Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie talked about a lot of things in his annual state-of-the-team press conference. The biggest thing everyone got from it was his apparent stance on Andy Reid.
Lurie used the word “unacceptable” quite a bit when talking about last season as well as talking about if the team were to finish 8-8 again this year.
Though he didn’t come right out and say it, Lurie has implied that there needs to be “substantial improvement” over last year for Andy Reid to receive a contract extension.
Here is exactly what Lurie said in response to whether Reid needs to have a certain level of success this year in order to receive a possible extension (courtesy of Eagles press releases):
“I don’t have a level or anything like that. I just want to be clear about that. You just try to make the best judgment you can after the season.”
“It goes beyond that but there’s no question [that] what I said was we need substantial improvement. We have a very good team I think on paper and paper doesn’t get you that far if you don’t maximize it. I’m so excited about this season.
I think everybody in the organization and the fan base is very excited but it’s a difficult league and I think you have to beat the other teams that are very good.”
Then, when asked directly whether or not another 8-8 season would be satisfactory, he simply said: “No it would not.”
Someone then elaborated the question and included the caveat of if the team were to suffer a major injury (or injuries), would 8-8 still be unacceptable:
“Again, I am not going to make blanket statements. I really wanted to try to explain to you that 8-8 was unacceptable. Yeah, I guess if two thirds of the team is not playing [then] there are always exceptions. That was a really unacceptable outcome. I just want to reiterate that.”
“Listen, you just have to make the best decisions you can after the season. As I said, 8-8 was unacceptable.”
I know I’m a little late getting to all of this, but I have to say I didn’t like the fact that Jeff Lurie — with assistance from the media — reiterated the need for “substantial improvement” this season for Andy Reid to keep his job.
Or, at least, that’s what seems to be implied and what everyone thinks.
Technically, though, Lurie is saying that he needs to see substantial improvement in order to even discuss a contract extension for Reid. He does have another year on his current deal, after all.
However, it’s not a good situation when your head coach goes into a season as a “lame duck” coach. It usually ends in disaster for the team.
But, speaking of disaster, that’s what I’d like for the Eagles to avoid this season. And, that’s why I’m not fond of the position Lurie has put everyone in.
Look, the fans and the media are more than capable of stirring up crap and creating drama. We don’t need the owner adding fuel to the fire.
Now it’s out there for everyone to see: The team must “substantially improve” if Reid wants to remain head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Well, what do you consider substantial improvement? Where is that line drawn? A 10-6 record and wild card playoff birth? A division championship with at least one win in the playoffs?
An appearance in the conference title game? Super Bowl? What?
The only thing that’s obvious is that 8-8 or worse or not making the playoffs won’t cut it. After that, though, is when things will get murky.
What if the Eagles go 12-4 or 13-3 and look great during the season but then lose in the first round of the playoffs? Furthermore, what if that loss is in a close, competitive game?
Reid, in particular, is obviously already under a lot of stress. He knows his neck is on the line because this is his team and coaching staff that he assembled. How they perform is a direct reflection of him.
This is not to mention that the man just lost his son, which is something that will be remembered throughout the year.
If the Eagles get off to a slow start, the wheels on the bus could begin to fall off. With so much pressure surrounding the team and coach, losing early could be extremely damaging to the psyche of the team.
But, assuming that they pull through and do better than last year but still fall short of the ultimate goal, where does that leave Reid?
Reid is a very good coach and is obviously widely respected around the NFL by players and coaches alike. He will be a hard man to replace and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, I like being competitive almost every season. Once Reid is gone, we could end up going through another down-swing of losing seasons and idiotic Rich Kotite-like coaches.
By saying what he said publicly, Lurie will be walking a fine line after the season unless the Eagles win the Super Bowl.
Will he feel pressured to fire Reid “just because?” Will he fear being looked upon as “weak” if he decides to retain him?
He’s painted himself into a corner with his comments and eventually he will need to define what “substantial improvement” means and determine if Reid has met that requirement.
This team does not need any distractions this season. But, unfortunately, Lurie has helped perpetuate one by putting Reid on the hot seat.
Hopefully the team rises above everything and plays their hearts out this year…and friggin win!