Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The 'Dream Team' In Philly No Guarantee as Reid Endures Heavy Burdens


Between now and Sept 11, for a meeting with the St. Louis Rams in the season-opener, Eagles head coach Andy Reid should be nervous and worried about his job security in case the Eagles' extreme makeover is an absolute failure. It wasn't long ago when Reid, startled about his obscure job status, was on the hot seat and took countless abuse from a disgruntled town known as Philly, the city where fans are ruthless and requested for Reid's firing.

It should come as no surprise in a city where they booed Santa Claus, but worshipped a dog killer for quarterbacking the Eagles. It should come as no surprise in a city where backup quarterback Jeff Garcia was booed lustily for staying in the game with good health and not benched in favor of third-string A.J. Feeley. It should come as no surprise in a city where the Philly faithful ran ex-Eagle Donovan McNabb, an unappreciated veteran quarterback, out of town and blamed him for all the mediocrity when Reid was at much fault.

But today, Reid is identified as an expert for assembling originality and building a Pro Bowl-like roster, with the additions of Nnamdi Asomugha, Vince Young, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Ronnie Brown. However, in a town where fans are wishy-washy and ungrateful toward athletes and local franchises, particularly with the disappointments in the past, Reid is confronted by heavy burdens and under a tremendous amount of pressure. If the Eagles lack fortune, consider it a failure for underachieving with all the necessities and platoons to fulfill greatness.

Pretty soon, as the most ironic twist from the latest noise heard out of Philly, the Eagles will feature in a reality show called Eagles' Extreme Makeover, which has created overkill lately. All week, the much-publicized buildup toward the Eagles caused hyperbole for a franchise that never earned a fair share of recognition, a notion involving high expectations this fall. If the Eagles truly have chemistry, they could be in favor of producing quality wins and qualifying for the playoffs, a talented team balanced nicely to beat its opponents as everyone jumps onto the bandwagon and then root like hell for the boys in green.

The folks in Philly don't realize it, probably because they are accustomed to the negativity and booing whenever a local franchise underperforms, but Reid brought together talent to contend for a Super Bowl title. A man prowling the Eagles' sideline can escape some of the tension a bit, although he's under much tension until Philly wins a championship and appeases the city thirsty for exhilaration.

And still, a day doesn't pass without Reid being scrutinized because of his boneheaded decisions at times, and a day doesn't progress without him being beleaguered by local residents because of his stupidity and lack of perception in calling plays on a series or adjusting well in games. He has found peace to rid his enemies, happiness when he finally did Philly a favor, and more than ever, trust in his players without even tweaking the roster. But none of it matters, unless the Eagles collect more wins and rank as one of the competitors in the NFC this season.

He is, without much argument, a pretty solid coach, particularly if the Eagles benefit from the perplexing moments of trades and free agency. It is, at long last, a glaring assumption to believe that the Eagles are the "Dream Team," even though Philly has not played a single game. It wasn't the easiest task for Reid, a 52-year-old who had just erected the Dream Team in the NFL, to plant the seeds for the onset of a preternatural team.

It's hard to deny the verifiable truth of the Eagles rising into prime contention with shrewd moves over the last week, when Philly heralded all the attention for overhauling the franchise to match up considerably well within their conference and division. The fluctuations of the mind are tough to understand, which includes Reid's mysterious mind -- working now that he finally turned on the switch inside his brain. He thought he needed to respond for doubters to reduce the criticism and scrutiny, which influenced Reid of the significance in refurbishing a moribund team.

What we're witnessing is Reid trying to redeem himself of his failures in previous seasons, not only on the field, but in life generally. In the finest stint of his career, for the NFL's second longest tenured coach in terms of coaching one franchise, he may have helped his own cause in the best-case scenario. Then again, he may have placed his job status in jeopardy if this experiment fizzles in Reid's face and shifts into a crisis to be distinguished as the laughingstock in a league exposing weaknesses and fragility.

On this team, Reid relies on the versatility of quarterback Michael Vick and four Pro Bowlers acquired as recently as last week. This decision might be regrettable if the Eagles aren't on the verge of a Super Bowl pursuit, if the Eagles are welcoming the Heat comparison, fueled by a tweet from Babin on Saturday in which he stated: "I feel like we are the Miami Heat of the NFL." The Eagles are nowhere near the Miami Heat, and for all we know, they can be more effective than the trio in South Beach or even worse if there's no chemistry and tenacity.

