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Should the Eagles have kept Andy Reid?

It’s a question we’ll all ask ourselves until the end of time.

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AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Andy Reid is going back to the Super Bowl.

It’s hard to believe there was a time when it appeared the Big Game wanted no part of Big Red. While he managed to drag the Eagles from the abyss of the Ray Rhodes era and into its longest run of sustained success in franchise history, the NFC Championship Game was almost always his kryptonite.

As underdogs, he couldn’t beat the Greatest Show on Turf Rams in ‘01. In 2002, he was outcoached by Jon Gruden and the Bucs in the final game at the Vet. In ‘03, the Panthers humiliated them at home with Brian Westbrook and Donovan McNabb hurt. They finally got there in 2004, but were beaten in the Super Bowl thanks to an awful game by McNabb and the SpyGate Patriots. They then made a surprise run in 2008 but fell short to the Cardinals in Arizona.

There were other postseason appearances that ended earlier than that, fostering a belief among the fanbase, and the team, that Reid could not win the big game. Up until that point, it was true.

Now, Reid can’t stop getting to the Super Bowl. For the fourth time in five years, he and his Chiefs are back, with an excellent chance to win his third title in four years. He is renowned as perhaps the best play caller in NFL history and has entered the realm as one of the five greatest head coaches in the history of the league.

Which makes it all fair to wonder... did the Eagles make a mistake in letting him go?

The History

Why did Jeff Lurie fire Reid in the first place? First, the playoff disappointments began to mount and weigh on the organization. Reid made the postseason nine teams with the Eagles and only went to one Super Bowl. In 2011, the Birds went a disappointing 8-8 (the horrific Dream Team season) and followed that up with a brutal 4-12 season in which they lost 11 of their final 12.

In addition to the play on the field, fans had gotten fed up with Reid’s demeanor at press conferences — “Time’s yours,” “That’s on me to do a better job,” etc — and with no future at the QB position (Mike Vick was on the outs and Nick Foles was not seen as the future of the franchise) and off-the-field issues clouding the situation as well, the time felt right for a change.

Reid’s messaging had grown stale and Lurie wanted a new and exciting direction. So did the fanbase. To be fair, no one had ever coached 14 years in the league without winning a Super Bowl then going on a run with another franchise to reach four out of five Super Bowls after that. It felt like Reid’s shot at a title had fizzled out.

Patrick Mahomes

Would the Eagles have had as much success as the Chiefs if they’d just ridden through the down years and waited for an upswing? Well, that all depends on whether you think Reid and the Eagles would have somehow been able to end up with Patrick Mahomes.

Before Mahomes came along, Reid experienced similar success with K.C. from 2013-17, reaching the postseason four times in five seasons. However, with Alex Smith under center during those five years, Reid lost twice in the wild card round and twice in the divisional round. History was repeating itself.

Enter the 2017 Draft. The Patrick Mahomes draft. With pick No. 10, Reid & Co. made the selection that would alter his career and the Chiefs franchise forever when they snagged Mahomes as their franchise QB. The Eagles, at No. 14, selected Derek Barnett. They had no need for a QB, having drafted Carson Wentz the year before at No. 2 overall.

Had Reid been the Eagles’ head coach for that draft, would he have taken Wentz in 2016? If not, would he have tried to move up to snag Mahomes a year later? Could he have? Would the Eagles have been in a better draft position to take him? Would he have even been on the Chiefs’ radar without Reid there?

Without Mahomes, how many Super Bowls does Reid get to, either in Kansas City or Philadelphia? Does he win it all with Carson Wentz/Nick Foles in 2017? Before Mahomes, Reid was still getting to the playoffs but falling short, and there’s no reason to believe that wouldn’t have been the case with the Eagles without Mahomes under center.

Doug Pederson’s Super Bowl

And at the end of the day, the decision to move on from Reid turned out to benefit the Eagles, who won their long-awaited Super Bowl title the year before Andy won his. Pederson was the right man at the right time and brought us all a Super Bowl for the ages.

Unfortunately, it all fell apart pretty quickly after that, and now Nick Sirianni, after leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl last year, is hoping to avoid a similar fate. But had the Eagles not moved on from Andy Reid, Pederson never would have come to Philadelphia, we never would have had the Philly Special or the Brandon Graham strip sack and we never would have humiliated Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the most amazing way possible.

Alternate timelines can be fun, and this is all an interesting thought exercise to be sure, but I don’t think keeping Andy Reid would have triggered the same run of success he’s had in Kansas City with Mahomes.

If that makes you feel any better.

Poll

Should the Eagles have kept Andy Reid?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Yes
    (631 votes)
  • 73%
    No
    (1718 votes)
2349 votes total Vote Now

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