Dear Mr. Lurie:
Happy New Year. I write this letter about 4 years too late, but Andy Reid must go, and this isn’t a “let’s see how the season shapes up and we will make a move at the end based on the results.” No, this is a long overdue move that must be done as soon as possible, if not sooner.
I realize that I am reopening the door for potential dark ages to descend upon my beloved Birds, much like they did after Buddy Ryan was fired in 1990, ushering in unmentionable coaching stints that yielded losing season after unwatchable losing season, and even included laughably regrettable decisions like promoting Rich Kotite to head coach after Buddy left…sure, RK had winning seasons in each of his first two seasons, but after the incredible defense that Buddy and Bud Carson built in the late 1980s, it would have been difficult not to win. But I digress.
Andy Reid has been a good coach. He has been at the helm of a team that has won far more games than it lost under his watch, and maybe even overachieved a few seasons. Hell, Andy Reid resurrected a franchise that was dead in the water, a team that finished the 1998 season 3-13, the worst record the Eagles had posted since 1972 when they won only 2 games. But sometimes records do not tell the whole story, and this is definitely one of those instances.
The Eagles, since 2000, have actually UNDERACHIEVED more seasons than they overachieved. And while I grant critics that Donovan McNabb (and his occasional replacements at times of injury, such as AJ Feeley, Jeff Garcia and Kevin Kolb) was not the most accurate quarterback in the league (nor was he ever in the top 20 in that category…EVER), he was certainly competent and athletic enough during his prime to win a Super Bowl with the talent he had around him, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. During McNabb’s prime, he was better than Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, Brad Johnson, Trent Dilfer and possibly even Eli Manning.
During the past 13 seasons, Andy Reid has had 4 extremely awful attributes that worked against our team…
1) He is stubborn as a mule, and not in a good way – he refuses to admit he is wrong and to make the necessary adjustments to win or close out a game;
2) His clock management is the worst I have ever seen – this includes his incredible mismanagement of time-outs – and is vividly and repeatedly reflected in his field generals (QBs) having equally awful clock-management skills and awareness;
3) His lack of understanding of and refusal to use the challenge flag, an important coaching tool that came to be during his coaching tenure and that often can decide games – this point is actually closely tied to point 2) above, and often affects the number of time outs the Eagles have at the end of games, and he clearly doesn’t realize that challenges can be used AS time outs, giving his team a breather and an opportunity to talk things over while the refs watch video and confer during crucial moments in games. Unsurprisingly, Andy has challenged fewer calls than any other coach in the NFL; and,
4) His refusal to run the freaking ball, even and especially in games where our running backs (not QBs, who skew the ypc) average more than 4, and often more than 5 or 6 yards per carry – this is particularly vexing when we are winning games late and need to run the ball to eat clock
Even in seasons where we made the post-season (which I will concede was most seasons), Andy’s negative characteristics listed above cost us games during the regular season that created situations where we had to play post season games on the road (in 2006 and 2008, where we lost close games to the Saints and Cardinals respectively, that we might have won had they been played at home). And in 2009, ridiculous losses in Oakland to a hapless Raiders team and at home to the Cowgirls in a game the Eagles held a lead heading into the 4th quarter. Moreover, this was a team the Eagles had pounded into the ground, 44-6, in their previous meeting to end the 2008 season. It was infuriating to watch, and that loss and/or the mind-boggling gaffe in Oakland forced the Eagles to travel to DallAss, where they lost a wild card game.
But the thing most people will remember about the Andy Reid era was during the Eagles’ dominance over a very weak NFC in the early 2000s, the Eagles lost two pivotal HOME playoff games (both NFC Championships) against inferior opponents that the Eagles had MANHANDLED in each respective regular season (20-10 at home vs. the Bucs in 2002, and 25-16 IN CAROLINA in 2003), because Big Red was outcoached. Andy has been outcoached by Belichick and Vermeil, and for those I will give him a pass, because who hasn’t? But he has also been out-classed by Jim Fassel, overmatched by John “Chuckie” Gruden, out-foxed by John Fox (sorry for the much-too-easy and cheesy pun), punched in the mouth by Sean Peyton, bested by Ken Whisenhunt, shellacked by WADE PHILLIPS in the ONLY playoff game the son of a Bum and Tony Romo EVER won, and out-smarted by a injury-plagued but game Mike McCarthy.
