When Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles chairman and CEO, held a press conference earlier this week to announce that Andy Reid will be back as the Eagles head coach, you could feel the pressure already building for the 2012 season. Reid, coming back for what will be a 14th season, has a lot of work to do. Although the team is talented and finished with on a four-game winning streak, the “Dream Team” had an 8-8 record that it can’t hide from.
Reid has won six division titles, made nine playoff appearances, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. After Lurie’s press conference, where he was visibly upset with the season, you got the impression none of the previously stated accolades mattered now.
What’s the most important thing right now? Is it staff changes? Juan Castillo, Eagles defensive coordinator, has been under fire for most of the season until things started to turn around the last four games. But for nearly three quarters of the season, the Eagles defense was horrible. Players were constantly out of position. There was lousy tackling.
Does Castillo get replaced? If Reid decides to do that, the name Steve Spagnuolo has come up on several occasions. Spagnuolo was let go this week as the St. Louis Rams head coach. He was a linebackers and defensive backs coach with the Eagles from 1999 to 2006 under Jim Johnson. Reid could bring him in to run the defense.
But here’s a better name: Todd Bowles. Bowles, former Temple football star, replaced Tony Sparano as the Miami Dolphins head coach on an interim basis this season. He’s absolutely qualified for the job. He played eight years in the NFL. He played defensive back on the Washington Redskins 1988 Super Bowl championship team and has loads of experience as an assistant. The only problem: he’s a great candidate for a head coaching job in the NFL.
Reid has other decisions to make as well. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s contract situation should be resolved as soon as possible. The Eagles can’t fool around with him any longer. Jackson is one of the most talented receivers in the league. When he didn’t play against the Arizona Cardinals this year, you could see the difference in the passing game right away.
At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Jackson is not very big. But he has tremendous speed. He can take a safety and a defensive back deep down the field on just about any pass route. He had 58 receptions for 961 yards and four touchdowns this season. He has 229 receptions for 4,085 yards and 21 TDs for his career. He’s made the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver and punt returner. And who will forget the great punt return he had against the New York Giants last year. Reid should sit down with Lurie and president Joe Banner to make a decision.
Reid can’t afford any mistakes. This season was a huge disappointment to say the least.