Andy Reid talks McNabb, Westbrook, Dawkins

"This is one thing I know. I can sit here right now and put a championship-caliber football team [on the field]," said Andy Reid today at the owners' meetings. (File photo)

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Eagles coach Andy Reid talked to reporters this morning at the NFL owners meetings.

Here is Part 1 of the transcript from the interview:

(on his team) This is one thing I know. I can sit there – and I’d have to move some people here and there – but I can sit there and put together what I think is a championship-calibre football team. Now, do we need depth at certain spots? Absolutely. But I think we’re one of the few teams where, if you said line up and play today, we could do that and be very, very competitive.


(is your left tackle on your roster right now?) I think I have a couple of guys who could play left tackle and be very good at it. Shawn (Andrews) and Todd (Herremans).

(which one would be your left tackle?) I don’t know that yet. I’m just kind of juggling that around and seeing how everything lays out between the rest of free agency and the draft. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. But if I had to line up, I could put either one of them there (at LT). I could put either one at guard. Stacy Andrews can play tackle or guard. And Jon Runyan’s on the mend. So I don’t what’s going to happen with that situation.

(still possible Runyan will be re-signed?) We’ll just see how it goes. I’m not saying yay or nay.

(moving Andrews and/or Herremans outside from guard) Shawn Andrews and Todd Herremans came here as tackles. Against their will, I moved them into guard. They want to be tackles. They bug me all the time about playing tackle. They would have no problem moving out to tackle if that’s what happens.

(Herremans’ play in ’08) I thought Todd should’ve been in the Pro Bowl last year. I think that’s the kind of football he played.

(state of your o-line right now) I know I’ve got enough guys (at o-line) to line up there and have a very successful offensive line. That’s comforting.

(is getting a left tackle in the draft important?) I think I’ve got those guys here. Am I always looking for good offensive linemen? Yeah. But do I think I can go and play with what I’ve got and be very successful? Yeah. You’ve got to remember something. Even though he was a right tackle (at Arkansas), Shawn Andrews probably was the finest offensive tackle I’d ever seen come out of college football. I would have no problem putting Shawn or Todd (at left tackle). But because they don’t have that (left tackle) label, because I put them at guard, that doesn’t mean that’s all they can do

(on the play of center Jamaal Jackson) I thought Jamaal did a pretty good job in the pass game. I think he can keep working on some stuff in the run game.

(do you want to find competition for him at center?) Nick Cole is pretty good competition. He came in (at right guard) and showed what he can do. That will make us take a good look at Nick (as a starting center candidate), I’m sure.


(how important is it to find a back in the draft to complement Westbrook?) We’re keeping our eyes open for that. I like to have 2 or 3 running backs. So I will keep my eyes open for that spot.

(can Westbrook still be a carry-the-load back?) I think you need to supplement somebody else in there. But he can be your primary ballcarrier.


(on Donovan McNabb) We sure like Donovan, obviously. We understand that from a player’s standpoint, he’s the face of the Philadelphia Eagles. We want to keep him at that position.

(on how much he’s talked with McNabb since the end of the season) We talk all the time.

(any concern that he might not show up at minicamps if he doesn’t get a contract extension) That (not showing up) isn’t going to happen.

(How concerned would he be if McNabb didn’t show up for minicamp?) Obviously, the quarterback position is very important. I’m always looking at the positive. The positive is, that (when a veteran doesn’t show) the young guys get to work with the ones. The negative is that you sure want your starting quarterback there.

(if he didn’t show up at minicamp, eagles fans would act like a nuclear bomb hit the city) I don’t really care about that (fan reaction). Supposedly, we’ve already had a few nuclear bombs hit there. I just kind of move on and whoever that next guy is hops in. That’s not saying I don’t love having the best players there.

(are you confident he’ll be at minicamp) Yes.

(on dawkins) He’s a great person. Philadelphia saw Brian come in and grow up as a man. They were able to see his kids grow up. Brian left a legacy there that should put him in Canton.

(the reaction by fans to his departure) I understood that completely.

