By FRANK WARD
Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, Joe Banner and the rest of the Eagles better have been paying attention to the Super Bowl tonight. They must learn a lesson from the Saints and head coach Sean Payton: Be aggressive and don’t be scared to fail.
The Saints got off to a slow start, trailing 10-0 at one point, but they never got down. They never doubted themselves. And, if they did, coach Sean Payton wouldn’t let his troops roll over.
They Saints are hoisting their first Lombardi Trophy tonight because they were aggressive and took chances. That is often the difference between winning and losing.
There was a point early in Andy Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia when he would gamble like Payton did on Sunday. He started his second season as Eagles coach with an onside kick in Dallas. The Eagles followed Reid’s confidence en route to spanking the Cowboys 41-14 as Duce Staley piled up more than 200 yards on the ground. That play was the spark that ignited a string of five straight playoff trips, four NFC title games and a Super Bowl appearance.
Reid also tried an onside kick against the Chiefs to start the second half in a game a year later.
The point is that Reid took risks and usually made the most of them. His players believed in themselves because of his play calling.
In recent years, Reid has gotten too conservative. He is scared to fail and when you prepare and play that way, you lose. It’s that simple.
Sure, Big Red tried an onside kick to start the game against the Redskins in November, but that was against a bad team. Reid knew failing in that situation likely wouldn’t cost his team the game. He had nothing to lose.
Would Reid try that or another risky play in a bigger game? A playoff game? A Super Bowl?
That’s the question he and his quarterback need to ask themselves today. If they need proof on the impact gutsy, risk-taking play calling can have on a team, all they have to do is watch the tape of Super Bowl XLIV. They have the next five months to do so.