Paul Domowitch: By picking KC, Reid going to a football town

Andy Reid heading into the locker room for the final time after the season-ending loss to the Giants.   YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Andy Reid heading into the locker room for the final time after the season-ending loss to the Giants.   YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Posted: January 07, 2013

Periodically, during his 14 years as the Eagles' head coach, I asked Andy Reid the million-dollar question:

Why in God's name do you still want to coach in this town?

I'm not breaking any news here by saying there are a lot of easier places in the National Football League for a coach to make a living than Philadelphia.

Places where you don't have to worry about getting a beer dumped on you after a loss. Places where they don't hurl four-letter words at you.

Places where you're not subjected to the kind of abuse from the fans and scrutiny from the media - or is that scrutiny from the fans and abuse from the media? - that Reid had to deal with on a regular basis here.

Every time I asked the question, he looked at me with that why-is-it-so-hard-for-you-to-understand look and say, "The passion, man. The passion. Nobody's more passionate about their football team than Eagles fans. They care. I mean they really, really care. And I love that about them.

"When they're happy with you, they show it. And when they're not happy with you, they show that, too. But that's OK. I like that."

The winters are much colder in Kansas City than they are in a couple of the other places Reid probably could have gone to work after getting fired by the Eagles earlier in the week. But I'm not at all surprised by his choice.

Phoenix and San Diego aren't football cities. They're resorts. They're places to go to play golf or work on your tan or die.

Kansas City is a football town. Or at least it was when the Chiefs were good. And if Reid can somehow make them good again, as he made the Eagles good again, he'll feel the same kind of passion in Arrowhead Stadium that he felt at the Vet and the Linc.

Minus the beer dumps and four-letter insults.

Carl Peterson worked in both Philly and Kansas City. Was the Eagles' personnel chief when Dick Vermeil took the team to the Super Bowl. Was president of the USFL's Philadephia Stars. He also spent 20 years as the Chiefs' president.

Peterson took over a hapless franchise that had fallen on hard times and rebuilt it into a team that reeled off nine straight winning seasons from 1989 to '97 and made six straight playoff appearances.

"In Philadelphia, when we got it going in the right direction with the Eagles, the fan base was unbelievable," Peterson said. "They might not always like what you did or how you did it. But they cared and were going to be there.

"With the Chiefs, once we got it going, it was the same way. We had our first sellout in our second year and then had something like 169 straight sellouts.

"The passion was there. The game-day experience at Arrowhead became something really, really special. Just like in Philly.

"We drew from six to seven states. We had season ticketholders not just from Missouri and Kansas, but Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas. Those are some of the most wonderful, loyal unique fans in the NFL."

The Chiefs have had losing seasons 5 of the last 6 years, including 2-14 this season. The fan passion has gone into hibernation.

Only about 25,000 fans bothered to show up for the Chiefs' final home game against the Colts on Dec. 23. More than half their 135 luxury suites and 10,000 club seats were unsold this year.

But if Reid can resuscitate the Chiefs, the excitement will return.

"There was a lot of passion for the Chiefs in that town," said Peterson, who stepped down in 2008. "I can see why Kansas City would appeal to Andy. It's similar to Philly in a lot of ways. Certainly more so than San Diego and Arizona.

"Winning helps solve a lot of problems. If he can give those fans true honest hope that this can be the year, they'll come out."

O'Brien did the right thing

In the end, Bill O'Brien did the right thing, and that's all that matters. After talking to both the Browns and the Eagles about their head-coaching openings, he decided to stay at Penn State.

I don't know how altruistic his decision was. He said he is a man of his word and couldn't "cut and run" after 1 year, and it'd be nice to believe that's what made him stay, not the hefty raise the school gave him or the expensive buyout on his deal. Regardless, the bottom line is he's staying.

The Nittany Lions' football program would have been devastated if he had left. Many of the players who elected to stay there because of him almost certainly would have left. Most of the recruits who have committed to the school would have uncommitted.

It wouldn't have done much good for O'Brien's image and reputation, either, and I think he knew that. Remember when former Giants running back Tiki Barber dumped his 8 months' pregnant wife to take up with a 23-year-old NBC intern a couple of years ago? Remember what people thought of him after that? That's how O'Brien would have been perceived if he had abandoned Penn State right now.

