It couldn't possibly happen, could it? Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie would never consider antagonizing his fans (maybe to the point of no return) out of loyalty to Andy Reid, would he? On the surface, the seemingly simple answer to both of those questions is absolutely not. Reid's time as head coach in Philadelphia will run out after four more games, and likely with 12 consecutive losses. Lurie said 8-8 was not good enough last winter, so how could he possibly walk back those comments after a 3-13 disaster and bring his head coach back for a 15th season?
I was completely convinced there was absolutely no shot of Reid returning, until the coach's Monday afternoon press conference. In a span of less than 10 minutes, the all-time winningest coach in franchise-history seemed to make one last desperate stab at earning himself another season on the Birds' sideline.
Reid dismissed defensive line coach Jim Washburn and named Nick Foles his new full-time first-string signal caller. While neither of those moves were earth-shattering, especially considering that Washburn's d-line has performed dreadfully all season, and that Foles is only a rookie who needs reps to improve, they do differ from what the coach had been saying publicly as recently as last week.
At his press conference following the loss to the Panthers, Reid reiterated that Vick was still his starting quarterback. We also found out on Monday, through multiple media reports, that Washburn had issued Reid an ultimatum over the previous Wednesday's release of defensive end Jason Babin. At the time the Eagles head coach did nothing to his assistant.
So why then did he change his mind so considerably within days?
Maybe, just maybe, Reid sees this as his last chance at a reprieve. Foles showed off his first true signs of promise on Sunday night in Dallas. If Reid can continue to nurture that potential and turn it into genuine results by the time 2012 comes to a close, maybe he believes he can talk Lurie into giving him one last shot.
Perhaps his argument could center around three facts.
First and foremost would be that he is the best man to help Foles develop. Reid has had plenty of success getting the most out of his young quarterbacks in Philly. He is seen around the league as a quarterback guru. Could Lurie be convinced the best direction for Foles is to keep following the path he is on for one more year to see if it can work out?
Second would be that Reid has already removed much of what has poisoned his locker room and team over the last two seasons. The release of Babin, universally viewed as a selfish football player, coupled with the firing of Washburn (who was evidently disliked by any defensive lineman not named Babin) will improve the vibe surrounding the Eagles. His dismissal and the return of former line coach Tommy Brashear to that same position, signals the likely end of the much-maligned wide-nine days in Philadelphia. Is it possible Reid might be able to persuade Lurie that he made a huge mistake brining in the wide-nine and that its removal will cure what ails his defense?
And finally, the head coach can point to the myriad of injuries that have befallen his team this season. The Birds have played long stretches of the season without most of their expected first-string offensive line and extended stretches without their starting quarterback, running back and top two wide receivers. Reid has an actual leg to stand on with this argument, but could it be enough to save his job? I'd love to say of course not, and that Reid is a 100 percent goner, but I'd be lying. Lurie clearly respects his long-time coach, admires the job he has done, and feels a tremendous sense of loyalty to the man they call "Big Red." Could loyalty trump common sense? Probably not, but this is the Eagles. Common sense is not always the organization's greatest strength.