Tuesday, November 11, 2008

anti-Reid angst

There are more than a few people on the Eagles message board that actually want the team to lose out or do poorly the rest of the year. The thinking is that a losing season will cause Jeffrey Lurie to fire Andy Reid or at the least make some changes in the hierarchy of the team.

This isn't just the lunatic fringe either. Some fans who think this are guys I respect. Not all mind you, but some.

Why do they feel that way? Utter disdain for Andy Reid.

I don't fall into either camp. I don't want the team to have a losing season. I don't feel utter disdain for Andy Reid.

My goal is still for the Eagles to reach the postseason. You never know what will happen in the postseason. I know the Eagles are a longshot to do much in the playoffs, let alone get to the Super Bowl, but I still have that as my target until the day we're eliminated.

I understand the thinking some fans have...that us going 10-6 and just getting into the playoffs is nice for this season, but doesn't help us move closer to being a SB caliber team. There is some logic in that.

Getting to the playoffs will give Andy Reid some sense of validation that his systems are still working and the team is on the right track. If the team misses the postseason for the third time in 4 years...that's a bad trend and something that Lurie will have to acknowledge. He will then force Reid to make some changes. Either some assistants go or the offense gets adjusted or the team brings in an outside GM or something. That's what some fans want...something new.

They feel that Reid has, for lack of a better term, "jumped the shark". Maybe. I still think Andy is a good coach. I've never been his biggest fan, but I appreciate the way he's run the team and led us to a lot of success. Too many people dismiss that as a marginal accomplishment. It isn't.

Andy does drive me crazy at times. He doesn't run the ball enough. We all know that. He's too cute and gimmicky on offense. I used the metaphor the other day that he's too much icing and not enough cake. Offenses can do all kinds of things, but they require a solid base built on running the ball.

Overall, I am okay with him as the GM. I'm fine with the drafting style. Trading out of the 1st made sense the last two years. Picking Kolb was fine wiht me. I have gripes with some picks, but that's going to be true with any person/team. Our pro personnel moves have not been good the last 4 or 5 years, with a couple of exceptions. I don't know what the problem there is. We've made some poor choices and we've missed some guys that we should have pursued.

I do wish we weren't so value oriented, but that is more Joe Banner than Andy Reid. If you really like a guy and feel he's going to be important to the team, overpay for him, whether that is compensation or money. Be aggressive when trying to close deals. Too often we come up in 2nd place.

If we do miss the playoffs, which is a good possibility, I'll be interested to see what Andy says. At some point you do have to make changes. I'm a big believer in continuity, but not for the sake of continuity. You have to be open to new people and new ideas when the current set-up isn't working.

Should Andy be fired if the team misses the playoffs? Maybe. I'd rather discuss that scenario when we have all the facts. The other key is to have a replacement who you feel will be an improvement. Change for the sake of change isn't good.

The first thing to focus on is how the team does down the stretch. If we continue to struggle big time against NFC East teams then maybe change is in order. If we go 2-1 or 3-0 in the rematches...different story. Maybe we go 6-1 down the stretch and get to the postseason as a red hot team. I wouldn't fire Reid at that point. Wouldn't make sense. I know people will say "That won't happen". We'll see. My point is that we don't know for sure so I'm not comfortable making a judgment at this point. Let's wait and see what happens in the final 7 games. There will be plenty of time to debate Big Red's future at that point.


Fear and said...


I have been thinking a lot about what happens if we miss the playoffs. In fact, we discussed this topic (sort of) in the comments section of your EMB blog earlier in the year: It is really really hard to find a good coach. People get so caught up in what a guy can't do, that they forget about what he can. AR is very good at managing a team over a season, has been good at preparing them and I think we both agree that, setting 2003 and 2004 aside, has been good (if not great) in the draft.

What AR struggles at the most as a coach is in-game management, especially as time gets short. He always has, whether it is simply getting the play in without burning a TO (a huge problem until a few years ago) or avoiding getting too cute (the not enough icing comment is great). I think there is a strong case to be made that this problem is exacerbated by McNabb at QB, a guy who struggles in late game situations as well. It is my strong belief that both would be a better player without the other -- that a different pairing would be able to cover some of the guy's weaknesses. Jeff Garcia could do that. Even AJ Feeley, to some extent, showed an ability to do that. McNabb isn't comfortable in the two minute drill, and neither is Reid. Someone has to take the lead.

The running thing is an issue, yes, but never as big as people make it out to be. It isn't why we haven't won a SB. It is just an easy thing to point to. Much like the size of the DL -- I mean, are NY or Washington really that much different on the line in terms of size? They have to play these bruising NFC East teams as well. What people really mean is lack of depth at DT, I guess.

On the personnel front, the pro personnel process has been very bade for a very long time. The top end has been ok -- Asante, Curtis, even Kearse (before the knee) and TO (before the meltdown), these were fine. Darren Howard has been the biggest disaster of the lot. It is the midlevel that is such a disaster and leaves us in bad spots, as well as the annual willingness to take a risk going short at a position for no good reason: be it Stephen Spach as the backup TE a few years back or FB this year or RS last year or WR before the last minute Stallworth acquisition in 2006, we have consciously lived on a razor's edge when we weren't cap constrained and didn't have to short one position to strengthen another. I don't know if that is AR's fault or Banner's, but in any case, bad choices are being made in terms of roster building.

