Parting shots at Reid’s defensive legacy

Now that it's finally evident that Andy Reid is done with the Philadelphia Eagles, the professional boo-birds are coming out in droves, feeling especially secure in filing their parting shots.

Nick Fierro of the Allentown Morning Call leads the way in calling out the defensive failings of Big Red. "Old Saint Nick" comes not to praise Andy Reid, but to bury him.






"That Andy Reid had no experience as a coordinator before being hired to run the Philadelphia Eagles turned out not to matter when it came to building a consistent championship contender. That he had no experience whatsoever playing or coaching defense has turned out to matter immensely, however, when it comes to the clueless defensive slop his team keeps serving tortured consumers week after week after week this season."

"By now, it's become obvious that Reid has no idea how to fix what's been going wrong with his defense ever since his decision to fire the only qualified coordinator [Sean McDermott] since Jim Johnson died in 2009."

So wrote Nick Fierro yesterday as he began his eulogy of the Reid era in Philly.

Despite Fierro's subjective bias in the matter, he does make a dramatic point.

Reid didn't really know back then and probably still has no idea now how good he had it in his first 10 seasons on the job, when Jim Johnson handled all things defense — and obviously did his job pretty well. Not until Johnson was stricken with cancer and Sean McDermott was forced into taking command did Reid even feel compelled to actually start paying attention to the defense during practice.

A good defense, not to mention good special teams under some guy named John Harbaugh, was something he likely had come to take for granted.

Johnson had made all the defensive personnel recommendations, which Reid rubber-stamped. Johnson put out all the fires, with Reid's full backing. JJ made all the calls on gameday, and anyone who defied him was … well, nobody defied him. That was the kind of respect he commanded.

All of that changed in 2009, when McDermott, then 35, could not possibly command that same kind of respect. Suddenly, there was no more blind faith. Veteran defensive ends such as Trent Cole and, yes, Jason Babin in his first Philadelphia stint, questioned McDermott's zone-blitz calls that had them occasionally dropping into coverage. Never mind that this was and is commonplace in today's NFL.

Defensive backs such as Asante Samuel often turned rogue cowboy, doing their own thing, not following the plays called from the sideline.

Reid, who will never be a defensive mastermind, concluded during player exit interviews that McDermott did not have the right personality to lead his defense after two seasons. Instead of backing him and sending a much-needed message to his players in the process, Reid fired him right after a 21-16 playoff loss to eventual Super Bowl champ Green Bay, an offensive juggernaut that would go on to put up 48 points on Atlanta the following week and 31 against Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

McDermott was too demanding, his players convinced him. They were uncomfortable. As Sonny Moonbeam would say, "Boo hoo"…

"This is when the real fun began," wrote Fierro. "Reid — did we mention he will never be a defensive mastermind — thought he could fix things by getting a guy like Jim Washburn who could satisfy his disgruntled defensive ends with a 9-technique alignment, then somehow mold Juan Castillo into a championship defensive coordinator who would get everybody on the same page and end the rebellion."

"Couple those mind-boggling decisions with years of poor defensive talent recognition — the Eagles last drafted a Pro Bowl defensive player (Cole) in 2005 — and you have what you have now: a team and a coach with no clue."

Reid's strengths have and always will be a great understanding of the offensive line, upon which he played and coached, and quarterbacks. He was smart enough in 1999 to hire Jim Johnson, draft Donovan McNabb and then add Jon Runyan as the opposite anchor to Tra Thomas on the offensive line the following season.

Since the last of those figures (McNabb, following the 2009 season) went out of the picture, the Eagles haven't won a playoff game. Since McDermott was jettisoned, they haven't even sniffed a playoff appearance.

When it comes to defense, Reid seemingly hasn't learned a whole lot in 14 years as head coach. Perhaps that's because he didn't need to get involved in the defensive scheme for the longest time.

Reporters have  asked him a number of times this season if he planned to get involved with the defensive play calls in the wake of the disaster that Todd Bowles has proved to be so far as coordinator.

"No" has been the response every time.

To that end, Reid is smart. He knows he is powerless to fix the laughingstock that his defense has become by speaking into the headset.

Ironically, the Eagles (3-9) now go up against the Tampa Bay Bucs (6-6), a team with a resurging defense.

Tampa Bay has the top-ranked rushing defense in the NFL. The Buccaneers are allowing just 82.3 yards per game. The Buccaneers have allowed two running backs to break loose, however. Washington rookie Alfred Morris gained 113 yards on 21 carries. Minnesota star Adrian Peterson ran for 123 yards on 15 attempts.


Amazingly we have reached the playoff portion of the FF schedule. ATV's Dirty Stinkin' Bums (8-5) upset Huddy's Hoes 144-136 to earn a "winner takes all" slot against JB's Bri Slappers (9-4), who eliminated Brozer's Bri-Bri Fantasy Boys, 113-98, in the semifinals.

The Finals shape up as a cunning match of wits between two general managers who have no time for dunces.

ATV's Bums come in as a 24-point favorite in the championship game (equivalent to a 1.5 point edge in NFL odds), but the game will be played on the home field of JB's Bri Slappers, where the JB-Sage has held a 4-2 advantage this season.

In consolation ladder matches— Jerky, PPW, Spiffo and Leo all won their respective games.

For those who may be wagering on the Final, ATV's Bums scored a total of 1425 points in the regular season while allowing just 1236… JB's Bri Slappers finished the regular season with 1303 PF, 1201 PA… Should be a close match. I'm betting a vanilla cake on ATV's Bums simply because I feel they will be the angrier team.


Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.