On the surface, it seems like Joe Banner's ode to Andy Reid earlier this week was a ringing endorsement of the Philadelphia Eagles coach. The team president sat for a radio interview with Howard Eskin and Ike Reese and spoke glowingly about his coach, praising his leadership and decision-making, and brushing off criticisms that Reid has never won a Super Bowl.
But in his lengthy defense of Reid, Banner makes it clear that while Reid's seat may not be hot, it's getting warmer and warmer. His quotes are peppered with qualifiers and subtle foreshadowing that the coach may force the team's hand if he doesn't win a title in the next three years. It's clear he's in Reid's corner. It's clearer that he's willing to move out of it if necessary. (Emphasis mine.)
"We are determined to win a Super Bowl, and we're actually determined to win more than one, and as long as we believe that Andy Reid is the person out there at the leadership position of the team in both the personnel and coaching front that gives us the best shot to do that, he'll be the head coach," Banner said. "If we ever reach the point where we didn't think he could achieve that, then we would be making a change to get somebody we thought could.
"But I want to be really clear -- I have no reservations whatsoever (about Andy). I can't imagine you could find a player that's played for him or a coach who's coached with him that would tell you, ‘I don't think this guy's a good enough coach to win a Super Bowl.' You're just not going to find that.
"For me, the fact that he hasn't done it yet isn't proof that he can't or won't. You wish he had, and sometimes it's baffling that he hasn't. But I sit here very confident that he is a person capable of leading this team and making decisions and winning a Super Bowl, in fact multiple Super Bowls, and I'm even shocked that it hasn't happened yet.
"That's the criteria. If we ever lost confidence in his ability to achieve that goal, then we would have to think about if it's time to make a change. I've never felt that. I don't feel that now. I feel very confident that he has that capability, and I don't see anybody out there that has been available at any time that I would have had any more confidence in.
"A year ago, everybody was like, ‘Oh, Mike Shanahan, he won two Super Bowls.' Well now, he's down in Washington, and if you could trade Andy Reid for Mike Shanahan, I don't know anybody that wouldn't keep Andy Reid.
"So I'm not caught up in that hysteria. ... There's no question -- there really is no question -- he's got to prove it, but there's no question he's capable of winning Super Bowls and leading the team in that way."
"We think that the quality of leadership is a crucial, crucial part of evaluating head coaches, and if you look at the ones that have been really successful, they're all tremendous leaders. So you can sit there and critique: Did we take the right timeout, or this or that? Andy's leadership skills and his ability, year after year, to rally players to play hard, play together, play selflessly -- which is such a difficult challenge of leadership in any professional sport -- we put a lot of value on those skills.
"And, at the same time, we're here to win a championship. That needs to be part of the equation, too."
There gets to be a tipping point where the lack of title outweighs consistent playoff appearances. Andy Reid hasn't hit it yet, but he's getting close.