Andy Reid is the most senior head coach in the NFL—and to a significant portion of the Eagles fan base, this is cause for concern.
In a hyper-critical city that loves football above all else in its hierarchy of rooting interests, Reid still draws fire despite a solid resume.
He holds franchise records for regular and postseason wins and a 61 percent winning percentage for his 13-season, 208-game career, which has included seven division titles.
Still, every coach has his weak spots, and Reid's detractors routinely criticize his clock management, play-calling, and failure to reach the endzone.
Nonetheless, the Eagles have had a top-eleven offense nine of the past 13 years by point differential; they have also finished in the top eleven nine times in terms of yardage. Few other franchises have been in the top third in the league in those categories as consistently.
Reid does not deserve all the credit for these accomplishments, but neither does he deserve all the blame for the Eagles' failures. Those who do not respect the job Andy Reid has done should be reminded that prior to his hiring, the Eagles did not enjoy the league-wide stature they do today.
Under previous regimes, even the national media coverage betrayed a sense of hopelessness in relation to the Eagles. The franchise might have been a tough, hard-scrabble team that won a few games, but they were always destined to run into the hated-but-more-talented Dallas Cowboys or the Washington Redskins. Deep down, we fans knew it too.
The national media, which brings a different perspective to the table, often fawns over Andy Reid—which only annoys Eagles fans who dislike him all the more. Many of the analysts who praise Reid and the Eagles are former players and coaches; in short, they are professionals who know more than overly emotional fans might about the inner workings of the game.
Andy Reid has made the Eagles legitimate players on a league-wide stage for more than a decade. That fundamental shift is his greatest accomplishment: Reid has given fans hope.
What he has not delivered is a Super Bowl.
The fact that Reid's teams have approached immortality so many times has had a counter-intuitive effect. Now Eagles fans are no longer happy that their underachieving franchise has grown talented enough to be routinely competitive. Instead, they are embittered by the heartbreak of near-misses and sudden endings.
It is easier to give up on a 1-5 team in Week 6 than to lose in the Conference Championship; yet however painful, the latter scenario indicates a high-quality team that has a better chance to contend year-in and year-out.
But in the sports world, no matter how successful a coach is, he only has so many tomorrows before he simply must win a ring or face the consequences.
For some, the tomorrows have run out. For Jeffrey Lurie, Reid has one or, at most, two left. After all Reid has done, and with vivid memories of the second-class status from which he has delivered Gang Green, I strongly agree with Lurie…for now.