Friday, May 27, 2016

An Eagles' History Lesson for First-Year Head Coaches

Doug Pederson was officially named the eighth head of the Philadelphia Eagles going back to 1976 when a young Dick Vermeil took over the reins in what turned out to be a very successful seven-year run that featured a trip to the Super Bowl in 1980. In his first season at the helm, Vermeil guided the team to 4-10 record to match the same total of wins of his predecessor Mike McCormack produced in his final year with the team. Things rapidly improved in season three with nine wins when the schedule first expanded to 16 games. The Eagles won 11 games the next season and they went 12-4 in that Super Bowl run.

After a succession of three mediocre seasons under the guidance of the Swamp Fox Marion Campbell as Vermeil's replacement, the Eagles turned to former Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan as their new head coach of the team. Coming off a Super Bowl win with the Bears, he proceeded to go 5-10-1 in his first year as head coach and it took him three years to turn things around with a 10-6 record in 1988. Ryan's teams won at least 10 games the next two seasons as well but the kiss of death was three-straight early exits from the playoffs. Few fans would argue against the fact that Ryan put together the most talented Eagles' teams in this franchise's history, which only makes his lack of success in the postseason all the more harder to swallow.

Following Buddy's abrupt dismissal in 1991, the likes of Rich Kotite and Ray Rhodes stalked the sidelines as the head coach for the next eight seasons and while the Eagles did go to the playoffs six times they could never advance past the Divisional Round. New ownership gave the franchise a fresh start with Jeff Lurie and in 1999 he tapped Andy Reid as his new head coach. The former offensive coordinator for Green Bay was coming off a very successful run under the tutelage of Mike Holmgren, who can be traced back to Bill Walsh at San Francisco so the pedigree was strong.

Reid's first season as head coach resulted in a slight improvement from Rhodes' 3-13 disaster in 1998 with a 5-11 mark. Things rapidly improved from there with five-straight seasons of 11 wins or more and four-straight trips to the NFC title game. The Eagles went a disappointing 1-3 in those conference championships and the lost to New England in their lone trip to the Super Bowl. Reid never achieved that level of success in his remaining eight seasons with the team, but he did lead Philly back to the NFC title game in 2008. Reid's teams won 10 or more games eight times during his 14-year tenure, but he went out on a bad note with a combined 12 wins in his final two seasons at the helm.

In a somewhat surprising move, Lurie decided to take a chance on Oregon head coach Chip Kelly as Reid's replacement and the gamble paid off right away with a 10-6 record and NFC East title in 2013. Things went downhill from there and in just three short seasons Kelly had worn-out his welcome in the City of Brotherly Love. Ironically enough, he is now the head coach of the 49ers trying to resurrect the glory years of when Walsh was the head coach there.

The big question is can Pederson successfully follow in the footsteps of his mentor after serving as Reid's offensive coordinator in Kansas City in the same way that Andy broke away from Mike Holmgren to enjoy the best run of any head coach in franchise history?

No comments:

Post a Comment