Eagles lose what likely was Reid’s final game as head coach in Philly
Sunday, December 23, 2012
PHILADELPHIA — Andy Reid stuck around for handshakes, then trudged into the Philadelphia Eagles’ tunnel that leads to the locker room.
He may never run out to coach another home game at the Linc.
With another dreary defeat on his resume, Reid wrapped up the home slate of his 14th season coaching the Eagles with serious questions about his future. Reid heard a few appreciative fans clapping for him on his way out, but the harsh reality is this: Reid’s time in Philly is all but over.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie told Reid in the preseason it was win or else.
The victories didn’t come with any regularity — only speculation about how and when Reid will leave the organization he turned into a perennial Super Bowl contender before falling into the NFC East basement.
The Washington Redskins spoiled Reid’s likely home finale with a 27-20 win Sunday. With a chance to at least force overtime, the Eagles’ final series was especially painful in a season that mercifully ends next week at the New York Giants.
The Eagles held on defense, forced a punt and started their last drive at their 15. They were at the Washington 17 when Nick Foles bounced a pass to Jeremy Maclin, who was open in the right corner of the end zone on third down. Foles then hit LeSean McCoy for a 12-yard gain on fourth-and-2 to the 5 with 11 seconds left. After an incomplete pass, Foles was called for grounding, and the last second was automatically run off the clock.
That was it.
There were no signs blaming management, no “Fire Andy!” chants that had become popular at Lincoln Financial Field the latter half of this season. The pregame tailgate parties and “E-A-G-L-E-S! chants had been muted by a fan base fed up with the 4-11 record and Reid still in control.
The 11 losses are the same total Reid had in his rookie season of 1999 (5-11).
Reid refused to concede Sunday was his final home game.
“I don’t know that,” he said. “I have nothing to tell you on that. I’m the coach right now, and I’m just coaching. That’s what I’m doing, the best that I possibly can.”
Lurie’s preseason edict the Eagles needed “substantial improvement” over last season’s 8-8 record has dangled over the team and turned the final weeks into a guessing game of how Reid exits Philly. Will he get fired with about $6 million and one year left on his contract? Will he share a podium with Lurie as they announce an amicable parting?
McCoy, back in the lineup after missing the last four games with a concussion, hoped it was the long shot option behind door No. 3: Bring back Reid for Year 15.
“I don’t see any other coaches that’s as good as coach Reid,” McCoy said. “He’s been here for so long that respect is demanded. When you think of the Philadelphia Eagles, you think of coach Reid.”
Reid inherited a 3-13 team in 1999, drafted Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick in that year’s draft, and quickly turned the franchise from laughingstock into a championship contender.
Reid has won more games (130) than any coach in franchise history. He’s led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five trips to the NFC championship game and a Super Bowl loss.
“You’ve got to give him all the credit for making this a football town,” defensive end Trent Cole said. “He made this a winning football team.”
Reid instead had to watch the Redskins move closer toward a division title. The Redskins (9-6) can clinch the NFC East with a victory over Dallas at home Sunday. They haven’t won it since 1999 and last reached the playoffs in 2007.
The late comeback wasn’t enough to keep the Eagles from finishing 2-6 at home.
The Reid Era ends with a thud.
“It’s hard to say he should get fired, because I don’t think he should.” McCoy said.
Reid’s heartaches stretch beyond the final score. His oldest son, Garrett Reid, died during training camp after a long battle with drug addiction. Reid also dismissed defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, a longtime assistant and close friend, in a desperate move to make one last division run.
Reid coached the Eagles when they played at since-demolished Veterans Stadium and led them into one of the most exciting times in team history when the Linc opened in 2003. They played the final two of four straight NFC title games in front of one the rowdiest and wildest crowds in the NFL.
“We have great fans,” Reid said. “I’ve always said that we were kind of on the same page. When you stink, they let you know you stink, and when you’re doing good, they’re going to let you know you’re doing good. I got it. I understand. I understand the situation. I appreciate everything.”
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