Andy Reid’s Last Stand?

There’s been a lot of chatter over the past few weeks about moving Donovan McNabb. The media has devoted plenty of energy to the end of the McNabb era in Philadelphia…but what are they missing?

Simply put, they forgot to read between the lines.

The recent efforts to move McNabb are a clear indictment of Andy Reid’s status with the Philadelphia Eagles. In other words, Big Red’s bum is getting toasty as his coaching seat heats up.

Since the disaster season of 2005 (TO drama, McNabb injury, Mike McMahon starting), Philadelphia Eagle fans have splintered into three categories. Group one blames Donovan McNabb and wants him gone (60%). Group two blames Reid and wants him out (35%). Group three is the overwhelming minority who believe the Reid McNabb combo will break through and bring home a title soon enough (5%). Yes, I’m one, if not the leader of the group three morons.

(You see, I’m a McNabb apologist. I’m quite good at it too. If you told me McNabb was behind the financial collapse that led to this country’s recession, I could twist it so McNabb would be either a hero or a martyr. It’s a disease. I don’t know how I contracted it. I think it’s because so many people have hated him and underappreciated him for so long. Perhaps I just feel bad for him. I don’t know. I can’t really explain why I love a career whiner and star player that plays awfully small in big games. I really can’t.)

Anyway, Reid’s rosy dictatorship over the Eagles looks to be falling out of favor. My sources won’t disclose who’s putting the pressure on Reid. (FYI: I have no sources. It just makes this sound more legit.) However, the escalated efforts to move McNabb prove Reid’s future is on the line. Here’s why. If Reid held onto McNabb for the 2010 season and failed to reach the Super Bowl, he could point the finger at McNabb and beg for one more chance with Kevin Kolb. He would likely get that chance too.

However, with his own future in limbo this year, Reid needed to act. He knows where McNabb has taken the Eagles over the past decade (or not taken them depending on your view). Similar results won’t save Reid’s tail. While he may have preferred another year before switching to plan B, the change in circumstances required drastic measures. Enter Kevin Kolb.

With McNabb gone, Reid will put all his eggs in an unproven quarterback’s basket. We’ve seen flashes of how talented Kolb is, but performing over the course of an entire season is different than showing off for a handful of quarters each year. If Kolb and the Eagles sour in 2010, Reid has nowhere to place blame. He drafted Kolb. He moved McNabb to promote Kolb. His players, his way, still no results. Reid would definitely need some magic to fight off the pitchforks and torches lining up to run him out of town.

Furthermore, if Reid really is desperate, moving McNabb may not be his best option this season. Does it make a great deal of sense to move a mobile franchise quarterback for an unproven one with cement shoes? If your offensive line is reliable, then maybe. The Eagles’ offensive line is anything but reliable. Yes, the tackles are set with Jason Peters and Winston Justice. Other than that, the line’s up in the air. Jamaal Jackson will be fighting back from an ACL injury. (The Dallas massacres proved what a disaster the line is without a solid center.) The Eagles still don’t know what they have in Stacy Andrews. Todd Herremans can’t play forever and the Max Jean-Gilles/Nick Cole tandem is decent but they’re not mountain movers like Shawn Andrews once was. Do you want a sitting duck behind that line in 2010, or an active playmaker that can buy time and extend plays for your young playmakers? Go ahead, take your time and think about it. I’ll be here to congratulate you when you come to the obvious conclusion.

I know what you’re thinking; why does it make sense for the Eagles to pressure Reid now, especially after signing him to an extension last season? Two words; Bill Cowher. Granted, this is all baseless speculation, but it’s only a matter of time before Cowher steps back into a coaching role. The only reason he didn’t return for the 2010 season is because the right opportunity didn’t open up. He wants to step in and win, not rebuild. The 2011 Eagles would offer that opportunity. If not Cowher, Jon Gruden would be another option.

I’m not a fan of either. Cowher is a 150 pound slimmer version of Andy Reid. Gruden is an average coach who won a Super Bowl with Tony Dungy’s defense and hasn’t accomplished much since. The Philadelphia front office would certainly entertain either as potential coaching replacements. They also know that both may not be available after next season.

Thus, the time to turn up the heat on Reid is now. Reid responded by reneging on earlier promises to keep McNabb, and is now actively looking to move him. It’s his rear-end on the line now. He’d rather it rest with Kevin Kolb than the greatest quarterback in Eagles’ history. Best of luck, Big Red.

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