Saturday, August 1, 2015

Andy Reid: Eternal optimist

ORLANDO -- Andy Reid is set to begin his 12th season as the Eagles head coach, and yet, he still hasn't brought Philadelphia that elusive Super Bowl title. Reid sat down with reporters today at the NFL owners' meetings for an hour-long interview in which he discussed a number of topics including the Eagles' quarterback condundrum, the team's off-season moves and how he is more of an optimist than a pessimist.

Andy Reid: Eternal optimist

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Andy Reid speaks with reporters Wednesday morning at the league meetings in Orlando. (AP Photo / Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Andy Reid speaks with reporters Wednesday morning at the league meetings in Orlando. (AP Photo / Phelan M. Ebenhack)

ORLANDO -- Andy Reid is set to begin his 12th season as the Eagles head coach, and yet, he still hasn't brought Philadelphia that elusive Super Bowl title. Reid sat down with reporters today at the NFL owners' meetings for an hour-long interview in which he discussed a number of topics including the Eagles' quarterback condundrum, the team's off-season moves and how he is more of an optimist than a pessimist.

"I’m probably like that little kid that’s sitting up at the pearly gates," Reid said. "Lord goes, ‘Let me show you a pessimist and an optimist.’ He takes him to the first door and there’s this kid sitting on a big pile of horse manure and he goes, ‘Lord, you told me there was some pony in here somewhere. Lord goes, ‘Nope, that’s a pessimist.’ Goes to the next room and there’s horse manure flying everywhere. He looks up and says, ‘I know there’s a pony in here somewhere, Lord.’ I’m probably that guy. I’m alright with that. I’m very fortunate to have been to that level and we’re going to take it to another level."

Here are some of the other highlights:

ARE YOU STILL HAPPY KEPPING ALL THREE QBS?
We think we have a great situation. That’s where we’re at. That doesn’t mean we’re not entertaining calls or anything. But right now, we feel very good about our quarterback situation -- very fortunate really.

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HAVE SOME OF THE OFFERS PIQUED YOUR INTEREST?
We’ll go back and look through those and think through them a little bit, away from this situation here. There’s nothing right now that I’d jump up and down about. But there has been some interest.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT MIKE BELL?
He gives you a big, powerful running back. He enjoys playing the game. I had a chance to talk to Sean Payton about him. Sean liked him, respected his ability. He’s 26 years old, so his best years are ahead of him. We’ll just see. We’ll see how things go.

CAN BELL PASS-CATCH AND BLOCK?
I thought he improved [catching the ball]. I think that became more important to him when he went to New Orleans. I pulled out every route. I pulled out every protection he had at [Denver and New Orleans]. You could see progress as it went on. [He] became a decent pass-protector.

CAN HE BE LIKE WESTBROOK?
That’s not the way I look at him. I look at him more as an in-the-backfield player. I don’t think you need to flex him out and do a lot of things with him, though I think he can catch it well enough on the different routes we do. But for the most part, you keep him in the backfield.

BELL IS ONLY 26?
I like the age part. I like the things that he brings. [He] brings a little different flavor to the backfield that we haven’t had in a couple of years. I consider him similar to what Correll [Buckhalter] did for us, as far as his skill-sets go.

IS RB STILL A PRIORITY DURING THE DRAFT?
We’re not going to force anything. If there’s somebody there we like, we’ll look at him. It was a position we needed to bring in another player in. We think we brought a good one in. So you’re not going to sit there and force somebody into that spot.

WHERE IS THE TEAM RIGHT NOW?
Back in Philadelphia.

SERIOUSLY, IS THE TEAM, AS IS, CAPABLE OF COMPETING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP?
We’re getting better. Again, we’re not done. Things could still happen. We’ll see how it goes into that first minicamp after the draft and into OTAs.

IS SHELDON BROWN STILL UNHAPPY ABOUT HIS CONTRACT?
The nice thing with Sheldon is he’s still under contract and been able to make a living. We’ll just take it from there. We’ll see what happens over time.

