After Jeffrey Lurie’s scathing examination of Andy Reid and the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles, many thought that the Eagles ownership would finally put pressure on its 14-year coach to perform in the penultimate year of his contract. In the eyes of fans, Lurie set the table for a “Super Bowl or bust”-esque situation for a franchise that has put together so many strong seasons but failed to achieve the ultimate goal yet.
Reid’s agent, Bob LaMonte—visiting Lehigh for his annual check-up on his top client—apparently thinks otherwise (via Jeff McLane and Zach Berman of philly.com):
“[Lurie] has stated time and time again, any time that I’ve been with him, that was as long as he’s the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles Andy Reid would be his coach. And I’d say the proof of the pie is in the pudding. He’s been here 14 years.”
That may have been the case three years ago, when Reid signed a three-year extension, but two first-round playoff exits and an 8-8 disappointment later, Reid’s negotiating power has clearly taken more of a hit than LaMonte is giving credit. He may be the winningest regular season and playoff coach in Eagles’ history, but their is one statistic that he doesn’t have the team record in: Super Bowl championships. Like Dick Vermeil and Buddy Ryan before him, Reid has had a decent measure of regular season success but come up short season after season.
Lurie, who will retain ownership of his team even through a divorce, is in a fix, whether he likes it or not. After treating his longtime friend and coach in the harshest manner to date in last year’s end-of-season press conference, he’s stuck between a rock and hard place unless Reid finally breaks through in 2012-2013: If the Eagles go one-and-done once again in the playoffs or even worse, miss the playoffs, how can Lurie possibly denounce the team’s performance yet stick with a formula that hasn’t added up?
This team is simply too talented to shift the blame away from Reid and the coaching staff. Not only did the front office go out and plug several of last year’s largest personnel holes—linebacker, safety and red zone threat—but they finally used the draft wisely as a method of improving the roster and creating a possible Super Bowl favorite. Reid has no excuse for a letdown this season, and neither Jeffrey Lurie nor Bob LaMonte can deny the mounting frustration over the team’s unwillingness to search for other answers at head coach. Lurie made that somewhat clear in an interview with McLane, expressing his thoughts in a discernible, yet vague response:
“Bob is a great agent who we have an outstanding relationship with. As much respect as all of us have for Andy Reid, it is the nature of the profession that all coaches, executives and players are evaluated each year. That’s the way we have always operated. But our focus right now, and I know Andy feels the same way, is solely on the upcoming 2012 season.”
Yes, Andy Reid is one of the best NFL coaches of the last decade, but is first-round exit after first-round exit really going to be enough for an Eagles’ fanbase that breaths, bleeds and thinks green? An unsatisfactory season could go a long way to provoking the answer to that question.