When Andy Reid interviewed for the Philadelphia job, he brought with him a three-ring binder that held together all kinds of notes he had taken during his career about what he would do as a head coach.
It was a meticulous collection, 6 inches thick, that left nothing to chance, no aspect unaddressed. After Reid, a disciple of Mike Holmgren who had worked as the tight ends, offensive line and quarterbacks coach, got the Eagles position in January 1999, he referred to the notebook often.
Of course, there was one section that went unread as the Eagles struggled to a 5-11 season. One part some said Reid would never get a chance to use.
That, however, changed this week.
"There was a section in there on the playoffs when we went to the playoffs in Green Bay. I would be negligent if I didn't say yes I looked at that," Reid said. "I just looked at it this past week to doublecheck on some playoff notes I had. That's been very helpful."
Reid has an earthy exterior and a blue-collar ethic that fits well in this blue-collar town. With five children born in five states, he seems to fit the typical mold of a driven coach.
The notebook, however, reveals a professorial approach that belies Reid's outward demeanor. He is a man of great detail and foresight, and that's one of the reasons he has established himself as a coach of the year candidate.
The Eagles have enjoyed a reversal, going 11-5 in 2000. The self-deprecating Reid credits everyone from the players to the front office and owner Jeffrey Lurie, but his own efforts have not gone unnoticed. With a no nonsense approach laced with a surprising degree of wit, Reid's attitude has permeated his players.
"Well, he is the type of guy that what he wants, that is what he wants," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "If you are not going to give it, then you might not be here that long. His aggression and his love for the game sort of has a trickle-down effect because the guys here are very competitive and we want nothing but the best.
"When you have a coach like that and you can sit down and talk to not only about football but everything else outside of football, that is what you have been looking for. Things are warm and your confidence is definitely there and you want nothing but the best to go out and do it for him."
The development of McNabb is just one of the successful strokes Reid made in crafting the Eagles. It was only a year ago when McNabb's NFL debut ended with six sacks against the Bucs.
But through the course of the 2000 season, McNabb has gone from a cautious second-year player to the runner-up for the Associated Press Most Valuable Player Award.
McNabb's laurels are a result of the Eagles continuing to win despite the loss of running back Duce Staley. It helped that McNabb blossomed into a player who provided 75 percent of the Philadelphia offense, but it helped that Reid put him in a position to produce such lofty numbers.
It also helped that Reid, a former offensive lineman who grew up in Los Angeles and attended Brigham Young, got every player to step up his contribution.
"I told the team, as an offensive lineman, you are outmanned physically every week," Reid explained. "You are playing a better athlete every week. You know that. So what you do is, you take that little 3 x 3 box that you're in, and you master that box. So each guy doesn't have to be an all-star, they just have to be able to master their little box on the field. Then you can master that big box, which is the actual football field."
Packers safety LeRoy Butler is convinced the Eagles will be ready to go against the Bucs today.
"He's a motivator," Butler said. "He always knows what to say to make the players smile. I think that's what makes guys play hard for him."