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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

On Andy Reid, Part II -- and On Who Will Replace Him

So Jeffrey Lurie pulled the plug on Andy Reid's outstanding 14-year career.  It was a sad day in Philadelphia to hear the news, even if we all knew that it was coming.  The consensus among fans was that Reid had a great run, but one that lasted far too wrong.  There were too many drafting mistakes, too much tolerance for holes in the roster, too many inconsistencies in time management and play calling.  Most of that would have gotten overlooked had Reid won a Super Bowl, but sadly for him and the city he never did.  He got close and had a great career, but it was time for him and Jeffrey Lurie to end a great relationship.  Both sides need to start anew.

My son pointed out that with the exception of Bill Cowher, no coach has won a Super Bowl with a franchise if he didn't win it in his first five years with the team.  Reid got to Philadelphia in 1999 and to the Super Bowl in 2004, but the team fell short.  He had some great moments, that's for sure, and he's to be congratulated for an excellent career.  With the exception of Connie Mack, who also owned the team he managed, Reid had the longest tenure of any head coach/manager in Philadelphia sports history.  That's how important a presence he's been on the Philadelphia sports scene.

So let's be clear.  He had a great career.  It just didn't culminate in what Lurie brought him hear to do -- win a title.

Lurie is now in the third chapter of his life transition, divorcing his wife and parting company with long-time friend and team president Joe Banner before the season began.  Now he parts company with the coach he just knew he would hire in 1999 when he decided to part company with Ray Rhodes.  The erudite, relatively soft-spoken owner is about to complete a major makeover in his life.

Rumors abound as to who the primary candidates are.  I don't think that Lurie will pick an obvious candidate.  In a way, he's too smart for that.  He will not recycle a former head coach or take a lifetime ladder climber, even if there will be pressure on him to do so.  I also don't think that he will hire Bill O'Brien (who would be the most tempting choice from among college coaches), Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly or Nick Saban.  All of those choices will be too expensive, and two do not have professional experience.

Coordinators will be tempting.  He has asked permission to interview coordinators from very successful team, such as Mike Nolan of the Falcons, who had an unsuccessful stint as head coach in San Francisco and has been the defensive coordinator for six different NFL teams.  Still, I don't think that he'll got that route.  Bruce Arians, who did tremendous work as acting head coach in Indianapolis this year, will get a well-deserved shot as a head coach.  But probably not in Philadelphia.

No, Jeff Lurie will not hire an obvious choice.  While many thought that Andy Reid was ticketed to be a head coach, he wasn't a coordinator at the time he was hired.  I think that Lurie will emulate the cross-state Steelers, who like to hold onto heir head coaches for more than a decade.  When Mike Tomlin was a position coach in Tampa, he had "head coach" written all over him.  After a year as defensive coordinator in Minnesota, Tomlin ended up as the head coach in Pittsburgh, and yes, he's won a Super Bowl.  I would think that Lurie will think extensively about his next head coach and look for the next Mike Tomlin, the next Jim Harbaugh.  That will take some doing and thinking.  I also don't think he'll get caught up in a feeding frenzy and have to hire the "hot" coach.  I also don't think that he'll want to overpay for a big name.

Don't expect the Eagles to rush to hire the next coach.  Expect Lurie, who has a PhD, to study the situation, come up with a detailed list of questions and think deeply about who he wants coaching the team.  Also expect him to consult with highly respected executives in the league about who they think would be an ideal candidate.  Expect him to develop a list of finalists based upon those recommendations.

The Eagles will hire a good coach.  Lurie has a good track record there.  The question is how the front office will work with a relatively inexperienced GM and Lurie guiding the ship.  The chemistry among the owner, GM and coach must be outstanding, especially if they are to straighten out a team that lacked chemistry and leadership this past season.

Let the speculation begin.


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