PHILADELPHIA -- This was no way to open a new home.
Philadelphia was shut out and blown out at its brand new field, a dreadful start to a season deemed Super Bowl or bust after two straight losses in the NFC title game.
Hardly anyone was immune to injury on defense, Dallas was peaking, and the title-starved fans were panicking.
Bench Donavan McNabb. Run more. Make personnel changes.
Eagles coach Andy Reid listened to the questions and criticism, replying with concise, polite answers like someone trapped at party they didn't want to be at.
Change what he was doing? Not a chance. Not when his way had already delivered two NFC East titles.
"It starts with your coaches," Reid said. "They were able to maintain a nice level balance there and nobody panicked. The players are obviously going to look at the coaches first and see if they're panicking. The coaches didn't panic."
Reid stuck with McNabb, the defensive subs were super and the Eagles ran off nine straight wins, a third straight NFC East title and are a win against Carolina away from their first Super Bowl in 23 years.
For the players, success starts with Reid.
"His determination and hard work, his attitude toward preparation is contagious to all of us," said McNabb, Reid's first draft pick in 1999.
Reid had never been an NFL coordinator, though he coached three positions in seven years with Green Bay, when he was hired in 1999 to turn around a franchise that had stumbled the two previous years under Ray Rhodes.
Bobby Taylor, an Eagle since 1995, had never heard of Reid and his teammates didn't know what to expect. What they learned was Reid was organized with a precise plan.
That meant bringing in character guys, and off-field distractions like cell phones and pagers were eliminated from team meetings. There was also a new attitude toward training camp.
"It was tough, those first couple of training camps," Taylor said. "We'd be beating each other's brains out that first week. In the morning we practiced in pads, in the evening we practiced in pads. That was something to break us in and it was hard. At the same time, it built strength and character."
The Eagles went 5-11 in Reid's first season. Since then, Reid has a regular-season record of 46-18.
"The nucleus of this team has been together for a while," Reid said. "You develop a trust. They develop it in you and you develop it in them."
The trust comes in the locker room and in practice where his players say Reid displays a persona not regularly shown in public. Reid's tranquil news conferences can lull even the most chronic insomniac, as he gives brief answers and little in-depth explanation.
Reid, though, has earned the Eagles' trust by never blasting his players in public. When asked earlier this season about McNabb's struggles, Reid said it was his fault for not putting him in a better situation to succeed.
After the offensive line allowed eight sacks against the Packers, Reid, a former offensive lineman at BYU, pointed the finger at only one person, "Myself, for not getting the guys in the right position where the receivers are open right now."
Reid isn't always humorless, usually ripping one-liners about how much he likes to eat.
"There are times when he's serious and times when he's cracking jokes," Taylor said. "He always tells you how he's feeling and that's something I definitely respect."
More respect was earned after the 0-2 start when it seemed the team was falling apart. Reid wasn't affected by public pressure and didn't give the Eagles any rah-rah speeches. His approach remained the same: Stay the course and the wins will come.
"It's always the same atmosphere, whether it's 0-2 or 2-0," said Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey Simon. "There was no time to start pressing; 0-2, big deal."
The big deal now is making it to the Super Bowl.
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