Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
The morning walk-through session ended and Andy Reid stood behind the Eagles' training camp practice fields, looking remarkably relaxed amid the bucolic surroundings at Lehigh University.
Even if NFL training camp is less intense than the grind of the regular season, it is still notable to see Reid this serene. If this is a coach facing a season that could have major ramifications on his future with the Eagles, the 54-year-old Reid didn't show it.
"Fourteen years," he said in response to a question about why he looks so calm, a reference to the longest tenured coaching run in the NFL. "You get used to it."
There was even a moment when he poked fun at himself. When asked about growing out his mustache in the mold of pro golfer Craig "The Walrus" Stadler, Reid said, "I'm just letting my mustache grow a little bit because I can't grow my hair any more."
But Reid's air of tranquility may have more to do with a more settled feeling he gets from his players, who badly underperformed last season after former quarterback Vince Young dubbed this the "Dream Team." Boasting a bevy of high-profile acquisitions, including cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Young, a team that was predicted by many to win the Super Bowl instead skidded to 4-8 in its first 12 games and had to reel off four straight wins -- including a 45-19 romp over the Jets -- to get back to .500 by season's end.
But Reid was so encouraged by what he saw over the final month of last season and then the carryover of that revitalized attitude into the offseason that he is now confident of a quick turnaround. No, he won't describe this team as a potential dynasty the way quarterback Michael Vick did in a recent interview. Nonetheless, Reid is encouraged by the vibe around his team to see an immediate turnaround in 2012.
"There were a lot of moving parts [last year] and we just happened to bring in a lot of free agents during that period," Reid said. "I thought the one positive we came out with is that I thought finally the guys jelled those last four games. I thought to that point we were feeling our way through and it showed up with our record. But the last four games, I think there was something very special."
And in a league where late-season momentum isn't always carried over into the next season, Reid believes that surge will indeed translate to a better performance this year. Asked if he can truly perceive there to be a positive residual effect, even though there haven't been any games yet, Reid said he can. Especially after the team re-signed key players such as wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy.
"You can tell," he said. "There was just a certain energy . We'd re-signed our guys. There were a lot of guys coming back, and not a lot of [roster] change taking place. They were very familiar with each other, and they all felt they played pretty well down the stretch. They all felt they had something to prove, and I think that's carried over into the beginning of this training camp. That energy will allow you to do that, to take those necessary steps. Now, you have to maintain it when you're mentally and physically beat up a little bit, tired and all, you have to able to do that."
There are more than a few Eagles observers who believe Reid's tenure could be in question if his talent-laden team fails to deliver this season. But his demeanor belies those outside concerns, partly because he never gets caught up in that kind of speculation, and also because he is convinced about his team's potential. He may not be ready to join Vick in using the word dynasty to describe that potential. But he won't criticize his quarterback for expressing that kind of confidence.
"I know Michael very, very well, and he's the most humble guy you'd ever want to be around, and he's also the hardest working guy you've been around," Reid said. "That's just the way he's wired. Did I take it [dynasty talk] the wrong way? No. I didn't go there. I know the situation, how it gets presented. I don't worry about that situation. It's way different than last year ."
And part of Reid likes to see that kind of self-assurance from Vick.
"I sure want my starting quarterback, somebody that has an opportunity to change a game, I sure want him to be confident . . . and humble," Reid said. "That's what he is."
So's the coach.