BY JEFF FALK
SOME PHOTOS COURTESY OF PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
He engineered the greatest comeback in NFL history.
He once authored the greatest comeback in the history of major college football.
He’s headed to his sixth Super Bowl, his second as a coach.
But winning a Super Bowl would be the greatest accomplishment of Frank Reich’s magnificent football career. And what would make it so is that, in some way, he returned home and helped bring an NFL championship to the area.
Lest we not forget who else has never won a Super Bowl? The Philadelphia Eagles.
“The one thing I’ve learned is that I try not to rank them,” said Reich, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator and a graduate of Cedar Crest High School. “Every situation is unique. This has been an incredible year. It’s about being in the moment, living in the moment. It’s about being in the moment together. You know there’s going to up-seasons and downs. You’ve got to learn to enjoy the good ones. This has been very rewarding.
“All the texts, phone calls and messages I’ve received, it takes me back to my roots, with family and friends,” continued Reich. “It reminds me of all the great experience we had at Cedar Crest High School. To come back and work for the Eagles, and share together in the excitement, it’s been very special. As much as we love football, for us it’s really about staying in the moment.”
On Sunday, February 4th, Reich will lead the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
As a player, Reich was a member of a Buffalo Bills team that made it to four straight Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s. In 2010, he was the quarterbacks coach of the Indianapolis Colts, when they were beaten by New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV.
“It’s very special,” said Reich. “You work very hard with a common goal. We commit to each other and we commit to the goal. And when you do get a chance at the prize, you want to make the most of it. When you put yourself in the position of being in the last game, it’s a special feeling. We’re playing to be the best in the world.
“At the beginning of the season, the main goal was to win the division,” Reich continued. “We felt very strongly that we could do that. We added some new pieces. There was a high degree of confidence at the beginning of the year.”
Last season, Reich’s first as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, under new head coach Doug Pederson and with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, Philadelphia went 7-9 and finished last in the NFC East. That combination matured together this season. developed an undeniable chemistry and ultimately flourished.
“Doug hired me to be the offensive coordinator, which implies working with the offensive staff and the players,” said Reich. “It’s preparing our players and putting them in the best positions to go out there and do their things. From my parents, I learned that you talk about everyone contributing and no one worries about who gets the credit. We spread it around. We work together.
“There’s been a chemistry that has been there from the start, and that has grown even more,” added Reich. “There’s a genuine love and respect among the team. For everyone, it’s not the only place they’ve been, but they know we’ve got something special going on here.”
There are a lot of good teams in the NFL, a lot of good players. But what distinguishes the great ones from the good ones are coaching, scheme and personnel management.
Reich has played a huge role in Philadelphia’s success this season. But humble and a class act, he continues to down-play that role.
“When it comes to coaching, Doug has hired a phenomenal staff,” said Reich. “Coach has put together the best staff you can possibly imagine, but we do it together. We work as a staff, together. As the role of an offensive coordinator, you take all your resources that you have and you pile all your ideas together and then you narrow them down. The relationship between the coaches and players involves mutual respect and belief in each other. There’s buy-in on both ends. From there, we built on it.
“I can point to a few places we put a major emphasis on this season,” Reich added. “We had a very good running game last season, but we wanted to take a step forward with it this season. That was important. We wanted to be a good situational football team, and we have become one. You don’t want to turn the ball over. We wanted to minimize turnovers. We feel like that’s a good formula for winning.”
Reich does not call plays for the Philadelphia offense. It is a role that Pederson has declined to relegate to him, but one that Reich has always respected and supported.
“Coach is dialing them up, and we’re working together all the time,” said Reich. “He called an unbelievable game (during the Eagles’ 38-7 demolition of Minnesota in the NFC championship game). We wanted to be aggressive and keep them (the Vikings) off balance. ‘Let’s be aggressive, but not reckless’. That’s the fine line. That’s the art of it. The whole year has been great. I think a lot of that goes to the preparation, practices, the detail.
“I love the fact that he’s aggressive and that he trusts our players,” continued Reich. “I think there is no doubt that there is a level of commitment by the players. I think winning breeds that. I think that comes from leadership. Everything we’re about is execution and it fuels emotion, and to do that, we’ve got to prepare.”
In Week 14, during a 43-35 win at the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia lost Wentz to a season-ending knee injury. At the time, Wentz was playing at an MVP level. But since then, the Eagles have gone 4-1 with back-up Nick Foles at the controls, including two inspired playoff wins at home.
