Anti Reid

(Originally Posted: Friday February 12, 2010)

Since the end of the Super Bowl, there has been a lot of discussion about the quarterbacks on the field that day. Who is currently the best quarterback in the league? Brees or Manning? How much did that interception and loss harm Manning’s legacy? Why wasn’t anyone talking about Manning’s 9-8 playoff record before the Super Bowl? (now 9-9) I tried to answer that first question with a column for my blog, and for the first time since I’ve started writing, I’ve been struggling for days to finish. (Fret not, that 1,400+ word behemoth will probably post next week.) And it’s not a matter of writing it; it’s my opinion changing between Brees/Manning day to day (I know, spoiler alert!)

However, the more I’ve reflected on the game, the more I realized that the quarterbacks had less to do with the outcome of the game then we realized. Put it another way: If you put Manning on the Saints, and Brees on the Colts, do you think the outcome would have been any different? Yeah, me either. The Super Bowl came down to one thing. And it was a different Payton. Saints head coach Sean Payton. (Here’s my new favorite game: Name the Colts head coach. You can’t, can you? He was just in the most viewed Super Bowl for God’s sake.)

Sean Payton went into the Super Bowl knowing that if he called a standard game plan against the Colts, he would most likely lose the game. So he decided to mix it up with daring calls like the 4th and goal at the end of the first half and the onside kick to start the second half. (poor, poor Hank Baskett) I know what your thinking, onside kicks, and going for it on 4th down? That sounds a lot like the kind of things that Andy Reid has done over his tenure here. Agreed, but unfortunately for all of us Eagles fans, that’s where the similarities end.

During the season, the Saints had the most pass completions for over 20 yards. So what did their coach do with two weeks to prepare? He completely changed what they did and had them dink and dunk down the field the whole game. They usually ran on first down during the season as well, so they stopped doing that too.

Andy Reid runs the same exact game plan week after week for the whole season and just expects it to work. And it does a most of the time against the bad and average teams. But the good to great teams figured that out, and are able to beat it. The end of this season is a perfect example. (as is most seasons)

Week 17 we went into Dallas, and the stupid Cowboys completely shut down the Eagles offense because they knew what we were going to do on almost every play. So the following week in the playoffs, we play the same exact team, what new looks or plays are rolled out? NONE! What happens? Same results. We get smoked, and the will McNabb be back again next year talk starts up again on WIP.

In the beginning of the Super Bowl, the Colts were up 10-0, and I bet you thought we were in for a rout, just as I did. But then something funny happened that you don’t see on Andy Reid coached teams. The Saints made in-game adjustments. They didn’t just stubbornly stick to their game plan and figure whatever we thought was going to work on Wednesday is still going to work on Sunday. Now the Saints are World Champions, and New Orleans has completely recovered from Katrina. (at least that’s how the national media’s made it sound)

Game time adjustment has always been Reid’s Achilles Heel. (besides stairs) We may have seen some improvement in the Eagles during the season this year. We had a number of games that were won after coming from behind in the 4th quarter. But I’m afraid all of that progress may have been loss with the Double Dallas Debacle™.

It’s the in-game adjustments and and varied team specific game plans that separate the good coaches from the great ones. The ability to think on your feet, admit your game plan isn’t working, and come up with a completely new strategy while the game is in progress is what makes champions. This is why we’ve reached the playoffs so many times, but never the promise land. This is why Sean Payton is now one of the great coaches in the league. This is why Sean Payton is the Anti Reid.

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About Bill

A man in search of a mission at the age of 40.
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