HAS HE GOTTEN OFFERS FOR BROWN?
We’ve gotten a few, yeah.

DID YOU SEND SOMEONE OUT TO CHECK ON SHAWN ANDREWS BEFORE YOU RELEASED HIM?
We stayed in communication with him. He said he did want to play. This will give him an opportunity to hook on with somebody and get a fresh start somewhere. We’ll see how that works.

WILL HE EVER PLAY AGAIN?
He says he will.

WHERE DOES THE O-LINE STAND?
The people you mentioned, one’s a first-year starter [Winston Justice]. The other ones were new to our program. So I think they know what to expect now. They’ll be more consistent than they were last year. And as up and down as maybe we think Jason was, he was still the best left tackle in the NFC. His peers felt that way. And he can get better. That’s a great thing for him and for us.

HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED WITH HOWIE ROSEMAN TAKING OVER FOR TOM HECKERT?
It wasn’t a drastic thing. Because Howie was working with Tom last year. They had a great working relationship. Things were smooth. The biggest thing here is it gave both of them an opportunity. It gave Tom an opportunity to go somewhere and have final say on things, which he had been looking for over the last few years. He’s working for one of my better friends. Howie, this allows him to take that next step up. He’s doing a heck of a job. He’s brought good energy to the program and has surrounded himself with good people. I’m expecting good things from him.

WHO WILL REPLACE DARREN HOWARD AS YOUR INSIDE PASS RUSHER?
You have [Trevor] Laws there. He’s got to step up from what he did last year. We brought him in with that in mind, being an inside pass-rusher. And we’ll just keep our eyes open as we go. Mike Patterson was a good inside rusher at one point. I think he can continue to do that.

CAN DARRYL TAPP PLAY INSIDE?
He did it a little bit. But he’s mainly an outside guy.

WHAT WERE THE REASONS FOR THE DEFENSE'S PROBLEMS LAST SEASON?
It was a unique situation. Coming into last season at this time, Jim [Johnson] wasn’t feeling very well. You weren’t sure whether he’s was going to make it through to the season or not. That’s no excuse. We were banged up a little bit. That probably was the main factor. Sean [McDermott], even though he got a late start on things, I thought he handled that whole situation about as smooth as you could handle it. I thought Sean did a nice job of rallying the troops and keeping that thing together.

HOW IS STEWART BRADLEY RECOVERING FROM HIS TORN ACL?
He was ready to roll at the end of the season. At least in his mind he was. He’s good.

WHEN YOU SAY YOU'RE ENTERTAINING OFFERS FOR THE QBS DOESN'T THAT MEAN THEY'RE ON THE MARKET?
I wouldn’t say they’re on the market. I’d say I’m listening. I’m not saying I’m doing anything. I’m keeping my ears open. Which we do on every player. This is no different.

SO HAS ANYTHING CHANGED FROM THE END OF THE SEASON WHEN YOU SAID MCNABB WAS YOUR STARTING QB?
I can say it again. Donovan is our No. 1 quarterback and Kevin is our No. 2 quarterback and Michael is our No. 3 quarterback. That’s how I feel.

CAN YOU DEFINITELY SAY MCNABB WON'T BE TRADED?
Donovan is our starter, our starting quarterback.

TODAY?
Today he is our starting quarterback, yes.

SO YOU COULD SEE ALL THREE COMING BACK?
I do. I can see that happening. That’s a pretty good situation for a coach.

HAS THE INTEREST IN ALL THREE BEEN THE SAME?
There actually is.

WHAT ABOUT ADDING BOBBY APRIL AND DICK JAURON?
I’ve always looked at Bobby as one of the top special teams coaches in the league. We had that with John Harbaugh, and I feel we have that again with Bobby. His track record sure is impressive. He brings great energy into the office. I’m sure it will be the same way when we get out on the field. Dick and I were together in Green Bay. We developed a friendship there and I have great respect for him. He brings a lot of knowledge to the table and and an understanding of the defensive back position. He’s coached it. He’s played it. So I welcome that into the mix there.

