The date was February 6th, 2005, and it was not supposed to end this way. The Philadelphia Eagles and Sixth-Year Head Coach Andy Reid had just capped off the most magical season the city had seen since at least 1980. After three consecutive defeats in the NFC Championship Game, the Birds of Broad Street had finally broken through after defeating a young Michael Vick and the upstart Atlanta Falcons to book
a trip to Jacksonville for Super Bowl XXXIX. After years of backlash from fans begging the front office to pair Donovan McNabb with a true WR1, the Eagles had traded for Terrell Owens, creating the most potent offense in the league that year.
Combined with the suffocating defense of Jim Johnson, which sent 4 players to the Pro Bowl, this was the year that the Philly Faithful were going to be rewarded with the franchise’s first Championship since the pre-Super Bowl Era.
In an effort to avoid a play by play breakdown of that fateful evening in sunny Florida, the Eagles lost to New England by a score of 24-21. Outside of a magical playoff run during the 2008 Postseason, the Eagles would never reach the historic heights of those first 6 years under Andy Reid. The familiar faces that had defined the early 2000’s Birds, such as Jeremiah Trotter, Lito Shepard, Brian Westbrook, and Brian Dawkins would be gone by the end of the decade. Even McNabb, who was as polarizing a figure as any athlete in the city’s history, would close the decade with forgettable stints on the Redskins and Vikings before quietly retiring.
By 2012, the team was unrecognizable. Philadelphia limped to a 4-12 season, highlighted by the historic failure of that offseason’s “Dream Team” (thanks Vince Young). At that point Reid was the longest tenured head coach in the league, but nothing could stop the downward momentum that had accumulated. He was soon released from his contract and allowed to pursue other options, ultimately landing in Kansas City in January 2013.
It appeared the change of scenery had revitalized Reid, who quickly turned a struggling Chiefs franchise into a perennial contender in the AFC West. Reid, who had once coached an imperfect QB in Donovan McNabb onto the cover of Madden (thanks EA Sports), once again proved to the world that he was the quintessential Quarterback Whisperer of the National Football League. Under Reid’s tutelage, Alex Smith led the team to 53 wins over 5 seasons, making the playoffs all but 1 year, but were dispatched each time in the Wild Card or Divisional rounds.
Reid knew that he needed a transcendent talent under center in order to maximize the full potential of his up-tempo version of the classic West Coast Offense. The answer was found with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Chiefs traded up with the Buffalo Bills, in order to select QB Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech University in a move that would alter not only the franchise, but the NFL as a whole over the next 3 seasons. A “Passing Symphony” might be the only phrase suitable to describe just how beautiful Reid and Mahomes’ pairing has been over his 2 seasons as a starter, resulting in 24 regular season wins, 1 MVP Trophy, consecutive trips to the AFC Championship, and finally, one trip to the Super Bowl in Miami tomorrow.
I’ve talked at length about Reid’s journey over the last 20 years. Now let’s take some time to quickly jolt over what has changed when comparing Reid and his teams from 2005 vs 2020.
Never one to skip a meal, Reid’s diet and exploits at restaurants have teetered between impressive to flat out urban legends. In Reid’s defense, he has always been ‘big-boned’ This however was not helped by being head coach in in two cities known
synonymously with their legendary menu items. The media and other pundits have driven both Cheesesteak and KC BBQ jokes into the ground at this point, and it is time to put some respect on this man’s name. Not only has Coach Reid found a second chance in Kansas City in regard to the game of football, but maybe on life itself. He has slimmed down significantly since the early 2000’s reportedly weighing 60 pounds less today.
The Skill Position Players–
Outside of a hobbled Terrell Owens and the uber-talented Brian Westbrook, the 2004 Eagles came into the Super Bowl with a WR and TE core that left much to
be desired. Correct me if I am wrong, but the average fan will catch no flack for forgetting such legendary names as Todd Pinkston, LJ Smith, Greg Lewis, and God’s Gift to Philadelphia, ‘FredEx’ Freddie Mitchell. The script is flipped this time around for Big Red, who enters Sunday with perhaps the most talented group of skill position players ever assembled on one offense. Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and Damien Williams boast enough speed to keep any defensive coordinator up at night, and they are firing on all cylinders right now. The battle between Robert Saleh’s talented 49ers D and Reid’s potent offense is easily the most interesting storyline heading into Sunday. May we all pray for points.
I leave you all with a quick message. While this may not be Andy Reid’s last chance at a Super Bowl, it may be his best chance. I would hate to look back on his career as one giant ‘What If?’. I urge all Guru’s far and wide to place your support in the Chiefs and our Big Red Messiah. Let’s get Andy on top of the mountain, hell, we all know he deserves it.
P.S. Chiefs ML
God Bless and Go Birds,