No player on the Eagles knows for certain whether Sunday will be Andy Reid's final home game in Philadelphia. If it is, the players want fans to understand that they support him - and that the fans should appreciate Reid's 14 years in Philadelphia.
"If you sat here and tried to name five to eight coaches that are better than Coach Reid, I would like to hear them," running back LeSean McCoy said. "I guess people have their own opinions, and their minds are made up. I think the thing about the team is, we know how good of a coach he really is."
McCoy said that Reid "gets blamed for everything" - the coach also takes responsibility for everything - but that an examination of the team's shortcomings this year will reveal mistakes that are the faults of the players, not the coach.
"Sometimes as players," McCoy said, "we feel we've let [Reid] down."
McCoy even expressed this thought directly to Reid this season. It's a sentiment shared by other veterans - that Reid is culpable for only so much.
But there is no denying that the team is 4-10 and will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The questions players have entertained evolved from whether Reid would keep his job to the reality that Sunday could be the final time he wears a headset on the home sideline at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I know, as a player, we respect him very much," safety Kurt Coleman said. "We're not going to speculate on any of that. I don't want to talk anything into fruition."
Coleman said he does not even think about whether Reid will return, because he lives in the present. This has also been Reid's public stance. But players and coaches understand the nature of the business, and owner Jeffrey Lurie made clear his expectations for 2012.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, a close of friend of Reid's, did not want to deal in hypotheticals. But Mornhinweg expected Sunday to be an "emotional" day for "most fans."
"Andy's got Hall of Fame numbers, and really the only thing we haven't done here and he hasn't done here is win a Super Bowl," Mornhinweg said. "He's been to one, and I believe five NFC championships, so he's had a heck of a run. I'd expect it to be emotional."
The looming changes in Philadelphia will not affect just the coaching staff. The Eagles' roster will likely turn over more than in a typical season, and the front office will have contract decisions to make about notable veterans such as Michael Vick, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Cullen Jenkins. This does not even include players with expiring contracts such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Colt Anderson, and Darryl Tapp. So Sunday will inevitably be the final home game for many players.
"Everybody knows not everybody is going to be here coming up at the end of the season," defensive end Trent Cole said. "Some guys are going to be looking for jobs. That's how the league is. We all have to go out there and perform our best, and we're out here to win."
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was an interim head coach in Miami at this time last season. A coaching change had already been made, a new regime was expected, and players knew roster upheaval would soon follow.
The Dolphins had nothing to play for, and Bowles needed to motivate a group of players who did not know where they were going to be or who their coach would be. Yet Bowles coached them to victories in two of their final three games.
"It's just being professional," Bowles said. "We all have a job to do, and we love doing [it]. So make sure you come in and do the right thing."
This has been Reid's message to his players. For 36 of the 77 players on the active roster or injured reserve, Reid is the only coach they have known. That's one of the chief reasons they want fans to support Reid, and why they continue to support him.
"Whatever happens, happens, but I'm behind Coach Reid 110 percent," McCoy said. "I don't think he should get blamed for the turnovers, the blown mistakes. . . . But it is what it is."