Most of the "Fire Andy, Keep Andy" debates have already taken place after the Seahawks loss but I wanted to wait until the Eagles were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention before writing my thoughts. Since that loss, the Eagles followed up with three straight convincing victories. Naturally, after those wins some people felt that maybe this team just took a while to gel and Reid earned another year as head coach. I’m not one of those people. However you want to spin it, this season has been a disaster. Make no mistake about that. Eagles are 7-8. Seven and frickin’ eight. The team that we the fans, the media, and Vegas thought would be playing in the Superbowl could not even make the playoffs. If the NFC East wasn’t so bad this year, it would’ve been a lot worse. Now, I want to state that I don’t think he will be fired after the season and that I believe he will be back for at least another year. He will be brought back for various reasons but for me, the reasons to fire him are greater than the ones to retain him.
I want to start by saying I genuinely do love Andy Reid. I think he’s a "heckuva" football coach and person. He turned this franchise around into a powerhouse for most of the past decade. He grew as a coach(and not just around the waistline) as I grew into my teenage years. I started watching the Eagles at about 8 or 9 years old in Ray Rhodes’ final season here (3-13). I remember that season clearly because the Eagles had three quarterbacks starting throughout the year. Bobby Hoying was the worst QB I’ve ever seen play, next to Mark Sanchez(half-joking). The defense however, had some damn good players and played well. I didn’t fully understand the game then and didn’t go through years of mediocrity like some of you have but I still knew what a truly terrible team looked like. Out went Rhodes, in came Reid and I haven't seen a terrible Eagles team since.
My lowest point as an Eagles fan however, did not occur during that 3-13 season or the 5-11 season in Reid’s first year or the injury filled 6-10 season in ’05 that included the T.O. debacle. It was after the Seahawks loss this year when I saw an underachieving Eagles team oozing with talent that was mentally lost, soft, and sloppy with a poor attitude getting blown out by a 4-7 team. That’s when it seemed that Andy lost the team and the players were not responding to him. Well, now it looks like that he didn’t lose the team since they won the next three games handily. He might not have lost the team but he sure did lose the season. This is now the third year in a row the Eagles have not won a playoff game. To be exact, it’s been 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days or 1082 days since the Eagles last playoff win against the Giants. I don’t know about you but that seems like ages ago. You might say I’m spoiled by the amount of winning Reid teams have done. No, I just hold the Eagles to a higher standard because of the success. We know Reid had tremendous success in the first half of his tenure. His second half? Not so much.
Coaching Record Not So Fabulous After Year Six
|Year||Regular Season Record||Post Season Record||Result|
|2000||11--5||1--1||Lost in NFC Divisional Game|
|2001||11--5||2--1||Lost in NFC Championship Game|
|2002||12--4||1--1||Lost in NFC Championship Game|
|2003||12--4||1--1||Lost in NFC Championship Game|
|2004||13--3||2--1||Lost in Superbowl Game|
|2006||10--6||1--1||Lost in NFC Divisional Game|
|2008||9--6--1||2--1||Lost in NFC Championship Game|
|2009||11--5||0--1||Lost in NFC Wild Card Game|
|2010||10--6||0--1||Lost in NFC Wild Card Game|
|Total||125-81-1 (.606)||10--9||0 Superbowls|
His first six seasons as head coach, Andy had an outstanding 64-32(.667) regular season record that included 5 playoff appearances going 7-5(1 Divisional, 3 NFC Championships, and 1 Superbowl ). Since then, he’s an unimpressive 61-49-1(.554) with a 3-4 playoff record. First six years = 7 PO wins. Next seven years = 3 PO wins. So, if you’ve been worried about being average after Reid, don’t be, because that’s what the Eagles have been for the most part of the last 7 years. One has to wonder if Reid was so successful early on because he had Jim Johnson running the defense. From 2000-2008, Johnson's units ranked second in the NFL in sacks (390), 3rd down efficiency (34.0%) and red zone touchdown percentage (43.9%), and fourth in fewest points allowed (17.7 per game). With defenses that good, you’re bound to win a lot of games. Since JJ’s death(RIP), Eagle defenses have ranked 19th in 2009(21.8 ppg), 21st in 2010(23.4 ppg) and 13th in 2011(21.2 ppg). That’s 4.4 points per game higher than JJ’s career average. With JJ = 10 PO wins. Without JJ = 0 PO wins.
Now, of course Reid gets most of the credit for hiring JJ in the first place as well as other great assistant coaches like Harbaugh, Spagnuolo, Frazier, Childress and Rivera. Then we also had the likes of Sean Mcdermott, Rory Segrest, Bill Shuey and Co. Another correlation there between assistant coaches and success. Did Reid’s assistants have more to do with the Eagles’ success than Reid himself? Something to think about.
Juan Castillo as Defensive Coordinator Failure
This is a post I wrote back when Castillo was hired as DC. I researched all 32 defensive coordinators to find out if any of them was an offensive coach prior to being on the defensive side. None and now we know why. This is another article I wrote prior to the season speculating that Castillo might run a Cover 2 zone defense. I showed how the zone defense works and what type of players you need for it. Apparently, Castillo and the front office didn’t read my article. I can honestly say that this hiring or promotion cost the Eagles the season. Players that didn’t fit the scheme were put on the field, play calling was bad, defense didn’t look prepared at times, tackling was dismal and execution was very poor. Prior to this 3 game streak, the defense was giving up an average of 23 ppg with opponents scoring a TD over 65% of the time in the redzone. That number was over 80% after the first 5 weeks. There were 7 games where the opponent scored 24+ points. This is 100% all on Reid. No doubt this was fully his decision and hire. Castillo repeatedly calls Reid his "boss" and said he doesn’t want to let Reid down. Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn were fantastic hires but Reid shit the bed when it came to the leader of the defense.
