By Kent Larsen
No Matter What the Score, Reid Wins
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -- Should the Philadelphia Eagles win
Sunday over the New York Giants, who have beaten them twice already
this year, it may be something of a miracle. But Philadelphia fans
won't be that surprised. Coach Andy Reid has given them at least one
miracle already -- the Eagles made the playoffs.
When Reid first arrived in Philadelphia, he was greeted with boos
from the fans, instead of cheers. While his predecessor was clearly
not performing, he had won the fans with a 1996 playoff appearance.
But after a dismal 5-11 performance in 1999, Reid has won the fans
over with an 11-5 record this season. And given the circumstances,
most of the credit belongs to Reid.
Indeed, New York Times reporter Mike Freeman calls Reid a "stocky
magician who knows how to do more with less than almost any other
coach in the National Football League." When the season started, he
cautioned fans not to expect too much, and forecast a basically even
record for the year. And that record would have been respectable,
given the team's lack of either a top running back or wide receiver
and the presence of an inexperienced sophomore quarterback, Donovan
But with McNabb, Reid has worked wonders. Reid helped McNabb beat the
kinks out of his throwing, and the smart and athletic McNabb has
performed well. And Reid has also connected with the rest of the
team, helping them gel into a close-knit team that is rare, even in
professional sports. "It's more than just a job now," says linebacker
Ike Reese. "It's a family. I want to play hard for the guy who's
lined up next to me ... It's all those things tied to each other when
you have a deep feeling for your peers, your teammates. It takes a
lot to get that feeling, and we've got it there. It's unbelievable.
And whether we go out here and win Sunday or lose Sunday, nobody can
ever take away the feeling we've had for each other this whole season
and what we have done this season."
"I could sit here and blow smoke and say these are all cliches, but
they're not," kicker David Akers said. "I've never seen something
like this. I've played on enough teams. I've played the game for 12
years, played sports since I was 5 years of age. I've never seen
anything like this. And apparently it doesn't happen that often
because I'm hearing other guys that are older than me that are
telling me the same thing. I think that's really neat."
Faced with the circumstances, Reid become very creative. The Eagle's
first play of the season was a shock -- an on-side kick against the
traditional powerhouse Dallas Cowboys. The play put the Cowboys
off-balance, and the Eagles went on to win the game. Reid pulled
similar stunts along the way: fake field goals, quarterbacks lined up
at wide receiver and wide receivers throwing passes. He even had the
center catch a pass.
Surprisingly, most of the Eagles are not superstars. They include a
wide receiver who helped his parents beat drugs, a middle linebacker
who developed his strength by chopping wood, a running back who was a
bartender a year ago, a tight end who is a devout Mormon, a fullback
who once lived in a homeless shelter.
Tight end Chad Lewis, the Mormon, is a good case in point. A returned
missionary who served in Taiwan, Lewis walked on at BYU, earning his
way into a 22-game college career. But his pro career was a washout
before this season. Drafted by the Eagles in 1997, he survived only
one season before he was released. He managed to play the latter part
of the 1998 season with the Rams, only to be dumped again in 1999.
Even Reid considered him a stopgap player when he started training
camp with the Eagles in 2000.
But Lewis has exploded this season, snagging 69 receptions, more than
any other tight end in the conference. Against Cleveland, Lewis
picked up five receptions for 100 yards, making him the first Eagles
tight end to break the 100 yard mark in 11 years. While Lewis
benefited from the season-ending injury to star running back Duce
Staley, the performance still won him a spot in the Pro Bowl, and a
$6 million contract extension.
Now, both Lewis and Reid face the Giants on Sunday. Philadelphia fans
will hold their breath hoping for a miracle. But while Reid no doubt
wants to win badly, he has already won. He's made a strong case for
NFL coach of the year and won the cheers of Philadelphia fans.
They're Birds of a feather
Philadelphia PA Inquirer 31Dec00 S2
By Jerry Brewer: Inquirer Staff Writer
Close bonds have kept the Eagles aloft in a remarkable turnaround.
Reid has Eagles flying higher
MSNBC 24Dec00 S2
By Anthony Gargano
Andy Reid, the New King of Philadelphia
New York Times 28Dec00 S2
By Mike Freeman
Sports: Call them born-again Eagles
St Petersburg FL Times 31Dec00 S2
The careers of several players have been rejuvenated under coach Andy Reid.