As a freshman in college, I started what only now can be considered a Crossing Broad-esque blog entitled Fire Andy Reid Now! I was dumb, 19-years old, dumb, and was not a fan of seeing the Philadelphia Eagles tie the Cincinnati Bengals.* The remnants, that I prefer you not read, can be found in the archives of whatever you want to call this sham-mockery that I mainly use just to host chats with friends. Since then, I have wisened considerably and learned to look at meaningful advanced metrics and logic to judge teams as opposed to trusting my eyes, media narratives, and gut feelings.**
*My 23-year old more intelligent self recognizes the fact that the 2008 Eagles were actually one of the NFL's top teams that season and were more deserving of their NFC Championship Game appearance than they were 9-6-1 record. They only lost one game by more than 7 points and that was the game against Baltimore where Reid benched McNabb.
**Big thanks to my friends Mookie (@SSReporters) and Keith (@KSJ49) who convinced me to join SB Nation, which forever changed the way I look at and think about sports.
Earlier today, the Philadelphia Eagles officially announced the firing of Andy Reid. And with that, Jeffrey Lurie ended an era of unprecedented success in Eagles history. From 1999-2011, the Philadelphia Eagles went seemingly overnight from a team with a young QB and a bunch of random filler parts to a force to be reckoned with and one of the most consistently dominant teams in the league. Things went downhill in 2012, but one season should not define the tenure of a coach who lasted 14-years with one team. The first year the Eagles made the playoffs was 2000. Look at the other teams who made the playoffs in 2000.
Denver Broncos: Inconsistent from one year to the next, endured an extended period of time with Josh McDaniels as their head coach.
Baltimore Ravens: Perhaps one of the closest to matching the consistency of the Reid era Eagles, the Ravens still went through a down period, a coaching period, and a time when Kyle Boller was a starting QB.
Indianapolis Colts: The Peyton Manning led Colts were one of the AFC's dominant teams of the 2000s, but last season Peyton Manning got injured, ending an era, getting the #1 draft pick and a new franchise QB in Andrew Luck who started his career with the worst 11-5 team in NFL history.
Miami Dolphins: Scarce playoff appearances, once traded a 2nd half draft pick for A.J. Feeley. This ended as poorly as you'd think.
St. Louis Rams: The Greatest Show On Turf spent most of the decade in the NFC West cellar, perhaps only now starting to get out of it thanks to a rebuilding project and cashing in big time on the number two pick of the 2012 Draft.
New Orleans Saints: Bounty scandal aside, the Drew Brees and Sean Payton led Saints have been so successful in the latter part of the decade that it is easy to forget how poor the early-mid decade Saints were under Aaron Brooks and Jim Haslett. Remember this game?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Went from contender to Super Bowl winner to painful decline to re-build to stagnation to re-building again all in this time period.
Tennessee Titans: Enjoyed a nice run in the early-mid part of the decade, but have been struggling for a few years now.
Oakland Raiders: Lol? Lol.
Minnesota Vikings: The Culpepper-Moss Vikings were tremendous to watch, but Moss is a shell of his former self, Culpepper is out of the league, and the Vikings managed to play Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson at QB during Reid's tenure. They got one good year out of Brett Favre, too bad they had him for two.
New York Giants: Saw some stagnation toward the middle of the 2000s before drafting Eli Manning and being on a roller coaster of Super Bowls and epic late-season collapses.
It is easy to think of the Steelers as consistent contenders in this decade, but that is because people conveniently forget the Tommy Maddox era*. The obvious winner of the past 12 years, the New England Patriots, would not emerge until 2001.
*Not a hard era to forget.
That leaves us with the Eagles as the only team between 2000-2011 to be consistently competitive. The hiccups few and far between, the long-term success unrivaled. But all good things must end at some point, and just because a mutual parting of ways may be beneficial for everyone involved now, it does not mean the past was filled with failure or that Reid was not successful or that his time as head coach was unsatisfying. A team consistently in the mix for a Super Bowl is the only thing sports fans could ever ask for, and indeed, it was exactly what Andy Reid for Eagles fans. The goal of sports should be to win a championship. But with a possible exception of the NBA, playoffs are largely determined by small sample sizes and chance. Therefore, the best way to achieve that goal of winning a championship is to build a team that can contend for the long-term and hope that one of the lottery tickets pays off in the playoffs. That is precisely what Andy Reid did. That is success, and that success should be satisfying, for success is satisfying by nature. Unfortunately for Andy, he never hit the jackpot. But if as a fan your sole basis of satisfaction is the happy ending that stems from hitting the jackpot in the playoffs, then you are never going to get it right.
Andy Reid provided consistent stability while most everyone else endured periods of instability. Andy Reid provided an offensive innovation felt more and more every day as the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league. Andy Reid led the Eagles to four NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl, a Super Bowl where the point differential was three. From 2000-2011*, with very few hiccups, the Eagles were a dominant force in the NFL that was at the top of the league for an astounding length of time. As teams around the Eagles came and went, the Eagles under Reid were still there almost without fail. In the playoffs. With a chance for a Super Bowl.
*I standby every word I have ever written about the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.
Who knows how long it will be until fans realize what they had in Reid, but that time won't be soon enough. I am normally against hiring retreads, but when Andy Reid decides to coach again, whether that be in 2013 or later, someone will be hiring one awesome head coach.
Goodbye, Andy Reid. And thank you.