The line formed a while ago to fire the head coach.

It stretched from Center City all the way to Lincoln Financial Field, where the unsatisfied customers didn't feel as though they were getting their money's worth from the local football team.

The line to at least strip the head coach of his dual duty as the Eagles' personnel director was even longer. That started in Upper Bucks County, crossed the bridges into South Jersey, and doubled back to the Linc, where the customers wondered why the 53-man roster didn't include a punt returner at the start of last season and a fullback at the start of this season.

Andy Reid can't run the team on the field and off any more. It's ridiculous, the argument went. Only New England's Bill Belichick and Denver's Mike Shanahan still do that, and they both have won multiple Super Bowl titles.

Well, here we are with two weeks left in the 2008 season, and the Eagles, 8-5-1 going into today's game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, still have real hope for a seventh playoff berth in 10 seasons during the Reid era.

That means the man wearing multiple hats must be doing something right, doesn't it?

Let's look at this purely from a personnel standpoint and begin by acknowledging that the punt returner and fullback mistakes proved costly in both 2007 and 2008.

Look beyond that, however, and you begin to see an influx of young players who have made vital contributions for this potential playoff team.

From rookies DeSean Jackson, Quintin Demps and Trevor Laws to second-year players like Brent Celek, Stewart Bradley, Akeem Jordan and Victor Abiamiri, the roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball, is turning over before our eyes.

In a year when the Eagles have received little contribution from Shawn Andrews, L.J. Smith, Lito Sheppard and Reggie Brown, the team continues to win.

We've heard the whine this season about the Eagles foolishly passing on the chance to draft running back Felix Jones in the first round. Jones landed in Dallas and looked like a real stud before a mid-October toe injury ended his season.

Even though the Eagles didn't draft Jones and didn't make a pick at all until the second round for the second straight year, they still landed one of the year's most dynamic rookie skill players in the second round.

Examine the yards-from- scrimmage leaders and you'll find only three rookies ahead of Jackson, a wide receiver. All three - Chicago's Matt Forte, Houston's Steve Slaton and Tennessee's Chris Johnson - are running backs. You won't find a single rookie receiver who has contributed more to his team, and that's before you add in Jackson's work as the punt returner. Denver's Eddie Royal, taken seven spots ahead of Jackson, is the only rookie receiver who has come close to Jackson's contributions, which include a rookie-leading 852 receiving yards, 89 rushing yards, and 409 punt-return yards.

Ill health - neither Kevin Curtis nor Reggie Brown was ready at the beginning of the season - and good coaching - from the players as well as the coaches - have helped Jackson blossom as a rookie. Considered a potential attitude problem, Jackson has been a quiet contributor who has taken his cues from star running back Brian Westbrook.

"The biggest thing as a rookie is you lose your focus a little quicker because it's a longer season," Westbrook said. "Remain focused, remain hungry, continue to have that drive, continue to work hard and do the same things you did before to get you to this point."

Jackson, who needs just 18 receiving yards today to break Keith Jackson's rookie franchise record, acknowledged that the season did start to feel long in late November, but he said he got a second wind around Week 12. He said Westbrook's advice helped, and you can tell by his answers that his head has not become too big for the locker room at the NovaCare Complex.

Asked about possibly becoming the first 1,000-yard rookie receiver in Eagles history, Jackson put the focus back on his team's playoff push.

"That would definitely be nice to have, but that's not the focus," Jackson said. "We've got games to win, and we're trying to get to the playoffs."

Demps, selected in the fourth round, has also played a big role in the Eagles' playoff push, and it has grown bigger in recent weeks as he has become part of the team's "jumbo" package on defense.

"It's been fun getting in there on defense," said Demps, who got his first career sack in the Eagles' win over Cleveland. "I didn't think I'd even get a chance to get on the field, but in this league you have to be ready because guys are always going down."

Demps has been contributing since Week 1 as the kick returner.

A year ago, the Eagles finished 19th in the league in average starting field position after kick returns. This season, they are fifth overall and second in the NFC, thanks to Demps' 26-yard average on returns.

Defensively, the Eagles have seven major contributors who are 26 or younger and have been selected in the last four drafts. Bradley, Jordan, Abiamiri, Chris Gocong, Trent Cole, Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson all figure to be around here for a while. And Quintin Mikell, at 28, has proven to be as good a strong safety as the Eagles have had in a long time, and that includes a young Michael Lewis. These were all guys brought in by Reid.

If you're going to blame Reid for mistakes he makes while wearing his personnel hat, you should also give him credit for the contributions from free agents Chris Clemons and Darren Howard this season. Those two are a big reason the defensive line has so much depth, a major factor in the overall success of the NFC's top-ranked defense.

Should the Eagles lose one of their final two games or even win them both and not make the playoffs, the lines to either fire the head coach or at least strip him of his personnel duties are going to get long again. That doesn't mean the list of bad moves made by the coach and personnel director is longer than the list of good ones.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.