December 27, 2012, 7:00 pm
Bobby April has made 12 stops in his coaching career, including six NFL stops in 20 years.
Todd Bowles has coached with eight different teams in the last 17 years.
Marty Mornhinweg has been in Philly since 2004 but has coached in 10 different cities since 1985.
They all know the reality facing them today. Most likely, Andy Reid will be fired on Monday. Most likely, they’ll be fired too. Most likely, they’ll be looking for the 13th stop, the ninth stop, the 11th stop in their coaching career by Tuesday morning.
This is the life of an NFL assistant coach. And no matter how many times you’ve been through it, it doesn’t get any easier.
“You can’t control it,” Bowles said. “So you try not to let it kill you.”
Reid, Mornhinweg, Bowles, April. You get so mad at them on Sunday afternoons it’s easy to forget that they have families and kids and mortgages, just like everybody else.
And right now, they’re all facing an uncertain future.
Asked what’s next, April shrugged and smiled and said, “I have no idea. I hope it’s good. I like living in the neighborhood over here on 20th Street. It’s a good place, the city’s a great place and the organization’s great. But I don’t know. I have no idea. I couldn’t tell you.”
When Reid became head coach of the Eagles, he kept three assistants – Ted Williams, Juan Castillo and John Harbaugh. Williams is still with the Eagles, Castillo was switched from offense to defense and fired in October, and Harbaugh left after 2007 to become head coach of the Ravens.
Perhaps Reid’s replacement will keep one or two of Reid’s assistants – Williams is one of the best running backs coaches in the business and Duce Staley could have a future in some role with the Eagles – but most likely this is the end of the road in Philly for Mornhinweg, April, Bowles, Mike Zordich, Mike Caldwell, Tom Melvin and most of the coaching staff that’s overseen one of the worst seasons in Eagles history.
Mornhinweg conceded that this may be it for the current staff but said it’s been business as usual this week as the final days of the season count down.
“Sometimes, the end is the beginning of something new,” Mornhinweg said. “This is what we do for a living and one of the only things I have ever done – except for working at the gas station there in South San Jose in high school.
“This is what we do. It’s not very hard, I think, to keep our focus on this next ballgame and the game plan, making sure that we get better every day.”
Those close to Reid haven’t noticed any changes in his demeanor, his preparation, his personality as he enters the final few days of his Eagles coaching career.
“It looks to me like he is thinking about nothing else other than this next ballgame,” Mornhinweg said. “I’m saying he’s a rock. He pretty much motors through anything.”
For Bowles, who’s in his first year with the Eagles, this has been a particularly rough year. The Eagles are 1-8 since he replaced Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator, allowing an NFL-high 21 touchdown passes and recording an NFL-low one interception in those nine games.
Bowles has gone from a hot head coaching candidate to facing an unknown future, but he said he values his time in Philly, even if it will turn out to be a short stay.
“You gain experience regardless of where you go,” he said. “I’ve learned a ton of football from Coach Reid. I’ve learned a ton about treating people, about management. I’ve learned a ton from my players.
“I’ve learned different personalities, I’ve learned different schemes, I’ve learned different parts of the game, as far as people and how to use them and different pieces. I’ve learned a lot from Jim Washburn, [Tommy] Brasher, as well as [Mike] Caldwell and [Mike] Zordich. … So you kind of file things away and you take things that are good, and I’ve learned a lot of good things from these people.”
April was asked about Reid, who’s been head coach of the Eagles for 14 years, and he spoke about legendary former Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, fired after a season-ending loss to the Eagles in 1988 after 28 years and two Super Bowl titles.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
April claims it’s been business as usual for the staff this week, despite all the speculation swirling around Reid as a last-place season winds down.
“I don’t think it ever entered anybody’s mind, like, ‘Oh this is it,’” he said. “Disappointing were the losses, but you move to the next game so fast.
“I watch [Reid’s press conferences]. It’s really true what he’s saying. He’s focused on the Giants, and it takes up so much of your time and energy, you don’t have enough time [to think about the future]. And if you do have enough time, you’re not using your time wisely.”
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org.