|1||Brandon Graham||Defensive End|
|3||Daniel Te'o-Nesheim||Defensive End|
|5||Ricky Sapp||Defensive End|
|5||Victor "Macho" Harris||Safety|
|2||Trevor Laws||Defensive Tackle|
|3||Bryan Smith||Defensive End|
|2||Victor Abiamiri||Defensive End|
Now, I know drafting decisions are not completely on the head coach but as Executive VP of Football Operations as well, Andy Reid along with the General Manager (Heckert and Roseman) make the final call. Those are all the defensive players drafted within the past five years. 11 are still with the team. Brian Rolle is the only above average starter on the team and he’s a 6th round pick rookie. 24 picks, 1 good player. Stu was excellent but only for that one year. Chaney, Coleman, and Allen are starters but are no better than average. Graham unfortunately tore his ACL but he didn’t have a great rookie season either. He had a good amount of pressure but not many impact plays. If you think Babin’s run defense is bad, Graham’s was much worse. Hence, the benching for Parker. The piss poor defensive drafting along with a rookie coordinator is what forced the front office to obtain four pro-bowl caliber players in DRC, Babin, Nnamdi, and Jenkins all in one year. Linebackers as always, the Eagles can do without. Bunch of 4th-7th rounders will suffice. How many games did the lack of good linebackers and safeties cost them? Quite a few. Now almost all our good defensive players are either approaching 30 or already 30+ years old and most of the younger ones are average at best. Not a great situation.
The Odds Are Against Reid
There have been 28 superbowl winning coaches. Out of the 28, 25 have won their first Superbowl by year 7. Dick Vermeil(8th), Tom Landry(12th), and Bill Cowher(14th) are the only ones to win one after year 7. NFL Draft Bible did a study on the average number of years it takes a coach to win a superbowl, here are their charts and explanation.
The actual number on ‘average’ is a little bit clouded looking back in the 1960’s because both Green Bay Packers Vince Lombardi and Kansas City Chiefs Hank Stram for example had combined for ten years of experience before the Super Bowl was actually created. Those two coach’s had already won championships in the NFL/AFL respectably almost immediately following their hiring’s in Green Bay and Kansas City.
One thing we do know is that like many coach’s as we will find out have success rather early in their careers and like both of these Hall of Fame coach’s it took them three years to win their first title although they were not called Super Bowls. Four and a half decades have past, yet the number is astonishingly similar over each decade and the amount of time to usually take’s for head coach’s to win it all.
The law of averages settles right at year four the time it takes on average for coach’s to reach and win the Super Bowl. Early success is hammered home even more in the chart below where 18 of the 28 winning head coach’s reached the coaching pinnacle with in four seasons or better in their quest to win the Super Bowl.
Also it’s note worthy due to the hype of the Philadelphia Eagles with all of the current free agent signings that only five other Super Bowl coach’s have lost their first Super Bowl and gone on to win one. That short list of names includes Hank Stram, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Dick Vermeil and Bill Cowher, although Vermeil lost with the Eagles and won it with the St. Louis Rams. Maybe there is something in the water in the state of Pennsylvania and Reid drinks from the same fountain as Cowher did back in 2005 season.
There must be something about a coach being with a team for very long that makes it harder for teams to win the Superbowl. Either their message gets stale, or the team needs some new blood or personality to energize them, whatever. When coaches that have won a Superbowl get fired later(Shanahan, Billick, Gruden etc), is it because they suddenly forgot how to coach? No. It could be because they haven’t adapted to the game or made poor personnel decisions or their players won games for them etc. There is a time when it just has been too long and a change is needed. A breath of fresh air and a new voice. The evidence is right on those charts. Reid would be in his 14th year next season. In the 45 year history of the Superbowl era, only 1 coach has done it in his 14th year or later. Can it happen again? I don’t know but I would not touch that bet. As I’ve stated before, the past 7 years, the Eagles have been mostly average. In today’s game, assistant coaches and college coaches are becoming head coaches and putting out playoff and superbowl teams. You don’t need an established coach to put out a good team.
Last three superbowl winning coaches are Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, and Mike Tomlin. McCarthy was an assistant for 12 years in the NFL before becoming head coach in 2006. He won his first superbowl 4 years later and currently has a 67-35 career record. Payton was an assistant for 8 years before becoming head coach in 2006. He won his first superbowl three years later and has a career 65-36 record. Tomlin was an assistant for 5 years before taking over for Cowher in 2007. He won his first superbowl in year 2 and has a career 59-27 record. Jim Harbaugh, a former college coach in his first year head coaching in the NFL, has his team at 12-3 on track for a 1st round bye. Just because Reid had tremendous success 7-10 years ago does not mean he should continue to keep his job.
I’m not even going to bring up old, rehashed issues with Reid like his inability to manage the clock, call timeouts promptly, challenge when necessary, his random poor game planning/play calling, lack of superstar player usage, inability to adjust at halftime and absolutely uninformative, script-like press conferences. Oops, I just did. Reid is an offensive mastermind and a good coach. Players love him and coaches come to coach with him. That still doesn’t change the fact that this team hasn’t done squat the past three seasons. Doesn’t change the fact that ever since the Superbowl team, his record hasn’t been that great. Doesn’t change the fact that he hired Castillo and wasted an entire season with players in their late prime. Doesn’t change the fact that the odds are very very much against him in regards to winning a superbowl here and anywhere else. I appreciate everything he’s done here but ahem, the time’s yours….to go.