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Andy Reid Has One More Chance

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie laid it on the line today at the Nova Care Complex.

If Andy Reid doesn’t return the Philadelphia Eagles to the respectability with which Lurie is accustomed, Big Red is gone after 2012.

Yet for some reason, Eagles fans (and most of the beat writers as well) have been lampooning Lurie for appearing to contradict himself.

During his press conference on Tuesday, Lurie said, “This season was without question the most disappointing season since I owned the team.  It’s completely unacceptable to be 8-8.”

And yet, Lurie decided to keep Andy Reid and the front office exactly the same for 2012, saying “You’ve got to have the anger.  You’ve got to have the motivation, the dedication, and the focus and the talent.  My answer to those questions is yes.  That’s why I want to see our team coached by Andy Reid next year, and I can’t wait to see that team play.  There’s no doubt in my mind, if our focus is on trying to win a championship next year, the best coach for that is Andy.”

In one breath, Lurie called the disappointing 2011 season “unacceptable,” yet in the next breath, said Reid is the “best coach” for winning a championship next year.

Unfortunately, for those interested in bashing the Eagles’ owner and CEO, those two statements alone don’t tell the whole story.

It seems clear from Lurie’s comments throughout the press conference that Reid is a very big man skating on very thin ice.

Lurie called the beginning of the season “dismal” and specifically noted how badly the team performed in the fourth quarter.  While complimenting the much-maligned Juan Castillo as a good man and a good coach, he specifically noted how long it took for the defensive schemes to come together for most of the season.

He says he looked Andy Reid “in the eyes” and told him the results of this past season were unacceptable.

He also didn’t seem impressed by the season-ending four-game winning streak, saying, “We weren’t playing Green Bay, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and some of the best teams in the league.  We proved we could dominate the last four games of the year against teams that weren’t that competitive.”

That’s not exactly throwing a bouquet of roses at the feet of Reid and his coaching staff.

Jeffrey Lurie is a man with an inferiority complex when it comes to his good friend and fellow owner Robert Kraft.  Both are from New England, and you know it chafes Lurie to no end that Kraft has three Lombardi trophies in his case, while he’s still trying for his first.

Despite the idiotic “gold standard” comment of a few years ago, Lurie now seems fed up with just getting close.  It appeared that way before the season, when the Eagles signed every free agent that wasn’t nailed down, even ones they didn’t need, like Steve Smith.

The Eagles went all-in this year.  Which makes the disappointment Lurie talked about that much more acute.

And while Lurie did say that Reid will be the coach next year, he said nothing along the lines of “Andy is going to be the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for a long time” or “Andy Reid can coach this team as long as he feels he wants to.”

The only commitment Lurie would give Andy is that he is the coach in 2012.  Nothing more than that was promised.

What Jeff Lurie said today was that Andy Reid has one more chance to turn the Eagles’ ship around.  What will satisfy Lurie in 2012?  Making the playoffs or another division title?  Or have the stakes been raised higher than that?  Does Andy have to go to the NFC Championship Game?  Does he have to win it?  Does he have to win the Super Bowl?

Only Lurie knows exactly what Big Red needs to do to keep his job after 2012.  But know this, Jeffrey Lurie did not contradict himself on Tuesday.  He walked right up to the ledge of firing his coach of 13 years, and backed away.  But in doing so, he made it clear that the status quo will no longer be acceptable moving forward.

Andy, time’s yours.  Just maybe not for much longer.

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