Philadelphia Eagles News

Head Coach Andy Reid

Injury Report: "(WR) Jason Avant hyper-extended his knee. He seems to be moving around okay today. We'll just see how he does here with the rest of the day and tomorrow. (T) Jon Runyan is sore from the knee sprain. (RB Brian) Westbrook has a little bit of swelling on his knee, so really nothing different. I don't think any of these are too major. We'll just see how they do in the next few hours here."

Opening Remarks: "It was a nice win yesterday. Obviously, in the playoffs it's single elimination so every win is a good win. It's important now that we turn our focus to Arizona and what a great job they have done, really throughout the season and into the playoffs. (It's) a completely different situation than when they had to travel on a short week after a tough game on Thanksgiving to come and play us here. Their coaching staff and players obviously have done a nice job. I'm proud of our guys though by the way that they handled themselves last week.

"Very easily they could have been complacent to say that they knew the Giants. They didn't do that. They went through the process of getting themselves ready to play the Giants. They'll have to do the same thing this week. I thought the coaches did a great job of teaching. The coordinators had good plans; special teams, offense and defense. And then, I think when you go back and analyze the game like I was able to do last night and this morning, that you are able to see that the offensive and defensive lines were a major factor in this game, in particular, as it went on into the second half. Without picking out specific guys, I just think as a collective group there, both sides stepped up and played well.

"I thought the tight ends, who don't get mentioned often, but I thought our tight ends played well. Again, (TE) L.J. (Smith), whose shoulder is not 100 percent right now, but he went out there and battled and had a couple of just huge catches in traffic, some nice blocks. (TE) Brent Celek just continues to improve. He had the drop and then just came back and made some big plays for us. (WR) Kevin Curtis, Kevin had a drop that easily could have been a touchdown. (He) didn't hang his head (and) came back and made two real nice catches; one over the middle where he got crushed and then a slant that he had tight coverage on.

"Then (QB) Donovan (McNabb) keeps getting better and better with age here. He's really doing a nice job. (ESPN reporter) Sal (Paolantonio) asked me yesterday if he's playing better now than he did at the beginning of the year or in previous years, and I would have to say he is. He's upped his game in which you normally don't see this late in a player's career. He has great command of the offense. He has confidence in the guys around him, and there will be no bigger test than this weekend in a very loud stadium that I'm sure will have a few people in it. Then, defensively, (CB) Asante and Q (SS Quintin Mikell) I thought did a nice job of attacking the football, both of which had interceptions. Quintin, obviously, is doing some good things. He made the second-team All-Pro team and doesn't get mentioned much, but he sure has had a nice year.

"And (FS Brian) Dawk(ins) just continues to do a great job of leading and demanding out of players around him and so on, and (CB) Sheldon Brown is right there too. I thought the linebackers; they played well, in particular the two outside linebackers. I thought they had good days. They were tested. They were tested early. (LB Chris) Gocong probably had his best day. He's been improving this whole season. I thought he had probably his best game. (LB) Akeem Jordan did a nice job of stepping up and made some nice plays.

"Then on special teams, (K) David Akers, I'll say the same thing I said about Donovan, about David; David is in the latter part of his career and has never kicked better than he's kicking right now. Again, it's important that he just keeps on that pace. He's kicking as well as – there are not a lot of kickers left playing right now, but I thought at the end of the season he was kicking as well as anybody in the league. Then, (P) Sav (Rocca) came through. Sav had a couple of rough ones early and then came through with a couple of boomers there, so he did a nice job. Then last, as you get in this part of the season, you bank on your trainers. We are very fortunate to have a good one here. These players, they're banged up and they have to have the ultimate trust in (head athletic trainer) Rick (Burkholder) and kind of turn themselves over to Rick during the week. Rick has just done a nice job, along with his staff and our doctors, of kind of piecing everybody back together and allowing us to have a chance to win football games."

