But how much longer will the fans participate in a show with the same ending? Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and president Joe Banner have long supported Reid, who's in the penultimate year of a contract that will almost certainly be extended before the 2010 season. (Banner declined SI's interview request but told Comcast earlier this year he was "sure" Reid would get a new deal.)
Despite the hardship of seeing two of their sons arrested on drug charges two years ago, "Andy and [his wife] Tammy love Philadelphia—it's been the longest stop in their marriage and in their whole adult lives," says Vai Sikahema, who attended BYU with the Reids and played for the Eagles. "Andy is very aware of his place in Eagles history. He also recognizes that if he doesn't win a championship, despite the enormous success he's had, [his tenure] will be considered a failure by Philadelphians."
The same standard applies to McNabb, who had the final two years of his contract restructured in June to give him a raise, but he didn't get the additional years he sought. His legacy in Philadelphia is also yet to be determined. At 33 he is eight months younger than Peyton Manning, but while Manning's status in Indianapolis is never in doubt, McNabb's relationship with Eagles fans seems to change from snap to snap, and his future in Philly has been a matter of much debate.
Speculation became heated when the Eagles drafted Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round in 2007. The discussion resurfaced last season when Reid benched McNabb in favor of Kolb during a loss to the Ravens, and it bubbled up once more when Philly signed Michael Vick in August.
"I've always said I would like to retire here, but that's not going to be in two years," said McNabb, who points to Brett Favre and Vinny Testaverde as examples of players whose longevity he admires. "My main focus, as well as [Reid's], is on what we have to do in these next two years, and we feel like, with the guys we have in this locker room, we can get the job done."
Asked in June if McNabb would be his starter in 2009 and '10, Reid said, "I think we have the best quarterback in the National Football League. I've said that many times. I'm very partial to Donovan and respect him for the things he's done. That's the important part."
In the two years since Kolb was drafted, Reid and Banner have blessed McNabb with the most talented set of skill position players of his 11-year tenure. Last year they drafted Jackson, a speedster out of Cal, who brought the kind of deep threat the Eagles lost when Terrell Owens left following the 2005 season. This year they selected Maclin, a versatile receiver out of Missouri who can beat defensive backs down the sideline and over the middle, and Pitt running back LeSean McCoy, who shares many of Westbrook's skills, with his shiftiness and his good hands out of the backfield. Weaver is a wrecking ball of a fullback, able both to block and to earn the tough yards the Eagles have sometimes been unable to get in short-yardage situations.
It is through the youth movement that McNabb is finding his voice. "He's the man; he's taking control of this team, putting it on his back," Maclin says. "He's the guy to take us where we want to go."
Adds backup running back Eldra Buckley, another 2009 newcomer, who scored on a one-yard touchdown run against the Redskins in the fourth quarter, "In the locker room we know how much he means to us, and I think for him that's all that matters."
What matters to the rest of Philly, though, is whether the Eagles have what it takes to play into February, a hurdle they've made just once under Reid and McNabb. At 7--4 they're a game behind the Cowboys in the division, with five to play. The season finale? At Dallas on Jan. 3.