The Philadelphia Eagles are entering a “crossroads” season whether they want to believe it or not. Looking at the NFL for successful and stable organizations, your mind shifts to Jeffrey Lurie’s club as one of a handful that has remained steadfast in their results over the past decade. Andy Reid road the accomplishments of the Green Bay Packers in the mid to late ‘90’s to a head coaching stint that enters its 14th Eagles Training Camp and subsequent season. Reid’s Eagles have gone to the playoffs nine times the past thirteen years, including five NFC Championship games and a trip to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004.
Coming up empty
For all of their consistent success, the Eagles have no hardware in their trophy case other than one George H. Halas prize as consolation for losing to the Patriots in Jacksonville, FL. One of the more underappreciated QB’s of his generation, Donovan McNabb, helped carry Philadelphia all those years they were knocking on the door. McNabb is gone, replaced by Michael Vick, and the Eagles haven’t won a playoff game since 2008.
This past summer long time Philly President Joe Banner left in what was a called a mutual agreement between him and Lurie, the Eagles stating that GM Howie Roseman would be taking over Banner’s responsibilities of cap and contracts. Some called it a win for Andy Reid in an attempt to gain more control over the club. I say “Be careful what you wish for”.
This story sounds vaguely familiar. In 2008 I left the Denver Broncos as GM after working under Mike Shanahan for thirteen seasons, seven playoff appearances, three AFC Championship games and back to back Super Bowl wins in ’97 & ’98. During that time frame the Broncos were ALWAYS included on that list of successful, stable organizations. The retirement of John Elway didn’t stop a run at the playoffs, but did put a halt to any significant movement in the postseason until Denver beat New England in the 2005 Divisional, only to fall to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship.
That game was the beginning of the end of the Broncos under Shanahan; 2 Defensive Coordinators and yours truly would lose their jobs as the Head Coach looked to consolidate his power in search of the reasons as to why Denver couldn’t get back to the Super Bowl. Owner Pat Bowlen ended the Shanahan regime after 2008 and three seasons with a combined record of 24-24 since finishing one win from a trip to Super Bowl XL.
Good is never enough
As good as we’d been, it wasn’t good enough. Now Banner is gone in Philadelphia, so is Tom Heckert (hired as GM in Cleveland ‘09). Roseman is more a football administrator than football “man” and all decisions clearly go through Reid.
So Reid enters the 2012 Eagles Training Camp with Michael Vick in his 3rd season, much like Shanahan did with jay Cutler in ’08. Vick’s mid-season injury put the club on a slide that was saved with 4 wins to end 2011. Despite a 7-9 record, the Broncos were top 10 in Offensive Pass Efficiency & Offensive Pass Success Rate, both stats dampened by a struggling defense. Philly finished ’11 ranked #7 in Offensive Pass Efficiency and #12 in Offensive Pass Success Rate.
Through different circumstances, Reid has gone through 3 Defensive Coordinators since the loss to Arizona in the NFC Championship in ’08. Shanahan did the same between Denver’s loss to the Steelers and his post ’08 dismissal.
The point here isn’t necessarily that the two situations parallel each other, yet playoff draughts, quarterback changes, front office shakeups, and Defensive Coordinator transformations all point to instability versus steadiness in comparison to the past 14 seasons in Philly.
Check both sides
As Reid enters the Eagles Training Camp this week he might look at his own side of the ball by stepping up development of last year’s rookie OL’s Danny Watkins & Jason Kelce, a less than inspiring receiving corps, trying to keep Michael Vick on the field for 16 games and not throwing the ball to the opponent at a rate ranking last in the NFL. Otherwise like Mike Shanahan discovered in 2008, despite a lengthy presence, complete control, and feeling of invincibility, “All good things do come to an end” and “All glory is fleeting”.
Dallas, Washington, and the World Champion Giants will be doing their best to prove this true.