Westbrook: Reid, Jackson will return next season
Former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook was at ESPN's campus in Bristol, Conn., for what the network calls the "cash wash," where an athlete does interviews on radio, TV, a web chat and whatever else the Worldwide Leader came come up with.
Westbrook's day began with an interview on "Mike and Mike" with a focus on the future of the Eagles, Andy Reid, DeSean Jackson, his former quarterback Donovan McNabb, and what might have been for the Birds after the Super Bowl in 2005.
Westbrook said he expected both Reid and Jackson to return to the team next year.
"I think Andy Reid will be back," he said. "He's a fine coach. Obviously, with the lockout, this team in particular struggled because of that. You have a news defensive coordinator, coaching a new group of guys. You have no clue who these guys are. The defensive coordinator has no clue how to control these guys. He's trying to figure out how to be a better defensive coordinator. He's been an offensive line coach his whole career. This team is missing those OTAs. You don't think it's going to hurt a veteran team, a team bringing in all these free agents and you have your quarterback and your offense running well. The truth is missing those OTAs hurt this team the most. You have all these new guys coming in and trying to get a collection guys to play together, all these guys who have been good on different other teams, it doesn't work to throw these guys together and expect them to win. That doesn't work in the NFL ... It makes sense to me to bring Andy Reid back. Do you have another guy out there who can take his spot and take this collection of guys, this collection of great athletes, high-paid guys and come in there and make them win. I don't know, but I know Andy Reid can do it, though."
On DeSean Jackson:
"It's a tough situation. He needs to handle his business on the field better than he is handling it. I've talked to DeSean and said to him, 'Listen, make sure you are handling everything you can on the field as a professional. Period.' The other part is and I've gone thorugh a similar situation, you're going through the offseason,talking to the team, saying pay me as much as you can, obviously, and pay me as the type of player I am for this team. Obviously, he is a big playmaker for this team there is no doubt about that. I think you should try to pay that guy. The problem for the team is they want to pay him the least, the player wants the most. Somewhere in between you have to meet. But you can't disrespect the player in the meantime. If you're saying, 'DeSean Jackson, we're going to pay like the worst receiver in the league,' that's going to disprespect the player. Now he is going to work out in the offseason thinking about they don't think I'm good enough. That might not be the professional way to do it, but as a person, as a man, that's what happens."
One note: The lockout, of course, changed the dynamic of the offseason, with no contract negotiations, so the situation with Westbrook is not completely parallel to what Jackson experienced.
On whether Jackson returns next season:
"I think he will. I'm not sure exactly how they will do the contract. He's too good of a player to take off that team and say we'll be just as good as we were as an offense in past years."
On whether Donovan McNabb still has football left in him:
"I think he does. Obviously, it's going to be a team that needs a veteran quarterback, a veteran leader at quarterback that isn't going so well that can change the culture of a team because he is a leader. The question is, can he get it done. He struggled a little bit in Minnesota this season. I think it is a result of changing offenses for two consecutive years, different offensive coordinators, but he has to do a beter job of throwing the ball."
On whether he looks back at the Eagles Super Bowl team and wonders what might have been:
"Offensively, we were great the year we went to Super Bowl. Nobody really stopped us. We ran into a buzzasaw in Pittsburgh that one game. There had the potential to be a great offensive team. Obviously, the situation with Donovan and Terrell, everyting imploded and got messed up there. We had the potential to be great. The league is filled with teams with the potential to be great. What you put on the field is the answer."