In preparing for the 2010 playoffs, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid might do well to reflect on the lessons that can be learned from the career of a former great NFC East head coach, George Allen.
Allen was a man of many idiosyncrasies -- the most notable being his reliance on veteran players. He had very little use for rookies and was more than glad to trade draft picks for vets he knew would operate his complicated systems effectively.
This approach was successful in many ways, as Allen's NFL teams posted a 116-47-5 record. He never had a losing season and made the playoffs seven times in 12 campaigns. In seven seasons with the Washington Redskins (1971-77), Allen reached the postseason five times; in five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams (1966-70), he made the playoffs twice.
The problem for Allen, quite simply, was that as effective as his system was during the regular season, it came up short during the playoffs. His squads won only two playoff contests, both during the 1972 postseason. Each of the other six times his clubs reached the playoffs, they lost the opening game.
A major reason his teams fell short come playoff time is that the old legs on his ballplayers couldn't keep up with the younger legs of the opposing team. Evidence of this shows up in Allen's monthly won/loss record. His ballclubs went 26-4 in September and 96-34-5 in October and November, but fell to a 22-20 mark in December and January.
Despite this apparent weakness, Allen never varied his approach. He just kept calling for older players. This was almost certainly why an Allen-coached team never won a Super Bowl.
Reid has been in much the same boat in his career when it comes to his reliance on the passing game; his answer to pretty much any game-plan issue has been to lean on his aerial attack, but deeper research into this weekend's matchup against the Green Bay Packers shows why this mindset would be a huge mistake for the Eagles.
The reasons are myriad, but they start with the most volatile player on the Philadelphia offense, QB Michael Vick.