in an attempt to land Mike Holmgren, and George Seifert was hired in Carolina.
Despite no experience as a head coach or even as a coordinator, Reid got the job from Jeffrey Lurie. Fourteen years later, the Reid era is finally over. And while the Eagles experienced an unprecedented amount of success during Reid's time running the show in Philly, the Super Bowl wins total still sits at zero. Let's reflect on the last 14 years with Reid in charge.
Unforgettable moments from the Reid era
Coaching decisions aren't often memorable. Instead, games and plays are. We remember the moments in which the players either execute or fail to execute what is essentially put in place by their coaches. With that in mind, here are six moments that stand out for me from Reid's 14-year run in the City of Brotherly Love.
Drafting Donovan McNabb in 1999
This was Reid's first draft pick in Philadelphia, and it turned out to be his best. At the time, though, the majority of frustrated Eagles fans seemed to prefer Ricky Williams. The pick was booed at Madison Square Garden, but McNabb went on to make six Pro Bowls during a fantastic career as Philly's starting quarterback.
First playoff win over Tampa Bay in 2001
Reid's Eagles won 10 playoff games during his tenure, but the first one stands out more than most. You began to get a feeling this team was special when it pounded the Buccaneers in freezing temperatures at the Vet. It was only Reid's third year, but he had already completely turned the Eagles around. They'd make the NFC Championship Game that year, and in the three years that followed.
Fourth-and-26 in 2003
You know a play is special when it gets its own Wikipedia page. Against the Packers in the 2003 divisional playoffs, McNabb and the Eagles faced a fourth-and-26 from their own 25-yard line, trailing by three with just over a minute to play. But McNabb hit Freddie Mitchell for a 28-yard gain on a slant. That would lead to the game-tying field goal and Philly would win it in overtime.
Lack of urgency in the 2004 Super Bowl
Obviously making Super Bowl XXXIX was the key achievement of the Reid era, but what's frustrating is that what stands out most from the 24-21 loss to New England was how slowly the Philly offense operated in the game's final minutes. It took them nearly four minutes to score on a long drive late, and they took quite a lot of heat for not starting said drive in the no-huddle. There were rumors that McNabb got sick on that drive, too. By the time they got the ball back after a failed onside kick, it was too late to get into position to kick a game-tying field goal.
The offense lights up the Redskins in 2010
The Eagles had their biggest offensive performance in team history when Michael Vick scored six touchdowns in a 59-28 Monday Night Football blowout over the division-rival Redskins in 2010. Against his former team, Washington quarterback McNabb threw three interceptions in the embarrassing loss. It was the best game of Vick's career, and it moved the Eagles into a tie for first place.
One final embrace from Eagles fans after the death of Reid's son in 2012
Before the "Fire Andy" chants dominated 2012 at the Linc, Reid received a ton of support from fans during an August preseason home game against Pittsburgh. Only days after the tragic death of his son, Reid stood on the sideline as "Andy!" chants poured down. It was one of the most emotional moments in team history.
Getting the most out of quarterbacks
Reid has a reputation for getting the absolute best out of the quarterbacks he's worked with. Kevin Kolb looked promising under Reid, but has fallen on his face in Arizona. McNabb was never the same after leaving, and Vick had the best season of his career while in Philly.
Jeff Garcia and A.J. Feeley also seemed to play their best football during spot-duty stints with the Eagles. And this past year, rookie third-round pick Nick Foles had several great moments which indicate he might be good enough to lead this team for years to come. But will Foles be the same in the post-Reid era?
Terrell Owens and Michael Vick
After McNabb, Owens and Vick were the two biggest names of the Reid era. Both were gambles that he'll forever be remembered for taking, and both paid off but also backfired, if that's possible.
Without Owens, the Eagles probably don't get to the Super Bowl and fall just short of winning it in 2004. But in '05, the controversial wide receiver became a distraction. He talked trash about McNabb and was sent home from training camp. Then, later in the year, he was suspended indefinitely and his career in Philadelphia was over. The 2005 season was marred by Owens' antics.
Reid signed Vick straight out of prison, allowed him to sit and watch and get acclimated in 2009 and then gave him control of the offense with McNabb gone and Kolb hurt in 2010. That led to a division title as Vick put up huge numbers, but Vick's careless mistakes and inability to stay healthy cost the Eagles dearly in 2011 and 2012. Now, it appears the Vick era will conclude just weeks after the Reid era came to an end.
The "Dream Team"
What happened in the 2011 offseason, during and just after the lockout, is the primary reason why Reid is now out of a job. The Eagles became desperate and started pressing, and Reid's approach changed dramatically that summer. With hindsight, we can now conclude that his draft that year was his worst as head coach of the Eagles, by a wide margin.
Making matters worse, Reid and the front office splurged on a slew of high-profile free agents. Jason Babin and Vince Young are already gone, and they overpaid for Nnamdi Asomugha, who has been a tremendous disappointment.
Combine all that with Reid's decisions to bring in Jim Washburn to run the wide-nine, promote offensive line coach Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator and bring Howard Mudd out of retirement and it's safe to conclude that Reid's decision-making ability took a hit as he pushed hard to finally get that elusive Super Bowl ring after over a decade in Philly.
In the two years since those big moves, the Eagles have gone 12-20.
You don't know what you got till it's gone, right? It's going to take Eagles fans time to fully realize that, with Reid, the good clearly outweighed the bad. He had run out of time in Philadelphia, and the second half of his tenure wasn't good enough to merit another chance, especially after the Dream Team disaster. That said, Reid raised the bar for success in that city.
He still deserves to be remembered as the greatest coach in the history of a franchise not known for greatness. He's churned out competitive teams year after year and is only 54 years old. If he's learned from his mistakes over the last few years, he could be even more successful at his next stop.
We're still talking about a three-time coach of the year who made the conference championship game in 36 percent of his seasons with Philadelphia. We're talking about a man who posted a 28-17 road record within the tough and competitive NFC East. He forced things too much at the end of his time in Philadelphia, and he'll always take some heat for his time management and what some would call offensive imbalance, but that was still one hell of a 14-year run.
More than anything, though, Reid's time in Philly will sadly be stamped by the fact he was never able to get the franchise its first Lombardi Trophy. That, and this classic video...