Now I grant you that 6 of the 9 coaches mentioned above (the Reid-beaters) won at least one Super Bowl, and five of them won the whole thing the year they beat Fat Andy, with two more reaching the Super Bowl by virtue of knocking off the Eagles (obviously Wade is the odd man out here), but some of those Championships should have been ours. We were a better team for many of those match-ups and yet lost due to, well primarily the four attributes outlined above that renders Andy Reid a very good head coach, but never a great coach.
I am so sick and tired of hearing media members, sports radio hosts outside of Philadelphia (some nationally syndicated), sports writers and other self professed experts in all things football defend Andy Reid, constantly bringing up the fact that he has taken the Eagles to the playoffs in 9 of his 13 season (he has), that he took them to 6 NFC championship games and 5 in a row (he did), and led them to their first Super Bowl appearance in 23 seasons and second in franchise history (I concede this as well). They also love to discuss how Andy is perhaps the greatest quarterback coach of all time, pointing to McNabb’s struggles in his post-Eagles career as irrefutable evidence that Andy was the one who made Donovan the perennial pro-bowl field general that he was. They also all overhype the success the Eagles’ back-up quarterbacks had whenever McNabb was injured as further evidence to Andy’s systemic genius and incredible way with anyone and everyone who takes snaps crouching behind a center.
I buy some of these arguments, but I am guessing that like most of you, I am stewing in my seat, silently muttering foul language under my breath as I drive to and from work and listen to people I generally respect tarnish their reputations by ignorantly defending Andy Reid, espousing that Big Red can do no wrong in their eyes and that any problems the Eagles and the fans of Philadelphia have certainly have little or more often nothing to do with Fat Andy.
These national personalities, with no real team affiliation, neutral bias, or at least no connection to our Eagles, have no idea what it is like to bleed Kelly Green, how infuriating it is to watch Andy’s post-game pressers as a true Eagles fan or what it is like to watch an obese man with no real personality or likeability (at least to his fans), and who makes more money in one year than most members of his fan-base will make in their lifetime (and their entire family’s lifetimes put together) to make the same goddamn mistakes every fucking Sunday and Monday of every season. We fans even get pissed at the man when the Eagles win, knowing that many Sundays the team won IN SPITE of Andy, not because of him. But the losses always get us the most, and these talking heads just don’t get it.
What coach in pro sports lasts 13 seasons these days? Hell, the Red Sox just let Tito Francona walk this year and he led them to 2 championships in the past 7 seasons after that same team went 86 seasons with ZERO championships. It just doesn’t happen. And especially not in the highly critical, highly knowledgeable (at least as it relates to sports and its hometown teams) and highly volatile market that is Philadelphia.
Two weeks ago, after the late-game collapse at home against San Francisco, I read an article about what is wrong with the Eagles. After reading the article, my feelings regarding Big Red were confirmed and even strengthened. After halftime, when the Birds led 20-3, coaches called 6 running plays…total. That is inexcusable, but pretty typical for Andy Reid. More ludicrous: Alex Smith, over the course of his career, is the absolute WORST-RATED quarterback in the HISTORY OF THE NFL when blitzed. The numbers are as poor as they are astonishing. So you would think Andy Reid would know something like that and use it to his advantage. But the Eagles blitzed on only 6 of Alex Smith’s 36 drop-backs. Just fewer than 17% of all pass plays, for an entire game. Sure, the Eagles had a comfortable lead for much of the game, so calling off a blitz so as not to give up big plays may be a strategically sound tactic. Against any average quarterback against the blitz. BUT NOT WHEN YOU ARE PLAYING THE WORST QUARTERBACK IN THE HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE WHEN HE IS BLITZED. One thing a head coach must know is that there are few leads that are safe in the pass happy, big-play, make-it-easy-on-the-offense NFL of today. And after guiding his team to what could only be described as a miraculous comeback victory against the GINAs (pronounced in the most disgusting way your mind permits) just last season, when the eagles erased two 21 point leads in the second half, on the road.
