Originally published on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005.
One season ends and another begins. While Eagles fans continue to mourn their team's three-point Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, coach Andy Reid conducted a hasty burial and turned his attention to the start of the free-agency signing period and the April draft.
"It's a short offseason," said Reid, who is attending the NFL Scouting Combine this week with his coaching and scouting staffs. "You get over it and you move on. Free agency has a tendency to do that to you. The draft has a tendency to do that to you. You have to get your stuff together and get your mind focused on next season. "
Closure included reviewing the tape of the loss to the Patriots.
"I've watched it a few times," he said. "Like I did with the [NFC] championship game losses. I don't let those things linger. We've gone over it as a staff and looked at it and critiqued it.
"We did some things well and we did some things that we could have done better. The things we didn't do so well, those are my responsibilities. They don't belong to anyone else that people want to point fingers at. They should be directly pointed at me. People have to trust that I'll learn from it and move on. "
One thing Reid doesn't think he needs to learn is better clock management. He was criticized for his handling of the Eagles' final scoring drive, a 79-yard march that took 13 plays and ate up nearly 4 minutes off the clock. By the time the Eagles got the ball back for the final time, only 46 seconds remained.
"This is the bottom line on that," Reid said. "It was a scoring drive. Is every scoring drive pretty? No. But it was important that we got that score and that we had some time to get another score, and we did. Had we executed the onside kick a little better and some things had gone our way, now you put yourself back in position where you have a chance to score.
"The bottom line was our players did their job and scored. They executed what I asked them to execute and got the result. As many fingers as people want to point at that drive, point them at me. That's my responsibility. But the end result was exactly what I wanted. "
Quarterback Donovan McNabb, who had completed only 20 of 38 passes to that point, was 9-for-12 on the drive, including a 30-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Greg Lewis that brought the Eagles to within three.
McNabb, who was sacked four times and under duress from the Patriots' pass rush much of the game, took a pair of pretty good shots from Patriots nose tackle Jarvis Green and linebacker Tedy Bruschi on the drive that seemed to impair his ability to get some plays off more quickly. On five of the 13 plays, the Eagles used up 30-plus seconds between snaps.
"That's part of the game," Reid said. "It's going to take a little bit longer after you've been hit to get up and go. But he hung in there and took us down for a touchdown that put us back in the game. That's quite an accomplishment. "
Reid dismissed suggestions that Patriots coach Bill Belichick caught him by surprise by frequently using a four-man defensive front with a linebacker lining up at right end. He pointed out that the Eagles did manage to gain 369 yards and record 24 first downs against the Pats' defense.
"I didn't think it was that big of a deal," he said. "It's what Bill wanted to do, and it gave them an opportunity to rush the passer a little better. But that's something we work on every day. That wasn't that big of an adjustment. That wasn't something that threw us out of whack. "
Reid addressed other issues:
* On how active the Eagles will be in free agency: "We already have a pretty good nucleus of players. We'll see how the free-agency thing goes. But I don't foresee it being that type of offseason."
* On the possibility that the Eagles, with five draft picks in the first three rounds, will trade up in the first round for the third year in a row: "We'll see what happens as we move closer [to the draft]. We'll keep our options open about trading up or trading down or staying where we're at. We always do."
* On putting the franchise tag on defensive tackle Corey Simon: "His agent [Roosevelt Barnes] is familiar with it. He's had a few guys in that situation. So we felt comfortable doing that."
* On increasing running back Brian Westbrook's touches next season: "I thought it was important for him to get through this season [healthy]. I think that's a big thing for a running back in the NFL. You get through it and all of a sudden you understand this is what it takes to be here. Next year, he'll get a little more [touches]."