Even after Tennessee debacle, Reid confident heading into Eagles' bye

Posted: October 26, 2010

ANDY REID does not do futility or despair, which is one reason he is in his 12th season as the Eagles' coach.

You saw a train wreck, a humiliation, a come-from-ahead loss at Tennessee infuriating enough to make you want to rend the hem of your garment (especially if that garment happened to be an Ellis Hobbs jersey).

Andy saw a teachable moment.

"There are some great things that we can learn from this game as a young football team," Reid said yesterday at his weekly post-mortem. "It's easy to see that one or two plays against a good football team can swing the momentum of a game, and you have to be able to overcome that. First of all, you have to eliminate mistakes, and, on the other hand, you also have to be able to overcome [mistakes if you make them]."

At such times, as righteously angry as the fan base undoubtedly is, it's possible to see how Reid makes it all work, to the extent that it all does work. Yeah, maybe he butchers the clock and won't or can't explain much of anything, but when adversity really hits hard, Reid projects calm confidence to his players. And the fact is, as brutal a pratfall as that was in Nashville on Sunday, the Eagles are 4-3 heading into their bye, despite assorted key injuries and revolving quarterbacks. They have issues, but in what might be the weakest NFC in recent memory, they are right there in the watered-down mix.

"Yeah, it's a crazy league right now, and we're sitting there 4-3, man, and we're right there in the hunt in a good way. And I know I have a good football team," Reid said. "And we have to knock a couple things out here and get it straight. But I'm looking forward to the week off, and getting the guys a little bit of rest, and going through and doing some self-scouting, evaluations, and then coming back for nine games of good football."

Reid was asked about trying to make sure young players such as free safety Nate Allen and center Mike McGlynn don't get too despondent over crucial mistakes. Reid said his message to them would be positive.

"Listen, I saw some great things, man, in that game, and we need to build off of them, and we need to learn from our mistakes," he said. "And we'll do that."

Reid announced on Sunday that the team will return from the bye with Michael Vick back as the starting quarterback against Indianapolis. Had Kevin Kolb been able to put together a third successive strong performance and third successive win at Tennessee, Reid would have had a tougher decision to make (and to explain), but both Kolb and the offensive line regressed; it isn't hard now to make the case for Vick's elusiveness, his ability to make something out of nothing.

"I'm 90 to 95 percent, and with another week, I'll be 100 percent coming back and getting ready for Indianapolis," Vick said last night in his weekly appearance on the Tony Mercurio show on ESPN 94.1 in Virginia Beach, Va. Understandably, Vick seemed more upbeat than when he spoke with reporters after Sunday's loss. He hasn't played since tearing rib cartilage Oct. 3 against the Redskins.

"Throwing the ball has been the toughest thing. I think I made great strides last week, just getting my range of motion back and working on my accuracy," Vick said. "Things have finally come back full circle. I feel good again and ready to play some football."

Reid was asked yesterday about whether he had discussed the change with his quarterbacks. He said he talks to both of them every day. Vick said last night he and Reid "talked about it this afternoon. He told me to get ready to go, let's 'rock and roll.' That's our term. I'm very excited about the opportunity and looking to pick up where I left off."

Progress for DeSean

Michael Vick said DeSean Jackson is "optimistic that he'll play" Nov. 7, when the Eagles come out of the bye to face the Colts. Andy Reid said on his radio show last night that Jackson passed head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder's concussion testing yesterday and now will be evaluated by an independent neurologist, Dr. William Welch, the last step before being cleared to play.

Jackson suffered a concussion on a violent collision with Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson last week; Robinson was fined $50,000 as the NFL began to take steps to crack down on blows to the head.

More snaps for Dixon

Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon has a sack in both games he has started since Brodrick Bunkley suffered a serious elbow injury, so Andy Reid was asked yesterday whether Dixon might remain the starter when Bunkley returns.

"No. 1, I don't think [Bunkley] will be 100 percent here coming out of the bye week," Reid said. "So, Antonio will probably be in there a majority of the time anyways, and we'll just have to kind of spoonfeed [Bunkley] in and see how much he can do.

"Dixon, again, he was a bright spot in this game, really the last few weeks. He's played very well, so he'll continue to have opportunities. But I think with [Bunkley's] injury, I think it's just going to be easing him back in, and I can't tell you how that's going to go until he gets out [on the field] and he has to really grab somebody and pull them."

Bunkley said yesterday he isn't sure whether he will need surgery on the elbow after the season.

Birdseed

Andy Reid said left tackle King Dunlap suffered a bone bruise in addition to a right-knee hyperextension, putting his availability for the Colts game in jeopardy and ratcheting up the urgency on Jason Peters' return from knee surgery. If neither Dunlap nor Peters can play, Todd Herremans would move out to tackle and Nick Cole would go in at left guard, as was the case when Dunlap missed some snaps at Tennessee. Reid said Peters and his doctors think Peters will be able to go . . . Quintin Mikell called Peyton Manning, the next QB the Eagles will face, "the best that's ever played." *

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.

Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/LesBowen.

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