Philadelphia Eagles: Why the Big Three Coaches Are Among the Best

Bryn Swartz@eaglescentralSenior Writer IIIMay 29, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - 2006:  Jim Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles poses for his 2006 NFL headshot at photo day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Getty Images)


In Major League Baseball, a team can capture a world championship without a truly successful manager.


In the National Basketball Association, a team can win a title without a great coach.


But in the National Football League, no team can expect to contend for a Super Bowl title without a superb coaching staff.


It's no coincidence that the Philadelphia Eagles have reached the postseason seven times in the past nine seasons, despite a roster that is often not even the most talented in their own division. Five times the Eagles have soared to the NFC championship game, advancing to Super Bowl XXXIX after the 2004 season.


Leading the way is the most successful coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles and two of the most talented coordinators in the history of the National Football League.



Andy Reid: Head Coach/Executive Vice President of Football Operations


Reid earned a reputation as an offensive line and quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers in the 1990's, where he helped future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre capture a third consecutive Most Valuable Player award following the 1997 season.


"Big Red" was selected as the team's head coach before the start of the 1999 season, despite never having served as an offensive or defensive coordinator for any team.


Since 1999, Reid has turned in a potential Hall of Fame career, winning 97 games in the regular season and 10 more in the postseason. In all seven of his postseason appearances, Reid has led the Eagles to at least one playoff victory.


Reid has received criticism for his inability to sign a big-name wide receiver, and in 10 seasons as the team's head coach, the Eagles have only possessed a No. 1 wide receiver for 21 games.


However, Reid has always kept the little men to help win football games. Leonard Weaver. Dorsey Levens. Mike Bartrum. Hollis Thomas.



He's quietly made clutch decisions that have resulted in more wins. He picked no-name kicker David Akers to replace longtime veteran Norm Johnson after the 1998 season. He inserted middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter into the starting spot halfway through the 2004 season, helping to improve a porous run defense. He chose to start 36-year old Jeff Garcia at quarterback after Donovan McNabb suffered a torn ACL halfway through the 2006 season, despite having fan-favorite A.J. Feeley on the roster.


He's also been extremely underrated when it comes to drafting players. Yes, he messed up by selecting Freddie Mitchell. Trading up to pick Jerome McDougle was a disaster. And L.J. Smith was pretty much a bust.


But the selection of the undersized, speedy Brian Westbrook in the third round of the 2002 draft was genius. Drafting Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown despite having two Pro Bowl cornerbacks on the roster was phenomenal. And choosing Donovan McNabb as his franchise quarterback instead of selecting Ricky Williams in the first round of the 1999 draft was brilliant.


Reid has also managed to build a rather impressive coaching tree. Former offensive coordinator Brad Childress has become a successful head coach for the Minnesota Vikings, leading them to the NFC North title in 2008.



Marty Mornhinweg: Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator


After an extremely disappointing two-year stint as the Detroit Lions' head coach, Mornhinweg joined the Philadelphia Eagles, where he has helped control the Eagles' offense for the past six seasons.


Mornhinweg's success as the offensive coordinator for the Eagles should come as a surprise to no one. He helped the 1998 San Francisco 49ers become the first team since the 1941 Chicago Bears to lead the NFL in both gross passing and gross rushing yards.


Mornhinweg's biggest success came in the final six games of the 2006 season, when he turned the Eagles into a mini-Cinderella story, as they won their final five regular season games to capture the NFC East title.



Mornhinweg helped Brian Westbrook turn in the most impressive season by a running back in franchise history in 2007.


In 2008, Mornhinweg helped the Eagles set a franchise-record with 416 points. Expectations remain high for the offense entering the 2009 season, as Mornhinweg will be asked to work with younger players such as LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Cornelius Ingram in the hopes of leading the Eagles back into the Super Bowl.



Jim Johnson: Defensive Coordinator


For the past 11 seasons, Jim Johnson has been nothing short of spectacular as the Eagles' defensive coordinator.


Because Reid has chosen to focus on working with Mornhinweg to improve the offense, Johnson has been given complete control of the team's defense.


With 13 years of NFL experience already under his belt, Johnson was signed by Reid to be the team's defensive coordinator before the 1999 season.


The results were immediate. Despite a 5-11 record, the Eagles ranked first in the NFL with 46 turnovers, including five returned for touchdowns.



Johnson's group has been taught the only way to play is to attack. Over the past decade, Johnson's squad has been among the best, if not the best, at the blitz. The Eagles have totaled the second most sacks and allowed the fourth fewest points over the past decade.


Eagles' defenders have racked up an incredible 26 Pro Bowl selections in Johnson's tenure, including seven by future Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins.


Johnson has recently been diagnosed with cancer and has taken a leave of absence from the team. The team has announced that secondary coach Sean McDermott will be taking over Johnson's responsibilities as the defensive coordinator.





The Eagles possess one of the more dominant coaching staffs in the National Football League. Andy Reid is the most successful coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite being an absolute disaster as a head coach, Marty Mornhinweg is one of the more successful offensive masterminds in the game. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is simply a legend and has been called the greatest non-head coach in the history of the National Football League.


The loss of Jim Johnson would be an enormous disappointment for the Eagles. If Johnson is healthy enough to continue coaching the Eagles' defense for the 2009 season, the Eagles will continue to be one of the most dominant teams in the National Football League.


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