For Better or Worse, the Philadelphia Eagles Are Reid's Team Now

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For Better or Worse, the Philadelphia Eagles Are Reid's Team Now
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Eagles said good-bye to two long-time stars this year, as safety Brian Dawkins and tackle Tra Thomas signed free agent contracts with other NFL teams. But the Eagles did more than just bid adieu to two fan favorites—they also turned the page on an era of Eagles football.

Dawkins and Thomas were the last two players on the Eagles roster who had suited up for former coach Ray Rhodes before Andy Reid arrived on the scene in 1999. And that means for the first time—for better or worse —this is completely Reid’s team.

Early in Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia, the Eagles made the playoffs including four straight trips to the NFC Championship Game, mainly because of Rhodes’ roster. The heart and soul of those Eagles teams were players like Dawkins, Thomas, Hugh Douglas, Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Jermane Mayberry, Jeremiah Trotter and Duce Staley.

As the years went by, those players gradually left until there was just Dawkins and Thomas. And now they are gone, too.

So, no matter what happens this season and beyond, it will be Reid’s players who do it all. And like most personnel decision-makers in the NFL, Reid has had his share of hits and his share of misses in the last 10 years.

Everyone can point to his draft day flops and there have been plenty of them: Barry Gardner, Doug Brzezinski, Bobbie Williams, Todd Pinkston, Freddie Mitchell, Quinton Caver, Jerome McDougle, Billy McMullen, L.J. Smith, Matt Ware, Matt McCoy, Ryan Moats, and Tony Hunt were all drafted in the first three rounds and none of them are still with the Eagles.

Plus there are some high draft picks that are still with the team but haven’t lived up to their billing, notably tackle Winston Justice and receiver Reggie Brown.

Everyone can also point to Reid’s draft day successes and there have been plenty of them, too. Donovan McNabb, Corey Simon, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Brian Westbrook, Shawn Andrews, Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, and DeSean Jackson are all quality players who have helped make the Eagles one of the most successful franchises in the NFL in recent years.

And even though it’s too early to tell about the draft class of 2009, Reid seems to have hit pay-dirt with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy and tight end Cornelius Ingram.

Free agency has also had its hits and misses, even though Reid doesn’t dip his toe into the free agent pool very often. On the plus side, you have to start with tackle Jon Runyan, who anchored the right side of the offensive line for a decade. Other key signings have included Brian Mitchell, Carlos Emmons, Sean Landeta, Jeff Garcia, Kevin Curtis, and Asante Samuel.

Looking at Reid's latest veteran acquisitions, it appears he hit a homer with offensive lineman Stacy Andrews and cornerback Ellis Hobbs, as well as his trade with Buffalo for tackle Jason Peters.

On the miss side, see if you remember some of these busts—and you might not, since few of them lasted very long in Philadelphia: Blaine Bishop, Jeff Dellenbach, David Diaz-Infante, Dhani Jones, Levon Kirkland, Amp Lee, Mike McMahon, Monty Montgomery, Jon Ritchie, Torrance Small, Chris Warren, and Nate Wayne.

Plus there’s defensive end Jevon Kearse. He didn’t necessarily play poorly in his four seasons with the Eagles, but didn’t live up to the reputation he had before he came here or the big contract he signed once he got here.

As for the free agents who left Philadelphia, Reid took a lot of criticism for letting them sign with other teams, but for the most part, history has proved him correct. Players such as Staley, Vincent, Taylor, Douglas and Trotter went downhill fast once they left South Philly.

On the flip side, a few players blossomed with other teams, including Derrick Burgess, Allen Rossum, Brian Finneran and Al Harris.

And, of course, there’s Terrell Owens, who was both a hit and a miss depending on your perspective. It’s hard to fault Reid for rolling the dice on the talented-but-temperamental wide receiver—Owens’ first season with the Eagles might have been Reid’s best team and it’s the only one to make it to the Super Bowl. Reid knew Owens was a prim Donna, but nobody knew that he’d end up being a franchise-wrecker.

So, now a group of young players, all selected by Reid, will determine the Eagles’ fate, now and in the future. And no matter what happens, the credit or the blame will go to him.

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