Fans are pumped that the Eagles are 7-2, with a playoff berth seeming a near-certainty.

Although tough games remain against the Packers, Seahawks and Cowboys (twice), while the Titans, Redskins and Giants all have woeful records.

Still, nothing is sure in Philadelphia except for Schuylkill jams, muggy summers and lingering memories of sports failures.

Twenty years ago, the Birds were also 7-2, then cruelly and completely collapsed.

Five straight losses led to the benching of quarterback Randall Cunningham for Bubby Brister, and two more clinched the firing of head coach Rich Kotite, who went on to even worse records with the New York Jets.

The humiliating loss to Cleveland that started the tailspin happened 20 years ago today.

Ironically, days before, Kotite, apparently miffed by lukewarm support from new owner Jeffrey Lurie, brazenly declared he'd "do some evaluating of my own" after the season.

The team had, after all, enjoyed some success under the Brooklyn-born tough guy, who played tight end in the NFL, did some amateur boxing, and survived a brain tumor.

In three previous seasons, Kotite, elevated from offensive coordinator after owner Norman Braman fired Buddy Ryan, won 29 regular-season games. He even won a playoff game in 1992, something Ryan never did in five seasons.

In Week 5, 1994, the Eagles trounced the elite San Francisco 49ers, 40-8, with rookie Charlie Garner running amok, to raise their record to 3-1.

So Kotite had reason to feel cocky.

But he never won the hearts of fans the way Ryan did.

He's still mocked on local airwaves over being confused by a chart during a Week 7 loss in Dallas. Rain made the ink run, so wasn't sure whether to kick an extra point or go for two.

Besides battling injuries, Cunningham butted heads with Kotite, who reined in the freelancing ways of the athlete Sports Illustrated once called the "Ultimate Weapon." When Cunningham donned his famous "Let Me Be Me" hat in 1992, Kotite was at the helm.

The offense sputtered as the losing streak began, scoring one touchdown and two field goals in two weeks. Kotite's pedestrian play-calling and Cunningham's difficulty reading defenses came under fire.

"There's nothing wrong with the offense. They're the same plays we call every week," I remember Kotite saying in a radio interview during the death march.

Even more, effort and execution came to be blamed.

Future hall of famer Reggie White had been let go by Braman after the 1992 season, and defensive leaders like Seth Joyner, Andre Water and Wes Hopkins were gone a year later.

Week after week, Kotite denied the team lacked heart.

"Kotite the Idiot" read a banner at the next-to-last game. That day, Bubby Brister started in place of Cunningham, who said he'd been made a scapegoat.

The Eagles finished the season with 138 penalties for 1,107 yards, according to the Inquirer.

"It didn't compete worth a damn," Ray Didinger wrote in the Daily News. "It was outhit most weeks and it didn't show up in key situations down the stretch."

One of the few bright spots was running back Herschel Walker, who "came to play in nearly every game, finishing the year as the only NFL player in history to score on a run, pass and kick return covering more than 90 yards each," wrote the Inquirer's Ron Reid.

The higher draft pick earned for losing out was used to get defensive lineman Mike Mamula.

If pressed to look for warning signs with the current Eagles team, one could point to turnovers,  trouble scoring in the red zone, and a wavering commitment to the running game. One could try to see a parallel between the recent injury of linebacker DeMeco Ryans and middle linebacker Byron Evans breaking his leg in that fateful Cleveland game.

But Chip Kelly's no ultra-conservative lame duck, and his Eagles are a far more spirited, motivated and coordinated bunch, with excellent special teams.

Under Kotite, the special teams "stunk at the start, never got very good and stunk at the finish," according to Ron Reid.

After firing Kotite, Lurie flirted with hiring ex-Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil, then tapped San Francisco 49ers assistant Ray Rhodes (not Andy Reid yet, as previously reported).

With Kotite as coach and general manager, the New York Jets went 3-13, then 1-15.

The Eagles have never lost 15 games in a single season.

Ironically, the man Rich Kotite replaced at the Jets was Pete Carroll, whose Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl last season.

Kotite never coached again. His name, though, still appears on list of the worst coaches in NFL history.

A final thought for balance, from a Daily News assessment of Kotite's time in Philly:

There is one area in which Kotite is one of the all-time all-stars. Kotite for years has been a source of great support and encouragement to people with brain tumors. Kotite survived a brain tumor in 1981. ... "I always have time for it," Kotite said. "Always." 

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com. Follow @petemucha on Twitter.