Phil Sheridan: Reid vindicated as Eagles' success continues

Despite all the second-guessing, the Eagles are in first and coach Andy Reid's controversial decisions appear vindicated. The Birds have blossomed over the last three weeks, beating the Colts, Redskins, and Giants.
Despite all the second-guessing, the Eagles are in first and coach Andy Reid's controversial decisions appear vindicated. The Birds have blossomed over the last three weeks, beating the Colts, Redskins, and Giants.
Posted: November 23, 2010

If Andy Reid had to get his glasses checked after some of the officials' calls he has seen this year, he probably felt like getting his ears examined after Monday's day-after news conference.

Mere hours after his young team delivered a truly gutsy victory over the Giants, claiming sole possession of first place in the NFC East, Reid faced questions about preserving Michael Vick's health, the Giants' effectiveness in containing the red-hot QB, and the difficulty the Eagles had running the ball.

"Well, listen," Reid said. "We played the No. 1 defense in the National Football League [Sunday] night. And when we had to run in that [final] four-minute period, we ran. And when we had to score, we scored, and we did it running the football. I'm not real concerned about that."

That's about as close as Reid gets to boasting after a big win. And the truth is, he deserves to feel pretty cocky right about now. This team has blossomed in stunning fashion over the last three weeks, beating the Colts, Redskins, and Giants behind the stellar play of Vick.

It was Reid who took the risk of bringing Vick here, Reid who made the tough decision to promote him to No. 1 quarterback after touting Kevin Kolb as The Man for months, Reid who quietly stuck with defensive coordinator Sean McDermott after some defensive lapses earlier in the season.

Not long ago, Reid's judgment was being questioned for switching to Vick. Now people are concerned that Vick might get hurt, as if that wasn't a risk for every quarterback in the history of the sport.

Funny how a few big wins change the atmosphere.

There were some observers (all right, I was one of them) who wondered if Reid had lost a little something - his edge? his mind? - after 11 seasons running this team. Rather suddenly, it appears he is doing one of his best all-around coaching jobs. This team seems poised to do some very interesting things over the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, Reid's very good friend and protégé, Brad Childress, was fired Monday by the Minnesota Vikings. Ten months ago, Childress took his team to overtime of the NFC championship game, losing to the eventual champion Saints. Now he's fired for going 3-7 and, more to the point, for the Brett Favre/Randy Moss madness that occurred on his watch.

"Sometimes," Reid said after hearing the news, "situations get a little crazy."

Reid knows firsthand. He had to manage some serious craziness when Terrell Owens pulled his childish and ridiculous antics in 2005. And he risked a different kind of craziness by bringing Vick here, trading Donovan McNabb away, and then dealing with the quarterback dilemma early in the season.

Childress became the second coach fired during this season. The other, Wade Phillips of Dallas, destroyed the Eagles in back-to-back weeks, including a playoff game, just 11 months ago.

That's how tenuous a grip these coaches have - on their jobs and on their players. For Reid to turn his roster over, infuse it with youth, make two major changes at quarterback, and be sitting in first place the week of Thanksgiving, is all the more impressive in contrast to Childress and Phillips.

It is true that the Giants found some ways to attack Vick. They rushed four men at times, then covered his receivers long enough to force him to make decisions he didn't want to make. They anticipated his rollouts and sent blitzes to where he would be. They brought the house a few times.

So it was natural to wonder if the game might provide some clues for defensive coordinators who will face Vick the rest of the way. Reid bristled a bit again.

"Yeah, they did a nice job," he said. "But that's all right."

It was all right for several reasons. Obviously, because the Eagles won the game, but also because there simply aren't many defenses talented enough to mimic what the Giants did. It so happens that the next opponent, Chicago, is one of them.

But then there is this: If opposing coaches can pick up some ideas from the Giants' approach, it's just as true that Reid and Marty Mornhinweg can adjust in turn. So far, they have stayed a step ahead of the opposition (and 59 steps ahead of Washington last Monday).

It has been a strange year in the NFL. Teams seem to get hot, win a few in a row, then slip back toward mediocrity. There's a chance this is merely the Eagles' turn as the flavor of the week, that they'll slide down the weekly power ratings the way the Giants just did.

For some reason, it doesn't feel that way. And, in spite of your doubting eyes and disbelieving ears, that reason just might be Andy Reid, after all.

Contact columnist Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or

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