For the first time in over a decade, we are going through an Off-Season without Andy Reid as the Head Coach of our beloved Philadelphia Eagles. There is a feeling of genuine freshness and excitement about all the moves the Eagles are making under Chip Kelly, the free agents being signed, the transition to the 3-4, oh change is indeed refreshing!
Much like an old friend, we knew what to expect from Andy Reid in given situations: In game we would expect the first offensive play would be a shot deep, timeouts would be burned needlessly, repeated passing to open up the run game, the odd trick play to 'fool' the defense before resorting to the run game when 14 points down in the 4th quarter. Post game we would sit and watch interviews with the media filled with ambiguity, and reaffirmations of having to improve. That is before we discuss his cupboard full of Hawaiian shirts.
This leads me writing this article. Each and every off-season we virtually knew what to expect from Andy Reid and his FO. So without further ado here are some classic Andy Reid moves for you to remember not he is gone:
Drafting in the 3rd Round:
In 2002 the Eagles drafted a shifty running back out of Villonova in the 3rd round, despite a documented injury history and small stature. Of course this running back was none other than Brian Westbrook, arguably the most crucial offensive player of any roster assembled during Reid's tenure. Unfortunately outside of this home-run success, the 3rd round has been no less than a shambles.
2003: WR: Billy McMullen - 22 receptions for 294 yards and 1 TD in 3 seasons with the Eagles in a WR corps that included Todd Pinkston & Freddie Mitchell (and yes a certain TO for a bit). Traded for rookie WR Hank Baskett
2005: HB: Ryan Moats - 77 carries for 347 yards and 3 TD's and 3 fumbles in 2 seasons with the Eagles. Cut just before the 2008 season.
2006: LB: Chris Gocong - Converted from DE in college, 169 Tackles, 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Traded to Browns.
2007: LB: Stewart Bradley - 186 Tackles, 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble. Cut following the 2010 season.
2007: HB: Tony Hunt - 14 carries for 25 yards and 2 TD's and a fumble in 2 seasons with the Eagles. Cut after failing to make the team as a fullback
2008: DE: Bryan Smith - did not dress for a single game and released after his first season
2010: DE: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim - dressed for 6 games, claiming solitary sack in final game where Eagles rested their starters. Released after his first season
2011: CB: Curtis Marsh - the converted running back has made 13 tackles in 2 seasons and has seen very limited time outside special teams.
2012: QB: Nick Foles - 161/265 for 6 TD's and 5 INT's in his Rookie season.
When you consider that Gocong and Bradley were starting in what was widely considered one of the worst LB corps in the lead, the 3rd round picks post Westbrook have been astonishingly poor! Hopefully now we will have a 3rd round pick who may develop into a quality starter.
Poor Management of Key Positions:
Since the moment the Eagles played hard ball with Dawkins resulting in his departure to Denver, the safety position at the Eagles has been in a poor state. Dawkins was replaced by a combination of rookie Macho Harris (converted from CB), contact shy Quentin Demps, and Sean Jones, unsurprisingly a combination of which did not work. This triumvirate was replaced the following season by rookies Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen & Colt Anderson (not mentioning the addition of Marlin Jackson off ACL surgery and later O.J Atogwe). With the addition of Jarad Page following Quentin Mikell leaving the team, it became clear that this triumvirate was only serviceable alongside a Pro-Bowl safety. The recent additions of Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung should add some starter quality to this historically poor safety group.
Wide Receiver: 1999-2007
During the early years of the Andy Reid era, we saw chronic mis-management of the WR position with the Philadelphia Eagles. We saw Donovan McNabb throwing balls to journeymen Torrance Small, Charles Johnson, James Thrash, Donte Stallworth & Kevin Curtis, and illustrious draft picks Todd Pinkston, Reggie Brown and Freddie 'FredEx' Mitchell. The only legitimate threat was Terrell Owens, and we all know how that went. The need for journeymen was due to under performance of the WR's drafted into the organisation. All three were drafted ahead of future Pro-Bowlers: Pinkston (Laveraneus Coles), Mitchell (Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson & Steve Smith) and Brown (Vincent Jackson). Finally in 2008 the position was properly addressed in the draft leading to DeSean Jackson, and later Jeremy Maclin starting on the outside.
