In Offense of Andy Reid: A Friendly Response to Grantland’s Bill Barnwell

by Kolby Solinsky

Editor, White Cover Magazine

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Everyone knows this: after 14 years spent monitoring the Philadelphia Eagles sidelines with both the calmness of a walrus and the posture of a walrus, it’s unfortunate to see Andy Reid’s tenure come to such a smouldering, shameful close.

It would be unfortunate to see anyone’s life unfold this way. 14 years is a damn long time. It always sucks when it ends in a heap of tar. Think Markus Naslund in Vancouver. Mussolini in Rome. Mike D’Antoni, just, everywhere. Even Scar in The Lion King. Andy Reid wasn’t as lucky as other now-over-appreciated coaches like Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy. They were fortunate enough to have a team that could overcome the fact that they weren’t winners. Dungy won because of Peyton Manning. Cowher because of his defence, a sophomore quarterback, and Jerome Bettis.

So, Reid wasn’t as lucky. But, I don’t feel bad for him. At all. Here’s why.

Although the Eagles weren’t serious favourites in the first one, Andy Reid and Philadelphia went to four straight NFC championships form 2001 to 2005 and he only won one. Four straight. That’s Buffalo Bills style. He went to another one in 2009 and they lost to the Arizona Cardinals. He went to the Divisional round in 2007 and his Eagles lost a shootout to New Orleans, who then lost to Chicago.

So, you know what?

Andy Reid’s had his chances. “He’s been to the puppet show, and he’s seen the strings,” to quote Cuba Gooding Jr. And, he hasn’t won. Anything.

He’s calm and cool, yes. But, that’s also been his downfall. He’s never come across as the motivator who can get it done… except in that video at the top.

His two-minute drills last five minutes.

He’s a nice guy. He’s a great coach. But, he’s not a winner.

Say what you will about Donovan McNabb, or Michael Vick, or Terrell Owens. Say they didn’t bring it, even though Owens actually did.

Still… a lot of coaches have done more with less.

“Reid’s work in the playoffs was also very impressive,” wrote Grantland‘s Bill Barnwell on Friday. “If his run finishes after this season, Reid’s teams will have made the playoffs in nine of his 14 seasons with the team, including a Super Bowl run in 2004. Reid is 10-9 in playoff games, too, which is a .526 winning percentage that tops the percentages of the Packers and Jets (both .500) as well as the Colts (.474).”

Yeah, it’s okay. But, it’s just okay.

Bill knows stats better than I do, or than anyone does. But, stats aren’t everything. Things like passing plays and NFL trends are fun, but Andy Reid is a head coach of the sixth biggest metropolitan market in North America. He needs to rise above it. It’s not an excuse to argue in favour of him.

(It’s also ironic, since I remember his boss, Bill Simmons, sounding like the angry, old, anti-Sabremetric scout in Moneyball when I read his 550 pages of Larry Bird Loving in The Book of Basketball.)

Compare him with the Packers, the Jets, and the Colts if you want, but do so at your own risk. The Packers have won five Super Bowls. The Jets have won one. So have the Colts.

Oh, and Green Bay had this one coach way back when who said, “Winning it’s everything. It’s the only thing.”

Defend Andy Reid if you must but — for once — I’m siding with Philadelphia’s evil fans.