Andy Reid: The Pros and Cons of Keeping the Philadelphia Eagles Coach
It's nearly as disappointing as my fantasy team's record...but I digress.
There's no shortage of blame being passed around and fingers being pointed, at least by the media and the fans.
The common denominator between those two all-knowing entities seems to be that head coach Andy Reid must go.
Surely, this disaster is the fault of Reid, and as such, it must be Reid who pays with his livelihood.
Eagles fans, for all of their faults and for their reputation as a whole, are nothing if not passionate. But sometimes passion can cloud judgement and cause people to think, act, and speak irrationally.
I'll lay out Andy Reid's resume, and hopefully remove the emotions from the situation.
I'll lay out the things that Reid has done well and been successful with, and I'll also illustrate his shortcomings.
It'll be up to you to form your decision on whether or not you think the coach should go.
Pro: 122-80-1, .604
In Andy Reid's 13th season, the Philadelphia Eagles are struggling.
However, that's rarely been the case during Reid's tenures as the Lead Bird.
In fact, in 12 full seasons, the Eagles have only played sub .500 football twice, in 1999, his first season at the helm, when the Eagles finished 5-11, and in 2005 when they went 6-10, the season after they lost a heartbreaker in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots.
In all, Reid has led the Eagles to seven division championships, as well as appearances in five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance.
During Reid's tenure, no other NFC team has appeared in more than two conference championship games.
Con: Speaking of That Super Bowl...
The Super Bowl was the first time that I realized Reid's ineptitude at managing the clock. Although, I suppose it was evident before.
Reid certainly didn't do himself any favors managing that game, and probably cemented his legacy of terrible clock management on that Sunday.
If you'll recall, at the end of the first half, the Eagles took possession at their own 19 with 1:10 left.
Following were a couple of Donovan McNabb completions that put the ball on their own 41 yard line. However, Reid chose to call only one timeout during this span, with the clock running for most of this possession.
The Eagles went into the half without giving David Akers a shot at a field goal, and holding two now-useless timeouts.
Fast-forward to 5:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles down by ten points.
All signs point to the hurry-up offense. Two possessions down, and a dwindling clock on the biggest stage the game has to offer, would light a sense of urgency under anyone, right?
Not Andy Reid. And not the Eagles.
Reid unleashed a methodical, 13-play, 79-yard touchdown drive capped by a 30-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis.
It was a thing of beauty...if it had happened in the first quarter.
Instead, it used nearly four minutes of game clock, and short of an onside-kick recovery, it all but sealed the victory for the Patriots, allowing Belichick & Co. to claim their third Vince Lombardi Trophy in four seasons.
Of course, the onside kick wasn't to be, and the Patriots, again, won the Super Bowl.
Andy Reid is a lot of things, but he, for one, is prepared.
Reid can game-plan with the best of them. One statistic that illuminates this: as the man in charge in Philadelphia, he has never lost the first game immediately following a bye week.
What this shows me is that the man prepares.
With the extra week of preparation, Reid is capable of putting together a game-plan to take on all comers.
It's really a shame that the Eagles can't petition Roger Goodell to reformat the season so that they can play every other week.
Con: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Andy Reid's critics often cite his decision-making as his biggest problem.
Signing Michael Vick after his incarceration. Extending Michael Vick with a $100 million contract.
Battling Terrell Owens and defending his quarterback when he was publicly criticized by Owens.
Not fighting to keep Brian Dawkins.
Most notably, hiring his offensive line coach, Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator.
Yes, that's right.
Reid, in his infinite wisdom, interviewed his competent offensive-line coach, and hired him to lead his defensive unit.
It was a move that surprised everyone, and I mean everyone.
It's nearly as inexplicable as Ronnie Brown's pitch on the goal line while he was already wrapped up. Remember that play?
It's likely that play resonates almost as deeply as the Castillo hire.
Pro: Maximizing Talent
Any way you want to look at Reid's time in Philly, it all boils down to one thing. He has enjoyed tremendous amounts of success.
But the fact that he's had so much success is almost a curse unto itself.
The fans have been spoiled with a team that is consistently near the top of the league in wins.
It also begs the question, how was Reid so successful?
It wasn't because he was given a blank check to acquire as much big time talent as league rules would allow.
No, Andy Reid and the Eagles have enjoyed a large part of their success with the likes of James Thrash, Todd Pinkston and Greg Lewis manning the receiver position.
Not to speak poorly towards any of those players, but let's be honest, they were far from marquee players.
In fact, they actually had very little star power. The only real offensive stars the Eagles had during the majority of this run were Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook.
Obviously, they had Terrell Owens, a bona-fide superstar, for a season as well.
It hasn't really been until recently that the Eagles organization has plied Reid with playmakers.
