Andy Reid called the fellas in from their day off again yesterday, for the third time this season, although it's difficult to tell if even he believes that sort of thing matters any longer.
The first two occasions on which Monday was something other than a day of rest for the roster came after the narrow, embarrassing Chicago loss, and the second after Dallas smacked around the Eagles.
Back then, Reid said he wanted to get the mistakes corrected quickly and move on to the next page on the schedule. Yesterday, he didn't even bother to address his motivation. Maybe he figures that if he's going to hang around the complex staring at this depressing situation, the players who helped make it possible are damn well going to be there, too.
To once again quote from this season's slogan: "Whatever."
The large auditorium at NovaCare was quickly cleared of the media following Reid's weekly day-after news briefing, making way for the players to shamble in for a full-roster meeting. Judging by the coach's mood at the briefing, that was probably a fun experience for all.
Reid was unusually snappish with the media, despite having heard all the questions before. He told one reporter to open up his ears and encouraged another to go ahead and write what he wanted, thus adding his own ratification to the Constitution of the United States.
These are clearly desperate times, and even Reid's legendary control of his emotions (and the vast reserve of vanilla for his Quotes a la Mode) appears to be melting. Bad losses in a bad season will do that, and Sunday's 28-24 stinker against Seattle might have been the worst of them all.
It is easy - and possibly accurate - to place most of the blame for the loss on backup quarterback A.J. Feeley, who has thrown 29 interceptions and 27 touchdowns during his mostly undistinguished career. Reid obviously wasn't too happy with him. Asked how he wanted Feeley to respond after opening the game with an interception on his first attempt, the coach said, "I wanted to make sure he threw it to our team. I didn't want him to throw it to the other team."
Sarcastic one day and snappish the next, Reid might see the end of this season before he will admit it publicly. He sees a defense that can't hold onto a turnover and can't stop giving up yards. He sees a quarterback situation that, even with Donovan McNabb in there, can't generate any rhythm in his pass-oriented offense. He sees receivers not getting open, guys missing blocks and tackles, a kicking game that is increasingly unreliable. And, perhaps most aggravating, a coaching staff that can't fix any of the above.
Reid might also have taken a look at the real playoff situation and recognized the utter improbability of the task. He talks about the upcoming game against the Giants and puts all further speculation on hold, but the situation is beyond grim. (If, that is, you actually want to see this team limp into the postseason to endure a thorough butt-kicking there, and then get another off-season of patch and fill because hey-we-made-the-playoffs.)
Here's the deal. The Eagles are one of five teams with a 5-7 record chasing the last wild-card spot in the NFC. They are also looking up at three teams with 6-6 records in the same chase. That's assuming the Giants, who have games left with Washington and Buffalo, grab the other wild-card spot that is theirs to lose.
So that's eight bad teams for one spot. The Eagles do fit in nicely among this motley bunch, but that's about all you can say.
Now it comes down to schedule. Here are the 6-6 teams and the number of wins currently compiled by their remaining opponents. Minnesota's four games are against teams with a total of 18 wins. Then it goes, Arizona (19) and Detroit (32). The 5-7 teams are like this: New Orleans (19 total wins for remaining opponents), Chicago (26), Eagles (30), Washington (30) and Carolina (35).
Obviously, there are some common opponents in there, and the Eagles do hold tiebreakers against Detroit and Minnesota and could earn tiebreakers against New Orleans and Washington.
Still, let's be serious. It ain't going to happen. One of those teams will take advantage of a more forgiving schedule, and the Eagles are going to lose in Dallas and probably cough up another game as they did on Sunday. Make them 7-9 and forget about it. That is what a reasonable observer would conclude.
It could be what Reid has determined as well, which might ultimately explain the uncharacteristic sarcasm directed toward the players and the snappishness directed toward the media. And after all we've done for him, too.