The NFL Training Camp Hottest Coaching Seat Debate… Reid’s Hopes Pinned on Eagles’ Wings

July 26, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

Andy Reid tried to get by without Donovan McNabb once before.

How did that work out for him? Backup quarterback Kevin Kolb passed for only 73 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions on 23 passing attempts. Reid immediately went back to McNabb the following week, and McNabb responded by leading the Eagles through the rest of the season and into the NFC Championship game.

Now Reid and his Philadelphia Eagles have once again made the decision to put their franchise in the hands of Kolb, only this time Reid no longer has McNabb as a safety net. Should Kolb – who despite some impressive numbers in his few career starts is still an unproven quarterback – prove to be a bust as the full-time starter in Philly, the responsibility falls squarely on Andy Reid’s shoulders.

The problem for Reid is that Kolb used to be the insurance policy. Donovan McNabb was the face of the Eagles franchise for the last decade, and he was extremely successful during his time in Philadelphia. During his ten seasons in Philly McNabb was a six-time Pro-Bowler and he lead his team to eight different playoff appearances, including five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.

There can be little doubt that McNabb was a bit time contributor in Philadelphia and is due much of the credit for their successes over the past decade.

Now that McNabb is gone, Kolb is no longer the insurance policy. And the situation at the quarterback position is MUCH different today.

Last season the Eagles touted a quarterbacking corps that was envied around much of the NFL. At starter was a Pro-Bowl quarterback with a very serviceable back up and a former superstar who is trying to break his way back into the league. This season, however, the Pro-Bowl quarterback is out of the equation and the team is left simply with a recently promoted (but still unproven) starter, and a guy who has essentially not played substantial football since the 2006 season.

In fairness, Kolb is not set up for failure with the Eagles. He will have some of the brightest young talent in the league at his disposal with guys like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Jeremy Maclin. All three of those weapons are extremely fast and athletic. Kolb, who has demonstrated very solid passing accuracy, should have no problem in getting the ball to them in open field.

This is a franchise where the leadership (and fans) have grown accustomed to the playoffs, and the fact that Donovan McNabb is no longer the quarterback will not be considered an acceptable excuse for failure.

The Eagles reside in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, and during this most recent off-season the head coach sent the superstar quarterback to play for a division rival, which happens to now be coached by a two-time Super Bowl Champion (something that Reid himself has yet to accomplish).

It is now up to Andy Reid to prove that he made the right decision, as his future in Philadelphia hinges on the success or failure of an untested, unproven Kevin Kolb.

Seats don’t get much hotter than that!

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The NFL Head Coach Hot Seat, Training Camp Edition – Who Dey… Think is Going COACH the Bengals?!

July 24, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that Brad Childress has the most pressure to perform early, and Loyal Homer’s argument that Wade Phillips is the man in the crosshairs.

I feel like a kid trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve! We are just a few short days away from the opening of NFL Training Camps, and while the old adage that ‘every team is undefeated’ may hold true for now, there are several coaches in the league who already find themselves on the “hot-seat.”

Loyal Homer will argue that Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys is the man with the target on his back, and Sports Geek will argue that it is Brad Childress whose head is first on the chopping block.

As for Bleacher Fan, I believe it is Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals whose number has finally come up!

The fact that he’s been able to avoid speculation this long is astonishing to me. Let’s be honest, it’s not like the Bengals were a well regarded team when he took over the reigns from Dick LeBeau in 2003, but to say that the team has actually REGRESSED under Lewis’ tenure is a dubious honor that I’m sure he won’t be writing home about any time soon!

Sure, his first three seasons with Cincinnati showed promise. He took the team from a 2-14 record in 2002 and turned in records of 8-8, 8-8, and then 11-5 respectively. The 2005 season also marked the first division championship AND playoff appearance for the Bengals in 15 years. Things were looking promising for Lewis.

Something changed, though, following the knee injury to Carson Palmer in the 2005 Wild-Card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals came into the 2006 season full of promise, but that promise never materialized into success.

Their records for the following three years plummeted, dropping from 8-8 in 2006 to 7-9 in 2007, before finally bottoming out at 4-11-1 last year. All told, in six seasons as the Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis has only turned in one season with a winning record, and his career record in Cincinnati is 46-49-1 (.486).

Accompanying that severe decline in performance came a string of legal charges against players within the Bengals organization that made Lewis look like the NFL’s real life version of Nate Scarborough. Then came the icing on the cake – Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him by his “new” name). I will give the man his due, he is a top-tier receiver, but he has turned his existence in the NFL into a media circus that has created far more controversy than it has touchdowns. Between the off-field drama around Johnson’s “happiness” with the organization, and his antics on the field, he has become more of a distraction than anything else.

So where does that leave Marvin Lewis? When you consider the personnel issues, compounded by the lack of success on the field DESPITE having players like Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (who isn’t even a Bengal anymore), it gives off the appearance that Lewis has zero control over the players within his organization. He comes off as a hapless victim, rather than the leader of a professional football team.

Fast forward to the 2009 season, and this year’s training camp… what is Lewis’ solution to these problems? He welcomes even greater public scrutiny by allowing his Bengals to be the focal point of the HBO mini-series Hard Knocks. That means that every decision he makes in the preseason, and every incident that occurs during training camp, will not only be scrutinized by Bengals fans, beat-reporters, and the Bengals organization, but will actually be scrutinized by a national television audience!

How has that worked out in the past? During the return of the series in 2007, the show watched Herm Edwards as he led the Kansas City Chiefs to a record of 4-12 (Edwards was subsequently fired in early 2009). In 2008, the series travelled to Dallas, where they witnessed the preseason hype around the Dallas Cowboys, preseason favorites to be NFC Champions, and who subsequently melted down mid-season and missed the playoffs altogether. Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips barely escaped the season with his job, and his job-security is still very tenuous, as Loyal Homer points out in his argument today.

Between the increased public scrutiny over his every move in this pre-season, the inability to maintain control over the players within his organization, and the abysmal performances turned in on the field over the past three seasons, Marvin Lewis will need to come out of the gates with guns blazing if he wishes to stay employed in the Queen City much longer.

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