At the end of the 2006, the Eagles lost two three year starters at linebacker, Dhani Jones and Jeremiah Trotter. Outside of a single season (2007) with Takeo Spikes, and half a season with Witherspoon (2009), the Eagles did invest in the linebacker position. The starters during this period are as follows: Stewart Bradley, Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Jeremiah Trotter (out of retirement off the street), Moise Fokou, Ernie Sims, Jamar Chaney, Keenan Clayton, Brian Rolle and Casey Matthews. 11 starters in 5 seasons does not paint a pretty picture. Only in 2012 with the addition of DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks did the Eagles field two starting quality linebackers. With the change to the 3-4 and the addition of Connor Barwin and Jason Phillips, Linebacker may finally be a position of stability.
As with subsequent years, the short yardage conversion of the Eagles was less than stellar, in addition to this Donovan McNabb had not long fully recovered from his ACL tear at the back end of the 2006 season. With this in mind a fullback who could push the pile in short yardage (Westbrook was no bruiser) and who could keep defenders off McNabb's surgically repaired knee should have been high on the off-season priority list. After trying out Luke Lawton and Jason Davies, Reid went with Dan Klecko, former DT of the Colts and Patriots. After this proved a fruitless exercise, mid-season Kyle Eckel was signed off the street. Subsequent to this season Tony Hunt was converted to Fullback until the signing of Leonard Weaver.
Kick Returner: 2003-2011 (2012?)
Not since the days of Brian Mitchell have the Eagles had a consistent Kick Returner. Over the years many players have been square pegged into the round hole of kick returning (Hood, Mahe, Buckhalter, Macho Harris, Calvin and Dion Lewis), and others have flashed potential but then flattered to deceive (J.R. Reed and Quentin Demps). Those who had reliable history in the role left the team (Thrash and Ellis). We even tried recruiting Olympians to help (Bloom) but that failed too. Even until today, there is still no fizzle in the Kick Return department.
Coaching staff: 2011-2012
Between Washburn, Mudd, Castillo and Bowles, Reid really messed up his management here, and the team severely suffered with multiple egos running riot and creating divisions within the team. With all these coaches gone and a fresh start, the Eagles under Chip Kelly should be more cohesive.
Obsession with 'Low Risk High Reward' Players
Over the years it has become a standing joke that Andy Reid would draft, or sign a player with recent injury history, in particular a torn ACL. There is nothing wrong with taking a flier on such a player, however this became an unhealthy obsession with Andy Reid. We saw the drafting of Jack Ikegwuono, Cornelius Ingram, Stewart Bradley who had all had ACL tears in college, and have had their NFL careers limited by re-occurrences or incomplete recovery. Marlin Jackson was signed off an ACL tear to provide competition at the FS position, Stacey Andrews was signed to a large contract when recovering from a torn ACL, Steve Smith was signed straight off a severe knee injury, Ryan Harris was signed to compete for the RT job with Todd Herremans, but had recurring injuries before hitting the practice field. With this obsession gone, hopefully Chip Kelly will use those wasted picks, and wasted dollars on proven healthy football players who can contribute on day 1.
Poor Self Scouting and Inability to replace lost talent
It has been a common theme in recent years for Eagles players to leave the organisation, either through being cut or traded to perform well with other teams.
Chris Clemons was traded to the Seahawks and put up 3 double digit seasons
Brandon Gibson was traded away and then put up significantly better numbers than Baskett and Hall who remained.
Winston Justice was traded away for a 6th rounder, and as a result Bell started at OT for the Eagles this season.
Poor self scouting also resulted in the Eagles letting players go with inadequate plans to fill in the void left behind:
Jeremiah Trotter (Omar Gaither)
Terrell Owens (Reggie Brown)
Dhani Jones (Chris Gocong)
Takeo Spikes (Stewart Bradley)
Brian Dawkins (Macho Harris)
Sheldon Brown (Dmitri Patterson)
Quentin Mikel (Kurt Coleman)
On the bright side, selling Quarterbacks over the market price.
If there was one bright side to Andy Reid's off-seasons, he did have a habit of selling his Quarterbacks above market value:
A.J. Feeley - Second Rounder from Miami for their 2005 draft (Reggie Brown)
Donovan McNabb - Second and Fourth from Washington for their 2010 draft (Nate Allen and eventually Casey Matthews)
Kevin Kolb - Second Rounder and DRC, eventually became Vinny Curry and Bradon Boykin
To conclude, after years of stagnation of predictability with Andy Reid, the remainder of Free Agency, the 2013 NFL draft, and the subsequent season shall be an exciting new experience. No one is infallible, and in a few years time we may know what to expect from Chip Kelly in the off-season, but for now, lets enjoy the fun of not knowing!