Frank: Overrated and underrated Eagles: Coaches

Frank: Overrated and underrated Eagles: Coaches
July 4, 2011, 9:50 pm
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Monday, July 4, 2011
Posted: 5:43 p.m.

By Reuben Frank

The most popular coach in Eagles history never won a darn thing.

In this weeks installment of our summer series the Most Overrated and Underrated in Eagles History we take a look at a couple Eagles coaches whose legacies do not quite match up with reality.

Buddy Ryan is revered in Philadelphia, which is kind of bizarre considering that hes one of only three head coaches in NFL history to take three or more teams to the playoffs and not win a single postseason game.

Of the 78 head coaches in NFL history whove reached the playoffs at least three times, only three Ryan, Allie Sherman and Jim Mora Sr. have failed to win at least one playoff game.

The Eagles were 0-for-Buddy, yet the guy is beloved in Philly because he acted tough, ripped his players and constantly flouted authority, whether it was general manager Harry Gamble or owner Norman Braman.

Not only did Ryans Eagles go winless in the postseason, but they also lost horribly and pathetically and ridiculously in the postseason.

In three playoff games with Ryan at the helm, the Eagles scored one touchdown.


Think about that for a moment. They lost by a combined 61-25 to the Bears in 1988, the Rams in 1989 and the Redskins in 1990. In those three games, they had 44 possessions and managed one touchdown Anthony Toneys one-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Rams with the Eagles already trailing by 14 points.

And the worlds greatest defense? Allowed at least 20 points in all three games to Mike Tomczak, Jim Everett and Mark Rypien.

Was Buddy really a defensive genius? Maybe with the Bears, but only one of his five Eagles defenses ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in either points or yards allowed.

Not until Rich Kotite replaced Ryan did the Eagles finally win their first playoff game since the Dick Vermeil Era.

Andy Reid wins 10 playoff games and gets blasted. Buddy manages one touchdown in the playoffs and hes a legend.

Go figure.

How is it possible to have Reggie White, Eric Allen, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner, Wes Hopkins, Andre Waters and Byron Evans on defense and Randall Cunningham, Keith Jackson, Cris Carter and Keith Byars on offense and get blown out of three straight playoff games, two of them at home?

Leave it to Buddy.


Marion Campbell has never gotten the credit he deserves for his role on Dick Vermeils staff in the late 1970s and early 1980s and also in putting together the Eagles team of the late-1980s and early 1990s.

As a head coach, Swamp Fox wasnt anything special. His .298 winning percentage with the Eagles and in two stints with the Falcons is third-worst in NFL history, ahead of only David Shula (.268) who Norman Braman nearly hired to replace Campbell and Bert Bell (.179), who went on to become NFL Commissioner.

Campbell went 17-29-1 in three years as head coach of the Eagles before getting fired with one week left in the 1985 season.

But Campbell served an extraordinary six-year stint as Vermeils defensive coordinator, from 1977 through 1982. During that span, the Eagles ranked ninth or better in the NFL in defense five of six years, including No. 1 rankings in both the 1980 Super Bowl season and in 1981.

During that span 1977 through 1982 no NFL team allowed fewer points than the Eagles, who gave up just 1,377, or 17.9 per game. And no team allowed fewer yards than the Eagles (287 per game).

The Eagles ranked third overall in the NFL in rush defense during Swampies tenure as defensive coordinator and sixth in pass defense.

Since 1954, the Eagles have never ranked No. 1 in the NFL in defense (points allowed) under anybody other than Campbell and they did it twice in a row under Swampie. Even in Campbells three years as head coach, the Eagles were solid on defense, ranking eighth, 14th and 10th.

Campbell was a defensive lineman on the NFL-champion 1960 Eagles team, which means he had a role on every Eagles team that reached a title game from the early 1950s until 2004.

The Eagles hadnt reached the playoffs in 18 years when the 1978 team made the first of four straight trips. In those four years, the Eagles gave up 17.6 points in seven playoff games with Campbell as defensive coordinator.

Swamp Foxs other major contribution to the Eagles came in the draft. It was Campbell and not Ryan who was head coach when the organization drafted Reggie White, Randall Cunningham, Wes Hopkins and Andre Waters, who would become the nucleus of Ryans underachieving teams.

Campbell is one of the key figures in Eagles history, as a player, a coordinator and a head coach. Even if nobody realizes it.

E-mail Reuben Frank at Follow him on Twitter at @RoobCSN.
Related: Frank: Does T.O. belong in the Hall of Fame? Will Birds' defense resemble Iowa's?

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