Fire Andy Reid? For Who? For What?


Contributor Patrick Kelly (he's Irish) does an excellent job of comparing Andy Reid to Bill Cowher, and calls out the folks calling for Reid's head.  

Listen to the radio in Philadelphia for a minute these days and you’ll hear it over and over again: Fire Reid! Skim an article online you’ll see it repeated ad nauseum in the comments section: Fire Reid! Ask any guy in line at Wawa what he’d like to see the Eagles do in the offseason and he’ll tell you loud and clear: Fire Reid! It’s the battle cry du jour in the City of Brotherly Love. This is often the case at this time of year, after the Eagles season has ended with an all too familiar thud.

After 12 years of coming up too short, Eagles fans seem to have had their fill of Andy Reid’s stewardship. In some ways that’s fair. Andy never seems to improve his weaknesses. But in other ways it’s almost childish entitlement, after all, this year was supposed to be a rebuilding year, a year where the Eagles jettisoned all the veterans and handed the ball over to all their young talent.  But then from out of nowhere Mike Vick, the supposed back-up QB, showed up with a Superman cape and dumpster full of fireworks, makinh us all believe again. And all of a sudden a 10-6 record, a division championship, and a playoff berth became a big disappointment in a year where none of that was even expected in the first place. And so the fans cry out once again, Fire Reid.  But for who? For what?

If you ask Andy Reid’s detractors who they would rather see piloting the Eagles, many would summon the name of Bill Cowher, the former head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and by popular opinion one of the greatest football coaches still alive today. Cowher has been one of the most coveted coaches on the market since he retired from the Steelers in 2007, and many Eagles fans see him as a guy who can finally deliver a championship to this “close but no cigar” franchise.

Cowher earned this reputation by winning exactly one Super Bowl, in his 14th year as the head coach of the Steelers. Before that he, like Andy, was the overrated coach that could never win the big one. He, like Andy, was on the losing side of four Conference Championships and one Super Bowl. But eventually he did win a Super Bowl and transformed himself from the guy the Steelers just wouldn’t give up on, to one of the greatest living NFL coaches. One Super Bowl, it’s all that separates the idiots from the geniuses in the NFL.

Thanks to that Lombardi Trophy, Bill Cowher is widely considered a great football coach, a winner. A man who understands how to win the big one. A brilliant defensive mind who knows the importance of a power running game. A real genius. By contrast, Andy Reid, who has never held that trophy as a head coach, is to his detractors, an idiot who will never win the big game. After 12 years as head coach, they say he is too stubborn, that he doesn’t run the ball enough. That he can’t make in-game adjustments. He can’t manage the clock or challenge calls appropriately. He’s too nice. Too fat. Too Mormon.  But Bill Cowher also went 12+ years without winning a Super Bowl, surely they must’ve said the same type of things about him in Pittsburgh. A quick search reveals that yes, they did.

Here’s a little excerpt from the comments on a blog post from January of 2005, just after the Steelers lost another conference Championship game, 12 months before Cowher would win his only Super Bowl.


“4 Championship losses at home and in all of them but one they were favored and in 2 of the ones that he lost they were favored by double digit points. Also, him deciding to kick that field goal in last year’s game made him look like a retard. He is not an x’s and o’s coach he is a system guy, when he faces a defense that can stop the run he is not smart enough to handle it…”


Here, Cowher is criticized for not being able to adjust to a defense “that can stop the run”. In other words, Cowher runs too much. Reid, as the old song goes, passes too much. They are 2 sides to the same coin. The commenter goes on:


“As long as the man is our head coach he will never win anything major. […] they need a Bill Parcells or someone who has a track record of winning. Bill Cowher great in the regular season a drooling retard in the playoffs …”



Sound familiar? What would’ve happened if the Steelers fired Cowher that year and hired Parcells? Would they have won the Super Bowl? Ask yourself that when you demand Reid’s head. What would a guy like Cowher be able to do with this Eagles team? You might say, “Cowher is a better coach than Reid”. The numbers tell a different story. Let’s take a look at their careers side by side, through 12 Seasons.


