PALM BEACH, Fla. - As always, Andy Reid had a lot on his plate yesterday
as he sat down for an early breakfast, and that didn't even include the steak-and-egg sandwich that he later declared a "bad call."
In a room filled with NFC head coaches, Reid was, along with Seattle's Mike Holmgren, the longest-tenured coach. Four wins shy of 100 as he continues to plot the course for his 10th season with the Eagles, Reid was asked to briefly reflect on the past.
"I remember getting in the league and thinking, 'If I could just stay in Green Bay for three years . . . that would be something to make it that long,' " the Eagles' coach said. "It's gone by fast, and every year is its own year. You can't rest on anything you've done in the past. You have to stay completely focused on what's happening right now. If you don't, you're not going to last long."
Reid has no desire to rest on the 8-8 season and last-place finish his team endured in 2007, and he talked extensively about the future during his 60-minute media session at the Breakers Hotel.
Here's a taste of some of the questions and answers:
Question: Have there been any trade requests for Donovan McNabb?
Q: What degree of certainty do you have that he's going to be your opening-day quarterback?
A: I'm sure he's going to be there.
Q: Was there anything you felt McNabb needed to work on from last season?
A: I thought it was just a matter of his leg coming back. And in order for that to come back, you have to play on it and go through a couple of highs and lows. He pounded through it like a warrior. He just grinded through it . . . and was playing such good football at the end of the season.
Q: Do you feel as if McNabb is comfortable with what the team has done in terms of bringing in playmakers for next season?
A: Donovan is a team guy. I've had good communication with him in the off-season. He'll be fine.
Q: Has the team added enough playmakers?
A: I think we've got pretty good playmakers, which I think was evident by the results at the end of the season. We went on a bit of a run there, and some of the guys stepped up and played well.
Q: If you got a ridiculous offer for McNabb, would you accept it?
A: No, I probably wouldn't.
(Reid then implied that he might consider dealing McNabb if a team were willing to trade away its entire draft board the way the New Orleans Saints did in order to get Ricky Williams in 1999.)
Q: Why haven't any of these teams that you've tried to trade McNabb to called you?
A: I'm not trying to trade him. That might be the reason.
Q: Was there a point when you had to talk to McNabb about all the trade rumors?
A: Donovan and I talk more than any player I've got. I think that's important with a quarterback. I've tried not to let that be an issue. I've shot him straight with all that.
Q: Would you recommend that fantasy football owners take McNabb?
A: Yeah, yeah. The 10 things I think I know . . . the 10th one would be take him.
Q: Is this the season in which Kevin Kolb at least moves up to second on the depth chart at quarterback?
A: Yeah, he'll compete for that spot in training camp with A.J. [Feeley].
Q: What kind of progress has Kolb made since the end of the season?
A: This is always a big off-season for a rookie. He gets a lot of individual attention. There was a period for the returning rookies to get schooled back up on where they were at the end of the season. Since Kevin is the only rookie, he's the only [quarterback] going through that. It's been good for him. To say I know where he's at, it's a projection. I think I do, but he hasn't been a starter.
Q: What's your take on the desire of your fan base to add a top-flight receiver?
A: I think they feel passionate about that spot, and sometimes that can be a bit overrated. But I understand the want there. I don't necessarily feel the same way, but I understand where they are coming from.
Q: How would you describe Reggie Brown's season last year?
A: I thought Reggie started off OK, and he progressively got better as the season went on. I thought he finished strong.
Q: Why did Brown struggle early in the season?
A: I don't know. I just know it wasn't working as well as it should work, but he got better. I think he needs to be consistent. I don't know if it was the pressure on him to be the No. 1 guy or whatever it was. I don't know, and I don't care. I just know he got better.
Q: Is Brown a better receiver than people think?
A: I think he's pretty good. He's quick. He can change direction, accelerate fast, and those are things that normally make you successful in this offense.
Q: Is it imperative that Brown get off to a good start in 2008?
A: Yeah, I think that's important, but I think consistency is the most important thing.
