THE PUBLIC HAS howled for Andy Reid's head before. Ownership has never listened.

But nothing lasts forever. If this season continues to unfold as a debacle, Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner certainly will have an obvious case, purely on football grounds, for dismissing their head coach with 2 years left on his contract.

There is another factor, though, that could hasten Reid's departure, after 13 seasons, even if the Eagles somehow manage to muddle their way back to mediocre respectability. That factor is Andy Fatigue.

Eagles management is despised in this city. It carries that burden through good times and bad. People still buy tickets, and merchandise, but in 2011, they do so almost grudgingly.

If the Birds fail to make the postseason after their summer spending spree, which left them feeling clever cap management finally had given them a significant edge on competitors, the fan base is not going to be excited about trying again in 2012, with yet another new defensive coordinator, or whatever. There is one sure way to get the masses fired up about the future, and that way is to end the Reid era.

You can bet Banner and Lurie know this. It's hard to know at exactly what point such knowledge becomes a factor in their calculations.

As we've noted previously in discussions of what happens if Reid goes, there are complications. Our assumption here is that Lurie generally adopts Banner's view of the Eagles' world. Banner is unlikely to fire Reid and hire a coach who will diminish either Banner's role or that of his protege, general manager Howie Roseman. One of the secrets to Reid's longevity, other than winning a bunch of games, has been that the Banner-Reid power-sharing relationship long ago was settled to Banner's liking.

Would such an arrangement be easily forged with Bill Cowher, or Jeff Fisher, or Jon Gruden, or Tony Dungy? What if the new coach doesn't agree that the surest path to the Super Bowl is stockpiling umpty-zillion sixth-round picks? What if he wants (gasp, swoon) to do something crazy, like drafting a linebacker in the first round?

What if a new coach thinks the "wide nine" is just a wide hole in your defense, and insists on sending Jim Washburn packing? What if he thinks cornering the market on undersized white guys with beards is not the way to build an effective offensive line, and pushes to send Howard Mudd back into retirement?

The Eagles could end up paying a lot of money to people who no longer work at NovaCare, something they have scrupulously avoided over the years.

But on the other side of the ledger, just think of the goodwill, the relief that could be generated by freeing everyone from the drone of "I have to put the players in a better position to make plays." There are times when public perception doesn't matter, like when you have a chance to draft a franchise quarterback, and the fans decide they'd rather have a running back. And there are times when public perception does matter, when the fans' relationship with their team goes bad, and the only way to clear the air is to open up the room.

DEVELOPING STORYLINES

 * Remember when you didn't mind Asante Samuel's lackluster approach to tackling, because he plucked all those interceptions? Those were the days.

* Does any team get as many balls ripped from their receivers' hands as the Eagles?

* If I told you the Eagles actually have more rushing yards than their opponents, 828 to 701, and are, in fact, leading the NFL in rushing, would you believe me? And if you did, and could explain this, wouldja mind dropping me an email?

* Jeremy Maclin was tied for second in the NFL with 32 receptions going into last night's action. Pretty good considering Maclin caught just one pass in the opener, as he worked his way back from that offseason illness. Since the opener, Maclin is averaging nearly eight catches a game.

OBSCURE STAT

 Going into last night's action, Shady McCoy's seven touchdowns were second in the NFL to Calvin Johnson's eight. McCoy has five rushing scores, two receiving.

WHO KNEW?

You could design a defense that would pile up sacks and not be able to tackle anybody?

EXTRA POINT

Sometimes people say "vicious circle,'' sometimes they say "vicious cycle.'' Means the same thing. I never know which is correct.

Came to mind while rewinding a Michael Vick interception, the one he threw into the chest of Buffalo linebacker Nick Barnett.

The play began with an undetected false start by Jeremy Maclin. As Peter King pointed out on SI.com, after the snap, rookie center Jason Kelce has blitzing linebacker Kelvin Sheppard lined up, then leaves Sheppard to pick up another blitzer, a defensive back, about to be blocked by Shady McCoy. McCoy is probably just off the edge of Kelce's peripheral vision.

So Kelce and McCoy double the DB and Sheppard goes in free. Instead of taking the sack, Vick unwisely unloads early, unable to step into his throw, and it sails over an unwitting DeSean Jackson, straight to Barnett, who returns it for a touchdown and a 21-7 Buffalo lead in the second quarter.

As Vick noted afterward, that pick can't happen. But I think I understand why it did, and I'm not talking about Kelce's gaffe. Vick saw the Bills' offense easily cash in on his first, deflected interception. Then, after another deflected pick, he led the Eagles back to tie, only to see Buffalo easily drive straight through the pliable Birds' defense for a 14-7 lead. At that point, Vick feels he has to score, can't take a sack, can't go off for the punter.

My opinion, some of the Eagles' 15 turnovers this season are inexplicable, but some of them are because the defense is so awful, the offense is trying to do too much instead of taking what's there. And of course, turnovers don't put a struggling defense in position to succeed.

Vicious circle. Or cycle.