Why Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles Need to Start Fast in 2012

Dave StoesselAnalyst IIJune 11, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 11:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 (L) of the Philadelphia Eagles chats with Head Coach Andy Reid (R) against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Under Andy Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles have made the playoffs nine out of 13 seasons.

The four seasons when the team didn't make the tournament—1999, 2005, 2007 and 2011—one common element was that they got off to slow starts. Here is how they started each of those seasons: 0-4, 3-1, 1-3, and 1-3.

Quick observation: Each year Reid missed the playoffs was an odd-numbered year, so maybe it's a good thing that 2012 is a nice even number!

The only anomaly was 2005, when they started 3-1. However, that was before the part of the season when the T.O. train derailed and caused the Eagles to crash and burn in November and December.

In the three non-playoff and non-T.O. seasons, the Eagles went a collective 2-10 over their first four games. Yes, one of those years was Reid's first, but even if we take away that one, they still had only a 2-6 record early on.

Historically, Reid's teams have done well in the second half of the season. By far, Reid's best month is December, in which he has a 39-15 career record. His record for the other months are as follows: 23-20 in September, 29-21 in October, 33-21-1 in November and 12-12 in January.

And, unfortunately, a 0-1 record in February, the only month of the season in which he's never won a game!

But as you can see, Reid's winning percentage is much lower in September and October than it is in November and December.

Playing well in the second half of the season is great, but we also need to avoid the slow starts, as they can really put the team behind the eight-ball.

On opening day, Reid's record is not that great either: He's just 6-7 in his 13 regular-season opening games. Furthermore, he's started the season with two consecutive wins just once, in 2004 on the Eagles' way to the Super Bowl.

2004 was also the best start for the Eagles under Reid (7-0), and other than the T.O. factor, it's no coincidence that the Eagles made the Super Bowl that year.

They started out fast and kept the ball rolling.

The old football cliche is that the teams who win in November and December are the ones who go far into the playoffs. That might be the case, but winning in September and October can certainly help put teams in be better positions come January.

Isn't Reid always talking about putting his players in better positions? He could put all of them in better positions by getting off to a fast start and not having to play catch-up in November and December.

To further illustrate how important getting off to a fast start might be, the cumulative record of the first four games for each of the past 10 Super Bowl champions is 31-9. The worst any team started was 2-2, and that happened only twice (Giants in '07 and Patriots in '03).

The Eagles have a tough schedule in 2012, so getting off to a fast start will be imperative.

Their first four games are against Cleveland, Baltimore, Arizona and the Giants; the Browns are the only "gimme" out of those four.

Their next four games after that are grueling: Pittsburgh, Detroit, Atlanta and New Orleans.

If the Eagles want to be in the running for a top-two playoff seed or home-field advantage, they need to come out of the first four weeks no worse than 3-1.

If they start out 2-2, they'll certainly have to earn their stripes the rest of the way and will be in for a season-long struggle just to get a chance to play on Wild Card Weekend.

If they start out at 1-3, it will be Armageddon in Philly once again, and the team will face extremely long odds of making the playoffs.

With that said, winning in September and October still doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl championship—or even making the playoffs, for that matter. We've all seen teams start out hot and fade down the stretch run.

Fortunately, the Eagles don't have a history of fading under Andy Reid. As stated earlier, his best months are November and December.

He just needs to figure out September and October.

Going by the past 10 Super Bowl champions, it seems that getting off to a fast start is key. So in essence, if Reid can propel this team to early victories, his chances of evening out his February record will get a little better.