When Buddy Ryan was hired as Philadelphia's new coach in 1986, he said he had a five-year plan to get the Eagles into the Super Bowl.
Five years later, Ryan has only three consecutive playoff losses to his credit and no new contract after Philadelphia dropped a 20-6 decision to the Washington Redskins.Eagles owner Norman Braman has said since the start of this season that he would address Ryan's situation at the end of the year.
It was widely believed, however, that Ryan had to win at least one playoff game to earn himself a new contract.
After Saturday's loss, Braman had not changed his tune.
"It's a real emotional letdown for everyone," Braman said. "The guys worked a long time, hopefully, to get further along in the season but it just didn't work out this year.
"The season is over and it's time to evaluate things and I'll be addressing it (Ryan's contract). I didn't even think of (getting) to the Super Bowl. I thought we'd move further along in the playoffs. I'll be sitting down with (team president) Harry (Gamble) and I will consider everything. There is no time frame."
Despite his lack of success in the postseason, Ryan said he is confident he would return.
"Sure, I am," he said. "You're not?"
Ryan denied reports that he and Braman do not get along personally.
"The only place Norman and I don't get along is in the media," said Ryan, whose team has won 31 games in the last three regular seasons and captured one NFC East title.
Ryan won the respect of his players when he sided with them during the NFL strike in 1987 and they have made it clear they want their coach to return.
"I'll tell you this, if he's not, it could be devastating to this team," safety Andre Waters said. "Coach Ryan has proved he's a great coach. He's won 31 games his last three years and we've only had one losing season since he's been here and that was the first year.
"He's been winning ever since he's been here. It would be devastating not to have him with this team. He built this team and it's just a matter of us getting over the hump, and winning that first game. You have to admit, it was a pretty boring team before he got here."
Tackle Ron Heller said the loss was the fault of the players .
"We won 10 games with this system," he said. "The people who carried out the system failed today. We didn't play well enough to win.
"I know one of the reasons we play the way we play is because of Buddy. A lot of it trickles down from Buddy. The way I feel is, if it's not broke, don't fix it."
Ryan also said he was disinclined to see someone else benefit from his work.
"Why would I want someone else to take all the bows?" he said. "I built this team."