Monday, November 26, 2007

Punished for Competence: The Philadelphia Eagles Story

Ah, Philly. A day after the season's best effort, one that validated the organization as being able to prepare a world-class game plan and give the biggest spread favorites in NFL history all they could handle on the road, dropping the team to a 5-6 but still very much alive playoff situation, and how does the local media and fan base repay their efforts?

QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY!

On Philly.com, where you go if you want to read the Philadelphia Daily News or Inquirer without admitting to it in public, 72% of 12K+ votes this afternoon say that the Eagles should start Feeley next week "no matter what."

Now, I'd understand this if Donovan McNabb were, say, Bobby Hoying. Or maybe even Rodney Peete. But he's not. HE'S THE BEST QB IN THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE, YOU FREAKING IDIOTS. And he's not, believe it or not, responsible for the effort and effectiveness of 21 other starting football players.

But beyond that... let us analyze AJ Feeley's performance objectively, as if he were just another quarterback, rather than the face of the franchise that has not made us totally and completely happy by giving us the Super Bowl win that we will be in eternal misery until we get, waah waah waah, Mommy the world is mean and filled with other teams that won't just let us win because it's been a real long time since we won.

We would note the following. For the positive, AJ:

> Didn't get rattled or throw in the towel when down on the road

> Made many legitimately fine throws, especially on 3rd down

> Got rid of the ball quickly, and stood tall in the pocket against odd-man blitzes

> Showed fire and passion, and seemed to be actually enjoying himself

> Didn't look over-matched at all against (gulp) Tom Brady

Unfortunately for the Feeley Forever Friends (which, if the Eagles lose with him against Seattle this week, would scatter like roaches in the kitchen after the lights are turned on, only to reform as the Kevin Kolb Kollektiv, and yes, the acronym is intentional, because I'm officially suspicious of the motives of some of you people), there were also some negatives.

AJ also

> Created three turnovers that were, without a doubt, the difference in the game, all of which were bad decision-making combined with bad execution. If that had been Don, the story wouldn't have been Close And Encouraging Win, it would be Don Must Go Because You Can't Have Those Mistakes From Your Starting QB. I quite agree.

> Does not seem to have the arm strength to throw a deep out, which means that by next week, that's what you'd be seeing as opponents clog the middle with linebackers and safeties that are not older than some coaches (looking at you, Seau and Harrison)

> Failed to lead the receiver consistently, especially in the second half, leading to several stalled drives and missed opportunities

> Isn't that much younger than Don, doesn't have a stronger arm or quicker feet, and has never looked good in any system other than this one, and in small doses

> Might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, given that the go-for-it throw on 2nd and 4 wasn't just unnecessary and dangerous, it would have also left *way* too much time on the clock for Brady if it *had* worked

Now, I'm not going to completely bury AJ. He played well, better than anyone had a right to expect, and if Don can't go against Seattle, I like the Eagles' chances to win anyway.

But he's AJ Feeley, people. There's a reason why he was available, and why the Eagles got him back for nothing after trading him away.

Here is that reason: He's not that good.

Donovan McNabb is. If you think his time is past and you want to see Kolb, well, fine. I don't agree, and won't until the team is eliminated from playoff contention, but at least you're not Completely Wrong and An Imbecile To Boot.

So, please, for the love of our reputation as football fans that actually know something about the game, stop falling for the Controversy That Isn't. Don's your QB. Root for him. And better yet, root for the rest of the team to give that kind of effort, regardless of who is under center. That's what fans do.

6 comments:

PK Thunda said...

If Donovan is starting on Sunday, then I will absolutely root for him; you are correct when you say that is what fans should do. But just because we root for the guys in green every Sunday doesn't mean we should hope for them to bench their best players!
Your argument that McNabb is the BEST QB IN THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE doesn't mean he should start: first of all, Ron Jaworski is the best QB in the history of the franchise. Second of all, no matter how good McNabb was 3 years ago, he is not the best QB for this team right now. Based on every game that McNabb has played this season that didn't involve the Detroit Lions, you can't argue that he is the better QB. He has not thrown a single accurate deep ball (even the Flea Flicker bomb to Reggie Brown against the Dolphins that was called back was underthrown) all season, he has struggled to find open receivers, he has failed to get into a rhythm. He has started to make plays with his feet that Feeley can't make, but that's about it.
Yes, AJ made some bad throws, but don't forget he was facing a defense that is tougher than any pass defense Donovan has faced all season.
You're right that it shouldn't be a controversy, and if the Eagles are smart enough to start Feeley, I hope you'll be a loyal enough fan to root for him. I mean, we rooted for T.O...

Sparky Duck said...

McNabb is done, or at least done for this year. He has no confidence in his knee and no confidence in his receivers.

Tracer Bullet said...

You mean Ron Jaworski, the one-time Pro Bowler who finished with a a career 72.8 QB rating and a 69-67 record as an Eagle? Uh, no.

Feely is a career backup for a reason. He played well for A.J. Feely. McNabb puts up that same stat line and fans are calling for his blood. I'll cheer for Feely because he's an Eagle, but McNabb is my QB.

DMtShooter said...

Point by point...

McNabb against Minnesota, in a road win: 23 for 36 for 333 with 1 TD, on a day when Westbrook is held under 100 combined yards. McNabb against Washington, in a road win: 20 for 28 for 251 yards with 4 TDs. Fourth quarter comeback and win. Non-Detroit goodness.

No accurate deep balls: 45 yards to Reggie Brown against Washington for a TD. (I'm just looking at TDs here.)

Patriots have the best passing defense the Eagles have faced this year: by the numbers, Miami gives up fewer yards, and NE has given up 15 passing TDs -- middle of the pack for NFL defenses, and the same or more than the Jets, Cowboys, Vikings, Packers and Bears. They're good, but no one in the NFL has an utterly dominant defense this year. They dominate on offense only.

McNabb's QB rating for the year: 87.3, which is 15th in the NFL and 7th in the NFC. Worse than Jeff Garcia and (wow) Chad Pennington, better than Drew Brees, Phil Rivers and Eli Manning. Should the latter three all be benched, too?

If you want to argue that the team plays better with the backup, that's possible: it seems more likely to me that the Eagles always play better late in the year under Reid, and McNabb just hasn't been on the field. I also hate the play-calling when Don is in there; they don't run the ball enough, for whatever reason.

If you want to argue that McNabb can't stay healthy and he should lose the job because of it... well, that's kind of a curious standard, and one that seems like a hair trigger for missing a game and a half.

See how many teams go for him in the off-season if the Eagles decide to part ways. Compare and contrast with Feeley. But the rest of the NFL can't evaluate talent.

Best QB in franchise history not named McNabb: Norm van Brocklin, I suppose. In my lifetime? Jaworski or Cunningham, and while Randall was immense fun to watch, I can't ignore the playoff results. Give me Jaws, and give him someone that could pick up Lawrence Taylor.

Finally, a special note for my NFC East friends who want to talk about how much they prefer the Eagles to start McNabb... I've preferred those games, too. I especially preferred it when you were starting Kurt Warner, Ryan Leaf, Mark Brunnell, Patrick Ramsey, Drew Bledsoe, Kerry Collins, Quincy Collins...

DMtShooter said...

(Sorry, should have been Quincy Carter.)

Inside the Iggles said...

It is only a controversy in the fans eyes.

Andy Reid does not care what the fans think.

Reid has already stated that when McNabb is healthy, he is the starter.