I prefer to hold off going full bore on coach talk until December when we should have a better idea of Andy’s fate, as well as seeing how potential candidates are doing this year.
There are a couple of things to bring up now, while they are fresh in my mind. Did anyone watch A Football Life – Jimmy Johnson on the NFL Network? I did. And it did get my brain to thinking about some things.
I hate Jimmy Johnson with a passion. He replaced Tom Landry, a coach that I loved. Jimmy coached at Miami, a school I hated. He led the Cowboys to greatness, which made me miserable. Even worse, he did so at the cost of Reggie, Seth, and the gang.
All that said, I do respect Jimmy because he was such a great coach. I was in serious torture mode back in January 1995 when Jeff Lurie brought him to Philly to pick his brain about coaching the Eagles or making suggestions about who should coach the Eagles. I didn’t know if I could handle that, but I will admit fascination with the idea.
As I watched the show on Jimmy you could see what made him a great coach. He was bold. He embraced pressure and expectations. He was smart. Master motivator and a great psychologist. He was willing to be unconventional. Failure didn’t scare him because he believed in himself and his players.
Jimmy was also an asshole (pardon the language). Former Eagles C David Alexander told a story about going on a recruiting visit to Oklahoma State when Jimmy was the head coach there. Jimmy offered him a scholarship, but told David he needed a decision right then, right there. David wanted to talk to his parents and think about it. Jimmy took back the offer and sent him home. David went on to play at Tulsa and still made the NFL.
Why would you treat a kid in such a way? Jimmy was already playing mind games with him. That’s mean, but also genius. Jimmy burned out on coaching quickly because of the way he was. He said in the show last night that he simply got tired of being the bad guy. I remember Leon Lett making a huge mistake in the Thanksgiving game of 1993. He tried to recover a blocked field goal and wasn’t able to do it (snowy day). The Dolphins got the ball right back and kicked the winning field goal. Lett sat in the locker room in tears because he thought Jimmy was going to cut him.
Jimmy ruled his teams with an iron fist, but it worked. Some players hated him (most notably Charles Haley, who literally wanted to kill Jimmy), but most loved winning so much that they embraced Jimmy’s style of doing things.
Think how different that is from the Andy Reid style of things. Players love Big Red. He’s hard on them, but only behind closed doors. He protects them from the media. He protects them from the fans. Andy can be agonizingly patient.
Before you go nuts with ripping Reid for his style of doing things, realize that Bill Walsh had great success doing things this way and that Jimmy had only moderate success when he went to Miami. Dan Marino wasn’t half the leader that Troy Aikman was. Jimmy never found a star RB, despite trying many players. He never had an impact WR like Michael Irvin. Jimmy could push buttons and play games all day long, but things just weren’t the same. He didn’t have the same level of talent or same kind of team.
If the Eagles fire Reid, I do think they need to go in a different direction. Don’t hire one of his old lieutenants (Spagnuolo, Shurmur, etc.). Find someone who has a different personality. You need a shake-up so that players don’t see this as just Andy, with a new twist. You need to bring a new personality to the building. The coach doesn’t have to be the opposite of Andy, but there does need to be some difference.
Just so happened that Yahoo had an article up last night on Oregon coach Chip Kelly. I read this after seeing the Jimmy Johnson special and wondered if this was a message from the Football Gods. Or maybe just a dumb coincidence.
Here is the article, which focuses on Kelly’s extremely aggressive style. For those who don’t follow the college game, Kelly is very unorthodox. He loves to go for it on 4th down. He goes for 2 after TDs early in the game because he likes putting teams down 8-0 or 8-7 and making them feel uncomfortable.
I’m not going to go into his full background here because there is a lot about him that I don’t know. I’ve got to do a lot of research. I do think he’s incredibly fascinating because he’s so confident and so aggressive.
Kelly did talk to Tampa last year about coaching them. I think he took the job and then backed out because he wanted to win a title at Oregon. His Ducks are 9-0 this year and have a chance to win the title. He lost the title game to Cam Newton a couple of years back.
I’m not going to get into the full discussion about how Kelly would do with this team in 2013 and which players would fit. Let’s save that stuff for down the line. Way early for that.
