The Eagles ended Andy Reid's coaching tenure on Monday after 14 seasons, after a 4-12 2012 campaign. Reid's coaching record here needs no explanation; you know about all of the victories and the division titles and the Super Bowl appearance. I know that every Eagles fan -- I hope, at least -- appreciates what Reid meant to this organization.
It is time, however, to go separate ways. The Eagles fell too far from grace in these last several seasons -- no playoff wins since 2008 and no playoff appearance since 2010. Around here, that's just not acceptable.
With that, of course, is the lasting impact of Reid in Philadelphia. The bar is set high here. It hasn't always been that way. Eagles fans still think fondly of the Dick Vermeil era from 1976-82 and then of the Buddy Ryan days from 1986-90. The truth is that while both of those coaches helped resurrect the flagging fortunes of this franchise, neither stood the test of time as did Reid. Vermeil won three playoff games and advanced to Super Bowl XV in his years here. Ryan failed to win a single playoff game.
Yet they are remembered fondly by so many fans, as they should be.
Reid's success raised the level of expectation to the highest degree here. Four straight NFC Championship Game appearances from 2001-2004 produced only one Super Bowl appearance, that in Super Bowl 39 against New England, and that the Eagles did not bring home the Lombardi Trophy is Reid's only coaching crime in his 14 years here.
We now know what it takes to win on a year-in, year-out basis. Reid's program showed us the way and that way was to draft well, develop players, fill in as needed in free agency and play smart, physical football and to make sure that the discipline instilled in practice was evident in the fourth quarter of games, when it mattered most.
Since that Super Bowl season, the team's fortunes haven't been as rich. There was the Terrell Owens-corrupted season in 2005, the late-season rush to the playoffs in 2006 behind quarterback Jeff Garcia, the leveling-out in 2007 and then the rush to the NFC Championship Game in 2008 and, ultimately, a big-game letdown in Arizona.
The Eagles reached the playoffs in 2009 and 2010, but failed to win in the postseason. These last two seasons have been ultimately frustrating what with the spending spree in free agency and the controversial coaching staff decisions made leading into 2011 that carried over into 2012.
And now it's over. Now the Eagles move into an exciting future looking for the Next Great Head Coach. Jeffrey Lurie's track record here is a mighty one: He replaced Rich Kotite with Ray Rhodes and improved the team's success for a couple of years and then replaced the fading Rhodes once the franchise bottomed out in 1998 with Reid and enjoyed the most sustained period of success in Eagles history.
For what it's worth, I'll remember Reid and appreciate him for what he brought to the team. I spent a lot of time in Reid's office listening to him talk football, hosting his television show for years, laughing with him in his relaxed moments. He's a wonderful man, a caring person and more than anything a loyal human being.
And the guy is one heckuva football coach. That doesn't go away in the face of the struggles of the last two seasons. Reid understands that this is a business of the bottom line and he knew that 4-12 wasn't acceptable, so shed no tears for him. This is a business for motivated men with hard hearts.
Mistakes were made along the way, no question about it. The Eagles didn't respond in a positive manner to Reid and the coaching staff this season, and Lurie made the right call here. The intention is to treat Reid with the respect and the class and the love from the Eagles and the fan base that he deserves.
At the same time, the Eagles have to move on into a most critical period of time in franchise history. Lurie heads up the search for the future, and he knows what he wants. The goal here is the only one that matters: Win the Super Bowl for the fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, no matter where you are.
The Eagles will rebound from this disappointing 2012 season. They have some of the pieces here, and they have an opportunity to get back on track for 2013 and beyond by making a series of correct moves in the days and weeks and months ahead.
As for Reid, the best of luck to him from anyone who ever crossed his path, and from the fans who enjoyed such an unprecedented period of success in Eagles history. He showed the franchise the way to win football games and he laid the path to be followed in the future. Along the way, Reid raised the bar here higher than it had been raised. He helped usher the Eagles from the uncertainty of Veterans Stadium to the security of Lincoln Financial Field and the NovaCare Complex and Super Bowl-or-bust mentality that exists for this organization and this fan base.
We should all be thankful for having Andy Reid here for the last 14 seasons, and at the same time understand the business and look ahead with great excitement of what is to happen next with the Philadelphia Eagles.