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News » After surviving, they're thriving: Good friends Andy Reid, Brad Childress reunite in playoffs


After surviving, they're thriving: Good friends Andy Reid, Brad Childress reunite in playoffs


After surviving, they're thriving: Good friends Andy Reid, Brad Childress reunite in playoffs
Carpooling and cookouts bonded Andy Reid and Brad Childress during their vagabond days as aspiring Football coaches at Northern Arizona University.


Two decades later, they share more than friendship and the elite title of NFL head coach. Each has a common tale of perseverance entering an NFL wild-card playoff clash Sunday between Childress' Vikings and Reid's Philadelphia Eagles in the Metrodome.

Childress survived midseason chants for his firing to lead Minnesota to 10 victories and its first division championship in eight years.

Reid earned a reprieve from interrogation about his future in Philadelphia after the Eagles thrashed Dallas 44-6 in the season finale to secure the final NFC postseason berth.

At stake for both men is a chance to move one step closer to the Super Bowl and distance himself from persistent skepticism that almost derailed his 2008 season.

Reid has spent 10 years dulling his flat-line persona as someone who eschews drama and tit-for-tat exchanges with media and rarely allows the public behind the curtain, something that grates the notoriously fickle Philly fans.

Despite five division titles, four NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance, Reid has been sharply criticized this year for his team's inconsistency and unimaginative play calling.

Moreover, quarterback Donovan McNabb endured a late-season benching and more condemnation as an insufficient leader whose expiration date is fast approaching.

A disheartening 10-3 loss in Week 16 at Washington led the Eagles on a funeral march until a series of improbable losses by NFC contenders Sunday positioned them to win their way into the playoffs.

Their dismantling of the archrival Cowboys has the Eagles cherishing newfound life. It also reinforced the notion of self-determination for Reid, who spent more time in crisis management this year than during the 2005 meltdown of Terrell Owens.

"I think you can narrow that down and simplify it a little bit," Reid said Wednesday. "What you end up doing and saying, you're going to control what you can control and not worry about the rest. And if you don't do that, you're probably going to go crazy. I guess that's what I've learned over the 10 years.

"If I didn't know it before, I definitely know it now," he continued. "Take care of business and do it the way I know how to do it."

Eagles offensive tackle Jon Runyan said the extreme fluctuation in emotion and performance was unlike anything he has experienced in 13 NFL seasons. He believes Reid was the ideal steward to guide the Eagles through the storm in one of the most demanding sports markets in the country.

"The biggest thing with Andy is you know what you're going to get from him. He's not going to come out of left field after losing two or three games straight," Runyan said. "Character is a big part of how this team is built. Guys aren't going to quit on him and create problems in the locker room."

Their solidarity was challenged during a controversial two-week span in late November.

The Eagles muddled through a tie against the pitiful Cincinnati Bengals, a setback more notorious for McNabb's ignorance about the league's overtime rules.

The following week at Baltimore, Reid yanked McNabb at halftime with the Eagles trailing by five points in a game they eventually lost 36-7, dropping their record to 5-5-1.

The move still is being scrutinized with the 32-year-old quarterback and team at a crossroads. McNabb, who is signed through 2013, is scheduled to eat up $9 million in salary cap space next year and could be a valuable trade asset.

Regardless, McNabb shook off the benching and helped rally the Eagles to four wins in their final five games.

"I do think everybody around him, and including him, picked up their game," Reid said. "Myself, the coaches and players all picked up their game around him. That's a good thing."

Still, Reid's steadfast commitment to the West Coast offense and its philosophy of spreading out defenses to exploit matchups through the passing game has raised questions about whether the team is maximizing talented running back Brian Westbrook.

The Eagles passed more than 60 percent of the time compared with the average NFL pass-run ratio of 55-45.

Childress apprenticed in that scheme as an assistant under Reid in Philadelphia from 2000-05, first as quarterbacks coach then offensive coordinator.

Yet Childress in Minnesota has not had the services of a five-time Pro Bowl quarterback like McNabb, relying instead on league rushing leader Adrian Peterson to propel the Vikings into the playoffs for the first time in four years.

"I'm truly happy for (Childress) for his first couple of years there," McNabb said. "The team was trying to weigh him out and see if he was the right coach, and they weren't buying into his system or philosophy.

"I'm excited that he's had the opportunity now to move into the playoffs. Not excited about playing him, but we have to. I think, for Brad, it's a step further. The team seems to be rallying behind him and has bought into his philosophy."

Sunday marks the second head-to-head matchup between Childress and Reid, whose Eagles won the initial meeting 23-17 in October 2007 at the Metrodome.

Both men cherish the opportunity to compete for a Super Bowl championship, though they could do without the comparisons and personal story lines.

"We probably didn't talk as much through this year as maybe years past," Childress said. "We each have our week-to-week crosses. So you are really focused on your Football team. But we touched base after maybe we had a common opponent."

Organizationally, Childress shares traits he learned from Reid even though they interact with players much differently, according to Vikings guard Artis Hicks, who played four seasons under both coaches in Philadelphia.

"Andy Reid, you've got to threaten to beat him up to get him to talk. Coach Childress is always engaging you in conversations to make you think and get feedback," Hicks said. "Every time you have a one-on-one conversation, it's like a chess match. He's challenging you to think.

"I don't think they're anything alike other than they're both competitors. They both want to win and do their job. They're both good leaders. That's about where the similarities end."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 1, 2009

Chris Gocong Name: Chris Gocong
#57
Position: LB
Age: 24
Experience: 3 years
College: Cal Poly
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