Should the Eagles move beyond the McNabb/Reid era?
By Bill Smith
Before the Eagles went on a winning streak and got into the playoffs, there was a lot of talk about not bringing either head coach Andy Reid and QB Donovan McNabb back next year. When the Eagles won the playoff spot and then got to the NFC championship game, that talk went the way of the dinosaurs. After the Eagles were upset by the Cardinals the talk is back. Ownership has said that the pair will be back in an attempt to quash the speculation. However, talk radio indicates that the fans are not sold.
Eagle fans are famous for being among the toughest in the league. After all, they even threw snowballs at Santa. McNabb is no happier with the Eagles front office than the fans are with him. He learned that the Eagles used their first selection in the 07 draft (round 2) on QB Kevin Kolb on ESPN. He was not pleased. He has 2 years remaining on his contract but wants a new long term deal. Reid is said to want to know his future as soon as possible. If he is going to be with the team, he too would like an extension. But the question that a lot of people are asking is this: would the team do better without McNabb at QB and/or Reid as head coach?
First, look what Reid has accomplished. He has taken the Eagles to the NFC championship game 6 times in the last 10 years. Granted, he has won only one of those games and has yet to win a Super Bowl. But no available or current head coach has come close to equaling that record. While he has some input to the draft choices, he has not been given the power to select his own players. He has worked without an influx of great draft choices because the Eagles were always drafting very low.
Who would the team get to HC? The Eagle fans wouldn’t accept less than a name brand replacement. How would you feel if your team fired an Andy Reid for Joe X who had been a coordinator for a year or two? The team would also likely rebel. The Eagles are a veteran team. They would not accept just anybody to lead them.
There are 3 Super Bowl winning coaches that might be actively looking for a new job—Brian Billick, Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden. Would any of them take the Eagles job? I doubt it. Billick might but he doesn’t have a reputation of being tough and if anything, the NFC East is tough. Billick has been working on the NFL channel but has not shown up on any public hot list of coaching prospects.
Chuckie Gruden is tough enough but reports indicate he may want to sit out for awhile. Eagle management wouldn’t adjust to the Gruden way easily and neither would the Eagle fans. If the Eagle fans would have concerns about Gruden, think how the veterans on the team would react.
Shanahan does not look like a fit for Philly to me. He would fit in well on the west coast or the south, but not in Philly. He wouldn’t do well with the Eagle fans or the veteran team. They wouldn’t like him and he would not be comfortable there as well.
Then there is the question about McNabb. The question seems to come up every year that the Eagles fail to get to the Super Bowl. It seems that Eagle fans believe it is their inherent right to have their team in the big game every year. Sorry but it doesn’t work that way. Added to the question of the fan unrest is the salary cap hit would take by trading or releasing him vs. his salary which is to be 9 million in 09 and 10 million in 2010. He ranked 14th in the NFL this season with a passer rating of 86.4. He had over 3900 yards and 23 TDs with 11 interceptions. He was 4th in the league in the number of attempts per game. Without much of a running game this year, he was forced to pass much too often.
McNabb also had very few reliable receivers. That has been a problem for Philly ever since Terrell Owens exercised his way out of town. Now despite the number of McNabb attempts, the Eagles had only one receiver in the top 50 in catches—5′ 10” rookie Desean Jackson with 62 catches and 912 yards. The second highest on the list was running back Brian Westbrook with 54 receptions. The lack of sure handed receivers and a injury prone Westbrook to provide some offensive balance put the entire weight of the Eagles offense on McNabb. With Westbrook hitting the RB wall at the age of 30 next season, will the Eagle running game be even as good as it was this year? It is doubtful.
So if the team decided to jettison McNabb, who would replace him. Kevin Kolb? In the two seasons since the Eagles drafted him with their first choice in 2007 (2nd round), he has thrown 34 total passes with 17 completions and 4 interceptions but no touchdowns. That gives him a passer rating 21.8. Is that the kind of QB that can do better than McNabb? Not likely.
Then there are the free agent veteran QBs that are available. Anyone in Philly interested in giving Tim “I’m on the” Couch a contract? Didn’t think so. I am sure that the Browns would trade you Derek “one year wonder” Anderson for a 1st or 2nd round draft choice. How does that sound. Or maybe if you are really desperate, you can get Jake “thanks but no thanks” Plumber to come out of retirement and play. J.P. Losman is available but he went 0-4 in relief work this season and his 75.6 career passer rating won’t get.
Obviously there is little chance that any of those guys will do half as well as McNabb. There is also nothing on the horizon as far as rookie QBs in the draft. The top 2 will be gone by the time the Eagles pick and none of them are nearly as close to being ready to start as either Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco were last season.
The Eagles will keep McNabb if for no other reason than they have no choice. The same will apply to Andy Reid. How’s that for change? All dressed up and no one to take to the dance.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .Should the Eagles move beyond the McNabb/Reid era? by Bill Smith