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5 Philadelphia Eagles What can you say about a team with no deep threat, no experience at quarterback, a lackluster ground game and a porous defense? Better luck next year

Aug. 30, 1999
Aug. 30, 1999

Table of Contents
Aug. 30, 1999

1999 NFL Preview

5 Philadelphia Eagles What can you say about a team with no deep threat, no experience at quarterback, a lackluster ground game and a porous defense? Better luck next year

Though he's never been a head coach at any level, Andy Reid
seems well organized and highly motivated to lead the Eagles out
of the swamp. But here's a roster of Hall of Fame and can't-miss
future Hall of Fame coaches and what each one's record was in
his first NFL season: Tom Landry (0-11-1), Chuck Noll (1-13),
Jimmy Johnson (1-15), Bill Walsh (2-14), Bill Parcells (3-12-1),
Weeb Ewbank (3-9) and Bud Grant (3-8-3). I'm not trying to find
snakes under the bed, but just remember, there will be days in
which Reid's game plan works to perfection but people keep
dropping the ball, afternoons in which he will have schemed a
receiver into open territory only to have some unblocked lineman
knock the pass down. There are days of frustration and heartache
and despair ahead, but bear in mind that lots of coaches who
went on to become famous lived through trying times.

This is an article from the Aug. 30, 1999 issue Original Layout

In truth, Philadelphia simply doesn't have enough good players.
Maybe the club is two drafts and free-agent-signing periods
away, or maybe only one, in this era of the quick fix. (Tom
Modrak, the director of operations, certainly proved he was a
shrewd judge of talent when he was player-personnel director in
Pittsburgh.) But you look at the Eagles, and you have to ask the
question, What can they beat you with?

Their quarterback, Doug Pederson, has never started an NFL game
in his six seasons. Granted, he's only keeping the seat warm for
Donovan McNabb, the second player picked in the draft, but Reid,
the former Packers quarterbacks coach whom Brett Favre called
"not only a great coach but a great friend as well," is not
going to throw young McNabb to the wolves, no matter how loud
the Philly fans howl.

The wideouts are new, and the one with the best credentials,
former Steeler Charles Johnson, is a medium-range receiver.
There's no threat downfield. The tight end, former Redskin Jamie
Asher, is out for three months with a broken ankle. The
offensive line is only so-so, just as it has been for as long as
anyone can remember. Duce Staley, a willing, productive worker
but no star, has to handle the bulk of the running. The pass
defense finished first in the league last season, only because
teams found it easier to run against Philadelphia and didn't
throw much after they'd built up their lead. Even the kicking
game nose-dived. Chris Boniol came to Philadelphia in 1997 as
the most accurate field goal kicker in the league the previous
two years; in his two years with Philly he was the second-least
accurate. He's been replaced by Norm Johnson.

O.K., enough gloom. Let's take a look at Reid, an extreme dark
horse for the job back in January. "He came into the first
interview with a big book," says Joe Banner, the Eagles'
executive vice president. "It was his ratings book. He had the
top 10 coaches rated at each position, from one to 10, offensive
line, special teams, everything, college and pro. I said to
[owner] Jeff [Lurie] afterward, 'There's a guy preparing to be a
head coach. He's already trying to line up the best staff he
can.'"

"You knew he'd thought about being a head coach," Modrak says.
"He prepared himself. He asked all the right questions."

Favre says that Reid was the genius behind Mike Holmgren's
offense in Green Bay--"the computer behind it all," Favre calls
him. "I think Andy studies the game and knows situations better
than anyone. He was probably the sharpest of anyone, including
Mike. I mean there were times when Mike would call a play from
his own personal game plan, and Andy would have to correct him.
I can say that now that Mike's gone to Seattle. I know Andy will
probably deny it, but it's the truth. I'd look to Andy in
crucial situations before I looked to anyone else."

You talk to the players about him, and it's like something out
of The Manchurian Candidate, with everyone repeating the same
script. Organization, crispness, a fresh approach: That's the
Andy Reid system. "There was a specific plan, and it was made
clear to us from Day One," Eagles fullback Kevin Turner says.
"At times last year it seemed as if there was no plan."

"I was lucky enough to be around Mike Holmgren when he took over
in Green Bay," Reid says. "I watched how he approached the job,
the way he did it. I tried to categorize every step of the way.
Every situation I come across, I put it in the notebook. I still
add to it. Actually, I've just started a new one."

Maybe someday that book will be in Canton. --P.Z.

COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND UNSUNG HERO Staley (22) doesn't get a lot of ink, but he rushed for over 1,000 yards and caught more than 50 passes last season.COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN

SCHEDULE

Sept. 12 ARIZONA
19 TAMPA BAY
26 at Buffalo
Oct. 3 at N.Y. Giants
10 DALLAS
17 at Chicago
24 at Miami
31 N.Y. GIANTS
Nov. 7 at Carolina
14 WASHINGTON
21 INDIANAPOLIS
28 at Washington
Dec. 5 at Arizona
12 at Dallas
19 NEW ENGLAND
26 Open date
Jan. 2 ST. LOUIS

FAST FACTS

1998 Record 3-13 (5th in NFC East)
NFL rank (rush/pass/total): offense 14/30/30; defense 27/1/17

1999 Schedule strength NFL rank: 28 Opponents' 1998 winning
percentage: .461 Games against playoff teams: 7

ROAD KILL

The Eagles, who have not won a road game in either of the past
two seasons, enter this season winless in their last 16
regular-season road games (0-15-1), the longest such streak in
the 66-year history of the franchise. Several teams have had
longer streaks, but if the Eagles run the table again this year,
they will own the NFL record for consecutive winless games on
the road.

Longest streaks in Eagles history Years

16 games (0-15-1) 1997-98
13 games (0-12-1) 1969-71
12 games (0-11-1) 1967-68
12 games (0-12) 1939-40

Longest streaks in NFL history Years

Oilers, 23 games (0-23) 1981-84
Bills, 22 games (0-22) 1983-86
Falcons, 19 games (0-19) 1988-91
Buccaneers, 19 games (0-19) 1983-85

PLAYER TO WATCH

He was Philly's top free-agent pickup two years ago, and he was
going to be the fulcrum for a mighty offensive line. Instead,
29-year-old center Steve Everitt remains an enigma. In '97 he
sprained a knee and an ankle in training camp, and those
injuries nagged him all season. Last year he missed the first
three games with a broken foot. Everitt, an abstract and
surrealist painter in the off-season, says this will be his
year. "I know my role this year is to be the leader," says
Everitt, "even though I've never been a big cheerleader type."

"I understand artists," coach Andy Reid says. "My father was an
artist. They keep things pent up, and sometimes the only way
they can express themselves is through art. I told Everitt, 'I
want you to express yourself on the field.' I watch the way he's
been working and the shape he got himself in, and I know he'll
be fine."

PROJECTED LINEUP WITH 1998 STATISTICS

Coach: Andy Reid
First season with Eagles (0-0 in NFL)

Offensive Backs PVR*

QB Doug Pederson[1] 161
24 att. 14 comp. 58.3% 128 yds. 2 TDs 0 int. 100.7 rtg.

RB Duce Staley 38
258 att. 1,065 yds. 4.1 avg. 57 rec. 432 yds. 7.6 avg. 6 TDs

RB Corey Walker 299
12 att. 55 yds. 4.6 avg. 2 rec. 35 yds. 17.5 avg. 0 TDs

FB Kevin Turner 269
20 att. 94 yds. 4.7 avg. 34 rec. 232 yds. 6.8 avg. 0 TDs

Receivers, Specialists, Offensive Linemen
[PVR]

WR Charles Johnson[1] 118 65 rec. 815 yds. 7 TDs
WR Torrance Small[1] 135 45 rec. 681 yds. 7 TDs
WR Na Brown (R)[1] 248 55 rec. 897 yds. 6 TDs
TE Jed Weaver (R)[1] 267 36 rec. 578 yds. 4 TDs
K Norm Johnson[1] 243 21/21 XPs 26/31 FGs 99 pts.
PR Allen Rossum 362 22 ret. 8.5 avg. 0 TDs
KR Allen Rossum 362 44 ret. 24.5 avg. 0 TDs
LT Tra Thomas 6'7" 349 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
LG Doug Brzezinski (R)[1] 6'4" 305 lbs. 11 games 11 starts
C Steve Everitt 6'5" 310 lbs. 13 games 13 starts
RG Jerry Crafts 6'6" 334 lbs. 1 game 0 starts
RT Jermane Mayberry 6'4" 325 lbs. 15 games 10 starts

Defense

LE Greg Jefferson 42 tackles 4 sacks
LT Bill Johnson 36 tackles 2 1/2 sacks
RT Hollis Thomas 42 tackles 5 sacks
RE Hugh Douglas 46 tackles 12 1/2 sacks
OLB James Darling 26 tackles 2 sacks
MLB Barry Gardner (R)[1] 164 tackles 1 int.
OLB William Thomas 86 tackles 2 sacks
CB Troy Vincent 50 tackles 2 int.
SS Tim Hauck[1] 63 tackles 0 int.
FS Brian Dawkins 56 tackles 2 int.
CB Bobby Taylor 31 tackles 0 int.
P Sean Landetta 66 punts 42.9 avg.

[1] New acquisition (R) Rookie (statistics for final college
year) *PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 122)