Barring a severe case of dementia for Jeff Lurie, this should be the last time we see Andy Reid prowling the sidelines in Philadelphia as the Eagles’ head coach.
In the coming days and weeks, you will likely see numerous articles around the web about Reid’s tenure in Philly. The “best of”, “worst of”, Top 10 articles, career summaries, etc, will likely dominate headlines.
Hell, I’m sure I’ll be writing something about his time here in Philadelphia myself.
With that said, and thinking about this being his last home game in Philly, it got me thinking about his first home game in Philly. That happened on September 12th, 1999. It was the dawn of a new era consisting of a potential franchise QB and a rookie head coach.
As it would turn out, Reid’s first game in Philadelphia could summarize his entire career here.
The Reid era opened up at Veterans Stadium with a game against Jake “the Snake” Plummer and the Arizona Cardinals and started out with quite a bang. In the first quarter, the defense forced three turnovers and the offense converted each of them into touchdowns and a 21-0 lead after the first 15 minutes.
They took a 24-6 lead into halftime and then a 24-12 lead into the fourth quarter. After such a strong start, the team…like Reid’s career…crumbled down the stretch.
They allowed the Cardinals to come back and win on the final play of the game with a chip-shot field goal. However, there were two crucial mistakes that contributed directly to their all-too-familiar self-destruction.
The first was a roughing-the-passer penalty on cornerback Al Harris. Remember him? He was viewed as an excellent third-corner that could start on other teams. He was a frustrating guy because he would cover well and make plays, but would always get penalized for something, usually pass interference.
The killer here was that it was a 3rd-and-10 play where Plummer threw an incomplete pass that would have forced the punt, but instead it became an automatic first down. A few plays later the Cards scored a TD that got them to within two points (24-22).
However, the Eagles still had a chance to ice the game later on.
As the clock ticked down to two minutes left, the Eagles had the ball and faced a 3rd-and-4 while clinging to that two point lead. Instead of trying a short pass or even a run, Reid goes for it and has Doug Pederson sail the ball down the sideline to Brian Finneran.
It was a gutsy call and the play was actually executed nicely by everyone except Finneran. He bobbled a nicely placed ball by Pederson and bobbled it to where an Arizona defender could pick it off and return it up the field.
That set-up the easy, game-winning drive and field goal by Arizona. So, after such a promising start, crucial mistakes ended up killing the team. The game, again like Reid’s career, started out very well then (1st quarter), went through a period of mediocrity with ups and downs (2nd and 3rd quarters), then completely collapsed at the end (4th quarter).
They were so close to winning, but just couldn’t quite seal the deal.
Finneran, by the way, was cut a short time after that and many believe it was mainly because of his bobble/drop/INT. Back in Reid’s younger days, he had no tolerance for players that made mistakes.
Too bad that’s a far cry from the current version of Andy Reid. Part of Reid’s transformation has been his stubbornness to stick with players or coaches too long before cutting the cord. Back then, it didn’t take much for him to cut ties with players who weren’t up to par.
But that’s neither here nor there now. This week will be the last time we see Reid in his black Eagles hat and coat walking up and down the sidelines. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the fans react during the game.
Will they recognize this is Reid’s final home game? Will they cheer him? Give him a “thanks for all you’ve done” type of send off? Or will they just react to the game at hand accordingly?
Philly fans can be harsh, but they also recognize and appreciate what someone like Reid has done for the city. However, if they stink up the Linc again, it will be hard to differentiate whether or not the boos cascading down from the 12 people left in the stands would be for the product on the field or for the man responsible for the disaster.
The answer would probably be both.