PHILADELPHIA – Andy Reid knows all about the hand he's been dealt. He knows that this isn't a Philadelphia Eagles team loaded with experience up and down the roster. He also knows that the Green Bay Packers may feed off this on Sunday.
But don't expect the Eagles coach to make any apologies for it. Despite 25 players on the postseason roster with three years or less of experience — including nine rookies — Philadelphia (10-6) still won the NFC East. And despite an unexpected two-game losing streak, Reid and the Eagles figure to be more than ready for anything Green Bay (10-6) throws at them in the NFC wild-card round.
"Everything kicks up a notch speed-wise in the playoffs," Reid said earlier this week. "We were able to get some of the young guys reps (vs. Dallas). That's not the same speed they'll see on Sunday (vs. Green Bay). But there's no way to duplicate it. You have to get in there and you have to play and you have to prepare yourself the right way and exhaust the whole process."
Three of the aforementioned 25, among others, will be vital to Sunday's success on offense. But running back LeSean McCoy, and wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are not newcomers to postseason action. All three played in a 34-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last year in the wild-card round, and Jackson has already played in four playoff games overall.
"We've had young players playing for us. I think they've done a good job," Reid said. "And so we continue to coach them and they continue to learn and execute."
Of course, many of the younger players were thrown into duty this season, most notably against Dallas in the season finale, a 14-13 loss to the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. That defeat came five days after the 24-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, also at home.
"My thing with injuries is they happen in this business. I really care for the kids who get hurt, but from a team standpoint I don't really care," Reid said. "I expect the next guy to jump in and let's go, let's play. That's why you're here, and it's not a free meal and a uniform. You're here to play, let's go."
How far they will go is the big question now. But maybe — at this time of the year — what's most important in the experience department is the coaching staff. And Reid has been through this song and dance before. In fact, his 10 postseason wins are the most in franchise history, and place him 11th overall in league history.
"We are here. We have to be ready. There are no other options," Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson said. "It is a challenge. There is a good team coming in here, but we match up very well with them. We are going to work hard and push ourselves. We are up for the challenge."