Andy Reid: Genius or Fool?

Eagles fans diss the football coach while rest of the country praises his prowess

Andy Reid is a genius. Or at least that’s what they say everywhere but Philadelphia.

Are they wrong or are we?

“I can’t even go to the games anymore.” That was the lament of a small business owner in Chestnut Hill, who would rather I not use her name. “I’m glad they got rid of McNabb. I just wish they would have gotten rid of Reid too. And now Michael Vick is starting. I blame Reid for that embarrassment to Philadelphia too.”[SIGNUP]

The woman who spoke those words is well educated, successful and a season ticket holder. She used to go to the games with her husband. For the past two years they have either sold their tickets or he goes with a friend. Now compare her words with a sports producer I know in New York. “Andy Reid is a genius. It is amazing what he does year after year. And the fact that he took a chance on Michael Vick and helped him live up to his potential. Again, genius!”

The praise was effusive. The same with a sports producer in Chicago, a Baltimore Ravens season ticket holder, a Seattle Seahawks season ticket holder and a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan. When I talked to them, they all used the same word to describe Andy Reid: genius.

And yet as I listen to local sports talk radio this morning, I hear nothing but criticism of the man the rest of the country lauds. His end zone play-calling, his clock management, his fourth-down decisions are all attacked. One caller even used the word “idiot.”

How can this town’s fool be a genius to the rest of the country?

“That’s just Philadelphia sports fans,” the New York sports producer said with a side smile. “You guys always run your sports stars out of town if they don’t win a championship. Andy Reid is a star as a coach.”

Maybe he has a point. Forget for a second the glaring mistake in using the word “always” in his statement. There are, of course, exceptions. But in general, maybe he is right. Maybe we are the petulant kids in the back seat asking “are we there yet?” every 10 minutes. Maybe we are so impatient to get to the Super Bowl that we can’t enjoy the incredible ride Andy Reid has taken us on.

When I listed the problems that Andy Reid has had with clock management and play-calling, the sports producer in Chicago said, “Every coach has those problems. There is really only one way to rate the success of a head coach in the NFL — wins.”

And by that criterion, Andy Reid is a genius. He has won 115 games in his 11 seasons with the Eagles, averaging more than 10 wins a season. He has won the division title five of the last 10 years and been to the NFC championship game five of the last 10 years. Only one or two active coaches in the NFL come close to that record.

When I mentioned the one win that has eluded Reid, a Super Bowl win, my small focus group of friends from around the country all replied the exact same way: “He’ll get there again and he’ll win.”

In other words, enjoy the ride. We’ll get there soon enough. After all, we have a genius at the wheel. Or, at least, everyone else seems to think so.