Eagles Coach Andy Reid: Strength or Weakness?

A few years back, the Eagles were trailing a game by 10 points with under 2 minutes to play.  The offense drove down the field to score a touchdown to cut the lead to 3.  The problem?  Time had either expired or there was less than 10 seconds to go with no timeouts.  Either way, it would have made more sense to get inside the 20 and kick a field goal since you needed 2 scores no matter what.  It seems like teams are always screwing this up, while you or I no the obvious answer via Madden.

Anyways, the Sports Guy posted a mailbag column today, and I realize what most of us think of him in terms of his football analysis.  I try to take him with a grain of salt and just try to be entertained.  However, he brought up a good point in one question that I wanted to flesh out here:

Q: On behalf of every Eagles fan, can you please be the one media guy who doesn't suck up to Andy Reid and point out all the reasons why he sucks and needs to either resign or start smoking? The man either needs more oxygen or more nicotine. Thanks in advance.
-- Randy, South Philly

SG: I'd be delighted! Reid is like Art Shell with a better PR staff. He makes terrible decisions at the worst possible times. His players make boneheaded mistakes (like the DeSean Jackson spike, or McNabb's pathetic eight-minute drill in Super Bowl XXXIX) and nobody ever blames him. He doesn't seem to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his players even remotely, as we witness every week when poor David Akers is forced to try 50-yard field goals with a 43-yard leg and their crappy offensive line is forced to keep ramming it down someone's throat on third-and-1. His clock management has always been horrendous -- always -- even back when the Eagles were going to the NFC title game every year.

Here's how much Reid has slipped as an NFL coach: During the Skins-Eagles game, Antwaan Randle-El threw an option pass TD that Reid challenged even though Randle-El was clearly behind the line. There was no debate. I watched the play live and didn't even know what Reid was challenging until Troy Aikman guessed it correctly. ("You're exactly right, Troy!") So we wasted two minutes watching replays of Randle-El throwing the pass from two yards behind the line of scrimmage, then Philly eventually losing a timeout on one of the five dumbest challenges of this decade. And I was sitting there thinking that we needed some sort of "Coaching Boners" stat to capture the following things …

    1. Calling for inane challenges that have no chance of getting overturned.

    2. Horrendous goal-line plays that cause fans to start booing even as the ball-carrier is getting tackled.

    3. Egregious and indefensible brain-farts by a player.

    4. Any needlessly counterproductive decision along the lines of "David Akers couldn't make a field goal of more than 50 yards right now unless we injected him with enough cocaine, Red Bull and HGH to kill a thoroughbred horse, but screw it, we're trying this 52-yarder anyway."

    5. Screwing up the clock management in the "Two minutes to go and we need two scores" scenario.

    6. Screwing up your three timeouts when there is less than four minutes left, you're trailing and you need to save as many seconds as possible.

    When you think about it, we could easily keep track of those six categories. And if we did, we'd find that Andy Reid has doubled the total of any other coach for 2008 coaching boners through five weeks. I am convinced.

Personally I think Mike Nolan could challenge Andy Reid in some of the coaching miscues.  The point being, what do people think Andy Reid brings to the table?  Managers/head coaches in each sport have different responsibilities that make some jobs harder and some jobs easier.  WIth an offensive and defensive coordinator already in place, as well as a sort of eye in the sky up in the coordinators' booth to tell you about potential challenges, can an NFL head coach really have all that much impact on the game, aside from calling timeouts? 

I think the areas a head coach primarily affects on game day are 1) down 10 with 2 minutes left is one time and 2) sometimes use of timeouts.  Of course that list rises with the more responsibility a coach has (e.g. head coach acting as offensive coordinator).  However, if there is a separate OC and DC, can you blame the head coach for calling a certain play on 3rd and 1?  Is a head coach to blame for his rookie wide receiver spiking the ball a yard from the end zone?  I can see some of the blame Reid should have received for that joke of a 4th quarter drive in the Super Bowl, but even then McNabb probably could have hurried things up a little bit as a veteran QB.

So what do you think?  How overrated or underrated (or I guess plain rated) is the NFL head coach?

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