Q: How has the signing of Asante Samuel affected Lito Sheppard's situation?
A: Lito is on the team. I look at it as Lito is part of the group, and we have a pretty good secondary.
Q: If Lito is on the team, then how do things work in the secondary?
A: Asante has only played [the left] side. Lito has been all over the place. Sheldon [Brown] has been all over the place, so it gives a bunch of flexibility to mess with those three guys. It will probably be very similar to when I had Al [Harris], and all the cornerbacks played well, and they were all starters.
Q: Wouldn't it be difficult to keep everybody happy in that scenario?
A: I'm not really in the business of keeping everybody happy. My business is winning games. I think they all want to win.
Q: Do you tell guys that any contract discontent has to be put behind them once the minicamps begin?
A: The players know that. They know the off-season is the time to mess around and try to get things right. They can separate that.
Q: Do you remind them anyway?
A: I might do that.
Q: Some people believe Samuel flourished at cornerback because he fit into the New England Patriots' system. Do you think he's a system player?
A: I think if he's a system player, then we probably all need to start doing his system, because he was the most productive cornerback in the league. I think he's a pretty talented guy whether it was the system or not the system. We'll see how it works out.
Q: Why do you think Samuel wasn't selected until the fourth round of the 2003 draft?
A: I think everybody knew he was a talented kid, but he went to a little bit smaller school, and there were a couple of question marks here and there. I think people knew he had talent. There was some inconsistency there, but he worked through those and stepped up to the competition level of the NFL and has played well.
Q: How do you feel about your return game?
A: I think it's a spot where we can upgrade, although I think Reno [Mahe] is a very solid answer. I also think you look to get better at each position, and that will be a good challenge.
Q: How do you see defensive end Chris Clemons fitting into the mix?
A: We feel like we have a couple of good, solid defensive ends in Trent [Cole] and [Juqua Thomas], but we've never had a guy with as many sacks as Trent had with another guy opposite of him that had eight sacks. [Clemons] is coming off a season where he had eight sacks, so he's a pretty good pass-rusher who gives us some options on third down. We'll see how he works into the rotation.
Q: Could Clemons be a starter?
A: Yeah, we'll see how he does. I'm not opposed to playing the undersized defensive end. I don't mind doing that as long as I can throw fastballs at the offense. I'd like to get another defensive tackle and have four of those guys and four defensive ends and let's go play.
Q: Do you feel this is the best group of linebackers you've had in a while?
A: I think so. We're young, and we can fly around. Omar [Gaither] probably has the most experience . . . but the one consistency is that they are all smart guys. They all love to play, and they'll do whatever it takes to get better. I think they're pretty good right now. I look forward to seeing them out there.
Q: Do you know for sure how the linebacker situation is going to look at the start of the season?
A: I hope it looks like a German chocolate cake with a lot of frosting. I hope it looks that good. That's my favorite cake.
Q: How do you view the situation at left guard?
A: Todd [Herremans] has to do a better job than he did last year. He has that potential. He showed a lot of intestinal fortitude last year by working through the knee surgery and coming back without missing any time. With that said, the production part of it, he has to do better.
Q: Will Max Jean-Gilles compete for the starting job?
A: Yeah, you've got a couple guys in there. You also have Scott Young. I think people have forgotten about Scott, and he's a pretty good player. You have that whole crew there.
Q: Do you feel center Jamaal Jackson has to improve from last season too?
A: I thought Jamaal played pretty good last year. After going back and looking at him, he played pretty well.
Q: How concerned are you about the age of offensive tackles Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas?
A: They're getting older, so I'm concerned. You have to be. But I also know that both my guards can play tackle, so it gives me a little flexibility there.
Q: Would you prefer not to move Shawn Andrews because he's been so successful at guard?
A: Not necessarily. Shawn was one of the finest tackles I've ever seen come out of college football. I really brought him here to do that, and to get him on the field sooner I put him in at guard. I have no problem moving him, and I think he could play the left side as well as anybody in this league.