Phil Sheridan: Don't rule out Reid taking long view with Griffin

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III runs the 40-yard dash at the combine in Indianapolis.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III runs the 40-yard dash at the combine in Indianapolis. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: February 27, 2012

Don't be too quick to dismiss the significance of the Eagles' meeting with Robert Griffin III.

It happened Thursday night at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, a few days before the Heisman-winning quarterback from Baylor ran a sizzling 4.41 in the 40-yard dash.

The most common reaction to the news was that coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman were doing "due diligence" by getting to know the likely No. 2 pick in this year's draft. Given Reid's perceived need to bounce back strong from an 8-8 travesty of a season, there's no way he can afford to use a first-round pick on a slow-developing position such as quarterback.

That's the obvious logic, anyway. It just happens to be wrong.

Look at the bigger picture. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie gave Reid a pass on 2011 despite several decisions and oversights that would have gotten almost any NFL coach fired. Reid has two more years remaining on his contract. Do you really think that, if Reid wins 11 or 12 games in 2012, Lurie will fire him? Reid was vulnerable this year, but he is too good at his job to repeat the mistakes of last season.

The flip side of Lurie's continued faith in Reid is that Reid will continue to take the long view in his approach to building this team. And nothing would make more sense in the long view than acquiring an elite franchise quarterback. Remember, this is the guy who drafted Kevin Kolb when his perennially contending team could have used more immediate help.

It is almost eerie how much this year resembles 1999, when Reid went to his first combine as a head coach. The Eagles held the second pick in a draft with a bumper crop of quarterback prospects. Except for a handful of cranks lobbying for Ricky Williams, it was obvious to everyone that Reid was going to use that pick for a quarterback to build around.

With the top pick, Cleveland took Tim Couch. Reid took Donovan McNabb and never looked back.

This year, Stanford QB Andrew Luck is all but certain to go to Indianapolis with the first pick. Griffin - whose unhelpful handle, RGIII, is only two characters shorter than his full last name - will be taken second.

That pick belongs to St. Louis, which drafted Sam Bradford with the No. 1 pick two years ago. The Rams, under new head coach Jeff Fisher, appear poised to trade that pick. There will be plenty of teams in the mix. It should be no surprise if the Eagles, who draft 15th and hold two second-round picks, are one of the more aggressive suitors.

That doesn't mean they'll be able to pull it off, but you can see how the idea would appeal to Reid.

It has been correctly noted that the Eagles' commitment to Michael Vick really ends after the 2012 season. The structure of that contract was one of the reasons many people believed Reid deserved to be back for at least one more season. Why change coaches and waste what could be Vick's last, best chance?

Follow that logic through, though. Maybe there will be a Luck or a Griffin in the 2013 draft, when the Eagles might have to find their next QB. Maybe not. If the Eagles really believe Griffin is that special talent who can lead a team to a Super Bowl, this is the one and only time to get him. Reid likely would follow the blueprint he used with McNabb, so Vick would be the starter this year, anyway.

McNabb had Doug Pederson. Griffin would have Vick. That's not so bad.

It would not be lost on Reid that this sort of maneuver might just buy him a few more years. It doesn't take much imagination to picture Lurie telling us he extended Reid's contract because the team was clearly on the upswing and he wanted continuity as Griffin developed into a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback.

The strangest thing: It just might make sense.

The Reid fatigue of the last couple of years is completely understandable. Reid has been head coach for 13 years - he'd be in his fourth term as president. He hit the high-water mark seven long seasons ago. There has been a distinct downward trend for the last few years, culminating in the truly egregious mess that was 2011.

But a do-over of the original, successful plan with Griffin in the McNabb role, surrounded by more talented offensive teammates? The sequel could actually be better than the original.

It is at least an attractive scenario for a franchise that has wandered off course in recent years. Maybe the meeting with Griffin was like buying Powerball tickets, just an excuse to daydream. Maybe it was more.

Certainly, it's more fun to think about than drafting another undersized lineman.


Phil Sheridan:

Fast

40s

Robert Griffin III posted the fastest time for a quarterback in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. The top five QBs:

Robert

Griffin III, Baylor,

4.41 seconds

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin, 4.55

Jordan Jefferson, LSU,

4.65

Andrew

Luck, Stanford, 4.67

Aaron

Corp, Richmond, 4.72


Contact Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844, psheridan@phillynews.com, or @Sheridanscribe on Twitter. Read his blog, "Philabuster," at http://go.philly.com/philabuster. Read his columns at www.philly.com/philsheridan.

 

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