The chants at the Linc during the 4th quarter of yesterday’s abomination versus the Patriots were unmistakable. “Fire Andy Reid! Fire Andy Reid!” The chants are completely understandable considering this unmitigated disaster of a season. Even without Joe Banner’s preseason shopping spree raising expectations through the roof, this year is not what we’ve become accustomed to as Eagles fans. So we need to blame someone, and the fat man is an easy target.
Reid is plenty accountable for this 4-7 debacle (so far.) The Juan Castillo experiment is an abject failure. Michael Vick is regressing back to the run first quarter back he was in Atlanta. LeSean McCoy is the league leading rusher (somehow), yet is not featured in the weekly game plans. The defense has blown five 4th quarter leads, and Reid has lost complete control of DeSean Jackson.
There’s no question that Reid and the Eagles are having an atrocious year. It’s easy for all of us at the Linc, on the radio or Twitter to say “Fire Reid” and think all the Eagles problems will magically be solved. But there are two questions that need to be examined beyond the simple 12 letter mantra of “Fire Andy Reid.”
Reid took the Eagles to the playoffs nine times in his first 12 seasons. He won playoff games in seven of those years. I remember growing up and if by some miracle the Eagles made it to the playoffs; they would usually just lose their first game. But if they somehow won the wild card game, they would always get whooped on by their next opponent. During Reid’s tenure, the divisional round or the conference championship game had become the norm. Could you imagine the Eagles just appearing in a NFC Championship game during the 90s? The city would have exploded.
Agreed, most of that success was in the beginning of the decade, and with Jim Johnson’s defenses, but when it comes to as pivotal a decision as replacing your head coach, it is important to take the long view. This season has been a mess, but the Eagles were a mess in 2005, and Reid was able to turn it around in 2006 and win the NFC East again.
2. Who would be the next Eagles head coach? I post this question on Twitter from time to time, and I get the usual cast of characters: Gruden, Billick, Fisher and Cowher. (One guy keeps saying Jim Fassel, but I think he’s just screwing with me.) Of course, Gruden is the main name that keeps coming back up like a bad penny. We all know why; he has Eagles roots as a coordinator and he took Tony Dungy’s Buccaneers from the door step to the Super Bowl. Gruden may have just signed a new two year extension with ESPN for Monday Night Football, but it seems like this guy is laying in wait for Andy Reid’s job.
While Gruden seems like the natural fit for the Eagles to everyone in the football world, they are forgetting the Lurie factor. Gruden, like Billick and Cowher, are loud mouth, hot heads that Lurie is not going to want to represent the “Gold Standard” of the NFL. Based on his one head coach hire, Lurie wants a mellow coach who won’t make the franchise look bad by acting like a jackass on the sideline. That eliminates everyone but Fisher from this list, who also has Eagles roots and playoff experience. He’s a defensive minded coach who handles himself with class. A good fit, but….
Lurie’s not going to hire anyone we’ve heard of. Again, this is based on such a small sample size of his one head coaching signing, but considering it lasted 13 years, it’s hard to see him not using that philosophy again. Also, any of the big name coaches are going to want a substantial amount of control over personnel, if not all. Lurie, Banner and Roseman are not going to want to give up control.
Look for Lurie and company to grab another up and coming coordinator or assistant coach and hope to hit pay dirt. Someone whose background is on the defensive side of the ball. Owners generally follow an offensive head coaches with a defensive head coach and vice versa. We should also remove coaches from teams that will likely be in the conference championships from the potential pool. The Eagles will have to wait too long to interview him. That eliminates Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New England and let say New Orleans. (Yes, I think the 49ers will get the 2 seed, but I think they’ll be one and done.)
So with this set of parameters, who are some of the candidates?
- Chuck Pagano Defensive Coordinator, Baltimore Ravens
- Mike Pettine Defensive Coordinator, New York Jets
- Mike Zimmer Defensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals
- Jay Gruden Offensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals (Probably not the Eagles coach, but I bet he coaches somewhere next year.)
- Chuck Bresnahan Defensive Coordinator, Oakland Raiders
- Perry Fewell Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants
- Bill Musgrave Offensive Coordinator, Minnesota Vikings
- Rob Chudzinski Offensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
- Vic Fangio Defensive Coordinator, San Francisco 49ers
I’ll be the first to admit it, I’ve never heard of most of these guys either, but who had heard of Andy Reid in the fall of 1998? If I had to guess from this list, I would guess Pagano or Fangino. What are those choices based on? Nothin’
So with all that said, where do we stand with Reid and the future of the Eagles? I’d say that as long as the rest of the season isn’t blowout loss after blowout loss, Reid’s chances of staying are slightly better than even. I think it’s the right move. I’ve always been a Reid supporter, and he deserves one more chance to clean up the mess after this season. Look for Castillo to get fired and Reid to bring in Steve Spagnuolo to replace him after he gets fired from the Rams.
No matter which way it goes, Andy staying or going, it’s going to be another interesting offseason. (yay.)