The plight of the Philadelphia Eagles throughout the course of Andy Reid’s 14-year tenure has been the often inexplicable decision-making of the head coach himself. That goes for his judgments both on and off the field.
To say that Reid has had a few costly blunders since the Birds piqued in 2004 would be an understatement. A man who was once a promising young coach ultimately became an arrogant, brooding, polarizing figure in the eyes of many Philadelphia sports fans.
From his staffing decisions with hiring his offensive line coach as his defensive coordinator, to his decision to give up on Kevin Kolb (which was unquestionably the right call) seemingly too soon, to his inability to make in-game adjustments, to his limitation of one of the NFL’s best players in LeSean Mcoy, to his poor drafting strategies, and finally to letting Brian Dawkins go, Andy Reid has alienated himself from his fanbase. Those are just a few examples.
What’s more is that Andy Reid and the entire Philadelphia Eagles front office is completely out of touch with their fans.
Of course, the guys who run NFL teams should work in a bubble, but these guys have never given their fans much of anything. This is a fanbase whose loyalty could never be called into question. It’s a fanbase that will always bleed green and will always buy tickets and merchandise. That said, the fans deserve a change.
Back to the matter at hand, the next head coach won’t exactly be inheriting a trash heap. However, given the way the team has drastically underperformed and fallen short of expectations, it’s hard to believe that this group of players is worth much.
For a guy who has been praised for letting players walk at the right time when their careers were about to start declining, he’s brought in a few older guys who haven’t been much since their arrival in Philadelphia. Names like Nnamdi Asomugha, DeMeco Ryans (though he’s been good enough), Jason Babin (who had two good years total, only one in Philadelphia), and the Andrews brothers, Shawn and Stacy, come to mind.
If you take a look at the majority of the NFL’s most successful defenses over the past few years, you’d notice that a movement toward the 3-4 is underway. It’s the same kind of movement the NFL saw when the league became more pass-heavy, a movement which Andy Reid was at the forefront of.
Given this and the underperforming of the Eagles’ defensive units since the passing of Jim Johnson, despite lofty expectations, maybe the next coach should be a 3-4 guy. The name that comes to mind in this instance is Ray Horton, the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator.
The fact of the matter is that the Eagles are 11-14 since the start of the 2011 season, which brought the Wide-9 to the Eagles and assertions that the Eagles defense would be formidable with this new approach.
The flip side of that coin is that the Eagles have a lot of players on the defensive side of the ball with a lot of individual accolades. It’s hard to believe that none of them are any good anymore and that they all got worse at the same time, which happened to be when they arrived in Philadelphia.
If you look at what Jim Harbaugh has done in San Francisco, and what Wade Phillips has done in Houston, you’d see that coaching makes all the difference. Moreover, you’d notice how abruptly the changes in the 49ers’ and Texans’ happened. With this, you could make the case that the talent was always there, but the leadership and philosophies weren’t.
If the Eagles are half as talented as they’ve been billed to be, could the right defensive mind put them among the NFL’s elite defenses?
Though defense has been the Eagles’ Achilles heel for almost three whole seasons, the next Eagles head coach probably will not have Michael Vick. He’ll probably have Nick Foles to work with. Not to dismiss Foles too soon; we don’t have a big enough sample to work with, but third-round quarterbacks usually aren’t successful in the NFL. It’s not wise to put any faith in him yet.
If that’s the case, perhaps it would be in the best interest of the team to hire someone who would be looking to overhaul the team on both sides of the ball and completely change the face of the organization. After all, in most cases it takes a while for a quarterback to develop. You need a quarterback to succeed in the NFL, and it takes a while for a team change itself completely. The timing of an overhaul wouldn’t be bad.
Andy Reid has done a lot for the Philadelphia Eagles; there’s no question about that. He may be the best coach in the history of the franchise. He may even be the best coach in the NFL without a ring.
Reid gave the Eagles several NFC East titles and deep playoff runs, but the team has been on a downward slide under his leadership over the past few years. And he certainly hasn’t done much to contradict that.
A complete overhaul may be the best thing for the team to do. After all, there aren’t many bright football minds calling the shots on the sidelines or in the front office. There also aren’t any budding young stars on the team. There are a few establish offensive weapons and a lot of older defensive players, but as whole there isn’t much worth saving.
So, the best thing to do might be to hang on to guys like McCoy, Jackson, Graham, and three or four others. The rest are expendable if the team wants to reestablish itself as one of the NFL’s premier franchises within the next few years.