An unusually open and somewhat relaxed Andy Reid said Tuesday he offered Steve Spagnuolo a job on his staff, but understood that his one-time assistant wanted to explore his options elsewhere. He also talked about DeSean Jackson and gave a Mike Patterson update (see below). But the majority of the press conference focused on his decision on defensive coordinator.
Reid, speaking to the media for the first time since the end of a disappointing 8-8 season, said the results "weren't good enough" but he did not blame Juan Castillo and intimated that even if Spagnuolo came on board, Castillo would have remained with the Eagles. (Reid said he did not talk specific titles with Spags, but it's safe to assume that a former defensive coordinator and head coach would have come here in a high-level position).
"If you could have two great coaches on defense that's better than one," Reid said.
But with Spagnuolo taking a defensive coordinator job in New Orleans, Reid expressed confidence in Castillo, saying the coach improved as the season went on.
"I saw progress," Reid said, adding that he liked the schemes Castillo employed and the players were "all in."
Near the end of the year, Reid said, things were working like he hoped they might have earlier.
He laid blame across the team, though, saying that he anticipated that the defense would have growing pains and that the offense would carry the team early in the season. "That didn't happen," Reid said, primarily because the offense gave the ball away too often.
Reid was pressed on how he viewed the four-game winning streak at the end of the year: as reason for hope, or fool's gold?
Reid said he saw it as a sign that his own coaching, and that of his staff, had not grown stale, or else a 4-8 team would likely quit.
"If as a coach you had gotten stale, you would never win the last four games," he said. "But you also have to analyze the first five."
He added, "you can take all the stats you want, but the bottom line is we weren't good enough."
Reid would not be drawn into questions about his job and the pressure he may face this year, saying that's the case every season in the NFL.
On other topics:
Reid said he was "proud" of DeSean Jackson's admission that he could have handled the season better and that the wide receiver "handled himself great the last six games." But he said he was still evaluating free agency and all of the team's personnel decisions and was non-committal on whether Jackson will be an Eagle long term.
He conceded that the Eagles have to do better when it comes to personnel evaluation, particularly in the draft.
Reid also said he is "optimistic" about next season and cited a chance for offseason work with Mike Vick as a big reason why. Reid said Vick sees that the final four teams alive in the NFL had quarterbacks who played all 16 games, and understands the importance of avoiding unnecessary hits. He also said Vick is working on moving in the pocket to avoid tipped passes and turnovers.
He said the Eagles plan to again be "aggressive" in free agency - as the team promised last season.
Lastly Reid said defensive tackle Mike Patterson had surgery to remove the AVM on his brain that cause a seizure in training camp and is doing well and should be ready for training camp, barring any setbacks.
He did not have a specific timeline for either Brent Celek (hip) or Jamar Chaney (neck).
That's the immediate news. We'll have more detail online here in the Inquirer.