Commentary

Eagles' silence begs questions

Is a coaching change imminent? As fans rail on Andy Reid, team's front office is quiet

Originally Published: December 9, 2011
By Sal Paolantonio | ESPN

PHILADELPHIA -- Why has the Eagles' front office -- general manager Howie Roseman, team president Joe Banner and team owner Jeff Lurie -- been silent in the face of such overwhelming public disenchantment with head coach Andy Reid?

Strangely, Banner -- who was front and center when the Eagles invested $225 million in new contracts and free agents this past offseason -- has been asked in the Eagles' postgame locker room for comment on the team, and he's declined all offers to discuss the situation. Banner has been given the chance to support Reid, but has not.

Indeed, there has been no organizational vote of confidence for the head coach and his staff -- even after the fans chanted for Reid's firing on national TV at the last home game on Thanksgiving weekend during a particularly uninspired but all-too-typical loss to the New England Patriots.

The front office has allowed Reid to twist in the wind. There can be only two conclusions drawn from this silence.

[+] EnlargeAndy Reid
Brad Mills/US PresswireIt's been a frustrating season for Andy Reid. Will he get a chance to turn things around?

One: The Eagles' front office does not think it's necessary to make a public show of support. After all, Reid has two more years on his contract. But the level of public vitriol begs for response. Any business entity can't be happy when the public agenda is being dictated by outsiders with a constant drumbeat of anger and disapproval. It's PR 101: Don't let somebody else drive the message. Any politician will tell you that. Define yourself, or you will be defined.

The other possible conclusion to draw: The Eagles' front office heard the chanting and has been monitoring the incessant chatter on sports talk radio and in the newspaper and Internet columns that Reid's 13-year run has come to an end. And it's trying to answer the question: "Who can fix this?" Maybe it's not Reid. Maybe it's time for change.

If the Eagles' front office is trying to decide whether to move on, perhaps silence is the best course of action.

There is no doubt that these final four games will go a long way toward deciding the Eagles' course of action in the offseason. In many ways, Reid -- the winningest coach in franchise history -- is auditioning to keep his job in the next four weeks.

The "Dream Team" metaphor is in its final, ignominious chapter: The Eagles are taking their underachieving talent to South Beach this weekend. How does this team handle the Miami Dolphins, a team playing inspired football for a head coach running out the string in South Florida? How does the team respond now that Michael Vick is back in the staring lineup? Replacing Reid wouldn't be easy for this front office. Reid won all those games that filled Lincoln Financial Field for more than a decade, turning Lurie's initial $190 million investment to buy the Eagles in 1995 into the current value of the franchise of $1.16 billion, according to Forbes. Reid made Lurie a billionaire.

So if the Eagles are contemplating an exit for Reid, it must be respectful for what he's done for the franchise. It must be graceful.

Would Reid find another head-coaching job elsewhere? Perhaps San Diego, if Norv Turner is dismissed as expected. Reid has a home in Los Angeles. His agent, Bob LaMonte, is based in the Bay Area and knows the California football market as well as anybody.

Would Reid move into the Eagles' front office and hire one of LaMonte's clients -- Jon Gruden -- to become the new head coach?

In Philadelphia, the town is ready to turn the page. Fans are saying they are ready for a new voice. By saying nothing, is the front office saying the same thing?

Sal Paolantonio covers the NFL for ESPN.

Sal Paolantonio

SportsCenter correspondent / NFL reporter
Sal Paolantonio joined ESPN as a SportsCenter correspondent in August 1995, primarily reporting on the NFL. Beginning in 2004, he also served as host of NFL Match-Up, a weekly "Xs and Os" football show produced by NFL Films.