John Smallwood: Eagles coach Reid softens criticism after loss to Saints

Andy Reid knows that dwelling on negatives won't solve anything, so he's trying to figure out how to fix team's problems.
Andy Reid knows that dwelling on negatives won't solve anything, so he's trying to figure out how to fix team's problems.
Posted: September 22, 2009

UPON FURTHER REVIEW, or at least a night of reflection and a session of film study, Andy Reid said yesterday that the Eagles' putrid performance in their 48-22 beatdown by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday wasn't as bad as his initial reaction led us to believe.

Absent from Reid's "on second thought" analysis was his headline-grabbing "absolutely horrendous performance" postgame statement about all manners of the Birds' effort against the Saints.

"With a game like Sunday and the way that game worked out, it wasn't a lack of effort," Reid said.

Uh-oh, whenever a coach talks about things not being from a lack of effort, it's a pretty sure sign that he's struggling to find the few ounces of chicken salad amid the pounds of chicken poop.

"There were other things in execution and that's completely on my plate," the coach continued.

If you think that you've heard that before - and how could you not after a decade of Reid's day-after news conferences? - it's because you have.

Deflecting the criticism away from his players and assistant coaches is standard modus operandi.

He's done it when slight things have gone wrong, let alone after a complete breakdown like against New Orleans.

Even slightly understanding the way Reid works is to know that he will not call out individuals for bonehead plays, mental mistakes and/or penalties.

He groups it all in categories, such as an absence of discipline or execution, so that he conveniently shoulders the responsibility and notes that it is the head coach's job to put players in the "right positions" so that doesn't happen.

"I will address this with the team," Reid said. "We will figure out the problems, get them answered and resolved and get ready to play the Kansas City Chiefs."

There now, doesn't that make you feel better?

Actually, it should.

Like any coach, Reid has endured his share of losing streaks, but generally through his decade in Philadelphia, he has found ways to stop the bleeding after a traumatic loss.

Sunday was the sixth time a Reid team had surrendered more than 40 points.

Though the Eagles didn't win each time the following week, their effort was dramatically improved.

In 1999, Reid's rookie season with a team that finished 5-11, the Eagles responded to a 44-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts by pushing the Washington Redskins to overtime before losing, 20-17.

In 2005, a 49-21 dismantling by the Denver Broncos was followed by a 17-10 loss to the Redskins; then the Eagles lost, 26-23, to the New York Giants in overtime a week after being whitewashed, 42-0, by the Seattle Seahawks.

Quarterback Jeff Garcia's first start for an injured Donovan McNabb in 2006 resulted in a 45-21 whipping by the Colts, but the Birds beat Carolina, 27-24, the following game.

And last September after a 41-37 loss in Dallas, the Eagles came back to outslug the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, 15-6.

Given that the woeful Chiefs are the next up on the schedule, you figure that Reid will find a way for the Birds to respond accordingly.

Everyone in the organization knows that safety Quintin Mikell had the most accurate assessment of the Saints game when he said, "We got our butts kick."

But a short memory is the best thing you can have in football, especially with 14 games left on the schedule.

Reid publicly ripping his team for its effort against the Saints would serve no purpose but to possibly set them up for more failure against Kansas City.

The New Orleans game will always be there, but it's done and can't be taken back.

That's why Reid shifted to the theme of learning from the mistakes.

That's why after acknowledging that quarterback Kevin Kolb can learn from some bad decisions, Reid said, "I thought overall he did a pretty good job after having an opportunity to evaluate it."

That's why Reid noted that the problems that led to his defense getting pushed around were "all things that we can correct. I think it'll be a better situation the next time."

Reid has no illusions about what happened against the Saints, and his rare outburst of anger on Sunday likely was closer to his true feelings.

But yesterday marked the beginning of a new week, with a new challenge in front of the Eagles.

There's not much to be gained by starting things off on a downer.

"Listen, there were some good things that we did [against New Orleans]," Reid said.

That's a long distance from "absolutely horrendous" in a short amount of time. *

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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