Andy Reid showed up in fence-mending mode yesterday. Went to the NovaCare podium carrying the post-hole digger, the staples, the shovel, the wire stretcher and the wire cutter, and got to work. Figuratively, at least.
Reid mounted a vigorous defense of wideout DeSean Jackson, after 2 days of reports about Reid singling out Jackson in the postgame locker room in Chicago for an insufficiently attentive demeanor.
"I love that he loves the ball. That's what I love," Reid said, emphatically. "Man, he wants it and he wants it now, and he wants it in crunch time. There are a lot of guys that would rather climb under this table in crunch time. He wants the ball. I like that, it's a beautiful thing. I'll take care of everything else, man, I love that part."
The "everything else" presumably includes occasional divaesque behavior.
Jackson finally spoke with reporters yesterday, after ignoring them after the game and after Monday's practice. He didn't go into detail about his Monday discussion with Reid, and he did not gush over the coach the way Reid gushed over DeSean, but Jackson did indicate there were no problems between them going forward.
"Yeah, we're good," Jackson said, when asked if he and the coach were OK. "There's nothing to clear, no air or nothing . . . I'm here to play football, and win football games."
Asked about the controversy, and speculation over the cause of his postgame sullenness Sunday, Jackson said: "I'm not here to talk about any of that. What we talk about in the locker room [is not for public disclosure] . . . People can say what they want, talk about what they want. I can care less about any of that. I'm here to play football and win football games. If it doesn't have to do with winning football games, I could care less about it."
He said he and the team "are not going to get caught up in anything else" other than preparing to face the Houston Texans tomorrow night.
Jackson declined to answer a question about whether the team needs to find ways to get him the ball more. Asked pretty much the same thing in a slightly different way, he said: "It's not about me, it's about us winning the games. If we're not winning the games, myself, none of that, that doesn't matter.
"The type of player that I am, I feel we should go out there and find different ways to take advantage of some things. You've just got to be patient. You're not going to always be able to score touchdowns and do other types of things, because people watch films and people prepare, just like we have."
Jackson made it known in the offseason he would like to see his contract reworked, something the Eagles have said they can't do because of rules on how much salaries can be raised under the expiring CBA.
Contract frustration "has nothing to do with anything," Jackson said. Jackson caught just two passes Sunday for 26 yards, a week after being held to five catches and 50 yards by the Giants.
"Teams are trying to do different things to take me away from there," he said. "It's just a part of football."
Reid didn't indicate he plans to do anything differently. Of course, Reid has always preached "share the wealth" among his weapons, even when he had Terrell Owens. And the Eagles did try to scheme special ways to get Owens the ball, even if Reid didn't acknowledge it.
"We try to get the ball to all the players, obviously. DeSean is one of the elite wide receivers in the National Football League," Reid said. "He's a tremendous football player who loves to play the game. We have plays for DeSean and we're lucky enough to have Jeremy Maclin on the other side who's also a very good wide receiver and one of the top receivers in the league. That's a pretty good combination and then you've got [tight end Brent] Celek who's good at what he does and [running back] LeSean [McCoy] and so on . . . then you put in that X-factor, which is Jason Avant, who has his own package. They all have their grouping of plays.
"One of the things with DeSean is that, listen, people know how good he is. This is no secret. He's a good football player. Teams, obviously, calculate for that and scheme for that and with that, I thought [QB] Michael [Vick] did a good job of, if he's doubled, then either going to LeSean or to Celek or back out to Jeremy; it's one of those deals. Some games there are going to be more catches."
With the Bears' safeties playing super-deep - which surprised the Birds, Vick said during his weekly radio appearance Monday night in Virginia Beach - the game became more over the middle and underneath. That is how Avant ended up matching a career high with eight catches (for 83 yards) and McCoy also caught eight, for 67 yards, which is 14 more yards than he gained on the ground.
Jackson has failed to come up with low, over-the-middle end-zone throws each of the past 2 weeks. In Chicago, it appeared he might have been distracted by a defender who narrowly missed making a devastating hit, the kind that left Jackson with his second career concussion Oct. 17 against Atlanta and Dunta Robinson.
Reid said that with Jackson, as with Vick, self-preservation has to play a role.
"There's a time and place. [DeSean's] 168 pounds. There might not be an 165-pound male in this room. So, it's one of those deals. Everybody is 20 pounds or greater than he is. So, there's a time when he has to be smart."
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