Through 12 Seasons    Reid       Cowher

10+ win seasons



Division Titles



Losing Seasons



Conference Championship




Super Bowl Record



Regular Season Record



Playoff Record




The symmetry of this chart is uncanny. Through 12 seasons, each coach enjoyed several Division titles, conference championship games, and winning seasons. Their overall records are separated by only three wins. They each even have one tie for crying out loud. Each coach came frustratingly close to the Super Bowl a number of times, and each lost their lone Super Bowl opportunity to a budding dynasty (Eagles to the 03 Patriots, Steelers to the 95 Cowboys) with their quarterback throwing 3 interceptions (McNabb, ODonnell) in that game.

Through 12 years, the two coaches are in a dead heat, but only through 12 years. Add in Cowher’s next 3 seasons, and he wins a Super Bowl, adds five more playoff victories to his resume, and retires as a genius destined for Canton. As for Andy Reid, we’ll have to wait and see.

Perhaps a similar fate awaits Andy. Perhaps his next 3 years with the Eagles will be magical. Maybe he can break through and win that Lombardi Trophy and cement his spot in the Pantheon, next to the Great Bills, (Bellichek, Cowher, and Parcells). Perhaps not.

The fact is that we will definitely get to find out. The only people who truly want Andy Reid fired are a large portion of the fan base, and a few radio hosts that have an axe to grind, or a show to fill. We all know that Jeffrey Lurie has no intention of firing Andy. After all, he has two more years on his deal, which will bring him to his 14th year. Maybe Lurie has been following this Cowher parallel all along. Maybe if he doesn’t win it in one of the next two seasons, the Eagles will finally have to turn the page and move on.  But until then, don’t waste your breath trying to fire Andy. He’s here to stay. For now.

I used to make analogies between McNabb and Steve Young, but then later I learned that he was really Drew Bledsoe. So it remains to be seen, is Andy really Bill Cowher …  just without a running game, a defense, and a Super Bowl Ring, or is he merely Jeff Fisher. Only time will tell.


24 Responses

  1. thank you for writing this and being reasonable when the entire city (including/especially its radio personalities) is in retard mode. i’m sick of hearing this “fire andy” and even “fire mcdermott” bullshit over and over again. eagles fans are notorious for the fact that 100% have an opinion, and 95% of those opinions are completely uninformed and uneducated. no wonder the rest of the country hates us.

  2. Great post. Totally agree. Realistically this was a rebuilding year. Nobody would admit it, but the team did zero to improve themselves other than the draft, which is always a crapshoot. And they went 10-6 in a rebuilding year. They had the league fooled for awhile, but eventually teams figured out how to slow down the offense and that was that.
    I don’t get the people who say “we’ll give him 1 or 2 more years and then if no Super Bowl, he’s gone.” With at least 6-7 holes to fill on defense (maybe more if Mikell and Cole won’t be here after this season) + 2 or 3 on the O-line it’s unrealistic to think that they could be ready to win a SB before 2012, unless many of these young players suddenly blossom overnight. And Graham and Allen may never be the same – just like Abiamiri, McDougle, etc who never overcame early injuries. The Eagles could make the playoffs again, maybe even win a game. But in order to have a team that is good enough to beat the top 5 or 6 teams in the league in a playoff game, they need some major upgrades. And it will probably take 2 very active offseasons to pull that off.

  3. Incredible post. One thing you forgot to mention that I vehimetely told people is that Reid’s ability to work with QB’s is the reason Vick was as good as he was this year. In fact, Vick, who at 31 and pretty much missed three years, had the best season of his life. How? Because Andy Reid’s system and ability to work with QB’s.
    Does he make bad decisions? Yea but a lot of seasons have ended thanks to the secondary and run defense shitting the bed at the wrong times. Not Reid’s fault.

  4. i hate the whole ‘michael vick and andy reid’ saving the season idea.. andy reid didn’t make vick into what he is.. tony dungy and all of them were the ones who rebuild him into what he is today. andy just put him in after kolb got hurt. vick’s sooo fast on such a weak offensive line that he’s probably the only qb that would be able to handle playing under that line and excel.. as great as tom brady is, even brady wouldn’t be able to play like brady. i was never a vick fan (i’ll give him his props though) but HE was the one to save the season. not reid.