Through the draft, the Eagles have garnered DeSean Jackson (2008), LeSean McCoy (2009), and Jeremy Maclin (2009).
All three of these guys are legitimate game-changers, and capable of scoring virtually every time they touch the ball.
These three players, coupled with Michael Vick, as well as possession receivers like Jason Avant and Brent Celek, make the Eagles an offensive unit capable of exploding.
On the other side of the ball, the Eagles have used trades and free agents to add impact players. Jason Babin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Asante Samuel, and Nnamdi Asomugha are all Pro Bowl-caliber players that the Eagles have acquired over the past few years.
Con: Exploiting Talent
Yes, it's clear that Reid has a gift of getting more out of an average player. He's proven, time and time again, that he can motivate and position players to far exceed anyone's expectations.
However, as mentioned previously, Reid has been gifted with an immense amount of talent.
Yet the Eagles are sputtering.
Is it possible that Reid can't relate to a superstar player?
I'm sure McNabb and Westbrook would disagree.
Reid's press conferences are famous for his broken record statement, "I have to put players in better position to succeed."
If this is the case, he needs to do a better job of exploiting the talents bestowed upon his beloved Birds.
For instance, Shady McCoy should be touching the ball a minimum of 25 times per game. It goes without saying.
If it's Reid's concern for McCoy's health and well-being that is curbing his touches, then the Eagles should use Ronnie Brown more frequently.
Albeit, after an intense lecture, in no uncertain terms, that he's never to pitch the ball again, not while he's wearing the green and white.
D-Jax should be returning 100% of the punts. He should also be touching the ball as frequently as possible, whether they be screen passes, end-arounds or deep routes.
I get that he's a prima donna and wants to get paid.
I also get that speed is the only physical gift with which he's been blessed.
He will not be running through anyone, and that includes Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee. He has to be careful.
The Eagles would be wise to protect him. However, if he wants to get paid like an elite receiver, he better darn well play like one and produce like one.
Simply put, this season he hasn't.
I'd be hard pressed to blame Andy Reid for that.
Jeremy Maclin is big enough to handle the middle of the field and fast enough to stretch it: a rare combination indeed.
After all, he was a piece to the puzzle that was supposed to vault the Eagles over the top, so they could win their first ever Super Bowl.
Pro: The Players
For the most part, it seems that Eagles past and present have enjoyed playing for Andy Reid.
Obviously, Reid has had the occasional run-in with a player. But it's been relatively infrequent, at least in the public eye.
Reid has always done an admirable job of having the buck stop with him. He'll never publicly criticize one of his players. It just won't happen.
If you go out and lay it on the line for him during the game, and the results aren't enough to produce a win, then Reid will lay it on the line after the game for his players and coaches.
The media loves nothing better than causing drama, particularly in times of duress.
However, Reid takes the podium after every game and. with a certain amount of stoicism, rattles off the usual—that he needs to do a better job.
The guys put out for Coach Reid, and it seems that they have a good relationship with him, all in all, and that has translated to success on the field.
Con: Winning the Big Game
For a decade there were two constants with the Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. They got along like peas and carrots.
The greatest football coach in the teams history, mentoring and coaching the team's greatest quarterback in history.
But at this point, one man stands alone.
McNabb has already been run on out of town. Despite quarterbacking all of those wins and amassing all those yards and touchdowns, the town, the media and fans turned on McNabb, eventually leading to management's decision to part ways with No. 5.
With McNabb gone, Reid is now the city's favorite scapegoat.
He's never brought a Super Bowl home to Philly.
Not one Super Bowl.
I can't help but wonder: If the Eagles had won that Super Bowl against the Patriots, would Andy Reid still be in the position that he's in?
I suppose it's hard to surmise.
Nevertheless, the situation is what it is. Reid hasn't brought home the big prize, and the fans and media are fed up.
What Should Happen?
What should be done with Andy Reid and his position with the Philadelphia Eagles?
I firmly believe that Andy Reid should remain as head coach. It would be an incredible disservice to the accomplishments of this organization under Reid's leadership to do otherwise.
I believe that his complete body of work warrants at least one more season.
After all the wins and close calls, now that the team has finally stockpiled talent, wouldn't it be the right move to allow Reid one more season, one chance to right the ship?
If the Eagles were to strip Reid of some of his responsibilities, and allow him to focus solely on coaching, I don't think that would be the worst idea, either.
I believe that with a full offseason, Reid can, and will, get this team's act together, and they will be a far better team next season.
Regardless of what anyone might say, including Andy himself, he has put the Eagles in position to win this season. The Eagles have blown, by my count, five fourth-quarter leads this season. They could just as easily be 9-4.
As a team, they've dropped an exorbitant amount of passes and missed an unimaginable amount of tackles.
The bottom line is, players have to make plays and Andy Reid, shouldn't suffer because his team isn't making plays.
Not after everything he's done.