For 10 seasons, Andy Reid has been the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Through three-straight NFC Championship losses, a Super Bowl loss, and family issues that were made public, Reid has been able to weather the storm of his critics.
With the Eagles suffering back-to-back losses attributed directly to Reid's playcalling, I believe that now is the time for Reid to feel the heat that was reserved for Donovan McNabb this season. Reid is in the third and possibly final phase of his tenure in Philadelphia.
The Honeymoon 1999-2001: Andy Reid arrived in Philadelphia in January of 1999 with the task of removing the bitter taste that a 3-13 team leaves in the mouths of many. Reid, who was a quarterback coach under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay, was replacing Ray Rhodes.
Rhodes, who coached the Birds for four seasons, seemed to run out of profanity-laced pregame talks, coupled with early-round draft picks wasted on players that ended up being cut or ineffective as starters.
Reid was walking into and ideal position, as the Eagles would have the second overall pick in the draft that was chock full of young quarterbacks.
While the consensus seemed to be to draft Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams of Texas, Reid and the Eagles brass would select Donovan McNabb of Syracuse. Upon being selected, the choice of McNabb was met with boos by some "fans," with whom the selection did not go over well with.
McNabb would be an understudy to Doug Pederson, who came over from Green Bay with Reid, to bring him along in learning the finer points of the West Coast offense. In the Birds' 10th game that season, the training wheels were taken off and it was McNabb's show to run.
McNabb had the good fortune of being surrounded with a mix of young talent and experienced veterans. Players like Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Sean Landetta, and Brian Mitchell were important in the development of McNabb.
In the 2000 season, the Eagles would finish 11-5 with a playoff win over the Tampa Bay Bucs in the wild-card round before losing to the Giants in the Divisional Playoffs. Reid would win the first of two Coach of the Year awards.
Getting over the Hump...At What Cost? 2001-2004: Andy Reid and the Eagles had become a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. Beginning in 2001, Reid and the Birds would win the first of four consecutive division titles, as well as the run to four-straight Conference Championship games.
In the three Conference-title-game losses, turnovers were the difference in each game, but what gets left out is the playcalling and Reid's inability to adjust.
In the St. Louis title game, Correll Buckhalter left the game with an injury and missed the second half. Reid had Duce Staley and Brian Mitchell at his disposal and failed to use both. The Eagles became one-dimensional and the Rams picked up on it, picking off McNabb on the potential game-winning drive.
In the Tampa Bay title game, the Birds once again failed to make adjustments. McNabb fumbled twice and threw the deciding pick to Ronde Barber in the finale at the Vet. Once again, in a close one, Reid tried to pass his way out of trouble, with Duce Staley, Dorsey Levens, Brian Mitchell and rookie Brian Westbrook at his disposal.
Against the Carolina Panthers in 2003, McNabb was picked off three times in the most frustrating of the three losses (14-3). The Eagles again failed to control the clock and the ball. Once McNabb was knocked out of the game, Koy Detmer was ineffective in a game that the Birds could've won.
Don't misunderstand me; I'm not passing all of the losses off on Reid, and I'm not calling for him to be fired. I like Reid as a coach, and he seems to be a decent guy, given his problems last season proved that no one regardless of stature is exempt from life struggles.
I will hold him responsible for the one-dimension offense that this team has become. In the regular and postseason, the Eagles have become a team that, if you stay in the game long enough, will hand it to you. Why? Because they don't melt away the clock by running the ball, you cannot win in today's NFL when you ratio is 65/35 in favor of the pass.
Closing the Deal: 2004-Present
Andy Reid has survived the Vet, its 700 Level, and three major injuries to McNabb and Terrell Owens. Now is the time for him to cement his legacy here; not too many coaches hang around in one place this long and leave empty handed.
Reid has maybe the game's most versatile player in Westbrook, a healthy McNabb, and a decent receiving corps at best. As much as we want a big-time receiver here again, I believe that we as fans fail to realize that the thing we want most will hurt us in the end. Because he'll never run the ball like he should.
So here is what I recommend:
1. Keep Your Foot on the Gas: The first drive of yesterday's game was run like a championship team—flawless. Something we haven't seen in awhile, there was a mixture of runs and passes, and the 'Skins defense was left guessing until their backs were to the wall.
But for some reason, the offense eased up and let the 'Skins back in the game and never got the lead back. Sometimes a touchdown can be just as demoralizing as a turnover. Pedal to the metal!
2. Get Exotic: Nothing says you have to be down 10 points to run a trick play.
3. Play Big: Utilize the biggest offensive line in football. Enough of this "a short pass is just as good as a run." You have speed and power in the backfield. In short yardage (e.g. goal-line) situations, slide Dan Kleco back there (although he didn't help much on Sunday).
Oddly enough, he's the most experienced fullback that you have. What happened to the fade pass McNabb and Hank Baskett worked on all through training camp (what has happened to Hank Baskett?). The Eagles have over 900 scripted plays. Andy, you're collecting plays like they're football cards; throw a wrinkle in there!
4. DeSean Jackson: Rarely does a team have two players that can score anytime they touch the ball. In Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have two. Jackson has shown what he can do as a receiver; now it's time to move him around the field just to cause confusion.
Jackson doesn't have to be the primary target. If he's lined up in the backfield or anywhere the defense isn't used to, it will cause confusion. Even if the defense calls a timeout and you remove him, it was successful.
Whatever Reid chooses to do needs to be different than what we've seen the past two weeks. These Eagles are closer to the team that lost to the Cowboys than the one that lost on yesterday. And yes, the defense has their issues, but everyone knows that the offense is what makes this team go. The heat is on Andy.
Welcome to Philadelphia.