The NFL playoff Eagles fan rooting guide
Andy Reid isn’t the only person with Eagles ties who’ll be trying this weekend to get to the Super Bowl. Reid, now in his 21st year as an NFL head coach, is still searching for that elusive Super Bowl championship. Reid’s Chiefs face the Titans Sunday in the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. Later in the day, the Packers face the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game in Santa Clara. Here are 10 players and coaches – and one team executive – in action this weekend with Eagles ties.
Andy Reid took Mike Kafka out of Northwestern in the 4th round of the 2011 draft, and although his playing career didn’t amount to much – he only threw 16 passes although he kicked around the league for six years – his coaching career is going great. Kafka joined Andy Reid’s staff in 2017 as a quality-control coach before getting a promotion to QBs in 2018. In his two years in that role, Pat Mahomes has thrown 84 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Kafka will be an offensive coordinator soon. Hmmm. The Eagles seem to have an opening.
Nobody could figure out why the Titans would trade the Eagles promising wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham just before the 2016 season for a backup offensive lineman. DGB? He caught 36 passes for the Eagles in 2016 and has been out of the league since and is now dealing with some serious legal issues. Kelly, Andy Reid’s 5th-round pick with the Eagles in 2012, has been a solid backup lineman and spot starter for the Titans, and is now finishing his eighth year in the NFL. On Sunday Kelly can thank Reid in person.
Dion Lewis broke all of LeSean McCoy’s rushing records at Pitt and has gone on to a long NFL career as well. Lewis, the Eagles’ 5th-round pick in 2011, spent two years with the Eagles before going to the Browns as part of the trade that brought Emmanuel Acho to the Eagles. He missed all of the 2013 and 2014 season with injuries before resurfacing with the Patriots, where he had a career year in 2017 with over 1,100 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns. He wasn’t far off that last year with the Titans but hasn’t played as much this year. Still, he’s got over 3,500 career scrimmage yards and 22 TDs, pretty good for a 5th-round pick.
Shady, drafted by Andy Reid in the 2nd round in 2009, is the Eagles’ all-time leading rusher and currently ranks 22nd in NFL history with 11,071 rushing yards and 19th among running backs with 14,868 scrimmage yards. After four years in Chip Kelly exile in Buffalo, he rejoined Reid in Kansas City. In his first season with the Chiefs, McCoy rushed for 465 yards and a 4.6 average, although he played sparingly late in the season. Shady is the only player in NFL history with 11,000 rushing yards, 500 catches and a rushing average of at least 4.5. He only played one snap in the Chiefs’ win over the Texans.
Melvin and Andy Reid go back 35 years. Both were assistants on Vic Rowan’s San Francisco State staff in 1984 and 1985, and both were assistant coaches on Larry Kentera’s staff at Northern Arizona in 1986, as was Brad Childress. When Reid became Eagles head coach in 1999, he immediately hired Melvin, and Melvin has been with Reid since – 14 years with the Eagles and 7 with the Chiefs, the last 19 years as tight ends coach. So he’s coached everyone from Chad Lewis to Brent Celek to Travis Kelce.
The Eagles signed Mostert out of Purdue as an undrafted rookie in 2015, and he had a very good preseason, leading the NFL with 351 scrimmage yards. But after a brief stint on the Eagales’ practice squad he signed with the Dolphins, then bounced around from the Browns to the Ravens to the Bears before finally finding a home with the 49ers. He rushed for 772 yards with a 5.6 average and eight TDs this year and has a 6.0 career rushing average, highest in NFL history by a running back with at least 150 carries.
After six years with the Texans, Ryans played for the Eagles from 2012 through 2015 and he should have made the Pro Bowl in 2013. After spending 2016 out of football, he joined the 49ers’ coaching staff, first as an entry-level defensive quality control coach and the last two years as inside linebackers coach. Ryans played for the Texans under current 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Don’t be surprised if Ryans is a defensive coordinator somewhere in the next couple years. And I could see him as a head coach down the line.
Sullivan spent most of last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, but he did play in five games as an undrafted rookie during the Eagles’ midseason rash of cornerback injuries. He played 76 snaps on defense, all in three games. Sullivan, only 23, has gotten a lot of playing time this year for the Packers, averaging about 29 snaps per game since joining the regular defensive rotation a month into the season. He recorded his first NFL interception in October, picking off Dak Prescott.
In 2007, Veach was a coaching intern with the Eagles under Reid. In 2017 he became the Chiefs’ general manager. Talk about the fast track. Veach - who played at Delaware with Matt Nagy - has been with Reid in various capacities since 2004, as an intern, a coach’s assistant and a scout in Philly and a personnel analyst, player personnel director and now GM in Kansas City. Veach grew up outside Lancaster and played high school football at Manheim Central.
Wiz was the Eagles’ starting left guard for most of 2017, including the Super Bowl run. He started seven games in 2018 before losing his job to Isaac Seumalo, who still holds it. The Eagles released Wiz after training camp, and he signed with the Chiefs. He’s been starting at left guard the last few weeks following Andrew Wylie’s shoulder injury. Wiz, who spent his first four seasons with the Raiders and one year with the Jaguars, didn’t reach the playoffs in his first six seasons but his teams are 5-1 in the playoffs the last three years.