Andy Reid renews acquaintances with Eagles reporters

Posted: March 21, 2013

PHOENIX - The Hawaiian shirt - an impenetrable jungle of blue, red, white, yellow and green - was familiar, as was the group of faces awaiting Andy Reid's arrival.

But a red Kansas City Chiefs helmet adorned the sign that identified the table of the man who coached the Eagles for 14 years. Reid celebrated his 55th birthday at the NFL meetings' AFC coaches breakfast, flanked by a half dozen Philadelphia reporters. KC is a different media market, all right - nobody from Missouri was on hand to ask any questions of the Chiefs' new coach. (Maybe they'd read transcripts of his Philly news conferences and figured it wasn't worth the trip.)

"I've missed you guys," Reid quipped.

Reid's successor, Chip Kelly, is scheduled to be available at the NFC coaches' breakfast Wednesday. At lunchtime Tuesday, Kelly strode briskly out of an adjourned meeting with new Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley, the man who would have been the Eagles' coach had Kelly not taken the job. They remained locked in conversation all the way down the corridor, through the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore, and across an outdoor dining area, before splitting up to go to their respective rooms.

Kelly hasn't told us much yet about his Eagles offense. Reid had some predictions.

"He's a creative guy," Reid said. "He's got different creative and innovative ideas. He's got a great relationship with [Nike chairman] Phil Knight, so he's on the cutting edge of all their technology. I think he'll bring that into the league. I think most of what he does will work at this level. I think he's going to blend it - he brought Pat Shurmur on [as offensive coordinator]. I think they'll kind of blend a little bit of the pro style with what [Kelly] does, with the spread. I think the tempo stuff will translate, that he uses."

One of the first things the Philly scribes wanted was to get Reid's reaction to the Eagles' moving training camp from Lehigh to NovaCare. The league has been trending toward practice-facility training camps for years now; lots of observers thought Reid's preference for getting away was the only thing that kept the Birds' move from happening sooner. Team chairman Jeffrey Lurie said Monday that every coach the team interviewed to replace Reid preferred a "seamless" camp at the practice facility.

"I enjoyed going away, but I can see the pluses in staying," said Reid, coach for the last 14 of the Eagles' 17 Lehigh camps. "I enjoyed getting out and going up there. Everybody's got their own way of doing it. Chip's going to put his own mark on things. I think he'll be very good; he's a good football coach. He knows what he wants, and he'll go about it the way he wants to do it."

Asked whether he would have kept camp at Lehigh, had he not been dismissed, Reid said he didn't know "where we were with the contract part of it." The Eagles renewed their contract each year at the end of camp, and paid installments to Lehigh this offseason before pulling the plug. They are expected to compensate Lehigh further for backing out of this year's agreement.

"I hadn't really gotten that far," before getting the ax, Reid said.

Reid also was asked about quarterback Nick Foles, whom he drafted last year in the third round. Reid reiterated what he'd said at the NFL Scouting Combine - that the Eagles made it clear Foles was not going to be available, and that the Chiefs set their sights on trading for the more experienced Alex Smith right out of the gate, anyway.

"I had my eyes on Alex, really, when I took the job there," Reid said.

Reid said he feels Foles is "mobile enough" to be effective in the changing NFL.

Reid said there are probably eight to 10 players the Chiefs are considering with the first overall pick in next month's draft.

"You don't want to have that first pick very often," Reid said. "You want to take advantage of it when you have it, and not goof."

On West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Reid said Kansas City's acquisition of Alex Smith and backup QB Chase Daniel "doesn't mean Geno's out of the water. I'm going to keep my eyes open on everything. I think Geno's a good quarterback."

Asked about Lurie traveling to the Eagles' workout of Smith at West Virginia, Reid's recollection meshed with Lurie's - that the chairman last was involved in workouts in 1999, when the Eagles and Reid, then a new head coach, took QB Donovan McNabb second overall.

Reid will stick with the 3-4 defense in Kansas City, which the Eagles now are transitioning toward, more or less. Reid was a staunch 4-3 guy in Philadelphia.

"I'm taking over for a defensive head coach," he said. "[The Chiefs] were well-coached in the '34.' They'd invested, obviously, draft picks and time and effort into the 34. And I had a guy [defensive coordinator Bob Sutton] that I felt very strong about, who was a good coordinator for the 34 defense. It all kind of lined up."

Kubiak on Barwin, Casey

Texans coach Gary Kubiak talked Tuesday about losing linebacker Connor Barwin and H-back/tight end James Casey to the Eagles in free agency.

"As an organization, I know we wanted Connor back," Kubiak said. "You have to go through the process. It didn't work out. I think the world of Connor; I talked to him the other day. In Houston, I love effort players. I love guys that are consistent, how they go about playing the game, week in and week out. That's what you're getting."

Kubiak said injuries forced the Texans to move Barwin around more last season, perhaps partly accounting for his drop from 11 1/2 sacks in 2011 to three last season. "That was tough on Connor, but Connor's play, to me, was just as good" in 2012, Kubiak said.

"James is brilliant; you can do anything with him as a coach," Kubiak said of Casey. "He can play all over the place . . . I know he'll fit very well with what Chip wants to do."

Pagano: Williams brings fire

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was the Ravens' secondary coach in 2009, when Baltimore plucked cornerback Cary Williams off the Titans' practice squad. The Eagles signed Williams last week.

"Cary's a long, athletic guy who can run. He's very competitive," Pagano said. "He's not afraid to get up in a receiver's face and challenge guys. He can play both at the line of scrimmage and he can play off. And he's grown tremendously from a mental standpoint, in studying this game. The best football's ahead of Cary."

Williams has been known to get into scrums, most infamously in the Super Bowl, when he seemed to get away with shoving an official.

"He's a fiery, fiery guy. We've had several conversations about that," Pagano said. "But I would rather have that guy, have to slow a guy down and talk to him about not crossing the line, so to speak, than a guy you've got to push and prod to compete and play at that level. I think it's a tremendous quality, an asset, and I think Cary's mature enough and understands where to draw the line."

Birdseed

Asked about the signing of former Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Broncos coach John Fox said: "I told him, you turn on a 60-play game [tape], 30 of those, he does things you can't coach. Thirty of those plays you're not so happy with, and that's probably why he's on his third team [at age 27 next month]. At the end of the day, he's got the skill set . . . We were very upfront with him, he understands. We'll see where it takes us, him and us" . . . The Eagles were awarded a compensatory seventh-round draft pick and now have nine picks, one in each of the first five rounds and four in the seventh round.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: Eagletarian

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