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In spite of my angst over Andy Reid the coach - mainly his end of half/end of game strategy, clock and timeout management, and his aversion to running the ball, I generally think he's done a pretty good job as coach over the last decade. His teams almost always finish strong and at least up until recently, whenever backups are forced into starting roles for a extended period of time, they generally do pretty well. That speaks to solid coaching and preparation.
But Andy Reid, the Director of Football Operations – the guy who has had final say over the majority of personnel decisions for the better part of a decade, has done Andy Reid the coach no favors the last few years. Just examine the litany of bad personnel decisions and talent evaluations they have made starting in 2007, excluding the drafts. The amount of money invested in under-performing players and stiffs is staggering, especially for an organization that has a well-earned reputation for throwing quarters around like manhole covers, and has tried to hold the line on giving new contracts to deserving players over the years like Runyan, Westbrook, Sheldon Brown, Trotter, and Dawkins.
It really begins in the middle of the 2006 season, when they gave hefty contract extensions to Reggie Brown (5 years/$27M) and Mike Patterson (7 years/$32M). Brown is now out of football and Patterson has become a situational player.
They decided to go into the 2007 season without a punt returner on the roster. It cost them the opening game when both Greg Lewis and JR Reed fumbled punts, setting up points for the Packers. They ultimately called Reno Mahe out of retirement to catch punts the rest of the season.
They decided to go into the 2008 season without a Fullback, then asked Tony Hunt and Dan Klecko to try to play the position, after they had both spent the offseason preparing to play other positions (tailback for Hunt, DT for Klecko). This ended up potentially costing them about 3 wins when they were unable to gain a yard on 3rd & 1 or 4th & 1 late in games. A decent Fullback may have helped.
The 2008-09 offseason began with them letting Brian Dawkins leave over what amounted to a dispute over about $1M more guaranteed per season. They had no replacement plan for him and the poor play of the trio of free safeties – Macho Harris, Quinton Demps, and Sean Jones, likely cost them at least 1 win.
And in that same offseason, they acquired Jason Peters from Buffalo for a 1st round pick and gave him a new 6 year/$60M contract, after a season in which he held out and then was among the league leaders in both sacks allowed and offensive holding penalties. They also signed Shawn Andrews' big brother Stacy Andrews to a 6 year/$39M contract, after a season in which he tore his ACL in December. Peters has been a disappointment and Andrews couldn't get on the field when he was here.
The 2009-10 offseason appeared to be the start of a transition. They traded Donovan McNabb, Sheldon Brown, and either cut or traded several other veterans including Brian Westbrook, reducing their overall payroll by about $30M. They signed Winston Justice to a 4 yr/$18.5M extension. That's not outlandish money, but they probably overpaid for a mediocre player who really only played by default because neither of the Andrews Sisters could beat him out and they had nobody better. In a minor move they traded DE Chris Clemons and a 4th round draft pick to Seattle for DE Darryl Tapp and then promptly signed him to 2 year/$9M extension. Tapp has been deactivated the first 2 games thus far and that looks like more money spent unwisely, on top of giving up a 4th round draft pick.
And lastly, this spring they picked up the $5.2M option on Michael Vick and gave Kevin Kolb a 2 year/$12.3M extension (all guaranteed). When the 2009-10 season ended their biggest needs were O-line, DE, DT, safety, and LB. They at least tried to address their needs on defense and we'll see how the draft picks and Ernie Sims work out.
But it was a head-scratcher to me that they did nothing to fix the O-line when they were planning to transition to Kevin Kolb. I guess their plan involved a lot of hope - hoping that Peters would improve and live up to his contract, that Herremans would stay healthy for a whole season, that Jamaal Jackson would return ahead of schedule from an ACL injury last December and play well (when they had evidence of how hard that is from Stacy Andrews the previous year), that Stacey Andrews would be able to play and play well, and that Kolb would come in immediately and play like a good veteran QB. And mostly none of those things have happened so far. Reid and the other personnel people were completely negligent in this area. Their backup plan was King Dunlap (can't play), Nick Cole (meh), Mike McGlynn (meh), and Max Jean-Gilles (can't play). Good luck with that.
And when you take all of these personnel decisions in total, you have to question whether there is a plan. They are losing games every year because of these negligent decisions. At least I thought they had a plan before, even though I disagreed with their obsession over being competitive 3 years from now as opposed to improving the team today. But right now it looks like they are just winging it. Replacing Kolb with Vick, after spending all offseason getting Kolb ready to play and after just 6 good quarters from Vick is a reactive impulsive decision. Reid has spent most of the last 20 years working with and developing QBs, so the lack of patience on his part is shocking. And if the reason for the QB change is the porous O-line, well then Kolb (or any QB really) was set up to fail by the bad personnel decisions in that area over the last few years.
Somebody should lose their job over the way this saga has been handled and the bad personnel decisions over the last few years and the cumulative effect they have had on the team. There is an accountability issue with this team and the people running things are way too comfortable. Their revenues are fixed, their expenses are fixed and are always much less than revenues, they have tens of thousands of people on a waiting list to buy season tickets, and their coach and personnel people are locked into multi-year contracts. So if the team under-performs, there is no pressure within the organization to hold anyone to account for that? When it's all said and done at the end of the season, the only person who will lose his job is Kolb. It may well be deserved, but he shouldn't be the only one.