'You Need to Have a Plan'

Earlier today, I quoted a point Tommy Lawlor made about the question of whether or not to fire Andy Reid. Sam Lynch elaborated on that viewpoint in the comments. For those who don’t visit the comments (shame on you), I’ve re-posted his response below. Also, follow Sam on Twitter here.

I think Tommy is absolutely right. His point is consistent with the post I made at Iggles Blitz a couple of months ago now: you have to answer a lot of questions before you figure out what moves need to be made.

Here is how I would have expressed his thought:

You can’t fire Andy Reid just because you are mad at the world, at the team’s record, at whatever. That is a really bad idea. That is really bad management.

If you fire Andy Reid, you have to know exactly what it is that he isn’t doing, you have to know why he isn’t doing it, and you have to have an idea of who or what can be done to make that thing happen.

Let me put forth two very different (though not mutually exclusive) views of the Eagles that illustrate that point.

In the first, the problem that the team has faced is really that Andy was given bad players in the offseason. The front office thought it had a MLB, but didn’t really. The front office thought it had a pro bowl caliber rookie guard, and didn’t really. The front office thought it could reach a deal with the star WR and keep him from going off the rails, but couldn’t. The front office thought it had great safety depth because Nate Allen is a quick healer and Jarrett is a star, and was so wrong. The front office planned to flip one of the three CBs for value and didn’t.

In that case, taking this out on Andy Reid doesn’t fix the real underlying issue with the organization. Yes, he is the face of the organziation, there is fatigue among the fans, and he is what his record says he is. But what coach do you bring in who would solve that problem? You are throwing away a lot of good things when the bad things that have gone on this year aren’t really his fault.

In the second view, Andy Reid failed to put together a coaching staff that could coach adequately at the NFL level. That doesn’t just apply to Juan Castillo, but also to Reid’s proclivity towards offense and his own inability to understand defensive coaching and schemes and how they can and should be applied in the NFL. It applies to the hiring of Howard Mudd, who is a great coach but forced us to focus time and resources on overhauling the style and personnel of an offensive line that had the talent in place already to be a good line using the prior style. Andy Reid has continually failed to put his team in the best position to succeed because of baffling offensive play calling, poor in game management, and failure to make adequate adjustments in game. He is loved by players but they have reached the point where they take advantage of it — he has lost the ability to keep players any more disciplined than they are inclined to be themselves. Reid can no longer identify who on his team is good and who is not, and the top notch self-scouting that used to be the hallmark of this team has disappeared. And none of that even gets into how much influence he has with respect to front office decision making.

In that second view, there is a pretty clear reason for making a change and a pretty clear image of the coach you need to come in and fix things: a guy who can present a cohesive plan for the entire team, who can manage a game while that game is being played, who is not so much of a player’s coach but is a disciplinarian, and who has a strong eye for talent. A guy who is a Head Coach, not a glorified coordinator.

That’s why you make a move, if you choose to make it. Because Andy Reid is fundamentally flawed in a way that can no longer be masked with talented, expensive players.

So Tommy is right. You need to have a plan. You can’t just make a change because you want to shake things up. You have to know how you want your organization to be set up, and what the skills that a head coach has to have in that organization. And you have to know that Andy Reid is, in fact, not the guy with those skills.

That isn’t saying that you keep him as a default, or you keep him because you are afraid you might do worse. It is saying that you have to know very clearly what you want in a new head coach before you decide whether you should get rid of your old one.