A lot of people want me to talk about Andy Reid and whether he should be fired or not. I’ve touched on the subject in various posts, but haven’t written anything lengthy. The thing I’ve said over and over is that I want to see how the season plays out. I think that is important.
After the Giants game, life was good. After the Pats game, exterminate them all…with extreme prejudice. We’re fans. We get emotional. We live and die with each play, let alone each game. It is fun to say “Fire Reid!!!” after a tough loss. Blaming Big Red for the loss and ranting about him is a good way to vent.
Let’s set that aside for a minute. The Eagles are a billion dollar franchise, give or take a few bucks. The question about firing Andy Reid can’t be addressed in terms of what people want or emotion. You have to think in a business sense. You need to be cold and calculating. I don’t think you can do that in the middle of a season.
I think it is important to evaluate the finished product. The Eagles are currently 4-7. Does the team go (for example) 4-12, 6-10, or 8-8? To me, there is a big difference in the 3 records. None are satisfactory based on the talent level of this team and the expectations we had, but there is a difference. Were the 2011 Eagles awful, bad, or just mediocre? Beyond the record, how did the games go? We’ve only been blown out once this year, the loss on Sunday. Does that change? Does the team ever get a spark that lasts more than one game?
Chan Gailey looked like coach of the year material in October. At that time, Tony Sparano was a joke. Now Buffalo is on a 4-game losing streak and the Dolphins are playing pretty good football. They’ve won 3 of 4 and had a couple of tight losses before that streak. I think it says a lot that Sparano’s players never quit and were able to make something of the season.
To this point, no players have quit on Reid. There are issues with players to be sure, but that stuff is more about contracts and peripheral issues than anything he’s part of. That could change in the last 5 games. If so, it would be an important factor in making a judgment on Reid’s future.
While I think we have to wait to make a final judgment, we can talk about the situation a bit. Andy Reid built up tremendous goodwill here with all that he’s accomplished since taking over the job in 1999. This season (and some events of the last few years) have used up that goodwill. Andy has burned through his savings account, so to speak.
A factor that gets largely ignored is that firing Andy Reid is only half the issue. Who do you replace him with? You do not make a change for the sake of making a change. That’s a dumb way to run an organization. Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner need to have some ideas about who might be brought in to replace Reid if they decide to fire him. Many fans want a big name like Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher, or Jon Gruden. No thank you. Just look at Mike Shanahan in D.C. to see why chasing past glory isn’t such a great idea.
I prefer to look for an up and coming coach. Let’s find the next Andy Reid, Sean Payton, Mike McCarthy, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, or Mike Smith type. I haven’t seriously sat down and started thinking about names. I’ll do that in the next month or so. The one assistant coach that I’ve coveted for a few years is Mike Zimmer, the DC with the Bengals. Aside from him, I don’t have a list of targets. I think we should really save that discussion for a while so we have a better feel for Reid’s situation.
A few people have hinted that I’m not speaking out on Andy because of my ties to PE.com. That isn’t the case. The guys from PE have never once told me what to write or say, here or there. I tend to write positive stuff for PE.com, but that’s based on logic. I’ve been critical of players and coaches on there and here. I never make it personal and that makes a huge difference. Questioning Andy Reid and calling him a fat moron are two very different things.
I have a special appreciation for football coaches. I argue with a ton of fans of all kinds of college and pro teams. I think 85 percent of fans want someone fired. That’s just not how I think. I’ve sat in coaches offices and talked to them. I understand why they do things a lot of the time. These aren’t perfect men at all, but they aren’t the bumbling fools that so many fans would love to believe. A lot of people think I’m a big Andy Reid worshiper. That’s actually not the case. He drives me batty. If I’m protective of Big Red, it is because he’s a football coach and a good one. Too many fans are too quick to assume another good coach will be found immediately. I appreciate Reid’s success even though he isn’t really my kind of guy.
I’m also a veteran of the “Andy Must Go” wars. Back in 2003 a friend of mine put up a post on the Eagles Message Board that Reid should be fired. He also wanted us to trade Donovan McNabb for a 1st round pick so we could draft Steven Jackson and start rebuilding. In 2006 the Reid bashers were out in full force when the team was 5-6. They hung around for the mediocre 2007 season. The Reid bashers really came out hard in 2008 after the loss to the Ravens in late November. That team almost made it to the Super Bowl. This year is far different from ones in the past and that’s why I’m even entertaining the notion that it might be time for Reid to go.
I am in the process of finalizing a couple of columns: The Case for Andy Reid & The Case Against Andy Reid. I’ve been waiting for the right time to post them. Doing it after the Giants game didn’t make sense. Right now we’re on a short week, so this isn’t ideal. We’ll see how Thursday night’s game goes. Maybe I’ll put them up this weekend or next Monday/Tuesday. I think there is a strong case to be made for and against Andy. Many fans think this decision is a no-brainer, but I couldn’t disagree more strongly. Even if you let him go, that is going to be a tough choice. Hiring or firing the wrong guy can devastate a franchise.
If at the end of the year I think Reid needs to go, I’ll have no problem saying that. I won’t come to the conclusion easily, but once I do, that’s it. Coaches are hired to be fired. This is a results business. Nice guy? Screw you. Go home and play with your kids. This is the friggin’ NFL. Win or walk. I’m an Eagles fan, not an Andy Reid fan. I don’t wish ill on him, but I want what is best for the Eagles. Right now, that’s up in the air.
For now…be patient and start working on your lists of coaches you like. You may not need them, but it will make for good discussion in January. We sure aren’t likely to be discussing any Eagles playoff games.
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I’ve also gotten more than a few questions about Juan Castillo’s future. At this point, I’m thinking he is one and done as the Defensive Coordinator. I recently wrote a column for PE.com that said good things about Juan. I stick by that column. The point was that he deserves some credit for the fact the defense has gotten better as the year has moved along.
Juan has been called a lot of things this year. I’ve heard more than a few use the word “incompetent”. That’s simply not the case. Juan has shown that he can run a defense. We’re in the middle of the pack on a lot of rankings. You don’t get up there with an incompetent coach.
While Juan has shown some potential as a defensive coach, he has not shown that he can be a good DC. I think he needs more time on the defensive side of the ball to get to the point where he can be a good DC. The Eagles can keep him around as a defensive assistant. Juan is popular with the players. Think about the various personalities we have on that side of the ball. Not one of them has gone to the press to rip Juan behind his back. Howard Mudd got ripped, but not Juan.
Juan knows how to coach. He knows how to teach. I just don’t think Juan is good enough on defense right now to coach/teach players and run the unit. That could come with time.
I was talking to a friend on the phone today and mentioned an appropriate story. John Madden went to a coaching clinic when he was a young coach in the early 1960s. Vince Lombardi ran the clinic. Madden expected to gain a wealth of knowledge. He sat down with his notepads and pencils, ready to soak up the game of football. Lombardi talked about the Green Bay sweep for 8 hours. Just the sweep. Madden had an epiphany that day, realizing just how little he truly knew. A playbook is more than just some X’s and O’s. You must know the playbook inside out. You must know the variables. You must know as much as humanly possible about the plays. Does anyone realistically think Juan could lecture on an Eagles play for 8 hours? Comparing him to Lombardi isn’t real fair, but the point is valid and that is that coaches must be extreme experts at what they do in order to be very good at what they do. This is especially true if you run a simple scheme. The less you do, the more perfectly you must do it.
I’m not sure if there is anything Juan can realistically do in the final 5 games to save his job. I think it would take something really special for management to sign off on Juan’s return. And I just don’t see our defense doing anything really special. That said, the way this season has gone, nothing can truly shock me any more.