“When Carson got hurt, there was this feeling in this building, like ‘next man up’,” said Reich. “That’s the way it is in this business. Around the league and in the city, it was almost like a mourning period. That’s not how we felt. It was just a matter of guys being committed to each other. That’s why we brought a guy like Nick in here. And Nick has really stepped up.
“Usually the answer is: “Let’s go to work,'” Reich continued. “‘Let’s not make a bigger deal of this than it really is’. We have confidence and a belief in each other. You’re here for a reason. We’re here for a reason.”
From all accounts, Wentz has been the consummate teammate and professional throughout his injury. He has handled the situation very much in the same way Reich would’ve – and has.
“He’s been outstanding,” said Reich of Wentz. “To me, one of the greatest things about a person is when you see him celebrating someone else’s success, even when you know it’s at the same position.
“I don’t care, human nature tells you it’s hard,” added Reich. “It’s been fun to see Carson have the maturity to celebrate Nick’s success, and with the frustration knowing he wants to be in there – someone who could potentially be stealing another person’s thunder. Of all the great things he’s done this year, it even exemplifies more the leader that he is.”
Reich – and to a degree Pederson, as well – can empathize with Foles’ role, because he has walked a mile in his back-up quarterback shoes. That playing experience may or may not have been beneficial for Foles.
“I don’t think teams think we’re going to scale it back,” said Reich. “Most coaches know your DNA is your DNA. We are who we are. It’s not built around one player. Nick’s been spectacular. He’s comfortable in his own skin. He’s not trying to be the hero. He’s just trying to do his job and let his teammates do what they do. He’s a big-play machine. We’re glad he’s on our team.
“He’s been the same guy,” Reich added. “He’s been unwavering, through the ups and downs. That’s what’s encouraging. Nick’s a good deep-ball thrower. He can make all the throws. He’s not afraid to throw it. He wants to throw it. (Against Minnesota) I thought his pocket presence was outstanding. I thought the protection was great. He made plays and extended plays.”
Then of course, there is the matter of New England, the reigning and defending Super Bowl champions. In many ways, the Patriots are where Reich and the Eagles aspire to be.
“Obvioulsy, they’ve earned the right to have the respect given to them, with the things they’ve accomplished,” said Reich. “Coach (Bill) Belichick and their players have set the benchmark. For us to be the best, we’ve got to beat the best. We’re just excited about the opportunity we have in front of us. And we want to make the most of it.
“They’re a very well-coached team,” continued Reich. “I have seen all the different ways they try to take players away, and they’re very good at it. I have an immense respect for him and his staff and what they’ve accomplished. We respect everybody and we don’t fear anyone. We like our players. We like our staff.”
|09/10/2017||@ Washington||FedExField (Landover, MD)||W 30-17||78,685|
|09/17/2017||@ Kansas City||Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, MO)||L 27-20||74,971|
|09/24/2017||NY Giants||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 27-24||69,596|
|10/01/2017||@ LA Chargers||StubHub Center (Carson, CA)||W 26-24||25,374|
|10/08/2017||Arizona||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 34-7||69,596|
|10/12/2017 (Thu)||@ Carolina||Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)||W 28-23||74,373|
|10/23/2017 (Mon)||Washington||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 34-24||69,596|
|10/29/2017||San Francisco||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 33-10||69,596|
|11/05/2017||Denver||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 51-23||69,596|
|11/19/2017||@ Dallas||AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)||W 37-9||93,247|
|11/26/2017||Chicago||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 31-3||69,596|
|12/03/2017||@ Seattle||CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)||L 24-10||69,075|
|12/10/2017||@ LA Rams||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Los Angeles, CA)||W 43-35||67,752|
|12/17/2017||@ NY Giants||MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ)||W 34-29||76,896|
|12/25/2017 (Mon)||Oakland||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 19-10||69,596|
|12/31/2017||Dallas||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||L 6-0||69,596|
|01/13/2018 (Sat)||Atlanta||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 15-10||69,596|
|01/21/2018||Minnesota||Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA)||W 38-7||69,596|
|02/04/2018||@ New England||U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis, MN)||6:30 PM||—|
