Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reid blaming disappointing season on league's rejection of 32-week, 16-game season plan

South Philadelphia--Andy Reid will be back for the 2012 campaign, really. It may not surprise most, but there was speculation that his tenure in Philadelphia was coming to an end after his 13th season as head coach of the Eagles. Struggling to an 8-8 record (4-8 before a strong finish), the deeply talented team that was suppose to make a run to the Super Bowl--at the minimum a playoff appearance--is dusting off golf spikes or skis or something.

Clock management continues to be a weak point for Reid, frequently using timeouts simply to retrieve the challenge flag or re-laminate his play chart. Senseless penalties and the abject refusal to run the football with any consistency has doomed many games even before the coin toss.

There is, however, one statistic that cannot be overlooked by critics: 13-0. Reid's record in games following the bye week. Thirteen years and 13 wins in 13 attempts after the coach has a week off, an extra seven days to study the often less-prepared opponent.

"Reid is dominant in games where he has two weeks to get ready," said Adam Zilinger, popular sports columnist for the Chester County Times Daily. "Andy knows this and is the reason he approached the league with a plan in the offseason."

Reid traveled to New York on Amtrak's Keystone service on the cold morning of February 28, 2011, nearly two weeks before the lockout began. The coach carried a massive three-ring binder at his side, actually the brick of papers had its own seat in business class. Reid made the journey as the only representative of the Eagles, in fact, no one from the franchise was aware the California native was meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the league's Manhattan offices.

Inside the binder (which freakishly resembled a trapper keeper) was a plan. A three-holed, desperate plea, perhaps, by a coach who understood perfectly the value of a bye week. Handwritten on each page was a detailed outline for the league to adopt a 32-week, 16-game season. Currently, the NFL season spans 17 weeks with 16 games. The math is simple: each team gets one week off during the season.

"Reid's radical plan was to have the season open in September and end in April, with playoffs in May, every other week being a bye week. He did all the research before stepping from the platform at 30th Street Station, over the gap and into the Amtrak car," said Mike Rulligan, the CSPM reporter that broke the story. "He was ready."

The coach had laminated, like his play charts, each and every page of the plan for effect. He hired Cooper-Sinclair, the large sports scheduling consulting group, to crunch numbers for extending the season by four months. According to the plan, the league could double revenue and attract a wider audience.

According to sources, Goodell seriously considered the plan and kept the "trapper keeper thing" to look over for several weeks. "Goodell had his team of advisers break down the plan. They returned good numbers, but they weren't good enough. The regular season would have to end by mid-February for it to work," said Rulligan. "So, much to the frustration of Reid, the single bye week format remained in place."

"We need more bye weeks in this league," Reid said at today's news conference at the NovaCare Complex, the final one of the season. "It's as simple as that. Bye weeks can help me put my players in a better position to win a game."

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