The Philadelphia Eagles are once again going to the playoffs.
We wanted to recognize the two men with Lebanon connections who helped make it happen: Frank Reich and Matt Nagy. Here’s how they did it.
Frank Reich helped Nick Foles reach his true potential.
One of Doug Pederson’s greatest assets going into their championship-winning 2017 season was offensive coordinator Frank Reich, a Cedar Crest grad. Here’s what Nick Foles had to said of Reich’s coaching style, which had involved Reich compiling a supercut of his favorite Foles plays to date:
As I watched the film, something immediately stuck out to me: … I was moving in the pocket, scrambling outside it, and throwing the ball with different arm angles. … It was a joy to behold. The seeds of a new beginning began to take root. I began to rediscover who I truly was as a quarterback.Nick Foles on Frank Reich
History is repeating itself, with Fole’s once-again proving to be a clutch player.
In a press conference this fall, Reich said that Foles’ competitiveness came out following Wentz injuries.
Nick is a competitor, and Nick has done an unbelievable job. You couldn’t do a much better job than he has done in Carson’s absence, so the competitor in him is disappointed that he won’t get to play. (But) everyone knows Nick is a unique person as well as a unique player who has the maturity to understand the role he is playing on the team, and there is no one who does that better.Frank Reich on Nick Foles
DID YOU KNOW… Frank’s father was Frank J. Reich of Steelton. A Marine who served in Korea, he graduated from Penn State in 1956 where he was a co-captain and among the last players at Penn State to play a full 60 minutes in a game. Reich was head coach of Lebanon High School and an assistant coach at Lebanon Valley College.
Reich won his first game as head coach of the Colts in September. Before that he worked for Jim Caldwell, Tony Dungy, Mike McCoy, and Doug Pederson. Today he works for Jim Irsay, who owns the Colts.
Reich played for Cedar Crest and can be seen in this August 1977 picture of the varsity squad.
According to Lebanon sportswriter Jeff Falk, Reich is the only Lebanon native to ever hold a head coach position in the National Football League.
Without Reich, would Foles have reached his potential? We’ll never know.
Matt Nagy kept the Bears ahead of the Vikings.
Matt Nagy cut his teeth with Central PA high school squads, preparing him for a pro career that has culminated in the head coach position with the Chicago Bears. Nagy was quarterbacks coach at Cedar Crest in 2002 and 2003, and offensive coordinator at Palmyra High School in 2008 and 2009.
Some would say that Nagy’s jump into pro coaching came almost accidentally, with his assistant coach position coming in 2009 after an internship offer/practice player offer became controversial due to a contract Nagy had previously signed with the then-defunct AFL. The Eagles ended up keeping Nagy around as a coaches assistant, from which he sprang to greater responsibilities in the Andy Reid coaching family (Reid is the only head coach Nagy has ever worked for).
Although some commenters wanted Nagy to rest his top players going into a perceived easy win against Minneapolis, that was apparently never going to happen. As defensive lineman Akiem Hicks told NBC, “I believe in him… If he feels like it is time for us to play, we are going to go out there and play ball.”
The Bears had to win this game for the Eagles to make the playoffs, and Nagy deserves credit for making the victory a reality.
Thanks to both these men for their help getting the Eagles to the playoffs.
In a fitting turn of events, the Eagles will next face Nagy’s Bears on January 6 in a wildcard matchup at Soldier Field, broadcast on NBC.