On how the road they have taken to get to the NFC Championship this year is different than the previous years: "You know, someone asked me that and I probably didn't do a very good job of answering that yesterday. It's different probably from the standpoint, there's a different feeling that you carry during the year when you are the No. 1 seed. I'm not sure you're expected to win. There have been a handful of games this year that we were not expected to win, so that makes it different. But I think the base mental state of the football team is the same from the standpoint that the guys have maintained faith in each other. You see them on the sideline encouraging each other. Those are all kind of crucial ingredients to get to this point. They have done that throughout the whole season even with the record being different and with there being a slim chance at one point of getting into the dance here. They maintained that all the way through; that positive, upbeat, encouraging one another."

On whether the players have a different mentality going into these games as the underdog: "As much as you are told, I think it's important even when the record was better. I think you have to have a certain amount of that with all the outside patting-on-the-back that takes place. You have to be able to put that aside and understand that it takes a lot of hard work through mini camps and training camps, that you are fortunate to play this game, and you have to have enough of that underdog grit to you to survive and do well, and I think this team has done that. They've got that. They've been the underdog more than the other teams. Somewhere you have to muster that into you and never find a complacent seat to sit on during the season."

On what the biggest challenge of going against a team they beat six weeks ago is: "The best thing is to look at the team and the way they are playing. To be honest with you, I didn't think we got their best shot when they were here. Whether we got to this point or not, I didn't think that that was their best game. They had been playing good football and they were coming off a tough game, it was Thanksgiving Day, they had to travel all the way back here. This will be a different football team that we will see out there. I've had a chance to go through the four games now, the last four games of their season, and it's very obvious when you put on the film. Schematically they are doing some different things. (They are) way more aggressive from the defensive standpoint. Offensively, they have always been aggressive, but they've got the run game going. I think the offensive line is playing better. You already know they have a good coaching staff. I mean, they have one of the finest staffs around in schemes and so on, guys that know how to win games. They are playing very good football right now."

On how he mentioned that McNabb is playing better and what he thinks it has done for the rest of the team:"I think the guys have trusted Donovan since he took over the starting spot. I think part of Donovan continuing to play well throughout the season is that guys around him have stepped up and played better. I'm talking about the offensive line. I'm talking about the wide receivers; they are catching the ball more consistent. (The) running backs are doing a nice job running the football when they are called on and catching the football well. You saw (RB Correll) Buck(halter)'s big catch yesterday, that was huge. Tight ends and so on. Then, I think the defense has done the same thing. Everybody has upped their game and I think that makes everybody look better."

On whether he thinks the players have been playing a bit looser after their tie to Cincinnati and their loss to Baltimore: "I think when you are getting beat, I'm throwing that tie in there even though that came back and helped us a little bit, but I'm putting that tie in there, that you go back to the fundamentals and you kind of trust what you know and then you do it. That's probably one of the more important things that takes place."

On how important it is to have veteran players on this team that were here in 2004, and whether he relies on those veteran players to lead the rest of the team during this playoff run: "I think the experience helps. They will talk. After we got back to the facility here last night we had a meeting, a team meeting. I'll bank on that part that some of the coaches and some of the players have been there and understand that. The bottom line is that you have to go through the preparation. You have to understand that this game is going to be faster than the last game. That's the way it works every step you take in the playoffs. You try and coach them up, I'm talking about the veteran players, you try to coach up the young guys as best you can. They'll get that experience first-hand once they get out there. They'll listen to the coaches and the players and they'll have a little bit better feel when they get there."

On his first impressions of Cardinals QB Kurt Warner:"He's a great player. You're talking about a two-time MVP of the National Football League. I always tell this story every time that we play him, but I miss the guy that I had as a rookie in Green Bay. He was so shy back then that he was afraid to get in there and call the play. What a great job he has done of maturing into this phenomenal quarterback, and he's going just as strong now as he was back then. And he's a great person, I mean a phenomenal person."

