The Philadelphia Eagles were looking for answers cleaning up the mess Ray Rhodes left behind in the decaying remains of Veterans Stadium in 1999. By hiring head coach Andy Reid, drafting Donovan McNabb, and avoiding the Ricky Williams dilemma dealt by the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles had a foundation set for a prosperous future. Twelve years later, the Saints have won one Super Bowl banner hanging high. The Eagles still have none.
Fans reveling in the Sunday spirit from September to December know quite well that the Andy Reid era generated much excitement week after week. The efforts put out by McNabb and other perennial All-Pro players like Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Jeremiah Trotter, Hugh Douglas, Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, Jon Runyan, and David Akers were collective stalwarts leading the trenches in the dream of a Super Bowl title.
Now that dream has passed a generation into a new decade. It feels more so like a nightmare and, Eagle fans cannot wake up.
Even amid the heinous season-ending injuries (which become expected) the room for resiliency is slim to cover up the fact that (McNabb, Correll Buckhalter, Carlos Emmons, Stewart Bradley, Leonard Weaver, Jamaal Jackson, Terrell Owens, Kevin Curtis, Sean Considine, Kevin Kolb, and Shawn Andrews with ‘depression’) were all cornerstones to cementing a Super Bowl run in different seasons, respectively.
The Eagles must prepare for the worst in all cases. They found out how quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Michael Vick handled adversity in two different playoff runs. But what has irked every Eagle fan for the past dozen years is that Andy Reid has fallen short in all instances.
Fans and management give him passes because the Eagles play in the toughest division in football, accounting for 36 playoff games between the four teams since 2001. Reid’s given passes for the freak injuries mentioned, especially with snake bitten journey of beloved McNabb. He’s given passes because the youth movements, as a prime example, the Troy Vincent-Bobby Taylor cornerback duo to Lito Sheppard-Sheldon Brown were necessary in keeping him for their progress.
Joe Banner and Jeffrey Lurie refuse to change the head coaching spot because the consistent marketing machine of the Eagles’ business leads to greater interest when headline moments such as ‘4th and 26’ or ‘Miracle at the Meadowlands III’ stirs the fans at euphoric levels—thus selling tickets, dominating the media coverage to certain games that NBC might cover on a Tuesday night, and most importantly, merchandise the product for more money. By not tipping the scales on this redundant and stubborn coach, Banner and Lurie continue to watch their stocks rise while the disappointment of the fans sinks by mid January.
Even with the upcoming Draft and free agency, Andy Reid cannot be trusted. First, he never voiced for a wide receiver to help McNabb out in those dreadful years with James Thrash and Todd Pinkston. He inherited Kevin Kolb in the 2007 Draft by dealing with the Dallas Cowboys, who in returned drafted Anthony Spencer. Low and behold, he caused a fumble on Kolb in the January 2nd game (although it was meaningless). But how does a team get to such a meaningless game? Lack of preparation for the opponents. When fans reflect on how dismal the defense played, allowing Joe Webb of all people to make mince meat of the defense...it’ll be a sad reminder that Andy Reid does not follow through with his vanilla game management. I remind fans, if it had not been for the Giants choking (and giving) the Eagles that wonderful win, we’d be probing Reid’s wrong decision to pull back the red challenge flag.
Why wouldn’t it be the time to can the big man? The Eagles are primed for success even in the 2010 season when many fans stood on their toes, uncertain about the post-McNabb phase. Whether it be Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb behind the huddle, there still lies an explosive offense. The only improvement this side of the team needs is serious offensive line help. This boggles me even today at this point last year when McNabb was slaughtered by the Dallas defense and lost his job. Reid and General Manager Howie Roseman didn’t draft a single offensive lineman in the 2010 NFL Draft. Instead, they aspired to draft Brandon Graham, a talented doppelganger of Trent Cole.
On defense, this is where the fun part begins. By hopefully landing Nnamdi Asomoguha at corner, the Eagles finally have the duo that we hoped for since the glory days of Vincent-Taylor. Besides that, Nate Allen should return healthy and there will be potential in the free agent or draft pool. Stewart Bradley as well should return for a full season along with the likes of Jamar Chaney, who isn’t the next great Pro Bowler—but he did show some bright spots. By filling in another stout defensive lineman, the Eagles should make adjustments and gel better. No, they did not land Julius Peppers last year, but there should be hope for someone similar to him.
A face lift might sound extreme to the head coach, especially a few days after seething through this playoff loss. There will be hard realization that the Eagles were still on a stepping stone to truly rebuilding. However, in the key moments and in churning out what Reid alludes to as ‘execution’, it is hard to pin the blame on the kicker David Akers when two botched field goals occurred in shaky fourth downs in that zone where it’s safe enough to go for 4th and short. Reid did not execute.
"To tell you I don't want to win a Super Bowl - I like prime rib, and I'd love to win a Super Bowl," Reid said. "So I'm hungry for both, if you understand where I'm coming from."
No, Andy. We don’t know where you’re coming from. This is why you must leave.
The head coaching market itself is hazy with names sifting in and out of the pipeline like John Fox, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, and Bill Cowher –but isn’t there always a way to look forward and take a page out of the Buccaneers' book when they canned Dungy for Gruden? What happened when the Phillies dispatched the insufferable Ed Wade for Pat Gillick? I could easily point to the Flyers and Peter Laviolette as the main focal point of significant head coaching changes to benefit an already talented roster. If only the Eagles followed this reversal of the misfortune, maybe there’d be a banner hanging in Lincoln Financial Field...one day.