(your decision to bench McNabb last November) Things get blown up in Philadelphia. I understand that. So I put that equation out of my mind and can’t worry about that part of it (fan and media reaction). I’ve got to do what’s best for the football team. And honestly, in that situation, what I thought was best for Donovan. You never know how things are going to go. I could sit here and tell you, `Ah, I knew everything would work out like it did.’ But you never know what’s gonna happen in this game when you do things like that. But I felt like it had to happen. Donovan is the type of person that carries the world on his back. As a result of that, at times, people around him expect him to carry the world on his back. And they’re not doing their jobs to their fullest. It’s too much. Too much for one person to do. That’s the point where this got to. It wasn’t from Donovan not trying or doing anything wrong. No human can do what he was trying to do. We were leading the league in drops. We weren’t playing great defense during that stretch. The offensive line was struggling. Everybody was having their thing. And to be honest with you, I wasn’t coaching very good. Everybody needed to pick their game up. And that’s kind of what happened after that.
I knew Donovan could handle the (benching) situation. That’s why he’s here. That’s why I drafted him way back when. I knew he could handle these kinds of situations. And two, I know guys like him on the team and they won’t ever let him sit on that bench very long. They will pick their game up and do what they’re supposed to do and we’ll become a football team again.

(Donovan’s refusal to acknowledge he benefited from the benching) I completely understand. This wasn’t Donovan coming over to me and saying he wanted to sit on the bench. That wasn’t what it was. No player wants that. Especially a player that competitive in a game that close. That’s not what he wants. But if that’s what we needed as a football team, I don’t mind being the bad guy. That’s my responsibility to get the football team right.

(what would have happened if Kevin Kolb had lit it up in second half?) Donovan McNabb was going to be my quarterback the next week. Because I’ve been around the guy too long. Donovan was going to be the quarterback.

(on Kolb’s frustration at looking at spending a third straight season on the bench as McNabb’s backup) He’s been a starter his whole life. He’s just learning how the whole backup thing works. But that was a great learning experience coming into that (Baltimore) game. That (performance) wasn’t Kevin Kolb. If you go back and look at the preseason game when he had a chance to play against New England’s 1s after they’d just been chewed out by Bill Belichick and how well he played there, and look at the other opportunities he’s had to come in. Kevin’s going to be a good football player. It’s just that Donovan’s a good football player too, right now.


(could you and the team have handled the Dawkins’ situation better?) There are certain ways you can do it. You can just release a player and do kind of like they did with Marvin Harrison in Indianapolis. Or you can actually try to get something done. Then if you lose him, then, you know what, you end up not being the good guy. But at the same time, in your heart, you know you tried to do something. Then you wish him the best of luck.
Brian, to me, will always be a Philadelphia Eagle. Brian should be able to walk into our office at any time, even if we’re playing them, and shake everybody’s hand and keep his high and know that he’s left a special legacy in Philadelphia.

(difficulty in letting a player like Dawkins leave) This is the hardest part of the job from my standpoint. It’s not an easy thing to do, not an easy thing to talk about. But that’s part of this business. It’s been part of this business forever. Since professional sports has been in business.
There’s a good part about being a head coach for 10 years and there’s a bad part. The bad part is you’re starting to get on the edge of your players’ careers. Then you have to make some tough, tough decisions. And that’s not fun. There’s nothing fun about it.

(your contact with Dawkins prior to him signing with Denver) I had talked to him a few times during the process.

(why couldn’t you have said all you’ve said about Dawkins today when he signed with the Broncos?) It might’ve reduced the amount of criticism about the Eagles being a cold-hearted organization) A week later, Joe (Banner) talked about it. I just let it go there. That was enough. Listen, Brian deserves his due. There was no easy way to do this if you were going to continue to try to negotiate and bring him back. I thought Denver did a heck of a job. They gave him a tremendous contract. And more power to them. But there wasn’t going to be an easy way of doing it. And then, I think it’s very hard for me to bring in, who at that time was the top offensive line free agent (Stacy Andrews) and try to make it his day and then talk about Brian Dawkins. I will never do it. That’s just not what I do.

(you could’ve taken questions on Dawkins after the Andrews’ press conference) I guess I could’ve done a lot of things. But that was (Andrews’) day and you let it go at that.

For Part 2 of the Reid interview, click here.