Three Reasons the Eagles Should Fire Andy Reid, and Three Reasons They Won't
Take the pulse of Eagles fans outside Lincoln Financial Field on Sundays. Read their minds as they shuffle through Center City, pick their brains on the subways, read the local headlines or listen to Philly sports talk radio.
Eagles fans want blood.
How did this happen? This was the "Dream Team." This was the "all-in" season. This was the year, finally, the drought would end. The fans would dance down Broad Street as Michael Vick, love him or hate him, would hoist the Lombardi Trophy above his head, presenting the title to his disciples as tears streamed down the faces of the Philadelphia faithful.
Yet, here the Eagles sit, 3-6, floating belly up before Thanksgiving.
Someone has to pay. Someone must be held accountable. Someone must be beheaded. Someone must be sacrificed to soothe the rage brewing in the City of Brotherly Love.
Take their pulse, pick their brains, listen to the local media and soon you will realize the Eagles fans want blood—Andy Reid's blood.
To Fire: No Super Bowls
It's been 13 seasons since Big Red has arrived in Philadelphia.
Thirteen seasons, and no championships.
The Eagles have come tantalizingly close with four NFC Championship Game appearances and a three-point loss in Super Bowl XXXIX. At some point, the Philly faithful lost their faith in Reid, almost as if the coach has been teasing them, dangling the bone in front of their faces before cruelly yanking it away.
Fans emotions aside, history simply doesn't support Reid. In the last 30 years, only one coach—Bill Cowher—won his first Super Bowl ten or more years into their tenure (Cowher won Super Bowl XL in his 14th season). Joe Gibbs and Bill Walsh are the only other coaches to also win titles after more than a decade of coaching, but both had reached the football pantheon previously.
The bottom line: the average Super Bowl winning coach wins his first title in either his fourth or fifth season coaching, making Reid's 13 look stale in comparison.
To Fire: Play Calling
In case you haven't heard, the Eagles under Reid like to throw the football.
Even with the lead in the fourth quarter of Sunday's back-breaking 21-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Reid elected to put the ball in quarterback Michael Vick's hands (not only were the Eagles passing with a late lead, but news broke Monday Vick was playing hurt as well—all the more reason to keep the ball on the ground).
Up 17-14 with 3:44 left in the third quarter and arguably the hottest running back in football in his backfield, Reid called 10-straight pass plays.
And, as we all know, the Eagles blew yet another fourth-quarter lead, this time with less than two minutes on the clock. You have to wonder what would have happened had Reid ran down the clock by putting the ball in running back LeSean McCoy's hands.
But Sunday was not a rogue event. In the Eagles three wins this season, McCoy ran the ball 73 total times, averaging more than 24 carries per game. In the Eagles six losses, McCoy ran the ball 92 times, averaging only 15 carries per game.
See a trend?
Yes, running the ball when down can be detrimental and carries in losses are naturally lower because of that fact.
But the Eagles held a fourth-quarter lead in five of their six losses, yet Reid still elects to put the ball in the air.
To Fire: Personnel Decisions
Reid used to be known as a great drafter. He hit big time with a number of mid-round picks—Trent Cole, (fifth round), Brian Westbrook (third round) and Brent Celek (fifth round) to name a few.
But lately, the tables have turned on the veteran coach.
In the last three seasons, the Eagles have had 32 draft selections. Of those 32 selections, only four have turned into current full-time starters (DeSean Jackson, Jason Kelce, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy).
Worse yet, in the last two seasons the Eagles under Reid have drafted just one player who has started every game in 2011 (Kelce, a sixth-round center).
The draft is a gamble, though. So while fans may be willing to give Reid a pass on roster misses, they have not been so forgiving of the coach's choice of defensive coordinator in 2011.
Former Philadelphia offensive line coach Juan Castillo (pictured, left) was introduced as the Eagles defensive coordinator in February, 2011.
Castillo's defense has been just as guilty for the five fourth-quarter collapses this season. According to teamrankings.com, the Eagles currently rank 29th in the league while allowing 8.2 fourth-quarter points per game. On Sunday, those stats came to life when the Birds defense allowed two fourth-quarter scoring drives —the first of 89 yards and the second of 87.
Questions must be raised about Castillo's defensive scheme. Two of the three Eagles' starting corners are prototypical press-man coverage defensive backs, yet Castillo's defense revolves around zone coverage. To many around Philadelphia, Castillo seems to be in over his head.
Yet it would be hard to blame Castillo for wanting to make a name for himself in the NFL. Rather, his failures should be reflected through Reid, who ultimately hired an unqualified coach as his defensive coordinator.
To Keep: Wins
How could the Eagles ownership justify firing the Eagles most winningest coach ever?
Reid has won the most games (120), has the highest win percentage (.609) and most playoff victories (10) in team history.
Under Reid, the Eagles appeared in their second of two Super Bowls.
Under Reid, the Eagles have been to playoffs nine times in 12 seasons.
Under Reid, the Eagles have finished below .500 only twice—once in his first season (5-11), and the other in 2005 (6-10).
And let's not forget the state of the Eagles before Reid arrived. Big Red's first pick as the Eagles coach was McNabb with the second-overall pick in the 1999 draft after a 3-13 season. In the six seasons before Reid, the Eagles were a combined 44-51-1.
Reid was able to turn the Eagles from a lowly, unsteady franchise into a team that is now perennially predicted (and more often than not do) finish at or near the top of NFC.
To Keep: Player's Coach
During the 2011 Eagles Training Camp, Vick proclaimed to the media this season would be about getting Reid a title, that Reid not having a title is one of the great crimes in the NFL.
After the Eagles fell to 1-4 in early October, Vick continued to back his coach.
"I know the intricacies and the ins and outs, and it’s not Coach," Vick told the media. "Bottom line. So put the heat on the players. Put it on us. Don’t put it on him.”
Bottom line: the players enjoy playing for Reid. Players want to play for Reid.
It is entirely possible that the Eagles embattled coach is the only glue holding together what pieces are left of the Dream Team.
To Keep: Class
One would be hard pressed to find a coach as classy as Reid.
He doesn't make ridiculous declarations in the preseason or before games (cough, cough, Ryan brothers).
He doesn't get himself involved in post-game melees, nor do his players throw rogue punches on the field (ahem, ahem, Jim Schwartz, Jim Harbaugh).
There are no viral videos of Reid exploding into a press conference tirade (hack, hack, virtually every NFL coach, ever).
No, when Reid gets upset at a press conference, his doughy face turns bright red, he takes a second to clear his throat, and he tells the room, "I'm not going there."
He has had his opportunities. During the T.O. saga in Philadelphia, Reid stayed very political, stated Owens was being punished for a team-rule infraction and left the belly-aching to the wide receiver.
Reid routinely yanks his players by the jersey to pull them out of scuffles on the field, not unlike a mother grabbing her cranky child by the ear.
The way Reid treats not only his players but virtually everyone he crosses paths with screams class and respect, and that means a lot in today's "LOOK AT ME!" NFL.
To Fire, or to Keep?
What do the Eagles do at the end of the season?
This was the all-in season, and the league called the Birds' bluff.
Does the front office cut ties with the winningest coach in franchise history? Do they fire the former AP Coach of the Year? Can they forgive Reid for years of questionable play calls and ho-hum roster moves?
Whether he is burned at the stake as a casualty of the Nightmare Team remains to be seen.
I'll go all-in myself and predict Andy Reid will be a head coach next season.
Whether his cap proudly displays the Eagles insignia or that of another team, we all must wait to see.