  5. OK, so what about those of us who want Andy Reid gone & aren’t asking for Cowher to be the guy who replaces him?
    Reid is still making the same stupid mistakes that he was making 12 years ago. He still calls a lop-sided offense that leads to a lot of short drives, exposing his defense, getting his QB killed, making clock management a near impossibility, etc.
    He still stinks at making in-game adjustments. (Does he ever actually make them?)
    He still wastes time-outs due to ineffectiveness @ getting the play-calls into the huddle fast enough.
    And he still wastes some of the best running backs the team has ever had.
    McCoy had 12 carries on Sunday. Think about that. Name another head coach who would have given him a MINIMUM of 20 carries, especially with D-Jax out for a good bit of the game.
    This team will NEVER win a Super Bowl with Reid as a head coach. Never.
    He still thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, while everyone with half a brain has him figured out.
    He. Has. To. Go. Period.

  6. Andy Reid is a waste of space. So is our offensive line. I don’t understand how this was supposed to be a rebuilding year if we had no O-line to build on.

  7. Andy isn’t blameless – no real plan B at Center and Right Guard for Jackson and Stacy Andrews come to mind. But ultimately very few people thought they would win 10 games and they did. When you evaluate 2010 though, you should look at it on how he did in 2010, not the previous years and previous mistakes.
    Here are 2 other things to consider: Only Madden and Cowher were with 1 team for that long before winning their first SB. Usually if it doesn’t happen in your first 8 or 9 years there, it doesn’t happen. And no retread SB winner has ever won a SB at his next job. So the calls for Gruden, Cowher, Billick….history says they won’t win it here either. It plays into the combination of skill and good luck that is involved.
    I think they need a new philosophy on defense as well. Even when they had studs like Dawkins, Trotter, etc and Johnson as D.C., this team always got picked apart by an elite QB in the postseason. Favre in 2003 is about the only one they ever beat. They were lucky the NFC had a lot of mediocre QBs on playoff teams in those years. As soon as they ran up against a Warner, Romo, Brady, Brees, etc they would lose. And occasionally would lose to a mediocre QB too. You can’t go into a game against a good QB and O-line with a philosophy of blitzing them half the time as the only way to get pressure. QBs like the ones above wanted to get blitzed so they could carve you up.

  8. Andy, did you read the article? It wasn’t just directed towards the people that wanted Cowher. The article said was making a comparison between Reid and Cowher – that through 12 years Reid is facing pretty much the same criticism Cowher did through 12 years, yet when Cowher won the Super Bowl, he became one of the greatest coaches of this generation.
    It’s hard to find a good coach, particularly one that will lead a team to the playoffs year in and year out, and that’s what Reid has done. You point to an ineffective run game on Sunday. It’s hard to run when you have a crappy O-line and when you run on 1st and 10 you only pick up 2 yards. Fact is, the Eagles had the 5th best rushing offense in the NFL, and best rushing offense in the NFC this year.

  9. I did read the article. But even with that lousy o-line McCoy lead the NFC in yards from scrimmage & averaged 5.2 yards/carry.
    12 carries??? That’s just idiotic. And the GB run defense is not good.
    I’m just done with the guy. I’m tired of his “I need to do a better job” nonsense. He says it, but he never does it.
    He did one thing right this season – he was smart enough to make Vick the starter. But even Vick can’t make up for a head coach who is inept in the playoffs.

  10. ” By contrast, Andy Reid, who has never held that trophy as a head coach, is to his detractors, an idiot who will never win the big game. After 12 years as head coach, they say he is too stubborn, that he doesn’t run the ball enough. That he can’t make in-game adjustments. He can’t manage the clock or challenge calls appropriately. . . . .But Bill Cowher also went 12+ years without winning a Super Bowl, surely they must’ve said the same type of things about him in Pittsburgh. A quick search reveals that yes, they did.”
    Well, they *never* said that Cowher didn’t run the ball enough.
    I don’t want a “genius” head coach. I want a guy who is just smart enough to see all the young talent on this team & not waste it. He just wasted another golden opportunity in the playoffs. I’m tired of his teams losing playoffs games that they should win.

