Reid pick for coach of the year
Published: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 12:51 a.m.
Andy Reid didn't flinch when his star quarterback was injured in November. And when the backup got hurt the next week, the Philadelphia Eagles' coach just turned to the third-stringer.
The Eagles kept on winning, and Reid earned The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award Saturday a few hours before Philadelphia beat Atlanta 20-6 and advanced to the NFC championship game.
In a truly unpredictable season, in which a half-dozen coaches did remarkable jobs, Reid was the steadiest. He never let the Eagles deviate from their course, despite the injuries at the most critical offensive position. Philadelphia wound up 12-4, won the NFC East title and earned home-field advantage for the playoffs.
The Eagles will host the winner of Sunday's San Francisco-Tampa Bay game next Sunday.
"I'm a bit of a realist," said Reid, who received 35 votes from a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL. "Without good players and good coaches, you can't sit in this chair and be successful. I'm very fortunate to have that and the support of the organization.
"It's not one guy, that's for sure."
His players might disagree. They certainly credit Reid with turning around a franchise that was 3-13 when he took over after the 1998 season. A little-known offensive assistant from Green Bay, he was a surprising hire by owner Jeff Lurie, who obviously saw something special in Reid.
The Eagles have gone 5-11, 11-5, 11-5 and 12-4 under Reid, including two division championships.
"When Andy came in here, he wasn't like most new coaches who want to know who to get rid of," running back Duce Staley said. "He wanted to know about the leadership. He wanted to know who had the character he wanted from his team."
While Reid made a brilliant, if unpopular, move when he chose Syracuse QB Donovan McNabb with the second overall pick of the '99 draft - Philly's fans wanted Ricky Williams - his work this season might overshadow that and everything else he's done.
Faced with entering the stretch run without McNabb, who broke his right ankle Nov. 17, Reid simply bore straight ahead with Koy Detmer. And when Detmer injured his elbow in his only start, No. 3 quarterback A.J. Feeley led the team to four straight wins.
"He's very upfront, very fair with everybody with the way he handles everything," Detmer said. "He's very straightforward. You know exactly what's expected of you. It's not always like that in the NFL. A lot of times you are wondering about this, wondering about that. He pretty much lets everybody know where they are at. His strength is with leadership. He has the respect of the team, and guys follow him."
Reid's NFL coaching guru is Seattle's Mike Holmgren. He spent seven seasons learning under Holmgren in Green Bay, and came to Philadelphia with a patient and meticulous plan for success.
Clearly, that plan worked.
"He's done a great job," said Holmgren, whose Seahawks lost to the Eagles and Feeley 27-20 last month. "I never had a doubt in my mind.
"I've known Andy a long time. He's quite a person. He's a good coach, but he's really a good man."
And the right man for the job.
Reid easily beat out Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who got six votes. New York Jets coach Herman Edwards received three, while Baltimore's Brian Billick got two.
Oakland's Bill Callahan and the New York Giants' Jim Fassel each got one.
Reid is the first Eagles coach to win the award since Ray Rhodes - the man Reid succeeded - got it in 1995. Buck Shaw won it in 1960, when the Eagles won the NFL title.
Chicago's Dick Jauron won the award last season.
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