Jeffrey Lurie Stands Behind Andy Reid: What does it all mean?

Jeffrey Lurie has announced that Andy Reid will return to coach his 14th season with the Eagles.

By now it certainly is not breaking news. Jeffrey Lurie took to the podium at the NovaCare Complex Tuesday to announce that Andy Reid will be back next season to coach the Philadelphia Eagles for a 14th season. Lurie met with the media just two days after the season ended and before his coach has done so. Certainly there are fans out there that are not happy with Lurie’s decision. The “fire andy” chanters are certainly up in arms this season. Media members are probably not all that excited either considering they have to deal with Reid’s unclear and predictable answers.

Speaking of pressers, let’s analyze Lurie’s. There are many points and things to analyze in regards to what the announcement means for the fans, for the team, for the organization as a whole and most interestingly, for Lurie himself. I’m not a doctor, but the themes of Lurie’s address seem to point to something very distinct. It’s a textbook case of grief.

According to Elisabether Kubler-Ross and David Kessler the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. All of these were paramount in Lurie’s words and demeanor as he stood before the media assembled before him.

DENIAL

Denial is the typical response to anything that occurs in life that does not go our way. We all tend to make excuses during this time and sugarcoat to try to make a situation seem a little less bleak than it actually is. Lurie clearly embodied that symptom.

The first display came early in the press conference before the questions started flying. Lurie denied the fact that he had high expectations for the team. He basically admitted that he thought the team could be good but did not regard them as the best.

“I thought that we could be a very good team,” said Lurie. “But, I regarded Green Bay and New Orleans, the teams holding the last two trophies, I thought they were the most formidable teams in the NFC.”

So all of a sudden, the Eagles were not even supposed to win it all. That was not the message of the team back in Training Camp. This is the organization that claimed they were “all in” this season. It’s easy to say with hindsight that you were not as good as you thought, but it is a lame excuse to out of nowhere claim that you did not think your team was amongst the elite anyway to try to make people feel as if coming up short is not a huge surprise.

Lurie’s denial also shined through in reference to the personnel on the team. During one exchanged Lurie alluded to the fact that he was stunned that the team got worse considering that they added several key pieces to the team via free agency, trades, and the infusion of their “good young talent”.

I’ll let him slide on the free agency and trades because all of those players came in with solid credentials but what “good young talent is he referring to? Is he talking about Casey Matthews, Moises Fokou and Jamar Chaney, the opening day linebacking core? Is he talking about the crop of young underachieving safeties? Or is Lurie referring to the myriad of draft choices throughout Reid’s tenure that have not contributed once so ever? Maybe we’re missing something when he says “good young talent”.

Lurie’s denial is undeniable (no pun intended). He is clearly unaware of just how bad the state of his franchise is currently.

ANGER

The second stage is anger. Typically this stage will set in after we have processed a situation and come to the realization that no matter how much we deny it, it really is as bad as it seems. Lurie reached this stage several times throughout his press conference.

He claimed that he was angry with the outcome of the season and anyone who did not recognize the anger of the team did not know what they were all about. Ok, so Lurie’s angry. Does he recognize the fans anger? Being angry about something is one thing. Are you willing to make changes to get yourself out of that state of angry? No one likes the person who plays victim. Lurie can look angry all he wants. His actions are how he can show his anger to the fan base that has made him a wealthier man. It’s hard to tell that you’re angry if you just settle for what we already have. Lurie claims to be angered by the team underachieving. Reid is the most influential aspect of the team. It’s simple reasoning. Reid is a key factor to why Lurie is angry but he is unwilling to remove the source of the anger. Misguided anger is dangerous.

BARGAINING

Stage three is bargaining. During this stage, you tend to reason with yourself as to why things did not go your way and you make excuses and set parameters for how and why things will get better.

Lurie made a bargain by claiming that Reid is still the best option for this team. He’s bargaining by asserting that keeping the coach who has not been able to win for past 13 seasons, will somehow lead to wins this season.

“If our focus is on winning a championship next year, the best coach for that is Andy,” said Lurie.

Lurie’s end of the deal is the team keeping Andy. What do the fans get in this bargain? Well according to Lurie, the fans want to win. So, by keeping Reid, he is giving them the best chance to win whether they know it or not. What a deal huh?

Jeffrey Lurie is confident that Andy Reid is still the best option to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl.

DEPRESSION

The fourth stage is depression. We’ve all been there. It’s that moment when you realize things are just not coming together for you. Lurie made it clear several times throughout the press conference that this was the most disappointing season in Reid’s tenure.

