Andy Reid has received a lot of flak during his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. He doesn't run the ball enough. He doesn't coach well in big games. He doesn't manage the clock like a good head coach should. He hasn't won the Super Bowl, something the city is in dire need of.
Reid is still a good football coach. His 118 career wins, .617 career winning percentage and nine trips to the playoffs tell you that. Once he finally wins the big one, he will be known as a great coach.
Whether you believe he is a good head coach or not, you have to believe he is great with quarterbacks. He didn't really start coaching quarterbacks until 1992, when the Green Bay Packers hired him to be their offensive assistant coach, the same year the Packers traded for Brett Favre.
Mike Holmgren, Favre's former head coach in Green Bay, gets most of the credit for the development of Favre, as he should. However, Reid was still an instrumental part of his maturation as an elite quarterback. Reid was an offensive assistant for three years in Green Bay before he was promoted to offensive line coach in 1995. In 1997, Reid was switched to quarterbacks coach, where he helped guide Favre and the Pack to a second straight Super Bowl.
Favre was a Pro Bowler five times and won all three of his MVPs while Reid was an assistant offensive coach with Green Bay. The work Reid did with Favre was pretty amazing. Obviously he doesn't deserve all the credit. Favre has a cannon for an arm, and Holmgren is a pretty solid coach as well. Still, you can't ignore what Reid did with Favre so early in his professional coaching career. That wasn't even his best work though.
After coaching with the Packers for seven seasons, Reid was hired in 1999 as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. His first major coaching decision was to draft Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick of the draft. Most fans know this story. The majority of Eagles fans wanted Ricky Williams. Andy Reid had a better idea: Draft Donovan McNabb.
This proved to be the right choice.
McNabb went to six Pro Bowls under Coach Reid, made five trips to the NFC Championship Game and won 2004 NFC Offensive Player of the Year. Reid had all the trust in the world in Donovan, and it always seemed to pay off, even if they never won the big one. McNabb won nearly 100 games in Philly and continued to put up solid numbers despite not always having playmakers around him on offense.
Reid taught McNabb how to manage a game and greatly improved his accuracy. He turned McNabb into a complete quarterback and one of the best quarterbacks of the 2000s.
Eventually, McNabb's time had run out in Philly, and he was traded to the Washington Redskins following the 2009 season. In Washington, under one of the alleged best offensive coaches, Mike Shanahan, McNabb posted his worst quarterback rating since his rookie season. He also threw more interceptions than touchdowns for the first time in his career.
Bottom line: Shanahan made a six-time Pro Bowler look like Koy Detmer in less than one season.
2010 was clearly Andy Reid's best work. Donovan McNabb was gone. Kevin Kolb was his guy, and Michael Vick was the backup. Kolb had two career starts, and Vick was a year removed from prison. Still, both guys looked great in 2010.
Kolb made five starts in 2010. He played well in three of those five games; in the first he was knocked out by Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. Kolb won two of his next three games, including a two-touchdown victory over the eventual NFC regular season champs, the Atlanta Falcons.
Kolb has never won a marquee game for the Eagles and has only made seven career starts, including just three wins. He still has grown enough under Reid's tutelage and shown enough to the rest of the league to be worthy of a first-round draft pick and possibly even another starter in a trade with a quarterback-needy team once this lockout is finally over.
Michael Vick is the greatest example of Andy Reid's quarterback coaching mastery, even if he has only had two years to prove it. Vick went from being the last guy to practice to going to federal prison for two years to becoming a complete quarterback. Vick was the runner-up in the 2010 NFL MVP race in just his first full season back as a starter since 2006. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions in just 12 games.
Vick led a very young Philadelphia team that was supposed to be in a rebuilding mode to a NFC East title. The future looks bright for Vick, as 2011 will be his first in Philadelphia where he enters the season as the starting quarterback. Vick is only 30 years old and is surrounded by very fast and talented but at the same time very young offensive playmakers. With an improved offensive line and an improved defense, he should elevate his game even more.
Under Reid, Vick has finally grasped all the complexities of being a complete quarterback. Vick is no longer a running back who happens to play quarterback.
Andy Reid has proven his genius with Brett Favre, one of the best of all time, and with Donovan McNabb, one of the best of the 2000s. The verdict is still out on Kevin Kolb, but Reid has turned him into the most sought-after quarterback this offseason, including the entire 2011 draft class. Michael Vick has been transformed into one of the best players in the league.
Four quarterbacks, all who have proven or will prove to be elite NFL quarterbacks. No doubt, Andy Reid is to quarterbacks what Martin Scorsese is to movies.