I’m sure everyone was relieved when Andy Reid was hired as the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this week. I know I was concerned about whether he would ever find work again.
Apparently, the football world’s love of the guy was not just limited to the media, as teams were practically tripping over themselves to hire him. If he didn’t take the Chiefs job, the Arizona Cardinals surely would have offered him the head coaching position there.
While I wasn’t completely shocked, I was a bit amused by the fact that Chiefs fans are really, really excited about the hire. I guess I didn’t realize just how bad the Chiefs had been over recent years. I think of the Chiefs as one of those teams that were good enough to make the playoffs, yet not quite good enough to win the Super Bowl.
I also think about this commercial:
Looking at their recent records, the franchise has definitely seen better days. And considering their last coach was the near comatose Romeo Crennel, a guy with Reid’s track record seems like quite an improvement. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure that Andy Reid isn’t just the “white Romeo Crennel.”
As for Reid, it’s no secret that I am have not been a huge fan, but this doesn’t make me unique among Eagles fans. The national media always wondered why Philly fans were so critical of Reid, since he’s the franchise leader in coaching wins, and reigned over a consistently successful team.
On the other hand, he didn’t have a good relationship with the local Philadelphia media, since he rarely provided them with much information, and he didn’t appreciate it when they would ask him tough questions. Since the local media is the main source of news for Eagles fans, this poor relationship probably helped sour many Eagles fans’ opinion of Reid.
In Reid’s defense, he was a generally successful coach, as his teams consistently made the playoffs. He also seemed to be well-liked by the players, as they always seemed to play hard for him, and rarely said bad things about him after they left. In today’s NFL, that is crucially important for a head coach.
And of course, it was always fun to imitate him ignoring the game and asking for someone to get him a donut.
So why do I, like many other Eagles fans, dislike him so much?
Most of the national media think Eagles fans are too hard on Reid simply because he didn’t win the Super Bowl. That’s only part of the reason. For me, the basis of the dislike is because he had a few teams capable of winning the Super Bowl, and they didn’t come through, partially due to his mistakes. (Most egregious: The 2003 NFC Championship game and the 2005 Super Bowl)
He also has a few major flaws as a coach which have proven to be fatal to the team’s title aspirations year after year:
Over-reliance on the passing game
The current reigning philosophy in the NFL is that teams win by passing the ball. Andy Reid bought into this philosophy whole-heartedly, as his offense almost always favored the passing attack over the running game.
There’s only one problem with this philosophy. You don’t necessarily win in the NFL by passing the ball. You win in the NFL by passing the ball…when you have a good quarterback and good receivers.
While Donovan McNabb was a very good quarterback for most of Reid’s tenure as coach, he was unfortunately saddled with mostly sub-par receivers.
If a team’s top receiving options are James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, then maybe it shouldn’t have a passing based offense. Especially when the team has talented running backs like Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook.
In Reid’s defense, he only had limited use of Westbrook due to the running back’s extreme fragility that caused him to get injured approximately every four games. Then again, Reid could have countered that by telling the quarterback, “Hey, let’s not throw all of those dump-off passes to Westbrook on 3rd-and 12,” or in an even more revolutionary move, actually use the backup running backs.
Despite often having a strong backup back on hand like Dorsey Levens or Corell Buckhalter, Reid would almost never utilize them unless the starter was injured. No, he’d rather have Pinkston “alligator arm” another throw rather than grind out tough yards on the ground.
In 2004, there were fewer complaints about the Eagles’ pass-heavy offense. That was because the team actually had a legit star receiver in Terrell Owens, and it made sense to feature the passing game.
This leads into another Reid complaint…
Inability to adjust
I’m not going to declare myself an expert on all of the happenings during a football game. Most of my knowledge comes from what I learn from announcers, analysts, and reporters.
Even with that limited information, I can determine that Andy Reid is not especially adept at making in-game adjustments. Reid’s pre-game preparations are legendary, as he often comes in with a detailed game plan based on how he thinks the game will unfold.
The problem is, that extreme preparation can sometimes make Reid unwilling or unable to make adjustments when things don’t go the way that he expected.
The passing based game-plan isn’t working? Reid’s solution was typically to pass the ball even more, in hope that the offense would “find it’s rhythm.” Other coaches might try having their athletic running quarterback roll out, or maybe even commit to a running attack. But that wasn’t Andy Reid’s style.
It’s telling that earlier this week, former player Jeremiah Trotter came out and said that Reid sucked as a game day coach.
Reid also seemed convinced that every quarterback should play the same way. Reid’s former job was as the Packers’ quarterback coach where he worked with Brett Favre. This seemed to cement in his mind that every quarterback needed to play like Favre.
Is the quarterback athletic and strong armed like McNabb or Michael Vick? Turn him into Favre! It was telling that the less these quarterbacks looked to use their legs, the less effective the Eagles offense became.
The great Drew Magary pointed out that most NFL coaches aren’t very good at clock management, and that it shouldn’t be held against a coach when he made mistakes.
Then again, most NFL coaches didn’t oversee an offense that took an eternity to move down the field while trailing by two scores in the Super Bowl. That slow drive made quite the impression on people.
The Eagles had about fifty assistant coaches under Reid. You’re telling me that they couldn’t have hired a guy to handle clock management? This guy wouldn’t have anything to do except worry about when to call timeout and when the team would be best served running the ball in order to use up the clock. And despite everything that goes on in the game, Reid would know to listen to this man above all else in the last few minutes of each half.
My biggest pet peeve is when the Eagles call timeout because the play clock is about to expire, especially if it comes in a non-crucial game situation.
First off, this should never happen because the play should be signaled to the quarterback in well in advance, and the offensive personnel should be trained on how to get set up in plenty of time. The quarterback should also be made to understand that timeouts are precious and should be used sparingly.
If it’s 2nd-and-8 from the 45 yard line midway through the third quarter, it would probably be preferable to take a five yard penalty rather than burning a timeout. Those five yards probably won’t make much of a difference in the game. But that timeout very well could.
Thankfully, the next time a Reid-coached team does something like that, it won’t be my problem. Reid is now Kansas City’s problem.
Maybe he’ll learn from his mistakes and deliver the Chiefs the Super Bowl title that eluded him here. Maybe the team will eventually give him players so good that even he can’t screw it up. Personally, I hope that he fails. (Sorry if this sounds bitter, but why would I want a coach who failed to win for my team succeed for another?)
Regardless of who the next Eagles coach is (My preference is Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy) at least this gives me some optimism heading into next year.
Mrs. Cutter didn’t believe me when I said I would give up my fandom if they brought Reid back, but I was fully prepared to do so. After twelve years, I couldn’t take any more of the same mistakes, the same weak explanations for the team’s failures, and the same despondent feeling when the Eagles were eliminated from contention.
While the next coach likely won’t meet the same success that Reid did, at least there will be hope that things will be different. There will be hope that the coach might be able to make adjustments. There will be hope that the team will be able to bring in NFL-caliber players in the draft. There will be hope that the coach won’t get out coached in big games, and finally be able to win a Super Bowl.
As an Eagles fan, that hope is all I’ve got left.
As a final tribute to Andy, here’s an awesome parody video: