Sunday, November 18, 2012

An Overdue Apology To Donovan McNabb

Hello, Donovan, It's Me
As we wind down the 14-year cavalcade of whimsy that has been the Andy Reid Era (and I'm sorry, National Media Geishas, but having one of the five worst teams in the league and not winning a playoff game in five years is, in fact, cause for extreme guaranteed dismissal), I was struck, especially in today's train wreck, by one thought.

Have we underestimated just how good Donovan McNabb was?

Now, I get that the end of McNabb's career, in Washington and Minnesota, made everyone think that Five was the beneficiary of an offensive machine, rather than vice versa. But as I watched Nick Foles become just the latest Eagles QB Turnover Machine who looked overwhelmed by the workload foisted on him by the This Time It Has To Work coaching staff... well, it made me wonder. (Even more than the game plan of nearly 50 passes for a rookie QB in a road start, and nearly every run out of a shotgun snap. No, seriously.)

You see, time was that the Eagles didn't have an extreme problem in the red zone. They weren't ever particularly deadly there, mostly because they haven't had a good short yardage back since Ricky Watters, and haven't had a dominant offensive line in forever, either... but at least while McNabb was under center, they were ordinary, and while you had way too many field goals from in close to be too thrilled, at least the offense didn't stall there so constantly. You also had a mobile QB who wasn't historically fumble-prone, and while Don's health issues and conditioning made for less efficiency over time, at least those five thousand short-hopped throws rarely, if ever, led to game-changing TAInts.

Now, Donovan was still far from blameless for this regime's inability to cash in any number of opportunities to end the 52-year drought of failing to win the last meaningful game of the year. There are only so many excuses you can make for NFC championship game losses, a two-minute drill that was never particularly crisp, the aforementioned conditioning level, and the borderline weirdness and insecurities that the man peppered his plus games with. I also don't doubt that his best days were spent throwing to his worst targets, and that being the best QB in the franchise's history doesn't mean that you are bound for Canton or should have won it all. That's just not how it works.

But with McNabb, the Eagles made life miserable for their division rivals. They always seemed to have a chance, at least before the whistle sounded. If they were down a score early, it didn't seem hopeless. The offensive line never played this badly for him, and even Todd Pinkston showed more consistent heart in going after footballs than Jeremy Maclin. You knew who the leader of the offense was, and while the play-calling was curious at best, it didn't seem designed to get the QB hurt. They never went through a prolonged period like this one, where the games are just, well, unwatchable.

And you can't say that about Foles today. Or Vince Young, Mike McMahon, AJ Feeley, Doug Pederson,Koy Detmer, Kevin Kolb, most of the Vick Era... or, well, anyone outside of a few games of miracles from Jeff Garcia, when this blog started.

So, Five?

Sorry for ever doubting you. Not sorry for moving you when we did, since I doubt that we'd have done anything for you at this stage other than make you a drooling wreck...

But sorry for ever thinking that Vick was ever going to lead this team to something better, or that we ever thought that Reid made you... instead of the other way around.

Oh, and there's also this.

Today, I was far more interested in watching the Sixers than the Eagles. Playing one of 82 regular season games, against a mildly entertaining Cavs team... rather than one of 16 Eagles games, against a Redskins team with the clear rookie of the year in the NFC.

And no, that never happened under Five's watch, either.

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