Seven members of the current Eagles coaching staff were also in Philadelphia in 1999 for Andy Reid's first season as an NFL head coach.
Four of them were coaches back then. Two of them preceded Reid in Philadelphia - defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and running backs coach Ted Williams. Senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach David Culley and tight ends coach Tom Melvin were brought on as part of Reid's first staff.
Three of the current coaches actually played for Reid in 1999 - quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson, linebackers coach Mike Caldwell and special teams quality control coach Duce Staley.
Reid is the longest tenured coach in the National Football League. Only three coaches in the four major American professional sports have been with their teams longer than Reid.
Set to embark on his 14th season as head coach, Reid is the winningest coach in Eagles history. He has won the NFL Coach of the Year award three times, most recently in 2010. He has not endured consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance. In fact, Reid has not had a losing season since 2005. Prior to last year's 8-8 campaign, the Eagles had three straight playoff appearances - only two other teams could say that.
Culley, who left the Pittsburgh Steelers to join Reid's staff, has always loved the fact that Reid is so consistent.
"He's the same man. He's got the very same approach. He does a great job of adjusting and the consistency thing is just unbelievable," Culley said. "I think that's why we've been so successful. We always feel like we have a chance because we know what he wants. We're all on the same page and that formula works. It works in everyday life. It works in other professions. That's why now we're always going to be successful here because of his consistency."
When the Eagles extended LeSean McCoy's contract last Thursday, Reid's affinity for the All-Pro was evident from his effusive praise. The respect is mutual. Earlier this offseason, McCoy tweeted a photo of Reid and him spending time together in Los Angeles. Melvin noted that Reid has always had the respect of his players despite some tough circumstances. Reid has been forced to adapt and overturn the roster a number of times in his tenure. That has led to some very difficult decisions which led to the departure of some all-time fan favorites, but in retrospect they were the right calls.
"He's always been pretty honest with himself and the people around him," Melvin said. "He's not going to stick to something just because that's what he's been doing. He's going to go with what he thinks is best.
"He re-evaluates himself every year. He's very critical on it. He'll make subtle changes depending on what happened the year before. I think it all depends on what happened the prior year and what he thinks he needs to work on to move on."
Pederson was Reid's first quarterback in Philadelphia in 1999. He was signed to be the bridge to Donovan McNabb, Reid's first draft pick. Pederson was battered by a leaky offensive line that allowed more sacks than just five teams that season. The fans booed Pederson and wanted to see the future of the franchise take the field.
As the Eagles accumulated offensive weapons for McNabb and the quarterback's ability grew over the years, Reid opened the playbook to make it a more vertical passing game rather than a tightly controlled West Coast offense. From working with Reid as a player and now as a coach, Pederson said that the attention to detail was and remains a hallmark of Reid.
"He was that way when we were in Green Bay. He was that way when I came here in '99 and he's still that way today," Pederson said.
The difference in Reid, Pederson said, is his work on the personnel side.
"When he first took over, he was installing plays. He was calling plays. He was fully engaged in our offense," he said. "From that perspective, he's still engaged with our offense just more from behind the scenes because he's dealing with the personnel issues to keep our team out on the football field and practicing with the right number of guys. That's probably the biggest difference I noticed."
A lot has changed since 1999, but a lot remains the same. Reid was a relative unknown when the Eagles hired the former Green Bay assistant in 1999. Now, he's one of the elite coaches in the National Football League. And to those who knew and worked with him then, it's no surprise.
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