Unlike your 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, I am not interested in burying or throwing away the lead.
Unlike your 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, I am not interested in burying or throwing away the lead. So, here goes.
For the betterment of both the Philadelphia Eagles and their currently beleaguered head coach, Andy Reid, the Eagles should start the 2012-13 season with a new head coach.
One caveat. When the Cowboys and Giants both lost last Sunday afternoon, the Eagles kept their miniscule postseason chances alive. So, if the Birds run the table and the Cowboys and Giants choke enough to allow the Eagles to win the NFC Least, Reid will have earned his right to return.
Fairly or unfairly, a finish of somewhat miraculous proportions should be required for Andy Reid to keep his job. So, is it fair? Who defines fair, anyway? A changeâ€”barring that miracleâ€”would be the best thing for all partiesâ€”the franchise, the players, the rabid fans who have been lulled almost to indifference this season, and coach Reid.
I donâ€™t come to this conclusion lightly, as I probably respect Reidâ€™s head coaching resume more than most fans and local scribes do. Anybody can see, and spout off, that Big Red never won the big one, but I donâ€™t know that heâ€™s incapable of doing itâ€”here (if he stays for who knows how long) or elsewhere.
Barring that miracle, I donâ€™t want Andy to move on because of his mind-numbing, brain cell-killing press conferences. I am not a fan of these exercises in futility, but I donâ€™t sweat them too much. Almost a full 13 years into his tenure, his approach to these media sessions is not going to change, and this is mostly a media issue.
Truth be told, I actually think that Reid respects the passion of Philly fans, and has paid tribute to them/us on several occasions. Itâ€™s just the press conferences that seem like a visit to the proctologistâ€™s office. Apologies for any word pictures rendered. Most of this is because Reid almost always protects his players, and almost never gives the media anything of value. It grates on me that even his self-criticism is usually stale and insincere, but, this is a minor point to inform such a big decision.
I donâ€™t want Andy Reid to go because he is a bull-headed control freak; most successful head coaches are. Do you think that Bill Belichick is a soft-headed, soft-hearted guy who relishes ceding control to anyone else? Yes, I realize that the Hoodie has won three BIG Ones, including one in 2005 against Andyâ€™s Eagles.
And yes, some of that bull-headedness involves the seeming abandonment of the run game for his pass-happy game plan on any number of occasions. Heâ€™s guilty as charged, but how balanced are those high-flying offenses in Green Bay, New Orleans and New England these days?
In truth, when you watch the Eagles with a Philly-style fervor and passion, it is easy to second-guess so many things that Reid does not do well. Successful halftime adjustments are as rare as an Asante Samuel open-field tackle. His time management issues did not leave town with Donovan McNabb. His player personnel philosophy and execution has gaps the size of what defensive end Jason Babin leaves to opposing running backs.
Still, Andy Reid has amassed an enviable 122-82-1â€”good for a .601 winning percentage. In the preceding 12 years, he has won seven division titles and made the playoffs nine times. His teams earned the right to play in five NFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl. He is not responsible for what transpired here from 1961-1998; this has been a terrific era of Eagles football.
He deserves a whole lot more praise than scorn for the longevity and success he has achieved. They didnâ€™t just flip a coin five times to put him in those championship games; the Birds won a lot of pretty big contests to get there. When evaluating Reid, that should not be forgotten. And, his record should not be denigrated because the division or the whole conference was soft some of those years.
So, if he is a very good head coach with an enviable record, why should he need a miracle to save his job?
Reid and the Eagles should part company because this season has been that atrocious. Perhaps, the Eagles should never have been labeled the â€œDream Teamâ€ (thanks, Vince Young) but a team coming off a 10-6 record with great offensive talent, a rejuvenated, ultra-talented quarterback (Michael Vick) and key (at the time, anyway) defensive acquisitions should be a whole lot better than 4-8.
Doesnâ€™t he deserve one off-season?
Iâ€™d love to say â€œyes,â€, but letâ€™s count the reasons why he does not.
BAD PERSONNEL OR POOR COACHING/PERFORMANCE? TAKE YOUR PICK
The Eagles, with one more loss, will have been officially irrelevant in a very winnable division and in a conference where they should have been no worse than a third seed behind Green Bay and New Orleans. You canâ€™t use injuries to explain away their 4-8 record. And if their personnel wasnâ€™t as great as touted (yes, the linebackers and safeties are mediocre, to be kind) Reid has always played a big role in player personnel decisions.
THE DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR SNAFU
Andy Reid raised more eyebrows than a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon when he named longtime offensive line coach Juan Castillo as his new defensive coordinator this offseason. This â€œWTFâ€ moment was first-guessed, second-guessed, and well, you know the rest.
When you take that big of a risk, you have to be right. And firing or re-assigning Castillo should not be the only solution. Yes, replacing the late, beloved Jim Johnson two-plus years ago was bound to be difficult, but Reid has failed twice in naming a worthy successor.
HAS REID LOST HIS EDGE?
From the comfort of my recliner, I cannot tell you that Reid has lost the team. Indeed, the players always say the right things on his belief. Much as Reidâ€™s public persona has not earned him a benefit of the doubt from fans, the way he goes about his business has seemed to earn him that same courtesy from his players.
At the same time, this year just feels different. Perhaps, it also happens on other teamâ€™s sidelines, but when did two Eaglesâ€™ assistants (Jim Washburn and Marty Mornhinweg) ever try to make like reporters Jeff McLane and Les Bowen prior to this season? Something has been amiss at the hub of Eagles Nation.
And what of the whole DeSean Jackson situation? Other than a few games this season, the Eaglesâ€™ most explosive player has either been benched or a non-factor. Reid is a part of this mess, especially when he has been virtually indistinguishable from Jeff Lurie, Joe Banner and (now) Howie Roseman during his tenure.
THE WHOLE EAGLES VIBE IS BAD
Take a look at the Birdsâ€™ best and most high-profile players. Other than the terrific and likable LeSean (Shady) McCoy, the names that jump out are Vick, Jackson and Samuel.
All three are incredibly talented, but as role modelsâ€”on the field and offâ€”this is not Donovan McNabb (like him or not), Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook.
When Reid hitched his wagon to these stars and jettisoned the two Brians and Donovan, there was an imperative to win. Not one to suffer through the worst kind of 4-8 season in memory. Simply put, this is not a very appealing team, but to most fans, all would be forgiven if they won. They arenâ€™t.
For a variety of reasons, it just feels like time for a change, whether the franchise tries to lure a former Super Bowl-winning coach (Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher or Brian Billickâ€¦no, not Mike Ditka) away from a TV studio, or attempts to find the next Jim Harbaugh.
It is not inconsistent to praise Reid for what he has accomplished here yet advocate that the franchise make a clean break from him.
That is my position, unless he miraculously guides them to four straight victories (including three intra-divisional match-ups) and a playoff berth.
The timeâ€™s hisâ€”for now.
Matt Goldberg is a lifelong Philly sports fan and humoristâ€”as a writer and public speakerâ€”who claims to have never thrown a snowball at Santa. Look for his regular column here soon; his writings may also be found on his website and new fan page.
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