I’m bringing up Kelly and Jimmy today because they remind me of each other a bit. Kelly isn’t as much of a jerk, but his ideas and bold approach are similar. When Jimmy was at the University of Miami he placed an emphasis on speed unlike anything I can recall. DEs became DTs. LBs became DEs. Safeties became LBs. CBs became Safeties. He wanted a defense that could really fly around.
Jimmy brought this philosophy to the NFL. I laughed at the idiocy of that. Look at his 1992 DL.
DE Tony Tolbert – 6’6, 268
DT Tony Casillas – 6’3, 278
DT Russell Maryland – 6’1, 285
DE Charles Haley – 6’4, 245
Reggie White was bigger than any of those guys. How could a group that small play good run defense?
They found a way. Dallas finished with the #1 overall defense in 1992. Even worse, they were #1 against the run. They were light, but they tackled well, played physical and really flew to the ball. Other teams saw what they did and copied it. The current Chicago Bears are built on principles that Jimmy brought to the league. Dallas wasn’t running the Tampa 2 per se, but they’re similar in a lot of ways.
If Kelly comes to the NFL, he will do some unorthodox things that could change the game or could blow up in his face. Like Johnson, Kelly won’t be afraid to fail because he believes in what he does and thinks he can make it work, no matter what level.
We’ve seen more than a few college geniuses get to the NFL and flame out. Lou Holtz was a disaster with the Jets. Steve Spurrier was bad with the Skins. Barry Switzer was handed a dynasty. He won a title, but let the thing quickly fall apart. Bobby Petrino was a disaster in Atlanta in his one partial season there. Nick Saban was 15-17 with the Dolphins. And so on.
Why was Jimmy different? Why could Chip Kelly be different? Both guys are incredibly driven. Both are innovative. Both are risk takers. Just as important, both are ultra-competitive and hate losing. Some of the other coaches seemed to see the greener pastures back in college and headed back quickly. Much easier to dominate the SEC than the AFC East.
I don’t know what I think of Chip Kelly yet, but I do find him very fascinating. There are no guarantees he would pan out, but he sure would keep things from being boring.
* * * * *
2012 has been a down season for us Eagles fans. Sometimes I’ll watch episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia after games to pep me up. A good laugh can do me a world of good after a miserable loss (or 4).
An Iggles Blitz reader just sent me a book that has helped for the past couple of weeks. The book is The Bro Code For Parents. The author is Matt Kuhn and he’s one of us, a degenerate Eagles fan.
Matt writes for the hit show How I Met Your Mother. He has now put out 4 books, written in the persona of Barney Stinson, the character played by Neil Patrick Harris. Matt is a hilarious guy, in person or in print. If you need a good laugh, check out The Bro Code For Parents.
This book is Barney’s information on how to get pregnant, what do to during the pregnancy and then how to be a parent. Some of my favorite parts:
* There is one section of the book done in the form of a comic book – The Adventures of Human Conception. ”Our hero races against time through the treacherously narrow caverns of fallopia…and saves Princess Egg seconds before she falls to her doom down Tampon Alley!”
I now cannot get the phrase “tampon alley” out of my head. Classic.
* You’ll find out key information on home pregnancy tests: ”The good news is that the significantly more affordable home-based kits are approximately 75% accurate, or when used by people who understand that only the woman is supposed to pee on it, 96%.
* There’s great advice for helping the baby during the pregnancy: ”Studies have shown that exposing your child to music at an early age may increase his/her intelligence. Since you want to give your child the biggest advantage possible, I recommend jamming a speaker against your stomach and cranking up Van Halen’s 1984.” Brilliant, especially Hot For Teacher.
* I love the Baby’s First Cocktail section. My favorite is the Irish Diaper Bomb, which consists of root beer, formula, and Jameson’s whiskey.
* Barney offers a list of songs to help the baby relax and go to sleep. Here are some:
Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles
Suicide is Painless – theme from MASH
Mad World – Donnie Darko soundtrack
Sounds of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel
If you want to support a fellow Eagles fan and get some good laughs, buy a copy of The Bro Code For Parents.