Paul Domowitch: Eagles coach Andy Reid needs a Bowl of Supe

Andy Reid says there is enough talent on this year's team to make the Super Bowl.
Andy Reid says there is enough talent on this year's team to make the Super Bowl. (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: September 07, 2012

SO, THE BAR supposedly has been set.

Jeff Lurie made it official last week that another 8-8 season will not be acceptable. Another 8-8 season and the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia is over. Kaput.

Duh!

Considering that Lurie's annual state-of-the-team address usually is about as interesting as watching cereal get soggy, I understand why every media outlet in the Delaware Valley made a big deal out of the owner's 8-8-won't-get-it-done comment.

But seriously, did any of us not already know that?

Follow the bouncing ball here. If the Eagles go 8-8, they almost certainly won't make the playoffs. If they don't make the playoffs, it would be the second straight year they will have missed them, something that has never happened to the Eagles under Reid.

In this day and age, NFL head coaches generally don't survive two straight playoffless seasons, even if they've been on the job for 14 years like Reid, even if they're the winningest coach in franchise history like Reid, even if they've won seven division titles and been to five conference championship games in the last 12 years like Reid.

"I'm very lucky," Reid said. "Not just [because of Lurie] being the person he is, but also the passion he has for the game. He loves the game. He understands it. I understand the business. I understand how it goes.

"A lot of coaches get caught up in the change of owners. I've been lucky to have the same owner throughout."

Fourteen years and counting. Fourteen years and counting as the Eagles' head coach. He is the winningest coach in franchise history. His 126 regular-season wins are the 22nd most in NFL history.

But for all of the Eagles' success during his tenure, they still haven't won a Super Bowl. And that is the rub against Reid.

Good no longer is good enough. Making the playoffs no longer is good enough. Making the NFC Championship Game no longer is good enough.

Eight-and-eight damn sure isn't good enough.

Eagles fans are starving for a victory parade, and after 14 years of trying and failing, they're not sure Reid has what it takes to get them one.

The Eagles have been to the Super Bowl just once under Reid. That was 7 1/2 years ago. Lost to the Patriots by three points.

Seven-and-a-half years later, does he think back to that game much?

Does he replay it in his mind and wonder what he might have done differently?

No.

"That was a great experience," he said. "But you want to recapture and get back into that [game]. You want your team to have the opportunity to be there again. And to go win it this time.

"So you don't look back on it so much as you remember how it felt. It's more of a driver [going forward] than looking back and going, oh, if only I had done this, or if only this had happened.

"I don't do that. I don't dwell on that. [My focus is] let's put ourselves right back in position. Catch the right breaks and let's get back in there and go."

There are plenty of outstanding NFL coaches who have never won a Super Bowl. Five of the 21 coaches with more career wins than Reid - Marty Schottenheimer, Dan Reeves, Chuck Knox, Bud Grant and Marv Levy - never won an NFL title. Grant and Levy both have managed to get voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame without winning a title.

Maybe Reid will find comfort in that fact one day if he never wins a Super Bowl. At the moment, it's not something he thinks about.

"You're shooting [to win a Super Bowl] every year," he said. "But I never go to that dark side [and worry about never winning one]. I'm too busy working on trying to get our football team to do that. That's coaches and players collectively, to go get it. It would be such a great thing for this city. This is such a passionate football town."

That passion is why Reid has stayed here for 14 years and endured the frequent boos and fat jokes and "Andy must go" chants from the fans, and the constant scrutiny from the media.

He will never forget that moment at Lincoln Financial Field last month when those same fans gave him a 2-minute standing ovation and chanted his name before the first preseason game, just 2 days after he had buried his eldest son, Garrett.

"I know how Garrett felt about the Eagles and what he would want," Reid said when asked about his decision to return to the team so soon after his son's death. "I know that. I know how passionate he was about this football team.

"I appreciate every opportunity I have to coach. I get fired up to come work. I'm excited about it. Some of that probably has to do with the youth you're dealing with. As you grow older, they're staying the same age. And they're fresh. They're kids. They're excited about life. You kind of feed off of that."

Lurie's 8-8-won't-be-good-enough decree has not changed Reid's approach to this season. It has not created a greater sense of urgency, because his sense of urgency is high every season.

"Every year my urgency level is up," he said. "I keep it high every year. I presume that's the way it is with most coaches in this league. If you don't, the players are going to see that. If you're not wired that way, the players will read through that, the coaches will read through that. You've got to be wired right to do it and keep yourself at that level."

One of Reid's greatest strengths is his relationship with his players.

They appreciate that, with the exception of his do-the-math comment about David Akers after he missed two makeable field goals in a five-point playoff loss to the Packers 2 years ago, he doesn't rip guys in public.

While general manager Howie Roseman has been credited with the player-friendly approach the team has taken in recent months when it re-signed Todd Herremans, Trent Cole, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Evan Mathis, Reid had more than a little something to do with that. He saw the negative impact Jackson had on his team last year during his contract funk. Saw the distraction Asante Samuel became after the club dangled him as trade bait and then didn't get rid of him.

"We made it a point to go re-sign our guys," Reid said. "These are good young players. I thought Howie did a heck of a job with that. Does it mean you're going to win more games? I don't know that. But I know they're good football players and they're in a good place right now mentally and physically.

"You hear this from players: 'If I do OK for you, will you take care of us?' That's kind of a general theme. You don't want to deviate away from that. As long as it fits in the age group - and they understand that - as long as you're honest and shooting straight," they'll play hard for you.

Reid always has done an excellent job of keeping his team on an even keel. Never too high. Never too low. Through 1-4 starts, through injuries to key players, he never panics, and his teams have usually followed his lead. Nine times in the last 12 years the Eagles have won four or more of their last six games.

"Everybody's going to be watching you," Reid said. "You're the head coach. Whether it's the owner, the players, the assistant coaches, all eyes are coming at you. You've got to analyze and try to make what's right for the Philadelphia Eagles and keep that going right.

"So when emotions might be going in a different direction, you've got to make sure you're trying to do what's best for the team. As a head coach, that's my focus. Try not to do the irrational."

Very few coaches spend 14 seasons with the same team. Even fewer manage to survive that long without winning a championship. Jeff Fisher coached the Houston Oilers-Tennessee Titans for 16 1/2 years and never hit pay dirt. Finally got canned after the 2010 season.

Bill Cowher spent 14 years at the helm of the Pittsburgh Steelers before his Super Bowl ship finally came in. Maybe 14 will be the charm for Reid, too. Maybe not.

"You never know during the season what's going to happen," Reid said.

"So you're always shooting for [the Super Bowl]. You can kind of measure it against other years as far as knowing whether your chances are a little better than other years. At least initially. But so many things happen in a stinking season. That's why you've literally got to be focused in on the one-game-at-a-time thing. Because of the human factor that's involved."

And this year? Does he think this year's team can make a Super Bowl run?

"There's [enough] talent on this team [to do it]," he said. "But it's how you come together. How you handle the good times. How you handle the bad times.

"Is everybody going to stick together during the tough times, and is everybody going to keep their egos intact during the good times? Coaches and players. If you can do that, you stand a chance.

"But talentwise and coachingwise, I think we're capable of doing that."


Contact Paul Domowitch at pdomo@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @Pdomo. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' blog at eagletarian.com.

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