Eagles' moves after Andy Reid's likely dismissal will also tell what Jeffrey Lurie thinks of Howie Roseman

Andy Reid will almost certainly be coaching the Eagles for the last time when the Birds visit the Giants. After that will come the hard partfor owner Jeffrey Lurie: Figuring out to whom he will entrust the future of his team.
Andy Reid will almost certainly be coaching the Eagles for the last time when the Birds visit the Giants. After that will come the hard partfor owner Jeffrey Lurie: Figuring out to whom he will entrust the future of his team. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 31, 2012

Andy Reid probably won't have to wait very long to receive the news. If Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is going to remove him as head coach, Reid will most likely get the message soon after he leaves the field at the Meadowlands late Sunday afternoon.

Maybe the owner will ask Reid to meet him back at the NovaCare Complex when the team returns to Philadelphia. Maybe he will request a meeting Monday morning at the team facility. In any case, Lurie has enough respect for Reid after 14 years of working together to deliver that decision in person.

There is still a chance - say, one in 20 - that Lurie will find a way to rationalize Reid's return for the 2013 season. That would be a surprise, however, and would say more about the owner's doubt in his own ability to hire a better coach than about his certainty Reid can still do the job.

In all likelihood, the firing of Andy Reid is going to happen, and while it will be the most momentous event for the organization in more than a decade, it will be only the second-most interesting aspect of the shake-up that will begin this week.

Far more interesting, because it is far less predictable, is how Lurie thinks the football operation should be structured. We will already know what Lurie thinks about Reid's tenure, but the choices that follow the coach's dismissal will also tell us what the owner thinks about general manager Howie Roseman and the player personnel department he has assembled in the front office.

Essentially, Lurie can go one of three ways:

Hire a strong, established coach who will demand great influence and final say over the roster, relegating Roseman to a position of lesser influence.

Hire an up-and-coming NFL assistant or coordinator, or a college coach, and also hire a veteran player personnel vice president, relegating Roseman to a position of lesser influence.

Hire an up-and-coming NFL assistant or coordinator, or a college coach, and give Roseman free rein to run the player personnel department.

The identity of the coach Lurie hires, and whether he also adds a heavyweight to the player personnel department, will tell you whether Roseman has been held blameless for the recent slide that dovetails with his elevation to the general manager's office before the 2010 season.

It is possible that Roseman has skated away cleanly, even though his Junior GM Secret Draft Decoder Ring hasn't always operated properly, and even though the team he helped assemble for this season is a thin excuse for an NFL roster.

The bottom half of the roster, where the special teams are culled, and where replacements must be found for the top half in the event of injury or poor play, is, to be as plain as possible, not very talented. The team was $20 million under the salary cap this season, but what the front office gave Reid was not exactly a cost-efficient bag of diamonds in the rough.

The Eagles saved money by moving past players like Mike McGlynn, Joselio Hanson, Winston Justice, Juqua Parker, Trevor Laws, Greg Lloyd, Asante Samuel, Moise Fokou, Trevard Lindley, and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. No one is suggesting that is a list of Pro Bowl players. Only that the list is better, albeit marginally more expensive, than the one that replaced it.

As for the three drafts that Roseman has overseen, the most recent one is the best, if only because defensive tackle Fletcher Cox looks to be a solid first-round choice. The other drafts, however, don't inspire much confidence. The first four picks of the 2011 draft - Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Curtis Marsh, and Casey Matthews - would alone be enough to get most general managers fired.

Roseman isn't going anywhere, however. He received a long-term contract extension over the summer - which the organization chose to keep a secret until it couldn't - and the only question is whether he still has the full confidence of the owner. The next few weeks or months will tell that story.

It is popular in Philadelphia to blame Reid for everything that has gone wrong, and he is certainly a handy target. He has to ultimately answer for the mess his defense became after the death of Jim Johnson, and that includes the whole Sean McDermott, Juan Castillo, and Jim Washburn fallout. He has to answer for the failure of the Michael Vick experiment. There's plenty to blame on Reid.

But he does not have to answer for the fire drill - sorry, Danny - that the offensive line became this season, and he doesn't have to answer for not having a single NFL-quality reserve in the defensive backfield. Those fill-in positions are the responsibility of the player personnel department, and that department failed the coach badly.

Reid, being the good soldier that he is, never criticized what he had on the roster. The closest he came was after the Eagles lost their eighth straight game, largely because of horrendous lapses in the secondary, and someone asked why he didn't give cornerback Marsh or safety David Sims a try.

"You're assuming they've played well when they've played," Reid said. "I'm in the position where I've got to make that judgment for sure."

Maybe my starters stink, Reid was saying, but you should see what's behind them.

Aside from that rare peek into his true feelings, Reid took all the arrows himself, and no one from the front office had the guts to step forward and provide any cover. It hasn't been pretty, but at least it's almost over.

And now it gets interesting. Firing Reid will be the easiest decision Lurie has to make. Deciding who can be trusted with the future of the team is the tough call. We'll learn a lot more from that one.


Contact columnist Bob Ford at bford@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @bobfordsports.

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