So Lurie is disappointed, the fans are disappointed, the players are disappointed, and the coaches are disappointed. That is a lot of depression permeating the Eagles organization.

Like Kermit said, “It’s not easy being green”.

ACCEPTANCE

The final stage is acceptance.

It’s very simple how Lurie is exuding acceptance. He is keeping Reid in place and telling everyone that Reid will continue to have the final say on players, coaches, draft picks and schemes. That is accepting exactly what it is that is causing your grief.

The major difference between the typical types of grief is that Lurie is in a position where he does not have to accept what is causing his grief, he just does not have it in him to change it.

Let the evidence speak for itself. Lurie is suffering through quite a bit of grief.

But what about the fans. They have to be feeling some grief as well in regards to Tuesday’s announcement. Even if they wanted Reid back, the overall message from the ownership was not incredibly inspiring. The best way to describe the whole thing was status quo.

Lurie referred to the past season as the most disappointing of Reid's tenure.

Lurie stuck to a script that fans have heard for years now from this organization. He asserts that it will not get any better than Reid. How is settling every year as good as it gets? What struck me most was when Lurie said look at Reid’s track record. He referred to the four consecutive championship appearances. Maybe no one told him, but those were not Super Bowls. He can not seriously sell that to the fan base as a justification for why Reid should stay. He said that the goal is to win a Super Bowl. If that’s the case, those four consecutive NFC championship games that he referred to should only be instances in which Reid came close and did not get it done. Lurie said he wants a coach that can get his team to the tournament. Don’t say that winning a championship is the goal if you plan on defending Reid by pointing to several seasons were he got close to achieving the goal, but ultimately did not do it.

Lurie also leaned on excuses. He pointed to the shortened offseason several times. It was interesting considering the fact that Lurie claimed that there were no “legitimate excuses” for why the team finished 8-8, but he found a way to slip some in anyway.

He claimed that the shortened offseason made it hard to assimilate the drastic scheme changes and made it difficult for Juan Castillo to excel. Everyone had to deal with the shortened offseason and the only reason Castillo was the defensive coordinator was because Reid hired him. So, it seems like Lurie was right when he said there were no legitimate excuses. So why did he make so many?

In regards to the Castillo decision, Lurie said that was completely Reid’s decision and that there “may not have been” better candidates out there at the time. This struck me as Lurie saying that Castillo was a trendy afterthought that got the job on a technicality because some other options fell through. This seemed like a subtle way to bail Reid out by saying that it was the best he could do. Was it the best Reid could do? Or was it the best assessment job that Reid was capable of?

Juan Castillo's promotion to defensive coordinator was one of Reid's many perceived flaws this past season.

He did not stop there when trying to protect Reid. When asked about Reid’s arrogant tone in press conference considering that they are the paying customers only window to the coach, Lurie said that it is not arrogance but it is Reid’s way of protecting his players and “unselfishly” taking the blame on himself. So I guess we owe Andy an apology. It is not Reid’s job to protect the players from scrutiny. His job is to call the players out when they underperform. That does not mean he has to throw them under the bus every game. But do not feed the fans the same old generic lines week after week. Lurie is mistaken when he says it is not arrogance. Not opening up to the fan base about the source of the team’s struggles is something that is arrogant because Reid is asserting that the fans do not need or deserve to know. They just need to pay for tickets and merchandise and smile. Smart investors want legitimate answers from the companies they back. Reid needs to stop giving fans the run around. Fans identify so much better with Charlie Manuel, Peter Laviolette and even Doug Collins, because they open up and tell it like it is whether good or bad. They do not “protect” their players as Lurie chose to call it. They go to bat for their players.

Speaking of the other Philly franchises, look at the way they operate. The Phillies were underperforming for years. They hired a new manager, Manuel and a new GM, Pat Gillick. The Flyers underperformed for merely a few months two seasons ago and quickly fired their coach, John Stevens, hired Laviolette, and went to a Stanley Cup. The Sixers have underperformed for years and kept changing coaches and GM’s. It finally seems like the Sixers have found their coach and GM combination with Collins and Rod Thorn and even have new ownership.

Those franchises are reacting the way the fan base wants them to. They fail and then they change. They do not act as if their infinite wisdom gives them a pass to stick with what has not worked for 13 years while claiming that it is what’s best even if the fans do not think so.

There is no need to sum this up for people. Lurie went up there and gave the fans the status quo. That press conference was utterly pointless. Lurie’s loyalty to Reid is the only reason he is coming back. Lurie should find some loyalty for the fans that have grown his fortune with their hard earned money, even through these tough economic times. Do not sell them lines. They get enough of that from Reid.

 

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