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Eagles rally around embattled coach Andy Reid

By ROB MAADDI - AP Pro Football Writer
    2012-12-27 16:29

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - From rookies to veterans, the Philadelphia Eagles fully support Andy Reid.

While many fans wanted him fired a long time ago and the media expects he'll be gone next week, Reid's players are firmly behind their embattled coach.

``I feel like Coach Reid will be here,'' LeSean McCoy said Thursday. ``That's my mindset until I'm told otherwise. He's a great coach. I support him. I think he should stay here.''

Almost to a man, other players expressed similar thoughts. That's a rarity these days in the NFL. Players are known to grumble about their coach, especially when a team isn't having much success and he's on the hot seat.

It's a different story in Philadelphia. In all corners of the locker room, the Eagles have Reid's back. You won't even find players complaining about him off the record, and no one has said he should go.

``If you look at Coach Reid's track record, the things he's been able to accomplish is going to be hard to top,'' Michael Vick said. ``It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of commitment, and the one thing I can say is he committed himself to being the best coach that he could be and having his players in the best possible position week in and week out to try to win the games.

``You don't win them all and every good thing comes to an end. If that is the case, we don't know and the same thing for me, throughout it all I can say we stay confident, we had fun and we're going to try to go out and win this last one.''

The Eagles (4-11) close out a dismal season at the New York Giants (8-7) on Sunday. For the second straight year, they began with high expectations only to fail miserably. It's a widespread assumption it will cost Reid his job.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie said before the season that another 8-8 finish would be ``unacceptable.'' He also said ``we need substantial improvement'' for him to give Reid a contract extension. Reid, though, has one more year left on his deal for about $6 million.

``We really hope he's back next year,'' Jason Avant said.

Reid has won more games in 14 seasons than any coach in franchise history. With 140 victories, including playoffs, he's 22nd on the NFL career list. He's led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl loss.

But his failure to win the franchise's first NFL title since 1960 is how he's measured in this football-crazed city.

``Andy had a hand in bringing everybody here in. Obviously, he put faith in us and had a lot of trust in us,'' said Cullen Jenkins, who had a heated exchange with Reid on the sideline during a preseason game. ``We haven't been able to live up to the expectations of the coaches or the fans. We still have to try and give whatever else we can give right now. The only thing we can do is to try and get a win in the last game.''

The Giants still have slim playoff hopes, so a victory send-off for Reid also would knock a division rival out of contention. Playing spoiler doesn't mean as much to the Eagles as winning one for their coach.

This already was a difficult year for Reid before the Eagles even played their first regular-season game. His oldest son, Garrett Reid, died during training camp after a long battle with drug addiction.

``Coach has given us so much,'' safety Kurt Coleman said. ``To go through what he's gone through and to continue to fight for us, we're not going to stop fighting for him. That's not what's going to happen. We're going to prepare. We want to get this one bad. We really do. I don't want to say this is going to be his last game. I hope it's not so I just want to finish this season strong and hope for the best.''

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobMaaddi

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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