WHAT ABOUT JAURON HAVING MORE EXPERIENCE THAN MCDERMOTT AND NOW HAVING TO COACH UNDER HIM?
I’m not trying to help Sean. Well, I guess I am. But not for lack of him being a good football coach. I’m not asking Dick to coordinate the defense. That’s Sean’s defense. But I will always try to bring in the best coaches I can bring in. If you know Dick Jauron, he knows the dynamics of the staff. He’s not going to step on people’s toes or go behind people’s backs. That’s not what he’s about. He’s there to make us better and that’s what he’ll do.

WORRIED ABOUT ASANTE SAMUEL'S TACKLING?
I think Asante knows he needs to have a better year than what he had, even though it was a pro bowl year. As good a football player as he is, he can be even better. And I think that’s the way he’s handling the offseason. He started hitting the weights and doing the things he needs to do to add a little more strength.

ARE YOU CONFIDENT MARLIN JACKSON CAN START AT FREE SAFETY?
As long as he’s healthy, yeah. Right now he’s not. He’s working to get himself back to where he can play. He’s wired the right way to get that accomplished. We’ll keep our eyes open throughout the rest of free agency and the draft.

HOW IS JAMAAL JACKSON'S REHAB GOING?
For the season, I think he’ll be OK. For the offseason, I’m not expecting much. Or training camp. I think we’ll get him in the beginning of the year, the beginning of the season. Don’t think he’ll be in any preseason games.

WOULD YOU MISS IF HE'S NOT BACK BY THE OPENER?
It looked that way in the last Dallas game.

JEREMY MACLIN?
He was the first one back this offseason. It was neat to watch him compete last year. He’s a very intelligent kid. Came from a completely different offense (than eagles run). DeSean, there were a lot of similarities between what we run and what he ran at Cal. But Maclin, very little. He came in and worked very hard and getting routes done. But again, you’re dealing with a kid who is highly intelligent and has a great desire to do well.

WILL YOU GET DESEAN JACKSON A CONTRACT EXTENSION?
I never talk about those things publicly. Not gonna get into that.

ARE YOU CONCERNED HE COULD BE DISRUPTIVE?
I don’t worry about that at all. I think he wants to play and that’s what he’ll do.

JASON PETERS?
I think Jason was the best left tackle in the NFC. His colleagues thought he was. He has room to improve. He knows that. He’s an extremely hard worker on the field. He’ll get better as it goes on. That’s a win-win situation. When you go from one team to another, it’s hard. You’ve got to get acclimated. He did that and I thought he played well for us.

IS HE AWARE OF DONOVAN MCNABB FATIGUE WITH SOME OF THE FANBASE?
I’m sure there are a variety of things that go into it. I don’t worry about all that. I know how good he is. That’s the importing thing.

WHAT DO YOU TELL KEVIN KOLB ABOUT WAITING?
I tell them all to get ready to go. I tell every player on our team. It’s no different. Kolb is one player away from being the guy. He learned that this year. And Michael is two plays away. They better be ready to roll. We’ve been into that third quarterback position before.

HOW DOES HE KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON [AT QB]?
Normally when my plate’s empty then I move on. [Laughter]. They’re all under contract.

BUT ISN'T THE QUARTERBACK DECISION HIS CHOICE?
I answered it. Donovan is the No. 1, Kevin is the No. 2, Michael is the No.3. It’s a great situation. I’m not in any hurry to move on or anything else.

IS HE FINE WITH EACH QB PLAYING IN FINAL YEAR ON CONTRACT?
Sure. We gave Donovan a nice little bump last year. That helps.

WHAT IF THE QBS AREN'T SATISFIED WITH PLAYING IN THEIR LAST YEARS?
I think they’ll go out and play and do what they need to do. They get paid pretty good money.

HAS HE SET BOUNDARIES FOR WHAT HE WANTS FOR EACH QB?
Yeah, we have an idea.

