With the Philadelphia Eagles sitting at 3-6, it’s time to stop talking about all the potential talent, and admit that this season has been a disaster. The team has lost five games in a row, which is the longest losing streak of Andy Reid’s career. What makes it worse, is that it wasn’t supposed to be this way. After 2010, the Eagles were poised for greatness with an incredible offence lead by Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy. In 2011, they added some great players to the defense, and were expected to be a force in the league. Well, the defensive line was a force, but that was about it. But they blamed the poor start on the lockout. With the strong draft, and a full off season, surely 2012 was their year. Unfortunately, 2012 feels a lot like 2011, only without the strong defensive line. Teams know how to beat Vick, and they now know how to block the defensive linemen. Juan Castillo was seen as the problem on the defense, because the they gave up too many points late in the game, so they fired him. Now the defense gives up more points. All the “miscalculations” that have happened ever since 2008 are growing into an avalanche that will most likely hit after the Superbowl, and sweep Andy Reid out of Philadelphia.
I like Reid, and I think he did a lot for the Eagles through his first 10 years. But there are 13 teams above the Eagles for a playoff spot, and I don’t think 9-7, if they can get there, will save his job. It looks like he will be gone, and perhaps he should be. But what does it mean if he is gone?
It was recently reported that GM Howie Roseman received a contract extension when team president, Joe Banner, left the organization. I believe that Roseman can point to enough good decisions he’s made to keep his job. So one would think that, as GM, Roseman would have a lot of say in picking the next coach he wants to work with.
But Roseman is fairly new to being a GM, and has never worked with a coach other than Andy Reid. Quite frankly, we don’t know what to expect from him in picking a coach. Will he want an established winner, a rising coordinator, or a successful college coach? Will he want someone offensively or defensively minded? How much will it be his decision, and how much will it be up to owner Jeff Lurie? These are things that we don’t know. But that’s not what is scaring me the most about the thought of the post-Reid Eagles.
The thing that scares me is the prospect of returning to the 1980s and 90s versions of the Eagles. If you became a fan of the Eagles around 2000, you’re used to winning… a lot. If you were around during the 80s and 90s, winning was an interesting concept to you. After Dick Vermeil (the only coach other than Reid to take the Eagles to the Superbowl), they had 4 coaches in the span of 16 years. In that span, they had 8 playoff games and 2 wins. To put that in perspective, Andy Reid has had 19 playoff games and 10 wins in 13 years. The Eagles regular season winning percentage during that period is exactly .5 126 wins, 126 losses, 3 ties. Andy Reid’s record since his last NFC championship game is .561.
And when you look at the current situation in the NFL, things aren’t very promising. For every J. Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, and Sean Payton, you have a Pat Shurmur, Tom Cable, and Tony Sparano. And there are many once promising coaches standing on shaky ground such as Norv Turner, Rex Ryan, and Marvin Lewis. Furthermore, ask the Broncos how things were after the Mike Shanahan era, or the Cowboys after the Jimmy Johnson era, or the Redskins after the first Joe Gibbs era. As hard as it is to follow up a great quarterback, it might be harder to follow up a great coach.
So, while it seems inevitable that Andy Reid is done in Philadelphia, and that may be the right decision; don’t think that the winds of change are a breeze. They might luck out and get a great coach, they might not. They just experienced a decade of unprecedented winning under Andy Reid; but one can’t overlook the 2 decades of mediocrity that came before that.