The Philadelphia Eagles couldn't exactly make headlines and statements in their preseason finale on Aug. 30. While Eagles fans like myself cheered a 28-10 win and a perfect 4-0 August record, the real Birds won't show up until the Sept. 9 opener against the Cleveland Browns. Therefore, the biggest statement until then was made by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who revealed more of the criteria for Andy Reid to keep his job.
Lurie stated in his 'state of the team' press conference before the game that the Eagles must make "substantial improvement" from last year for Reid to stay as coach. Most anything would be an improvement from 8-8 and a 4-8 start - but what is "substantial improvement" in the eyes of Lurie and of the fans?
If the Eagles finished 10-6 or 11-5, that would certainly be an improvement and could justify another year for Reid. However, with no playoff wins - or even only one - then it becomes trickier. Does Lurie want enough improvement to merely be back in the pack of contenders, or does he want more than that like the fans do?
The fanbase is more inclined to make "Super Bowl or bust" demands on Reid, after over a decade of busts. If the Eagles make the playoffs and get knocked out early again, then even more than 10 wins in the regular season won't cut it. But if that is enough for Lurie, it will highlight the gap between his standards for success and ours.
Does Lurie just want an annual winner that never really threatens to take the next step, or does he want a real champion? If Reid and the Eagles merely become good enough to make the playoffs again and nothing more, that won't be enough - and it would be better to do something about it sooner than later. But if that is Lurie's criteria for "substantial improvement" then his priorities and ours may not be on the same page.
It would be much easier if the Eagles tanked into last place, or instantly shot to the top of the NFC. But if they are in between, as they often are, then it gets harder to judge whether Reid has done enough. Us fans starving for real results and championships can make more knee jerk reactions, yet Lurie has to think more carefully.
Reid can take the decision out of his hands by making true substantial improvement, and getting the Eagles back into the clear-cut NFC and NFL elite. With results like that, he can easily buy a few more chances in Philadelphia. But if the Eagles wind up a step shy of the elite, yet better than 8-8, then Lurie must more thoroughly clarify if that is substantial enough for him - even if it isn't enough for us.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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- Sports & Recreation
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- Jeffrey Lurie
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