The theme of the week around the NovaCare Complex was clear from Andy Reid’s news conference today. It is something you will hear a lot:
This is a different Arizona Cardinals team than the one the Eagles beat, 48-20, on Thanksgiving night at the Linc.
“It is important now that we turn our focus to Arizona, and what a great job they have done throughout the season and into the playoffs,” Reid said. “This is a completely different situation than when they had to travel on a short week after a tough game and had to come to play us here.”
So, how do you stop any complacency from sneaking in?
“The best thing is to look at the team and the way they are playing,” Reid said. “I didn’t think we got their best shot when they were here. They had been playing good football, coming off a good game, it was Thanksgiving Day, they had to travel all the way back here. This will be a different football team that we will see out there.
“I’ve had a chance to go over the last four games of their season. It’s very obvious when you put on the film. Schematically, they are doing some different things, way more aggressive from a defensive standpoint. Offensively, they have always been aggressive, but they’ve got the run game going, the offensive line is playing better ... They have one of the finest coaching staffs around. They’re playing very good football.”
The Eagles will be the favorite on the betting line and the Cardinals are the home team and the higher seed. Both teams are trying to grab the role of the underdog. Reid was asked about his team’s underdog spirit and whether it has emerged more late in the season.
“You have to have a certain amount of that, with all the outside patting on the back that takes place,” Reid said. “You have to put that aside. It takes a lot of hard work through minicamps and training camps and know you are fortunate to play this game. You have enough of that underdog grit to survive and do well. They’ve got that. They’ve been the underdog. You have to muster that in there, never find a complacent seat to sit on during the season.”
Reid was also asked about the Eagles’ unexpected spot in the NFC title game compared to making it as the No. 1 seed during their past trips:
“There’s a different feeling that you carry during the year when you are the No. 1 seed. You are expected to win,” Reid said. “The handful of games this year we were not expected to win. I think, the base mental state of the football team is the same, from the standpoint that guys maintained faith in each other. You see them on the sideline encouraging each other. Those are all crucial ingredients to get to this this point. We’ve done that all season, even with record being different, even with the slim chance of getting into the dance here. They’ve maintained positive, upbeat, encouraging way.”
The Eagles players had the day off today and will return to practice Wednesday. They had a team meeting last night upon returning to the NovaCare Complex. As for his message, Reid said. "Enjoy the moment right now. Be ready to put your mind on Arizona. This is a good football team. The other stuff we talked about I’m going to keep to myself."
As for quarterback Donovan McNabb picking up the telephone on the Giants sideline, Reid said, “It was creative.”
On the injury front, Reid said wide receiver Jason Avant has a hyperextended knee, right tackle Jon Runyan remains sore with the knee sprain he has had and running back Brian Westbrook continues with swelling in the knee.
“I don’t think any of these are too major,” Reid said. “We’ll see how they do in the next few hours here.”