IF YOU'RE one of those Eagles fans who think Andy Reid's tenure as coach has lasted at least three seasons too long and you want to see this entire regime blown up, you probably weren't too excited about Sunday's victory in Miami.
Your nightmare scenario is that every win the Eagles scrap together down the stretch will provide owner Jeffrey Lurie with another excuse to go at least one more round with Reid.
If the Eagles finish 8-8 and miraculously make the playoffs, Lurie is going to hail Reid as a master motivator who kept his squad together through severe adversity and kept them believing and fighting to the end.
Even if the Eagles finish 7-9, the NFL lockout provides a convenient excuse for Lurie to believe Reid can turn things around with a normal offseason.
Things would be so much more convenient had the Eagles simply lost in Miami and officially put an end to the playoff possibility. But they didn't, and with Dallas pulling a fourth-quarter meltdown against the New York Giants Sunday night, what was an absurd notion this time a week ago has upgraded itself to ridiculous.
The most unlikely part of the scenario still exists. The Eagles, who haven't won more than two games in a row, must close out the season on a four-game winning streak. The Birds must still beat the New York Jets this Sunday, win at Dallas and beat Washington to finish 8-8.
But with the Giants beating the Cowboys in Dallas, the co-leaders in the NFC are 7-6. If both New York and Dallas finish 1-2 and everybody ends up 8-8, the Eagles, via a superior division record of 5-1, win the NFC East and get to host a wild-card playoff game.
The fact that the Giants and Cowboys meet in the regular-season finale means that we could finally have some clarity before the Eagles' 4:15 game against the Jets. Dallas plays Tampa Bay on Saturday and the Giants play the Redskins at 1 p.m. Sunday. If both teams win, that, barring a tie in their last game, assures one of them will finish at least 9-7 and the Eagles will have been eliminated.
I know, I know, but the reality of the situation is that the Eagles are not eliminated yet, and as much as you want to call this line of discussion preposterous, it has to be discussed.
"It's exciting, man, I'm excited," Reid said yesterday. "We've got three games left, we're still in and that's a good thing."
If you're Reid and your 13-year reign as Eagles head coach is teetering perilously on the way your team performs in these final three games, I guess any straw you can grasp to provide extra motivation is a "good thing."
"I'm excited about the opportunity to play the New York Jets this weekend," Reid said. "That's where our focus is going to be."
Interestingly, two NFL coaches were fired yesterday. The 4-9 Dolphins fired coach Tony Sparano, who had won the AFC East in his first season in 2008, in the wake of the loss to the Eagles. Maybe improving to 5-8 would have spared him the chopping block.
But a 5-8 mark didn't stop Kansas City from also firing coach Todd Haley. Granted, Haley, who was 19-26 in his tenure with the Chiefs, didn't have the track record that Reid has, but he was less than one season removed from a 10-6 finish that was good enough to win the AFC West.
The Chiefs have assured their fans they will be moving in a new direction in 2012. "We have not made meaningful progress," said team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt.
With Kansas City having made the playoffs just three times during the period when Reid took the Eagles to the playoffs nine times, it probably is a bit easier for Hunt to change direction.
But since the start of last season, Haley's results have been exactly the same as Reid's - a 10-6 record in 2010 followed by a wild-card playoff loss at home and a 5-8 in 2011.
In that context, Hunt's statement applies perfectly to the Eagles' situation; except Lurie can add in the part about committing more than $120 million to free agents before the year began.