On what his message was to the team last night in the team meeting: "Enjoy the moment right now, again, this was last night, but be ready to put your mind on to Arizona. You're looking at a good football team. Then the other stuff that we talked about, I'm just going to keep to myself."

On why he felt compelled to call a team meeting last night: "To be honest, I was going to give them Monday off, which I did. I didn't want to bring them in today. I wanted them to get off their feet and rest and get back ready to go on Wednesday."

On what his reaction was after the Arizona game in November:"I thought we played well in that game. I'd like to mention, I didn't think that was their best performance. I had watched enough film on them and seen what their schedule was and to travel on Thanksgiving, that's a tough thing to do. I thought we played well that game, and I thought they gave us a little confidence going into the next games that followed."

On what he remembers about SS Quintin Mikell when he first got here three years ago:"One of my good friends is Dirk Koetter, who is the (offensive) coordinator at Jacksonville. He, at the time was the head coach at Boise State before he went to Arizona State as the head coach. Dirk was a big fan of Quintin, so I had a little bit of an inside scoop on him. And he thought he could play at this level and he really liked the way that he played at Boise, and our scouts did a good job of doing the homework on him from there."

On at what point he looked at Mikell's performance on special teams and decided he was ready to transfer him over to safety: "He always showed that he was a pretty good player in the secondary too, so I felt like with Dawk and (S) Sean (Considine) and Q, we had three guys that could be starters, and I still feel that way. I think all three of them are – now we've added the other (S) Quintin (Demps) in there that's getting some play time. I just thought (Mikell) had a real knack, first of all he's smart, and then he has a knack, a natural football sense, so that's normally a good combination. Some times you see those safeties, they excel on special teams. They do a pretty good job of working themselves in as starters."

On how much the Cardinals have changed their running game since they first matched up in November: "(Cardinals RB) Edgerrin (James), I think they are banking on Edgerrin more than what they were doing before. He might be healthier, I don't know what the situation was, but you are talking about one of the greats to play the running back position when he was with the Colts. And he is running hard and he's seeing things. That offensive line is doing a nice job for him. So, I think with that, they are utilizing the run a little bit more. Then they have another kid and he's pretty good too. So, they can take two shots at you there with two good running backs."

On how the Eagles' running game has changed since their first match up:"Yesterday we were right around 60-40. We had a decent mix going, probably more so in the second half than in the first. But I thought it was a pretty fair mix with what we had going."

On what he thinks he can do to get more production out of the running game against Arizona: "Well, without getting into the details, we can run it a little better when we have an opportunity. I don't want to get into the details, but we have to be more efficient. We can do a better job schematically from a coaching standpoint, and then everybody else, the players, they have to each take that responsibility upon themselves."

On whether being more efficient will be a point of emphasis this Sunday:"Yes, it will be. It always is. That's something that we hammer on, but the product has to be better."

On how McNabb said that this team is not taking anything for granted right now and whether he feels that is the case:"I felt that it was. I don't have anything to say that it wasn't. I think the underdog mentality, I think they maintained that at least, if they didn't have it before, it sure seems like they have probably since the Arizona game, yeah."

On whether he thinks that Westbrook can still be effective running the ball considering his numbers were low yesterday:"Yeah, he can be. Buck's weren't up there where it needed to be either, so we have to go back and do some things. And listen, to their credit, they put an extra guy up in the box. They clearly wanted to take Westbrook out of the game, which I understand after the last game. It opened things up for other players, so that's one nice thing about this offense. You have to make the adjustments and utilize what the other team is going to present to you."

On his thoughts of McNabb picking up the phone toward the end of yesterday's game: "I understand what you meant by that question now. I didn't understand that question after the game. (Jokingly) It was creative."

On whether he feels he has become a better coach this season with everything that the team has been through this year:"I don't know that. I know my players and my assistant coaches; they've all done a great job."

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