Finally, someone has a firm grasp on reality. After losing to the New York Giants yesterday, the Eagles might not be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs just yet, but let's be honest. They aren't going to play a game in January, and even if they do, what would be the point?
The Eagles have too many holes and too few playmakers to be any threat in the postseason. They're too young at crucial positions, too old at others, too beat up at still others. And their leadership hasn't exactly been above reproach.
When you consider what has happened since August, from waiving Jeremiah Trotter to not re-negotiating L.J. Smith's contract to benching Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard to pulling Lito Sheppard from the Seattle game, it's a wonder the team hasn't splintered already.
So when Donovan McNabb said after today's 16-13 loss that he had no intention of checking the standings this morning, it was refreshing. The charade is over, at least as far as McNabb is concerned.
The Eagles have no business kidding themselves that they might get into the playoffs with a weak 8-8 record when they can't win a game. The losing streak is up to three now, and it's no consolation that the three losses came to the Patriots, Seahawks and Cowboys, teams that will be playing in January.
Good teams don't lose three in a row. Good teams don't have a 2-5 record at home. Good teams don't lose to teams like the Giants, who three times settled for chip-shot field goals because their quarterback was spraying the ball out of the end zone.
The Eagles are not a good team, so there's no reason to worry yourself with the nagging fact that they've still got a shot - albeit a long one - at the final wildcard spot, even though they are 5-8.
Minnesota was the only one of middling mediocres - those teams with either a 6-6 or 5-7 record entering today's action - to help itself. The Vikings crushed San Francisco to win their fourth straight game since getting blanked by Green Bay on Nov. 11. They were 3-6 after that Packers loss. They have made a run at the right time.
Although the Redskins also won, albeit on Thursday night to improve to 6-7, the Eagles, Lions, Bears, Panthers and Cardinals all lost. Detroit and Arizona now sit at 6-7. Chicago, Arizona and the Eagles are 5-8. New Orleans has a chance to improve to 6-7 if they beat Atlanta on Monday night.
Playoffs? Not likely.
"No, I won't check the standings," McNabb said last night. "It doesn't matter to us. The only thing we can do is win our games."
And even then, the possibility is remote the Eagles would make the playoffs. The Vikings would need to disintegrate, which isn't out of the question with Chicago, Washington and Denver remaining, but certainly isn't likely.
"Maybe we all need to pray a little bit more," Sheppard said.
Or maybe the best thing that can happen to this franchise is for it to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. Maybe then the front-office brass, led by Andy Reid, will realize the talent pool isn't deep enough in the locker room. Maybe then they'll go hard in free agency like that little team in New England, the one that just won't lose. Maybe then they'll go get a few veteran playmakers who can subsidize a promising group of young players in need to guidance.
Brian Westbrook can carry the team only so far.
Meanwhile, to make matters worse, the visiting team's locker room was euphoric. Sam Madison condescendingly said he felt "good" after the Giants, second-half chokers the last couple of seasons, won for the second time this month to improve to 9-4 and all but lock up the fifth seed in the NFC.
Osi Umenyiora declared that the Giants could be "devastating" if they can ever put together all three phases of game. And Antonio Pierce gleefully pointed out that the Giants have won three of the last four games they've played at Lincoln Financial Field.
"This is a tough place to play," Pierce said. "It's not easy when everyone greets you with the 'hello finger' when you walk in, from 2-year-olds to 80-year-olds, and they're calling you every name."
And the Eagles? The Eagles were left trying to figure out what happened to this season. Why the five losses by 3 points? Why three straight by less than a touchdown? Why the inability to close?
"You can be a good team on the rise with guys that are stepping up making plays, but if you're a team that's just not able to close it at the end, you'll always be sitting at the end of the seat like we're sitting right now," McNabb said. "That's something that everybody has to learn. Everybody has to understand that and do their job to the fullest where we won't have to worry about that."
And everybody has to grasp reality.
"We're not done yet," Reid said.
Yes, you are. It's over, and it has been for a while now.