"The town is tired of both of them," says Angelo Cataldi, who hosts the morning-drive show on Philadelphia's 610 WIP Sports Radio. "A national perspective might be that we're not grateful for having good teams for a decade, but it's the same story over and over. It's Andy Reid giving the same rote answer to the same questions, it's McNabb being a talented guy who will never win the big game, and [the fans] know it. This is as uninspired a city as I've ever seen toward its football team, and I've been doing this for 20 years. They're sick of the act. They want it to be over."
The morning after the Eagles' 31--23 loss in San Diego on Nov. 15, a game marked by breakdowns in the red zone and burned timeouts, Cataldi fielded call after call from fans on a virtual ledge.
From Robert: Insanity is doing the same thing week in and week out, year after year. We are insane. Can't manage the clock. Can't get one yard in an NFL playoff game. This team is ridiculous. This regime must go.
And Steve: I put blame on Andy Reid. You're the guy that let [tackles] Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan go.
And Franco: This is a baseball town now, and [Reid] is the guy that did it to us.
"It's fair to ask the question—and a lot of people are asking it—is Andy Reid Chuck Knox or Marty Schottenheimer, or is he Tony Dungy, Tom Coughlin or Bill Cowher?" says Ray Didinger, a writer and football analyst for Comcast Sports and a Philadelphia native. "Next year will be 50 years since this team won a championship. There are 11 Lombardi Trophies in the NFC East—three in New York, three in Washington, five in Dallas, zero in Philadelphia. What the fans want is what everybody else has.
"When the fans get frustrated, they get frustrated both with Andy as the coach of the offense and Donovan as the centerpiece of the offense," Didinger adds. "It's impossible to separate them. The picture you draw for each guy is the same. Andy has set every team coaching record. Donovan will break or has broken every team [passing] record. But it does seem hollow without a championship."
Much of the history of the NFL is defined by coach-quarterback unions, those that netted championships and those that missed. By its nature, a combination that endures for a decade must be a winning one, but that doesn't always mean the pair is piling up trophies (box, page 72).
"You have to have a good relationship because you're spending so much time together in meetings and watching film and talking about the philosophy of the team," says Dan Marino, the Hall of Fame quarterback and CBS analyst who spent 13 seasons in Miami with Don Shula. "Being in the same system for so many years can backfire because an offense needs to change according to personnel, but Coach Shula was always supporting me as a player by getting me the right talent. Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb have been to a Super Bowl and five championship games. That's something I can't say about my 13 years with Coach Shula. At times people get spoiled with your performance, but I'm sure Andy and Donovan have higher expectations than any fans have."
In Philadelphia it can be hard to tell. "When you saw an Eagles fan on the street, it was always, "Why are we doing this?" says Vikings receiver Greg Lewis, who spent six years in Philly. "It's as if they thought they were out there with you."