Past Super Bowl Results
|I||Jan. 15, 1967||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10|
|II||Jan. 14, 1968||Orange Bowl (Miami)||Green Bay 33, Oakland 14|
|III||Jan. 12, 1969||Orange Bowl (Miami)||New York Jets 16, Baltimore 7|
|IV||Jan. 11, 1970||Tulane Stadium (New Orleans)||Kansas City 23, Minnesota 7|
|V||Jan. 17, 1971||Orange Bowl (Miami)||Baltimore 16, Dallas 13|
|VI||Jan. 16, 1972||Tulane Stadium (New Orleans)||Dallas 24, Miami 3|
|VII||Jan. 14, 1973||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum||Miami 14, Washington 7|
|VIII||Jan. 13, 1974||Rice Stadium (Houston)||Miami 24, Minnesota 7|
|IX||Jan. 12, 1975||Tulane Stadium (New Orleans)||Pittsburgh 16, Minnesota 6|
|X||Jan. 18, 1976||Orange Bowl (Miami)||Pittsburgh 21, Dallas 17|
|XI||Jan. 9, 1977||Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)||Oakland 32, Minnesota 14|
|XII||Jan. 15, 1978||Superdome (New Orleans)||Dallas 27, Denver 10|
|XIII||Jan. 21, 1979||Orange Bowl (Miami)||Pittsburgh 35, Dallas 31|
|XIV||Jan. 20, 1980||Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)||Pittsburgh 31, Los Angeles 19|
|XV||Jan. 25, 1981||Superdome (New Orleans)||Oakland 27, Philadelphia 10|
|XVI||Jan. 24, 1982||Silverdome (Pontiac, Mich.)||San Francisco 26, Cincinnati 21|
|XVII||Jan. 30, 1983||Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)||Washington 27, Miami 17|
|XVIII||Jan. 22, 1984||Tampa (Fla.) Stadium||Los Angeles 38, Washington 9|
|XIX||Jan. 20, 1985||Stanford (Calif.) Stadium||San Francisco 38, Miami 16|
|XX||Jan. 26, 1986||Superdome (New Orleans)||Chicago 46, New England 10|
|XXI||Jan. 25, 1987||Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)||New York Giants 39, Denver 20|
|XXII||Jan. 31, 1988||Jack Murphy Stadium (San Diego)||Washington 42, Denver 10|
|XXIII||Jan. 22, 1989||Joe Robbie Stadium (Miami)||San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 16|
|XXIV||Jan. 28, 1990||Superdome (New Orleans)||San Francisco 55, Denver 10|
|XXV||Jan. 27, 1991||Tampa (Fla.) Stadium||New York Giants 20, Buffalo 19|
|XXVI||Jan. 26, 1992||Metrodome (Minneapolis)||Washington 37, Buffalo 24|
|XXVII||Jan. 31, 1993||Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)||Dallas 52, Buffalo 17|
|XXVIII||Jan. 30, 1994||Georgia Dome (Atlanta)||Dallas 30, Buffalo 13|
|XXIX||Jan. 29, 1995||Joe Robbie Stadium (Miami)||San Francisco 49, San Diego 26|
|XXX||Jan. 28, 1996||Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.)||Dallas 27, Pittsburgh 17|
|XXXI||Jan. 26, 1997||Superdome (New Orleans)||Green Bay 35, New England 21|
|XXXII||Jan. 25, 1998||Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego)||Denver 31, Green Bay 24|
|XXXIII||Jan. 31, 1999||Pro Player Stadium (Miami)||Denver 34, Atlanta 19|
|XXXIV||Jan. 30, 2000||Georgia Dome (Atlanta)||St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16|
|XXXV||Jan. 28, 2001||Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)||Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7|
|XXXVI||Feb. 3, 2002||Superdome (New Orleans)||New England 20, St. Louis 17|
|XXXVII||Jan. 26, 2003||Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego)||Tampa Bay 48, Oakland 21|
|XXXVIII||Feb. 1, 2004||Reliant Stadium (Houston)||New England 32, Carolina 29|
|XXXIX||Feb. 6, 2005||Alltel Stadium (Jacksonville, Fla.)||New England 24, Philadelphia 21|
|XL||Feb. 5, 2006||Ford Field (Detroit)||Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10|
|XLI||Feb. 4, 2007||Dolphin Stadium (Miami)||Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17|
|XLII||Feb. 3, 2008||University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)||New York Giants 17, New England 14|
|XLIII||Feb. 1, 2009||Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, Fla.)||Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23|
|XLIV||Feb. 7, 2010||Sun Life Stadium (Miami)||New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17|
|XLV||Feb. 6, 2011||Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas)||Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25|
|XLVI||Feb. 5, 2012||Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)||New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17|
|XLVII||Feb. 3, 2013||Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)||Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31|
|XLVIII||Feb. 2, 2014||MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)||Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8|
|XLIX||Feb. 1, 2015||University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)||New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24|
|50||Feb. 7, 2016||Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, Calif.)||Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10|
|LI||Feb. 5, 2017||NRG Stadium (Houston)||New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28|