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Eagles Hire Andy Reid As New Coach

January 12, 1999

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ With his stocky build, booming voice and bushy mustache, Andy Reid seems like a cross between two famous Mikes _ Holmgren and Ditka.

Reid, groomed for the job as Holmgren’s quarterbacks coach in Green Bay, was named head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday. He succeeds his good friend Ray Rhodes, who succeeds Holmgren as the next coach of the Packers.

Relatively unknown and inexperienced, Reid faces the task of turning around a team that was 3-13 last season, has a limited talent base and needs a replacement for 27-year-old Veterans Stadium.

Reid, who has never been a head coach anywhere, says he can succeed where more experienced men like Rhodes, Rich Kotite and Marion Campbell failed to varying degrees.

``I think I’m able to give this organization the offense that has won a tremendous amount of rings in the National Football League,″ said Reid, who studied the West Coast offense as a member of Holmgren’s staff for seven years. ``I’d never put myself in a bad situation. I feel very confident that this organization can win.″

With confidence, energy and toughness, Reid expressed no fear about his youth or lack of experience. At 40, he becomes the second-youngest head coach in the league to Oakland’s Jon Gruden, 35. He is the first to jump from position coach to head coach since Art Shell with the Raiders in 1989.

But his coaching pedigree didn’t hurt. Reid joins Rhodes, Gruden and San Francisco’s Steve Mariucci as former Holmgren assistants to land head coaching jobs.

``We’re starting out right from the get-go that I look like him. Everybody tells me that,″ Reid said of Holmgren, who left the Packers to become coach and general manager in Seattle. ``Mike Holmgren was a great teacher, not only to his players but to his coaches. That speaks highly of him, and I would be very foolish not to study that.″

Reid signed a five-year contract, said his agent, Bob LaMonte, who also represents Holmgren. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Reid is believed to get $1 million a year _ $200,000 more than Rhodes was supposed to make this season.

Although Reid worked beneath Packers offensive coordinator Sherm Lewis, the two shared the offensive game-planning duties.

``Most people think Mike (Holmgren) was involved in the whole installation of the offensive game plan during the week,″ Packers quarterback Brett Favre said. ``He really wasn’t. Andy was kind of the computer behind it all.″

The combination of Reid and director of football operations Tom Modrak _ a veteran of the Steelers organization _ brings the Eagles what Reid described as a hybrid between what has worked in Green Bay and Pittsburgh.

Reid envisions a West Coast-style offense with a dominant quarterback running it, and a swarming, aggressive defense. He said he wouldn’t necessarily favor the Steelers’ 3-4 defensive alignment.

``Between Mike Holmgren and Ron Wolf, they built a program there,″ Reid said. ``I was fortunate enough to be in a situation where I could intern and study under that system. I took diligent notes and I analyzed everything. That’s what I bring forward, a winning system.″

Reid said he had a list of candidates to join his coaching staff, and it is believed to include some names from Green Bay _ perhaps defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur or Lewis, if he is passed over yet again for a head coaching job.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie sidestepped the question of why he targeted Reid instead of Lewis, who epitomizes the NFL’s struggle to promote blacks to head coaching jobs.

``Don’t kid yourself when it comes to titles in the NFL,″ Lurie said. ``There’s a system of tagging that creates a primary system of who you’re trying to keep and who you’re trying to promote.″

Reid’s enthusiasm floored team executives, and he easily surpassed his closest rival for the job, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

``We all looked at each other and said, `Wow,‴ Lurie said. ``This guy really comes right out at you.″

Reid, who also coached tight ends and offensive line for Holmgren, will need ever bit of positive energy in this job. They have the No. 2 pick in the draft, but years of personnel mistakes have left the Eagles with limited talent. The team needs a replacement for the Vet, where the playing surface, practice field and training facilities are well below NFL standards.

All of this falls on the shoulders of a man who will be learning on the job _ although you’d never know by hearing him talk.

``I think I’m going to be pretty good at it,″ Reid said. ``If I’m not, I’ve taken the wrong job.″

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