Backing Up Andy Reid: Why Philadelphia Eagles' Players Are Defending Their Coach

Stephen JContributor IOctober 14, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 02: Head coach Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles waits to challenge a play against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field on October 2, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The 49ers defeated the Eagles 24-23. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Andy Reid is certainly making news this week. After last week’s loss to Buffalo, Eagles’ fans were calling for the firing of the NFL’s longest tenured head coach. By now, we all know their arguments.

His game day coaching, whether it is his clock management, his use of the challenge flag or making adjustments for opponents, is among the worst in the league. He promoted Juan Castillo, an offensive line coach with no professional experience on the defensive side of the ball, to defensive coordinator.

He has and continues to neglect the linebacker position, leaving the Eagles vulnerable on defence. All of these deficiencies have pushed many Eagles fans to their limits. A lot of them feel that the time has come to fire one of the most successful coaches of this century.

While Philadelphia fans feel that Reid should go, his players have a very different opinion. On Monday, offensive lineman Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce asked fans to take down a sign which called for Reid’s firing from the outside of the team’s practice facility.

On Wednesday, Jason Avant called a players-only meeting, where the players voiced their displeasure over how fans and the media were attacking Reid. Finally, when facing interviewers, Michael Vick has defended Reid, saying that the fault lies with the players and not with his head coach. It appears that Andy Reid is quite the polarizing figure.

But why are the players defending Reid? Are they not tired of his mistakes on game day too? Do they really believe that schematically, he is putting them in “the best position to win”? It’s likely that the players know much about Reid’s shortcomings, but they see more good coming from Reid than bad. Indeed, the Eagles players respect Andy Reid. The question is, why?

For one, Andy has a well earned reputation as one of the best in the business. Veterans like Trent Cole, Asante Samuel, Todd Herremans and Jason Avant have been playing for Reid for a few years now. What’s important is that they’ve experienced success under Reid, and they equate this success with the coaching prowess of Andy Reid.

Players from around the league flooded to Philadelphia not only because for the opportunity to play with Vick, but to play for Reid, a perennial winner. A few losses will not extinguish the respect that these players have for the coach. Reid’s previous success is too overwhelming for that.

Another reason that Reid’s players are backing him up is because they enjoy playing for him. To the media and fans, Andy Reid seems like the least friendly person you may ever meet. He usually scoffs at any questions asked of him, dismissing them with a five word response. But Andy Reid treats the public very differently than how he treats his players.

At practice, while Reid is tough, he also has fun with his players. If you’ve watched Reid wired up at practice, you’ll find that he jokes with players and they jokes back. We’ve even seen Reid have fun on the sidelines, “jump-bumping” with DeSean Jackson. And of course, who can forget Andy fist pumping in the locker room after beating the Falcons last year? Andy’s players like playing for him because he knows that while it’s important to work hard, it’s also vital to have fun.

Finally, Reid’s players back him up because he backs them up. Whenever the Eagles lose, Andy ALWAYS accepts responsibility with his now cliché phrase “I’ve got to do a better job”. Andy rarely throws his players under the bus (when he does, it’s usually a kicker) and his players appreciate the fact that their coach has their back.

So while many Eagles fans can’t wait to see Andy Reid go, it is very probable that his players would dread his firing. For their sake, one would hope that they come out against the Redskins and actually perform to their potential.