Reid's Wagon Hitched To Kolb
By Lance Epstein
April 5, 2010. A date that will go down and be remembered in Eagles lore forever. But for what?
Will the Easter weekend of 2010 be remembered as the day that the Eagles traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to division rival Washington, but managed actually improved their franchise?
Or will this day go down as the moment that the direction of a franchise took a turn for the worse and marked the end Andy Reid’s tenure as Eagles head coach? According to ESPN.com's NFC East reporter Matt Mosley, the transition from McNabb to Kevin Kolb will determine Reid's future with the franchise. In fact, Mosley picked this as the biggest question mark looming over the NFC East in 2010.
Mosley pondered the question, "Is Eagles head coach Andy Reid's coaching reputation on the line in 2010?" as part of ESPN's "eight biggest questions." Each of the eight questions covers one question from each of the eight divisions in the NFL. A major reason that Mosley weighs in on this subject is due to Reid’s power within the organization. Reid is one of only a handful of coaches in the NFL to have the luxury of the final say in any personnel matters, so if it backfires it is squarely on his shoulders.
"I didn't realize this until I stumbled upon it during a thrilling Google search, but Andy Reid's the eighth-longest tenured coach in professional sports," Mosley wrote. "He's also one of only three NFL coaches who have ultimate authority when it comes to personnel moves.
"That means that Donovan McNabb would still be with the Eagles if Reid had decided to fight for his quarterback. Reid not only signed off on a trade, but he approved trading McNabb to a team that will have two cracks at the Eagles every season for the foreseeable future. Reid's been an outrageously successful coach since taking over the Eagles in 1999, but all those wins can't overshadow the fact that he's never won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia. Truth be told, Reid and Joe Banner thought they'd have two or three Super Bowl titles by now."
Reid's job is definitely on the rocks with his decision to give Kolb the keys to the Eagles franchsie since he has not won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia like Mosley points out. On the other hand, Mosley makes a valid point that if Reid can develop Kolb faster than expect, make the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs in 2010 then Reid legacy will be cemented as one of the greatest coaches of his era.
"But the two men (plus new general manager Howie Roseman) have raised the stakes this season," he wrote. "They truly believe they can trade the best quarterback in the history of the franchise while he still has some tread on the tires and not take a step back. If Reid can lead the Eagles deep into the playoffs with Kevin Kolb at quarterback, it will cement his status as one of the best coaches in the league."
Nevertheless, Mosley states that this situation is a huge risk [trading McNabb inside the division and replacing him with a unknown in Kolb] that could potentially cost Reid is his job. At the same time, general manager Howie Roseman told Mosley it is not a gamble at all for Reid and the Eagles after watching Kolb in practice for years.
"But this is an absolute high-wire act from the start," Mosley wrote talking about if Kolb fails to take the Eagles to new heights. "If the Eagles flame out and miss the playoffs, Reid would automatically be on the hot seat heading into 2011.
"That may not be fair, but that's how it would play out. The Eagles have taken a tremendous gamble by trading an elite quarterback to a division rival and replacing him with an inexperienced player. Roseman told me recently that the Eagles know enough about Kolb that they don't view this is a big risk."
In the end, Mosley still sees that Reid's fate and reputation being attached to McNabb. Even without McNabb physically being in Philadelphia, Reid is still tied to his first ever draft pick since he now faces the immense pressure of replace him. However, if Kolb succeeds then Reid deserves all the accolades for making the bold move to trade his six-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
"But in many ways, Reid's reputation was tied to McNabb's. Now that they've gone their separate ways, Reid will feel more pressure than ever," Mosley reiterated. "If he pulls this off, it will be the most impressive coaching job he's ever done."
So would Reid's job really be in jeopardy at the end of the 2010 season if the Eagles finish at 6-10 like the Packers did in Aaron Rodgers' first season as the starter after replacing Hall of Famer Brett Favre? Probably not. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is extremely loyal to Reid and what he has done with the franchise since running the show. As head coach, Reid has guided the club to five NFC championship games in 11 years, eight playoff berths, a Super Bowl appearance and five NFC East crowns [four consecutive from 2001-2004].
Additionally, Lurie is the type of owner that understands the phrase "Rome wasn't built in a day." While Kolb should be further along than most first year starting quarterback along with having a ton of weapons, he is still going to endure growing pains. Furthermore, the Eagles have one of the youngest teams in the entire league especially on defense, which could be more of a determining factor than Kolb's performance at quarterback.
Now, if Mosley raised the question of is Reid’s reputation and job be in danger after the 2011 season if Kolb fails in his first two years as the starter then he would be onto something. In all honesty, the transition to Kolb probably helps Reid more than anything. If the Eagles stayed the course with McNabb and failed to win a Super Bowl in 2010 or even regressed then Reid would be run out of Philadelphia. Moving to Kolb gives Reid the benefit of the doubt for another season and secures him at least two more years with the Eagles.
With that said, if Kolb does not pan out then Reid will be looking for a new job, which will not be too hard for him to find. Although for Eagles fans, they will a much tougher task of finding his replacement and watching McNabb punish their beloved Eagles twice a year.