Originally posted on Eagles Eye  |  Last updated 2/2/12

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 15: Andy Reid head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles points to his defensive line as he yells instructions against the San Diego Chargers late in the fourth quarter during the NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 15, 2009 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

There are two reasons I like Nick Fierro of the Allentown Morning Call, despite the fact that Mothra can't stand him...

(1) Nick actually played collegiate football and was a respected wrestler in college before taking on a sports reporting job in Allentown,...

and (2), Nick's press credentials are honored by the Eagles and mine are not.


Nick Fierro, sports journalist and perennial thorn in Andy Reid's saddle...

Thus I am in awe of Fierro for a multitude of reasons which would probably require psychiatric analysis...

Nick's diatribes against Andy Reid are local legend--- but as a slightly older native of the region, I tend to forgive Nick's rush to judgement, on the basis of his youthful exuberance and his slight lack of historical perspective with regard to the Philadelphia Eagles' organizational handicaps rooted way back in the times of Leonard Tose and Norman Braman, back when Nick was just a tyke...

You see, compared to those days of yore, the Eagles are doing okay... But Nick is not old enough to appreciate that.

At least in a week of Super Bowl media hype, Fierro keeps me grounded. His latest shot at Andy is a critique of the press conference Andy gave us two days ago. Fierro found it to be disingenuous.



I thought Andy was more straight-forward than ever in that presser. Fierro didn't see it that way.

Fierro: "As is often the case with Eagles coach Andy Reid, his statements on Tuesday regarding the changes he considered making to his staff were left to be interpreted. There was no admission, for example, that he considered replacing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo with Steve Spagnuolo, a former Eagles assistant who most recently was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams. All Reid offered was an ambiguous claim that he made Spagnuolo an offer to join the staff."

"What Reid did imply was that Castillo was going to remain on the staff either way."

Well, excuuuuuuuse me, but I think Reid cleared up that whole ball of wax in his own words:

"My feeling was that you can have two great coaches on defense," Reid said, "and that's even better than just having Juan himself. So that's about as far as it went there. We didn't talk about titles. We didn't go into any of that. [Spagnuolo] had opportunities to look at other places. He wanted to do that, which I completely understand."

So what's the big deal, Nick? Spags wanted to look elsewhere for a more defined role as "The Main Guy"... It wasn't going to be happening automatically in Philly...we're still "sharing" here... so why the shots at Reid for being honest with Spags?

After Spagnuolo chose to become defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, Reid seemed to change his thinking on adding a new voice of leadership for the entire defense and instead hired Todd Bowles as defensive backs coach and announced the staff was finalized for 2012.

Although Bowles will have input in overall defensive game-planning, Reid made it clear that Castillo was still on top of the defensive chain of command.

"Well, Todd's the secondary coach is what Todd is," Reid said. "Now, I know Juan and how Juan operates, so he pulls the best out of all of the guys. And the one thing Todd has is he does have experience and he's a sharp guy. Juan and I were able to put him through an interview process, and he did a nice job with that."

And yet Nick Fierro has a problem with that statement, too.

Fierro: "Castillo was equally cryptic later on Tuesday when asked about why he refused to answer specific questions about his job status when cornered at the Senior Bowl last week..."There was no need for me to speak out and say what Coach is going to say," said Castillo, who indicated he never had a conversation with Reid about his future and that he just tried to conduct business as usual unless or until he heard something different.

The sense Reid seemed to convey is that although he may have considered making Spagnuolo his defensive coordinator, Castillo never was in danger of being fired to make room. Okay, what's wrong with that? Even we armchairs know how loyal Andy Reid is to his long-time assistants... Why would that even be an issue to Fierro?

Reid covered a number of other issues during an unusually long, 49-minute session, his first with the media since the Eagles ended their season on Jan. 1 with a victory over Washington to finish with an 8-8 record. Among them:

•His reaction to the candid statements by owner Jeffrey Lurie that 8-8 isn't good enough and that clinging to an encouraging 4-0 finish to the 2011 season can be "fool's gold...":

"I do know though that 8-8 is not good enough," Reid said. "So what he said I agree with. There's no different feeling on this end — and as coaches and players who are sitting here watching [the playoffs], and we don't like to watch."

•Whether he believes the widespread changes he tried to implement this past season were hindered too much by a long labor stoppage that suspended all football operations for more than five months:

"From where I sit I can tell you the same things I told you during the season — that there were moving parts," Reid said. "I anticipated the offense to be a little ahead of the defense and allow the defense to grow because of all of the moving parts, and we didn't do that.

"I would just tell you that I don't want to sit up here and give you any excuses. ... But at the same time I'm very optimistic going forward and I feel very good going into next year."

[Some interpretation is required on this response too. What he seemed to say was that the Eagles were definitely hampered more than any other contender by the lockout because they didn't have enough time to get everything together, but it would be a public relations nightmare to admit it.]

•Quarterback Michael Vick being able to cut down on turnovers and better protect himself from injury:

"I think he understands [the damaging effects of turnovers]," Reid said. "... You [need to] limit your contact points that he had. And I think that he was able to see that this year. Now does that mean that he's never going to run the ball again? No. I'm sure he's going to run the ball. But when you do that, is there a time to get out of bounds and a time to get down? Absolutely — so that you live to play the next play."

•The future of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who is due to be an unrestricted free agent:

"We're going to go through and look at all that," Reid said. "I really haven't gotten to that point. I have been making sure that we are kind of analyzing the free agents."

•Recent surgeries for LB Jamar Chaney (neck), TE Brent Celek (labrum and hernia) and DT Mike Patterson (brain AVM):

Reid reported that Patterson underwent an extensive but successful surgery on Friday and he expects him to be fully ready by training camp. Celek is off crutches and Chaney is progressing nicely. According to Reid, there is no timetable yet for either, though the expectation is that neither should miss any time next season.

But Fierro takes the cynical perspective on all this somewhat candid reporting by Reid and wryly comments: "So buckle up, Eagles fans. A wild ride looms."

Or is it I who is unfairly judging Nick Fierro's judgement on the supposed evasiveness of Andy Reid's commentary?  Maybe I'm being too critical of the intent of Fierro the critic? Even I'm confused right now...maybe I'm just jealous of Nick Fierro? A great philosopher (JerkedUp) once told me 90 percent of all the world's problems can be attributed to jealousy.

But I thought we saw Andy "unplugged" for the first time in many a campaign... I thought we saw Reid at his most gut-wrenchingly honest true self on Tuesday, virtually admitting he does not have all the answers and has been humbly searching for them.

I find that kind of humility and honesty a sign of strength, and a good omen for 2012. Obviously Nick Fierro sees it in a different light. But that's okay, too. There's more than one way to filet a herring, they say. In the end, all we will ever agree upon is the quality of the annual harvest of seasonal victories on the field. Getting to the NFC Championship Game and moving on to the Super Bowl in 2012 will shut down all the Reid critics...including Fierro...it's a simple as that. 

And if for a myriad of reasons it doesn't happen, then have at it, Nick... because meanwhile Andy Reid will be retiring temporarily into a handsome safety net of accrued buy-outs and pensions and other hard-earned benefits, not to mention a cushy NFLN broadcasting gig... and you and I will still be working the same old Iggles beat for the same old compensation that barely pays the bills today.
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