So it seems Jeffrey Lurie won’t drop the axe. On anybody.

That responsibility - Lurie stated clearly in what he called an “unusual” year-end press conference for him to hold Tuesday, when he held it anyway - falls on Andy Reid. That's right: Not the owner, Lurie. Not the GM, Howie Roseman. Not anyone in the front-office.

Just Reid, who, in case you didn't catch it, can sleep soundly on the comfort of a guaranteed fourteenth season as head coach.

But not a fifteenth. Not yet.

“If I didn’t think next year would be substantially better, I’d be standing up here announcing a coaching change,” Lurie said, not-so-subtly hinting at Reid’s job (in)security beyond the 2012 season.

Until then, though? He’s safe.

For now, it seems, Lurie thinks Reid fitting of the criteria of an effective head coach Lurie shared Tuesday with the writers and radio heads who, for an agonizingly long time, wondered whether Lurie was a gum bump away from the ultimate bombshell.

For now, it seems, Lurie thinks Reid has the intangibles, what Lurie dubbed the most important coaching quality. For now, the “fire in (Reid’s) belly to be the best” has Lurie convinced they can translate.

For now, Lurie says, Reid’s short-term success – the Eagles have made postseason in four of the last six seasons; Bill Cowher, for record, missed the playoffs as many times before going 15-1 with Pittsburgh in 2004 and winning it all in 2005 – was more than enough to buy him slack.

Maybe just enough to hang himself.

“That’s up to Andy,” Lurie said, in response to questions about Juan Castillo or Marty Mornhinweg or Howard Mudd or anybody else who could possibly play fall guy.

“We’ve had long discussions about player personnel and staff, and he’s the best person to make those decisions. Andy’s got the final say in that.”

That seemed the tenor of the press conference: Not only wouldn’t Lurie allow a blunder like last year – musta been awkward for the front office when Reid outwardly supported soon-to-be-squashed defensive coordinator Sean McDermott before his firing … a week later – but Reid would have to earn it.

Ultimately, it's all about results.

What doesn't matter? Whether Castillo is cut loose from the staff, reassigned to another department (back to offensive line coach?) or otherwise (given a powerless role as consultant); whether Castillo makes way for the just-fired then-coach of the Rams; whether Howard Mudd is coerced into retirement; or whether any other now-unforeseen change comes down.

Those won’t be in Lurie’s year-end inventory in 2012.

What will be weighed and measured and calculated, maybe before the 2013 expiration date on Reid’s contract?

Results. Consequentialism. The end, not the means.

Not anything else.

Isn’t that how it should be?

Then again, if that’s how it will be next year, why wasn’t it now? If “there’s (sic) no legitimate excuses in (Lurie’s) mind for this team to take that long to gel and come together,” if this 8-8 finish was “completely unacceptable” and that “to hold onto (wins against what Lurie called “weak teams”) as a reason to be optimistic is fool’s gold,” then what would be grounds for a coaching change? How bad would it have to get? How bad would Reid have to falter?

Here’s to hoping we don’t have to find out.