There is nothing according to plan in this NFL offseason, so Reid and the Eagles are in the same boat as the 31 other NFL teams: It is all uncharted territory, with mayhem of sorts ahead.
How will Reid steer this Eagles ship? He is a man of reason, of calm and of calculated planning. There is only so much to plan in an offseason that has been impossible to plan, so there isn't a huge head start to consider here. Reid starts from the bottom rung, just like every other coach.
With the number of practices limited, along with the opportunities to teach and integrate players new to the system, coaching efficiency is going to be at a premium. Reid is one of the best at bringing players along quickly, at knowing when to push and when to pull. If the negotiations play out as many now expect, and the NFL Owners ratify a deal on July 21 at their meetings in Atlanta, and then the entire NFL goes into a high-stakes, quick-moving flurry of activity even before the players hit the practice field, Reid is going to have to be at his best.
His best at evaluating the current roster. At evaluating which current free-agents-to-be that need to be retained. At going after and closing the deal on free agents around the league. At introducing the revamped coaching staff to the training camp roster and force-feeding a system that has been hailed over the years as one of the most complicated in the game to players who will have about a month to learn enough to play fast and loose in a regular-season game on September 11.
Not to mention, of course, that Reid and his staff are going to have to narrow down a training camp roster that could total 90 players into a final 53 players to best represent the Eagles this season.
Within all of that is the daily grind of meeting the media and learning as much as he can about his new players and their personalities and what makes them the best football players they can be.
It's a huge chore ahead for Reid, the best head coach in the history of this franchise. Reid has handled so many different scenarios so marvelously well in his time here, so it is with great confidence and comfort that the organization looks to Reid to lead the way into the unknown future after the unsettling recent past.
Even had the NFL moved on course in the offseason, Reid's Eagles would have had many questions. You don't make your offensive line coach the defensive coordinator and expect things to be "business as usual." There has to be a learning curve for all involved. The coaching staff has done all it can to prepare with the added down time during the work stoppage, but there is no substitute for time on the practice field with the players. The coaches can simulate practice situations all they want -- and they did just that in the spring days -- but walk throughs minus real players takes a coach only so far.
Reid will do everything he can to keep his players on track without distractions. He wants his team prepared, focused and ready to commit completely to the cause for 2011. One play at a time, one day at a time. That's what Reid is all about. His message hasn't changed in 12 seasons.
And, really, his course of actions haven't changed. He has been remarkably consistent with his practice routine during all of those training camps. When you play for Andy Reid -- and this is one of the many reasons men love to play for Reid -- you know what is coming from one day to the next. There are few surprises. There are no histrionics. The head coach is solidly in his players' corners.
But the league is in a new, strange land, and we're going to learn more about Reid and his ability to get his team ready far more quickly than he would like. Hey, every coach is going to feel the same burden. But isn't it great knowing that the Eagles have a coach who has experienced so much, and won so often, leading the way?
When this whole negotiations stalemate ends, Reid will be ready. He will have his Eagles prepared. It is an edge not many teams have, and it is another reason to believe this team has a chance for greatness in the season ahead.