ANY HINTS AS TO WHAT EACH WOULD FETCH?
I’ll go back and evaluate all that as time goes on.

IS HE RECEIVING CALLS FOR ONE QB MORE THAN THE OTHER?
It’s all equal. People are interested in all of them actually.

IS HE WORRIED ABOUT FAN RECEPTION IF HE WERE TO TRADE DON?
I’m not going to get into all that. We’re evaluating, we’re taking in and evaluating the situation. To answer your question, I don’t worry about all that. That’s not where I am with that. We’re evaluating. It’s an evaluating process right now.

DOES HE SEE JEREMIAH TROTTER COMING BACK?
Right now, no, but I still think he can play. We just brought Bradley back.

HOW IS OMAR GAITHER RECOVERING?
He’s making progress.

CAN HE RUN?
Yeah, he can run.

WILL HE BE THE BACKUP AT MIKE?
He’ll probably compete for the WILL position and backup the MIKE. Mays came on, as you know. He ended up having a great year as a special teams player. He just matured as a football player.

WHAT ABOUT SAM LINEBACKER?
You got Chris and Fokou. I think they’re going to compete and we’ll see what happens there.

WOULD HE EXPAND VICK’S WILDCAT ROLE IF HE COMES BACK?
We were kind of going in that direction and then he got hurt. We took ten steps forward and we were ready to take a few back and get it going again, and by that time, the season was over. I think you start that right away in the minicamps – get him going and get him involved.

WAS VICK’S TD PASS IN THE PLAYOFF GAME AGAINST DALLAS A SIGN OF WHAT HE CAN DO?
There would have been more of that had he been healthy down the stretch. He was just getting that thing going and then he got nicked up. I think we all have confidence. As a coaching staff, we all have confidence that he’ll get in there and do that. He can run the offense, too. That part of his game – that’s a neat thing.

WHY BOBBY APRIL?
I think Bobby has been known as one of the best, if not the best special teams coach in the league for a number of years. I think that’s a big addition to our football team. I think Ted Daisher did a nice job last year. We had three Pro Bowl players. The numbers were good.

WAS HE SURPRISED THAT WESTBROOK HASN’T CAUGHT ON ELSEWHERE?
I hope he does … because he mentioned that he wanted to play again. I think he’s still working out and doing the things that he needs to do.

ARE TEAM'S SCARED OFF BY WESTBROOK'S INJURIES/AGE?
I don’t know. I don’t know who’s brought him in for physicals and who hasn’t. I don’t know that. He can help somebody.

HOW MUCH LONGER DOES HE SEE HIMSELF COACHING?
I enjoy doing it. I guess when you can’t come back from summer vacation, that’s when you’re done. So when you just can’t get out of that Lazy Boy, and go, ‘Alright, it’s time to roll,’ then you hang it up. But I haven’t felt any of that. I love what I’m doing.

HOW MUCH DOES DIVIDE BETWEEN EAGLES AND COWBOYS DICTATE OFF-SEASON MOVES?
You kind of know where you have to be and then they lost in the playoffs, so you know you have to be even better than that. And so, that’s what we strive to do. It’s to bring in the best players that we can possibly bring in and then there’s a part of that’s this team – you got to coach well, play well and execute well. There’s a process that’s taking place right now that’s bringing in the personnel, the young players are starting to work out and the veterans start on the 29th and it just starts going from there.

DOES HE AGREE WITH JOE BANNER’S ASSESSMENT THAT THEY’RE NOT THAT FAR BEHIND THE COWBOYS?
It might be more than that. I’ve got Wade [Phillips] by about four inches. Listen, I don’t know. We’re just trying to put together the best team we can. They’re a good football team and we’ll see what we can do.

WILL LEONARD WEAVER DO MORE THIS YEAR?
He could. He’s talented in a lot of ways. Obviously, you don’t pay fullbacks what we paid him and not give him the opportunity to carry the football. So we feel he can do both. He catches the ball well, you can screen to him, he’s a good protector, great hands. He gives you a little more flexibility than what maybe we’ve had a fullback before. How we work him in this season – maybe that increases a little bit. The addition of Bell – that’s a good addition, too. So I think we got three guys that can carry the ball. All three are different. And McCoy, again, he and Maclin were the first two that came back. He’s working his tail off, too.