The more solid players the Eagles have, the more we expect from them, and at this point, Reid is ultimately under pressure. Then again, putting all this talent together could be helpful to Reid, only if he prevails in the national spotlight. The roster updates are really remarkable, but it doesn't guarantee a Super Bowl victory as of this season, not even an NFC Championship appearance. If that happens, of which the Eagles are unsuccessful of reaching their potential, all of the blows could backfire in Reid's face.

It's vital to Reid's psyche that he turns around futility and experiences his first championship victory to alleviate bitterness from an unruly fan base in Philly. But if his personnel decisions remind everybody of his poor clock-management skills, the abandonment of the rush attack and the inability to adjust or even the incapacity of winning in the really big games, then he won't ever earn satisfaction.

As it turns out, almost eminently, Reid is typically compassionate but has too many flaws in his coaching methods, and as much as he tries to call plays correctly or revitalize the Eagles, he is loathed among the assemblage of bleak Philly fans. The presence of Vick and all these weapons on offense is a test for the Eagles and Reid after a legitimate upgrade shifts the dynamics.

Just as the front office brought in astonishing talent on a acquisition spree before the regular season kicks off -- in fairness -- Reid should take full responsibility for any inexcusable and inexplicable botches, after the Eagles added two Pro Bowlers at cornerback Asante Samuel's position that might possibly force Philly to deal him in a trade, already loaded at the position with a bottomless secondary.

The word on the street is exactly what we were ready to hear, quickly compared to the Phillies' repertoire of first-class starting pitchers or even the Miami Heat's experiment of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh uniting as one that formed the Superteam. The noise in the City of Brotherly Ungratefulness is deafening as if you're witnessing a daily soap opera, and it's entirely ideal that angry radio callers -- and a city of emotional residents dial in to vent their rage.

The next steps are crucially imperative and interesting. The bigger concerns involve the Eagles potentially winning it all. We have to wait and see. This isn't just about the Eagles. This is about Reid, too. He smiles proudly these days, but there is still much to accomplish in order to put aside the dreaded past of postseason breakdowns. There is still much Reid must prove to strengthen his shaky resume.

And now reflecting back on what he achieved during the McNabb era -- the Eagles came all so close until they unraveled to win a championship in over a decade under Reid and couldn't bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Right then and there, he was a doormat, and it was believed his time had run out with the dissolution of this marriage between the Eagles and Reid, a relationship that seemed irreparable and dysfunctional in many ways.

It's truly irregular these days that Reid has salvaged his coaching gig. His anomalous style, the way he designs plays or adjusts in each series on a drive, is what dooms him as a normal coach. Because of it, he's been to the playoffs eight times, four NFL title games, and a lone Super Bowl where he was a loser. Seems even his philosophy and strategies have been so perplexing, a common trait to better define Reid.

Luckily, the market was friendly to the Eagles this offseason, angling for a dominant season in the NFL, in position of topping all teams. Aside from the expectations, it's a real shame when we can blame Reid in recent memory for indiscretions of his adult sons, Garrett and Britt, and view a dysfunctional family in bedlam as issues in Reid's personal life dominated headlines. Then, it seemed as if he was at the center of a dilemma in Philadelphia, but as always, owner Jeff Lurie defended and trusted his coach.

That may not matter if, as anticipated, the Eagles win this season to cure the agony in a city seeking a championship and put the dreaded era of losing behind them. When McNabb wore an Eagles uniform, he was embarrassed and stood on the sidelines powerless, benched in the second-half in a 36-7 demolition against Baltimore when Reid decided to yank his veteran quarterback in favor of second-year backup Kevin Kolb.

Reid, which incensed many people in Philly, brought in Vick after McNabb lobbied for him, offering the felon star a second chance on his path to redemption, and then he eventually named Vick the starting quarterback in place of Kolb. Either this will make or break the Eagles. They'll either grow or self-destruct, and if it's the latter, Reid's employment might be in line for a dismissal.

The City of Brotherly Love may hate or love Reid for this renovation that rekindles reliance in Philly. So maybe it's the moment for Reid to win us back and prove to be an elite head coach. With all this talent, it's quite credible.