In short, I think the primary cases against AR are in-game management and pro personnel. Given the many things that AR does well, I think we have to give him a shot to prove that those two things can be overcome with 1) a new QB and 2) new personnel assistance. I expect Heckert will be thrown under the bus (and frankly, I have never been a big fan) in favor of Howie Roseman (who most of us have doubts about, but they unfortunately removed the obvious successor in Licht).

Can AR win with Kevin Kolb? We will see. But that is how I see the season working out: not as a firing but as an ultimatum -- prove to me that it isn't you, it was the QB.

-- shlynch

The Old Buffoon said...

After the Giants game was the first time I have ever genuinely considered the idea that maybe this season should be Andy's last.

I like all of shlynch's points, but can't agree that McNabb's more of a problem than Reid. McNabb's been solid all season, and he's been hurt by the playcalling. Reid still believes that no one is more capable of handling the 5-step dropbacks and inevitable pressure than McNabb, and he may be right, but it's become so predictable. The past few games have all opened up with 3 and outs, and I blame the lack of rhythm on Reid more than McNabb. Too many early scripted pass plays with long-developing routes, IMO.

Finally, I guess I agree with John Madden that if Andy keeps the ball in #5's hands in key Sunday night situations, we beat the Bears and maybe beat the Giants. Again, I see McNabb as maybe the solution, and certainly not the problem.

When it comes to 'value,' I don't blame Reid/Banner for how they hightly value draft picks. In a way, they play to their strengths, which is draft scouting, not pro personnel scouting. I do blame Reid for undervaluing the personnel needed for the kind of running attack that controls the clock and wins tight games (big back and RB).

Most importantly, I blame Reid for all the bad luck this team has suffered since 2001, which is the main reason we haven't won a SB. Unacceptable.

The Old Buffoon said...

(Sorry, I'm not done - and I find this topic more interesting than my work right now. Funny that.)

Ultimately, Reid has proven time and time again throughout his career as Head Coach that he is GREAT 6 days a week, and LOUSY on game day. Seems crazy and would never happen, but I'd be okay with Lurie keeping Reid as both Offensive Coordinator and maybe even GM, but NOT as the main dude on game day with the red flag and all... I just can't get away from the idea that McNabb and Co would do better with somebody as tough-minded as Gruden or Cowher calling the shots on game day.

Fear and said...

I guess I want to be clear that I don't blame McNabb more than Reid. I think that they are a bad mix at the end of close games, and it has really hurt us over the past four or five years. I think McNabb would be fine with the right coach, just as we have seen that Reid is fine with the right QB.

I do think that realistically, it is easier to find a good QB than it is a good head coach, and I don't mean that in a way that suggests that QBs are easy to find. I just think that it is easier to move McNabb -- especially given the high level at which he has played this year and what is now a very palatable contract for an acquiring team -- than try to replace Reid, especially since the first option to replace McNabb is in place.

So strategically, I think replacing the QB makes sense. That doesn't mean that I think he is the primary problem.

The Old Buffoon said...

fear and/shlynch,

Thanks for clarifying. Your view makes sense, but I must say it would make Eagles games less exciting for me. Even as exciting as the late-2006 run was, I missed the excitement that just is guaranteed when McNabb's lining up behind center. I'd feel about the same way as when Iverson left town. Knowing it's right for the team, but hating to see another star leave town without a ring.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Interesting thoughts, guys.

I frequently get told that "Reid is the problem and it's time for him to go. You know that, GE." Gotta love reasoned discussion.

I look at what John Harbaugh has done for the Ravens, Mike Smith has done for the Falcons, or Jim Zorn has done for the Redskins and I can't help but feel some sense of curiosity and/or jealousy. How would the Eagles look with a new coach who could bring a fresh perspective to a team that is already pretty close to being pretty darn good?

I also think about Tom Landry and Bill Cowher. Each man won a SB title after being in place for over a decade and being branded as coaches who couldn't win the big one. Cowher didn't get this tag as frequently since he was such a media darling. Tom Coughlin somewhat falls into this category.

Good coaches should eventually win a title if they have a stable situation. Bud Grant and Marv Levy would argue that point, of course.

I tend to think Lurie/Banner would keep Reid around (barring a terrible finish). Andy did a good job of develop McNabb and they probably trust him with Kolb.

Trading McNabb, which I'm not sure is a lock, would give the Eagles a lot of ammo (Lito, 2 1st Rd picks). The team would need to pull off some really aggressive move to impress the fans, not that Jeff and Joe are obsessed with PR.

Looks like another interesting offseason.

Mark H. said...

I'd like to see Reid take a page from Tom Coughlin's book. Coughlin didn't win a Super Bowl (or win over his players, for that matter) until he took a look in the mirror and changed his ways a bit. He was a good coach, but didn't get over the top until he made adjustments to the way he did business.

The question is whether or not Reid is capable/willing to adjust, and try something different.