  11. Andy, where did all the young talent come from? Are you giving Reid, the GM, some credit here?
    And you’re right, they never said Cowher didn’t run enough, they said he ran too much. It’s the same complaint: unbalanced offense. Did the Greatest Show on Turf pass too much? Did last years Saints pass too much? I do agree that Andy doesn’t run enough, but plenty of coaches have called balanced attacks and won nothing. The only thing that matters is results.

  12. It’s all so dumb. Reid would be facing 5 job offers from other teams within an hour of his firing. Does ANYONE remember Ray Rhodes, Rich Kotite? And I have as many career playoff wins as Buddy Ryan! So much goes into being the only one standing at the end of the season that is complete luck (like Westbrook not getting hurt or your QB throwing up!). I for one refuse to call Belichick a genius. He’s just a good football coach with confidence in his system who was s%*t lucky enough to not pass on Tom Brady in the draft for a sixth time after he passed him up five other times. Everyone likes to point out how the pats won 10 games when Brady was hurt, neglecting to mention that they MISSED THE PLAYOFFS in a weak, weak division. Christ Barry Switzer won a super bowl! The emotion of the season ending shouldn’t cause us to do an incredibly moronic thing like fire the best coach we may have ever had in ANY sport in this town. Period. We now have a young team positioned to be a contended for at least five years. Shut up and enjoy it.

  13. 1. re-sign vick
    2. draft some o-lineman
    3. draft a DT and a linebacker
    4. re-sign akers
    5. wait and pray
    6. super bowl

  14. Sure, I give Reid some credit for some of the draft picks. But do you really want to look at his draft record? Outside of 2 or 3 good drafts, his record is not very good. And D-Jax was just dumb luck that he was still on the board. He draft more bust d-lineman than anyone in nfl history.

  15. Andy, I concur. His D-line selections are brutal. He’s got to do a better job there. LMAO. Even his D-line free agent signings have been brutal. Truth is though, he hasn’t had many top 10 picks in his tenure. Hard to get a stud after that point.

  16. i completely agree with you andy in all of your comments. nice to know somebody has the same thoughts as i do.

  17. Overall pass/run ratio Sunday: 42 called passes, 19 called runs. Prior to last 2 drives, when they were down 2 scores with 8 mins to go and had to pass, the ratio up to that point was: 28 passes, 15 runs. Not an outrageous difference. Probably 90% teams in league have similar ratio in first 40 play calls and then if ahead they run more and it looks more balance. If behind they throw more and it gets out of balance.
    It wasn’t like McCoy was running great anyway. He had 12 carries for 46 yards with a long of 9. And 3 times he carried the ball on 3rd and short in the game and failed to pick up the first down.
    People see what they want to see. And you can’t just say in January we’re going to run the ball 30 times, after not really doing it all year. You have to build a team who does that and start in training camp. You can fault him for how he constructs a team. I think that’s fair at times. But once you break camp and play the season, you are what you are. This team got to 10 wins and the playoffs with Vick throwing the ball most of the time and scrambling when needed. To do something new that isn’t a strength in the playoffs is unrealistic and probably counterproductive. You dance with what brung ya.
    Details here –

  18. Rebuilding year? Then how come all of the major pre-season magazines, from Lindy’s at Athlon to Street & Smith’s, picked the Eagles to win 10-12 games and finish either 1st or 2nd in the NFC East?
    And Reid’s teams have persistently been too small, on both sides of the ball, and he adamantly refuses to do anything about it: Remember his brilliant decision on Draft Day 2005 to pass up Brandon Jacobs in favor of Ryan Moats? The Eagles have lost countless games because they didn’t have a big back that can move the chains on short yardage (if they don’t miss that 3rd and 1 in the 4th quarter, Akers doesn’t even get the opportunity to miss that 34-yard field goal attempt). And the starting defense in the wild-card game averaged 6’0.2″ and 238 pounds – the smallest starting defense in the NFL.
    A good big team will beat a good little team most of the time – and so long as Reid insists on the Eagles being a good little team, they will never be good enough to win the big one.

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