As expected the Eagles relieved Andy Reid of his head coaching duties following a lackluster season finale against the division rival Giants. All signs pointed to Andy getting the pink slip after the Eagles went into the tank following a 3-1 start in 2012. Let’s face it nothing lasts forever and we all knew this day would eventually come when Reid would move on.

I took some time to reflect back on the Andy Reid era and it was one full of great memories. I was 15 years old when Andy Reid was hired as Eagles head coach back in January of 1999. Now I’m 29 years old and have come to realize I’ve spent half my life cheering on one coach. When you stop and think about it an entire generation of football fans around the Delaware Valley have grown up knowing only one football coach for the Eagles. Not many football fans around the country can say they’ve grown up with the same coach and it’s pretty remarkable to say the least.

The more I read into the firing and reflected on the situation though the more I realize just how good a coach he really was and how much of a shame it was for him to go out like this. A coach can only do so much in any sport. At the end of the day the players need to go out and perform and the 2012 Eagles never even showed up this season. This team was clearly nothing but a bunch of talkers and couldn’t back up their talk on the field. Reid could only do so much with players that wouldn’t put forth the effort on Sundays. We’ve seen in the past what Reid can do with a cast of players that are determined and willing to put in the time and energy to win games and be successful.

In my opinion Andy Reid accomplished everything you’d want out of your coach during his tenure in Philly except win a SuperBowl. He won 6 NFC East titles the last as recent as 2010. He guided the team to 5 NFC Chamionship games and 1 Superbowl appearance. He took the team to the playoffs 9 out of 14 seasons. The man did it all except win that Superbowl for the city. If you take the Superbowl out of the equation though what you have is a body of work that most NFL cities would only dream of seeing from their coach.

The argument has been made that Reid’s tenure was separated into two era’s, the first 6 years that led up to the Superbowl appearance and the second half of his tenure being the years following Superbowl 39. Reid clearly had much more success in the first 6 years than the post Superbowl era but you can’t deny the fact he had great coaches and great players that were leaders. Post Superbowl he led the team to 4 playoff appearances including an NFC title game in 8 seasons which isn’t bad but not great either. One thing we can fault Andy for, aside from not winning a Superbowl, was his inability to replenish the coaching staff and leadership on the team. It’s clear after the Superbowl season things started going downhill as coordinators like John Harbaugh and Brad Childress moved on to head coaching opportunities. In my opinion Reid prematurely let Donovan McNabb and Brian Dawkins leave which left huge leadership gaps on both sides of the ball. Sure McNabb’s personality began to take a toll on everyone in this town by the time he left but statistically he had one of his best seasons the year before being traded away to Washington. That’s an argument for another time but bottom line is Reid had issues with replenishing leadership when it came to players and coaches and eventually it all caught up to him which is why he was let go.

Regardless if you’re happy or sad about the departure of Reid you have to give him 100% credit for one thing. He made the Philadelphia Eagles relevant again around the NFL. Before Reid this franchise was dull and not considered an attractive, upper echelon franchise in the NFL. Just think about it, how many nationally televised games do the Eagles play in every season? Even this year when the team was clearly a mess they still managed to have multiple prime time appearances. Whatever happens to this franchise good or bad they are relevant not only in Philadelphia but around the NFL landscape and for that we have to thank Andy Reid. This franchise never received the notoriety it gets now before Reid came on board. Sure they had a few decent seasons with Ray Rhodes and Buddy Ryan as coach but they weren’t a notable NFL brand until Reid. On a yearly basis you have teams like Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Dallas, New York, Washington, Chicago, New England among a few others that are considered attractive, upper echelon franchises. The average football fan wants to tune in when these big market franchises are playing. Although you can’t throw the Eagles in the same category with these teams when it comes to winning Superbowls you can certainly throw them in a category with these teams as a premier NFL brand. When the Eagles are playing its must see TV no matter if they are good or bad and Reid was the reason this franchise got onto the NFL map.

Let’s face it the majority of fans out there will judge Reid based on his numbers and lack of Superbowls. Sure he went out as the winningest coach in Eagles history. His total record was 130-93-1 with a 10-9 playoff record. His regular season win percentage came in at .583 and he totaled 140 wins including playoffs for a .578 win percentage. You can also make the argument these numbers are fragmented by the fact he was around for so long but at the end of the day you have to thank Reid for his off field accomplishment of making the Philadelphia Eagles a legitimate premier NFL franchise. Reid came in as a quarterbacks coach from Green Bay that no one heard of. He was never even an NFL coordinator let alone head coach. For him to come in and accomplish what he did with his lack of experience is absolutely astonishing. Thanks to Andy Reid the Philadelphia Eagles brand matters again around the NFL world. The next coach already has an advantage Reid didn’t have when he came in which is a blueprint for success. It’s simply a matter of restoring that winning tradition and building this team through the draft with leaders and sprinkling in the right coordinators for the coaching staff. As far as Reid goes he’ll move on and may or may not win a Superbowl with another franchise. Everything happens for a reason and this change was needed for both parties. Better days will be ahead for the Philadelphia Eagles, us fans, and Reid. But regardless of how you view Andy Reid as a coach we as fans need to thank him for elevating the Eagles brand and making our team relevant in today’s NFL world.