Andy Reid’s tenure from the beginning until the very near end has had more drama, twists, and predictable outcomes than any other coach in Eagles history. He receives credit for being a great coach from the national media. In contrast, he gets scrutinized on a daily basis by local media and fans. The national media accuses the Philadelphia fans of not realizing how great of a coach the Eagles have. The fans then point to how many superbowls Andy Reid has won. So who is right and who is wrong? If you split the 14year career of Andy Reid into two eras, the picture becomes a little clearer on how great Reid is.
First let’s look at the 1999-2004 seasons which were Andy Reid’s first six seasons as the Eagles coach. The Eagles had a combined record of 64-32 (.666 winning %). The Eagles won 4 division titles, made the playoffs 5 out of 6 seasons, went to 4 NFC Championship games, and played in one Superbowl. These statistics by alone are pretty impressive, but let’s look a little closer at what made these seasons successful.
- Players: The talent that was left over from the Ray Rhodes regime really took on leadership roles and shined under Reid. During this run, players such as Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor, Hugh Douglas, Jeremiah Trotter, Duce Staley, and Tra Thomas became the foundation and backbone of this team. These players went through a tough last year with Rhodes and first year with Reid. They were the nucleus of these teams that went on this run and they all reached the top of their playing level under Reid.
- Coaches: Andy Reid put together a great staff when he first came to Philly. Jim Johnson, John Harbaugh, Steve Spagnuolo, Brad Childress, Ron Rivera all helped maximize the talent that was on this team. All three phases of this team; offense, defense, and special teams could be counted on to not only give maximum effort but put the Eagles in position to win any game they played. However, the most important coach was Jim Johnson and the menacing defense that he created.
- Front Office: Andy Reid worked with Tom Modrak, Tom Heckert, and other talent evaluators during this era. Although there was a lot of misses on evaluating talent, the players that they did hit on really helped shape the team. Players like McNabb, Westbrook, Corey Simon, and Sheldon Brown were drafted and not only contributed on the field but meshed with the talent that was already in place to form a solid group of players on and off the field. Players like Jon Runyan, Carlos Emmons, and Brian Mitchell also were brought in and became leaders and solid contributors. Even in 2004 when the Eagles signed Jevon Kearse and traded for Terrell Owens, for that one season it took the Eagles to another level.
Next let’s take a look at take a look at Reid’s last 8 seasons. The Eagles have a combined record of 65-57-1 (.528 winning %). The Eagles won 2 division titles, made the playoffs 4 out of the 8 seasons, and went to 1 NFC Championship game. These statistics DO NOT make Reid look like the great coach so many people paint him to be. In fact, they are pretty pedestrian if not poor numbers for a coach that is constantly lauded for all the great work that he has done. So if we take a close look at the past 8 seasons, it is pretty easy to see how the Eagles got to where they are today.
- Players: The players that were the backbone of this team in Reid’s early years such as McNabb, Trotter, and Dawkins were not only let go, but they still have not been replaced on or off the field. As these players along with others started to decline due to age, Andy Reid has failed to find anyone to replace their production and character. Whether you look at the Kolb/Vick experiment, linebacker by committee, or putting safeties on the field that have no business starting for an NFL team, Andy Reid has epically failed this team. One could even argue that on defense especially, the only two quality players that you can give Reid credit for drafting is Trent Cole and Sheldon Brown that came in here and filled holes that were left by departing players.
- Coaches: After the 2004 Superbowl appearance, several of the good coaches that Reid had on his staff received head coaching jobs. John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Steve Spagnuolo, Leslie Frazier, and Ron Rivera all left the Eagles for higher ranking positions or head coaching jobs. At each position, Reid has struggled to find coaches that successfully took over for any of the areas in which the previous mentioned coaches coached. Most importantly, Jim Johnson passed away after the 2008 season. Not only did Reid fail to replace him, but he thought it would be a good idea to put the longtime offensive line coach Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator. Once again, failures across the board for Andy Reid.
- Front Office: With each year that Andy Reid got under his belt, it seemed that he gained more and more power in the organization and decision making. The more that this seemed to happen, the worse the Eagles have seemed to become. Tom Heckert left the Eagles after the 2009 season and was replaced by Howie Roseman. For the majority of his career, it has been said that Reid has final say over all personnel decisions even though there were general managers in place. There were a couple of gems in the drafts during the past 8 years. Desean Jackson and Lesean McCoy come to mind. However, for an organization that loved to stockpile draft picks, they have drafted only 2 players that have made the probowls in the past 6 years. In addition, the Eagles 2010 and 2011 draft classes have been so horrendous that they have drafted only 4 players out of 25 selections that were starters for this team at the beginning of the season. One of them is the kicker and 2 others pair up to be the worst safety tandems in the league.
So there you have it, Andy Reid’s tenure split into two eras. When national pundits tell Eagles fans to “Be careful what you wish for” (Steve Mariucci/Mike Ditka) or “The Eagles may be able to find another coach to coach this team, but will never find one as good as Andy Reid” (Brian Billick), they should actually earn their paycheck and come up with some recent facts to support their threats and claims that Andy Reid is a “GREAT” coach. In fact, I would challenge them that he was NEVER a great coach. The success in his early years could be argued that the players that were left over from the Ray Rhodes regime and the level that Jim Johnson and the coaches on the defensive side of the ball had as much to do with Reid’s success as he did. Of course you can credit him for drafting McNabb and Westbrook and for bringing in T.O. to form one of the team’s best offenses in team history, but does that make him a great coach? And more importantly these last 8 seasons he has had an .500 win/loss record, has had below average drafts, hired a coaching staff cannot get the job done, and repeats the same coaching mistakes game after game year after year. Not to mention, he still believes that he is coaching the 2004 team and year after year for the past 8 seasons decides to develop a game plan that consistently has a unbalanced pass to run ratio that heavily favors the pass even though the personnel he has are successful at running the ball and game situations or conditions scream for the team to run. So with all of this being said I will ask Eagles fans one question, how much will you miss the “Great” Andy Reid?