Now that the public has weighed in so heavily against Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid, what is the talk within the inner sanctum of the Eagles?
Two sources close to the ultimate decision-makers on the Eagles seem much more inclined to blame the quarterback's support system - the offensive line and wide receivers - than the quarterback himself for the Eagles' woes.
Likewise, the Eagles' brain trust remains confident that Reid is a quality head coach and that there is a significant amount of talent in the locker room, the sources said yesterday.
On the other hand, one of the sources acknowledged that those beliefs have not translated into results on the field, where the Eagles are 5-5-1 going into tomorrow night's game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I unalterably believe these two things: We have a significant amount of talent, and that Andy is a real good head coach," the source said, representing the feelings of the voices that count. "I know it's difficult to reconcile those beliefs with what's happening on the field, but you can't just forget about what has happened here over the last 10 years."
That kind of endorsement from within the organization suggests that the coach's job is not in jeopardy, even though the Eagles are in danger of missing the postseason for the second consecutive year for the first time during Reid's tenure.
Of course, it's possible to be an outstanding head coach without being able to get your message across after a decade of working in the same place.
"It doesn't feel to me like that is what has happened," the source said. "I don't see a lack of effort on the field or anything else like that, but that's one of those things you do have to think about."
The focus yesterday at the NovaCare Complex remained primarily on McNabb, who celebrated his 32d birthday by entertaining questions from the media.
Two separate sources mentioned the offensive line being as big a problem as the slump that led to McNabb's benching during Sunday's lopsided loss to the Baltimore Ravens. One of the sources admitted that a major overhaul may be needed along the offensive line after the season and added that no definitive decision has been made about McNabb's future in Philadelphia beyond this season.
"You have to let things play out," the source said. "It feels like deja vu with all these questions about Donovan and Andy. This is the same situation as last year. Donovan has been one of the top five quarterbacks in the league over a 10-year period, and if you look at his first eight games this season, he performed well."
Midway through this season, the Eagles were 5-3 and McNabb's 92.0 passer rating was the eighth best in the NFL. That seems like a century ago. In three games since then, he has completed just 46.9 percent of his passes and thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions. His passer rating has slipped to 20th.
One source noted that the Eagles' wide receivers also have been disappointing in recent weeks.
"We're dropping way too many balls," the source said.
The Eagles' 25 drops this season rank fourth in the league, according to Stats LLC.
It sounds as if the Eagles are determined to get younger at both tackle positions next season, which means veterans Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, both of whom will be eligible for free agency, likely will not be re-signed. The team also has concerns about center Jamaal Jackson.
One source said that left guard Todd Herremans has been the most consistent performer along the offensive line. A year ago, he was the offensive lineman most likely not to have a starting job when the 2008 season began.
One of the sources said the back injury to Shawn Andrews has been a big problem for the offensive line because he is so much better than Max Jean-Gilles. Andrews, who underwent back surgery last month, is expected to return to Philadelphia this week and be examined by the Eagles' medical staff. The team is not optimistic that he will be able to play again this season.
Both sources who talked yesterday also said that the problems along the offensive line have been magnified by the multiple nagging injuries to star running back Brian Westbrook. Since compiling 209 total yards on 28 touches in a win over Atlanta last month, Westbrook has just 260 total yards on 75 touches in the Eagles' last four games.
One source said the Eagles have thrown in third-and-1 situations recently because they failed so often trying to run the ball in those same situations.
"We tried to run it eight or nine straight times and never made it," the source said. "Andy always talks about running the ball effectively rather than running it a lot, and you can see why. When you throw a lot and can't run effectively, it creates a real problem."
Right now, the Eagles have a lot of problems. It remains to be seen how they will deal with them once the season is over.
Read Bob Brookover's daily Eagles blog,
Birds' Eye View, at http://go.philly.com/eagles.
Tomorrow at 8 p.m. (6ABC)
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