I think O'Brien is going to be a helluva NFL head coach someday. But he needed to stay put right now. He needed to do the right thing.

And he did.

Figuring the Eagles

* LeSean McCoy led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns last season. This year, 51 players had more than he did (two), including quarterbacks Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Matthew Stafford.

* Last year, with All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters leading the way, 43.1 percent of McCoy's runs were to the left side. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry running to the left. This year, only 31.7 percent of his runs were to the left side, and he averaged only 4.0 yards per carry when he did go that way.

* Only 45 of McCoy's 200 rushing attempts, or 22.5 percent, resulted in first downs this season. Last year, 30.8 percent of his carries (84 of 273) picked up first downs. He had 48 runs of 10 yards or more last year. This year, in 73 fewer carries, he had only 22. Bryce Brown had 18 in 115 carries.

* Eighty-four of McCoy and Bryce Brown's combined 315 rushing attempts, or 26.7 percent, went for zero or negative yards.

* Mike Vick finished 23rd in the league in passing this season with a 78.1 rating. That's nine spots and 6.8 rating points lower than last year. Yet Vick was better on third down and in the red zone and against the blitz this season than he was last year. A look at his 2011-12 numbers in those three categories:

THIRD DOWN

Comp. Yds.

Pct. p/att. TD INT Rat.

2012 57.8 6.9 7 2 95.1

2011 56.3 7.2 5 6 71.1

RED ZONE

2012 46.7 3.4 9 1 85.5

2011 52.5 3.3 13 4 71.0

BLITZ

2012 48.2 7.2 6 2 80.5

2011 56.7 7.6 6 11 65.5

* The breakdown on Eagles red-zone receptions this season:

No.-Yds.-TD

Jeremy Maclin. . . 7-56-3

LeSean McCoy. . . 6-35-3

Brent Celek. . . 6-42-1

Clay Harbor. . . 5-32-2

Riley Cooper. . . 4-29-3

DeSean Jackson. . . 2-33-1

Jason Avant. . . 1- 3-0

* The Eagles converted only 12 of 41 third-down opportunities (29.3 percent) in their final three games. Converted only 33.0 percent of their third-down chances in their last eight games, 41.4 in their first eight.

* The Eagles finished with a minus-18 sack differential, giving up 48 and collecting only 30. That's the worst sack differential by an Eagles team since 1997 (minus-21).

* Ten of the Eagles' league-high 37 turnovers came on their first and second possessions of the game this season, which goes a long way in explaining why they were outscored, 106-31, in the first quarter. The Eagles averaged 4,26 yards per play on their first and second possessions this season. Last year, they averaged 5.79.

Quick hits

* When Jeff Lurie absolved GM Howie Roseman of blame for the Eagles' 2011 draft and then refused to say who deserved to take the hit for that debacle - "I want to take a much higher road than that," he said - much of the media thought he was taking a shot at former club president Joe Banner. But Banner wasn't involved enough in the draft to be the fall guy. I think Lurie was actually referring to Andy Reid.

* While I'm not suggesting Roseman should be fired for his role in the failures of the 2011 draft, for Lurie to suggest that the mistakes that were made in that draft "have little or nothing to do with Howie's evaluations" is just ridiculous. No one's suggesting he made the picks. But I've talked to him enough about the selections that were made to know he agreed with most of them. "I didn't have final say in football operations," Roseman said. "That's been clear. The process here was to make sure we gave players for everyone to evaluate and we went from there." OK, fine.

* The fact that the Browns, who fired both general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur, are shopping for a coach first, means Banner, who is the team's CEO, intends to be hands-on as far as personnel decisions are concerned. I suspect they'll end up hiring somebody with much less authority than Heckert had and giving him a title like executive VP-player personnel.

* There wasn't an undefeated team in the NFL this season, but there was an undefeated player. Broncos return ace Trindon Holliday was 5-0 with the Texans before they released him in October. He was claimed by the Broncos, who have won 11 in a row since Holliday joined the team.


Email: pdomo@aol.com

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: eagletarian.com

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