Now part of this might be the mind-boggling “genius” decision Andy made to promote his Offensive Line Coach to DEFENSIVE FRIGGIN’ COORDINATOR. Are you serious? And not only that, but based on the shitty offensive line the Eagles had last season, Juan Castillo wasn’t even a very good Offensive Line Coach. But any way you look at Castillo’s dubious and unmerited promotion, Andy’s decision making never seemed sound, and now has proven to be just as stupid as we all thought.
And the mental mistakes our players have made in four consecutive weeks all reflect their ass-clown laden coaching staff. Sure, I will grant everyone that the lack of a full pre-season as well as a myriad of new faces in the Birds’ locker room should deservedly warrant a grace period to allow a team to fully gel and learn some new roles, but for the money everyone makes on this team, the lengthy tenure of the man at the top and the expectations our fan-base has(d) for our beloved E-A-G-L-E-S, five weeks is far too long a grace period, especially at 1-4 and watching our playoff hopes fade into the horizon like the setting sun. And there is NEVER an excuse for Ronnie Brown’s inexplicable lateral at the goal line against San Francisco, nor Juqua Parker’s brain-fart offsides last week in Buffalo. These are mistakes poorly coached teams of rookies make, not well-polished veterans under the watch of a pedigreed and highly-praised 13-year coach like Andy Reid.
Sure, at the end of the day the players have to make plays, and our ridiculous 1-4 start this season when expectations were so high after what seemed like a free-agent bonanza unlike anything we Philadel-fans had ever seen has been chock full of player-fueled hubris (VY’s dubbing the team “the dream team”), simple first-year player succumbing to pressure (Henery missing two easy field goals in San Fran), non-mastery of a new system (Nnamde’s misplay of Cruz vs. the Ginas), and situational errors (Jason Kelce’s failure to block Bills LB Kelvin Sheppard mid-way through the second quarter in Buffalo, leading to Vick’s pick-6 gift to Nick Barnett and creating a 2-TD deficit on the road), and key-moment butterfingers (Jason Avant’s 2 key fumbles in Buffalo, and Jeremy Maclin’s final drive killing fumble in Atlanta).
But this team should not be 1-4, even with the mistakes highlighted above. At worst the Birds should be 3-2 right now, but more likely they should be 4-1 or even 5-0. And the NFC is not the league of ineptitude that it was when Andy Reid and the Birds dominated it a decade ago. Green Bay, Detroit and New Orleans are heavyweights and Super Bowl contenders. Washington and San Francisco are much improved. And DallAss and the Ginas are never push-overs, no matter how poorly their quarterbacks play. The Birds find themselves in a sizable hole, looking up at nearly every team in our conference for a change. Furthermore, they still must face DallAss twice, Washington twice, the Ginas in New York, The Patriots and the Jets. And I am guessing even the teams we all once thought would be cupcakes (like Miami, Seattle and Arizona), now seem ominous to both the fans and the Eagles coaching staff.
Bottom line, Andy needs to go, and he needs to go soon. Before this season really gets away from us. There is still time to salvage a winning record and even a playoff berth if a strategic hire is made to replace Andy that the players all respect and could rally around. So I believe I am speaking for the entire Eagles’ fan base when I beg of you, Jeff Lurie, to do the right thing and cut bait while there is still a faint trail of light visible in the crack of the rapidly closing door that is the Eagles 2011 season. Let Big Red go, hire someone like Bill Cowher or even John Gruden, and give us fans something to cheer about after being devastated by our Phillies last weekend and by our Eagles for the past month.
Thanks for listening and for restoring our once-proud franchise to glory.