Under Andy Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles have made the playoffs nine out of his 13 seasons. The four seasons when the team didn’t make the tournament, one common correlation was that they got off to a slow start.
The years Reid didn’t make the playoffs were 1999, 2005, 2007 and 2011. Here is how they started each of those seasons: 0-4, 3-1, 1-3, and 1-3, respectively.
Quick observation: Each year Reid missed the playoffs was an odd-numbered year, maybe it’s a good thing that 2012 is a nice even number!
The only anomaly was 2005, when they started 3-1. However, that was before the part of the season when the T.O. train derailed and caused the Eagles to crash and burn in November and December.
The other three non-playoff and non-T.O. seasons, the Eagles first four games of the season were a collective 2-10. Yes, one of those years was Reid’s first, but even if we take away that one, they still only have a 2-6 record early on.
Historically, Reid’s teams have done well in the second-half of the season. By far, Reid’s best month is December, where he has a 39-15 career record. His record for the other months are as follows: September 23-20, October 29-21, November 33-21-1, and January 12-12.
And unfortunately, a 0-1 record in February, the only month in which he’s never won a game!
But as you can see, his winning percentage is much lower in September and October than it is in November and December. Playing well in the second half of the season is great, but we also need to avoid the slow starts as they can really put the team behind the eight-ball.
On opening day, Reid’s record is not that great either. He’s just 6-7 in his 13 regular season opening games. Furthermore, he’s only ever started the season with two consecutive wins just once, in 2004 on their way to the Super Bowl.
2004 was also the best start for the Eagles under Reid (7-0) and other than the T.O. factor, it’s no coincidence that the Eagles made the Super Bowl that year. They started out fast and kept the ball rolling.
The old football cliche is that the teams who win in November and December are the ones who go far into the playoffs. That might be the case, but winning in September and October can certainly help put teams in better positions come January.
Isn’t Reid always talking about putting his players in better positions? He could put all of them in a better position by getting off to a fast start and not have to play catch-up in November and December.
To further illustrate how important getting off to a fast start might be, the cumulative record of the first four games for each of the past 10 Super Bowl champions is 31-9. The worst any team started was 2-2, and that only happened twice (Giants in ’07 and Patriots in ’03).
The Eagles have a tough schedule in 2012, so getting off to a fast start will be imperative. Their first four games are against Cleveland, Baltimore, Arizona and the Giants. The Browns are the only “gimme” out of those four.
Their next four games after that are grueling: Pittsburgh, Detroit, Atlanta and New Orleans. If the Eagles want to be in the running for a top-two playoff seed or home-field advantage, they need to come out of the first four weeks no worse than 3-1.
If they start out 2-2, they’ll certainly have to earn their stripes the rest of the way and will be in for a season-long struggle just to get a chance to play on wild-card weekend.
If they start out at 1-3, it will be Armageddon in Philly once again and the team will face extremely long odds of making the playoffs.
With that said, winning in September and October still doesn’t guarantee a Super Bowl championship, or even making the playoffs for that matter. We’ve all seen teams start out hot and fade in the stretch run.
Fortunately, the Eagles don’t have a history of fading under Andy Reid. As stated earlier, his best months are November and December. He just needs to figure out September and October.
Going by the past 10 Super Bowl champions, it seems that getting off to a fast start is key. So in essence, if Reid can propel this team to early victories, his chances of evening-out his February record will get a little better.