ROSTER TURNOVER?
If you’ve stayed at one place for a long period of time, things like this happen. I saw a clip of our 2004 Super Bowl and Donovan is like the other one still here on the offense. It’s one of those things. On the defense, it’s Sheldon. If you’re fortunate enough to stay in one place for as long as I have, then you’re going to go through things like that. It’s not an easy thing, but you know it’s going to happen. And then you got to get used to change. That’s part of the game. You got to embrace it as opposed to being afraid of it.

IS THE TURNOVER A MATTER OF GETTING YOUNGER AND RELOADING OR GETTING YOUNGER AND REBUILDING?
We expect to win games. When we bring young guys in we bring them in with that in mind. We want the best ones we can find and expect them to hold up the tradition that we’ve built.

IS THE TEAM RIGHT NOW CAPABLE OF WINNING A TITLE?
It will be when it’s all put together.

IS HE NOT HAPPY WITH SAV ROCCA SINCE HE BROUGHT IN ANOTHER PUNTER?
He did some good things. He learned to directional kick. I thought he did pretty good with his directional kicks. I think he can be more consistent. I like the fact that he’s willing to learn – he’s the youngest guy in the world – at his age to directional kick. I think he’s going to be better at it this year. But competition is good.

WILL HE BE ABLE TO FILL SOME HOLES WITH THE DRAFT?
I think we can play right now and compete. I think we have a pretty good football team. But I think we need to add more to it to even solidify that for me to sit here and tell you that we can compete for a championship. I think we’re in a position right now that we could do it if everybody was healthy and we just play. But I think through the draft we’re going to bring in some guys that are going to have an opportunity to play. That’s happened the last few years and guys have played well for us. I think it will be the same way this year.

IS HE GEARING MORE TOWARD DEFENSE IN THE DRAFT?
That’s the way it looks. Of course, if there’s a great offensive player there I’m not going to pass that guy up. Trust the board. You bring in guys like we’ve been bringing in and it gives you a little bit more flexibility during the draft.

CAN HE GET GUYS FROM THE DRAFT THAT CAN START?
I’m comparing it to the last couple of years. Guys have done that. They’ve stepped in. We’ve had a guy or two step in and play. I don’t think this will be any different.

WILL NICK COLE BE AT CENTER IF JACKSON CAN’T GO?
I’ve got Nick and [Mike] McGlynn and [Dallas] Reynolds. I’ll let them all compete and see what they can do.

IS IT HARD TO MAKE PERSONNEL DECISIONS WHEN YOU'RE ALSO THE COACH?
That’s the hardest part of this job. That’s the hardest part. Because you have guys that have been with you – we talked about Brian Westbrook, who’s given everything he has to your program to make you a championship-caliber football team. And then you got to tell him, ‘Listen, time’s up.’ That’s not easy. The Trotters, the Tras, the Runyans – all these guys. Dawkins. Troy Vincent before. These were hard, hard things to do.

AND AS A COACH YOU WANT TO HANG ONTO THEM?
Absolutely. You’re loyal to them. You feel very loyal to the player … for what they’ve done. They’re putting their neck out on the line every day. So you respect that.

WOULD HE VOTE FOR RUNYAN?
I would. I want to see the first argument that he gets in. I want the guy’s expression as he’s yelling at him.

WHAT ABOUT THE EAGLES' REPUTATION FOR NOT SPENDING CASH, BUT STILL MANAGING TO BE GOOD?
I think if you really studied that, if you go back and look – I’m not saying you didn’t study it – but if you go back and look at our spending, we don’t do a bad job of that. We just do it quietly.

SO YOU DON’T NEED TO SPEND BIG MONEY TO WIN?
We spend it right. We’re not afraid to pay the players is what I’m saying.

 

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