With a short week of preparation before a Thanksgiving clash with the Cardinals, all eyes descended on the NovaCare Complex to find out whether Donovan McNabb would be allowed to return to his spot at the head of the Eagles’ table. The answer came from beleaguered head coach Andy Reid quickly with the following statement, “Donovan is the quarterback. I don’t want to leave here until you understand that”. Reid then followed up with “Donovan is the quarterback for this football team.”
Reid sounded very confident in McNabb as his “man”, but his actions from less than 24 hours earlier spoke volumes of how he really feels about his 10-year veteran, who has become “Dead Man Walking” in Philadelphia. Reid plain and simple panicked in Baltimore going to “green” second-year quarterback Kevin Kolb at a time when McNabb needed him most. To exacerbate the situation more, Reid let the bad news come from quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur rather than himself in a move many people around the NFL called “gutless”.
I still cannot believe Reid pulled his little stunt with McNabb in a game that was winnable – only 10-7 at the half – and it spoke volumes about how far the quarterback-head coach relationship has sank on the Birds. Reid in trying to save his own butt, decided that McNabb should be the scapegoat for his football team. Despite the fact that everyone knows that the Eagles offensive problems stem from their inability to run the football (averaging 94.yards per game for an NFL ranking of 26th) caused mainly from Reid the talent evaluator’s bad personnel decisions. But Reid fueled by a very poor half of play by McNabb — 8/18, 59 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, and a fumble — chose to point the finger at the one player who has been a loyal soldier to him for 10 years. McNabb always stood in front of the microphones as Reid’s advocate through having to carry the Eagles with his legs in the early years to echoing the head coach’s famous retort “We are fine at wide receiver” even with the likes of James Thrash, Todd Pinkston, Na Brown, and Freddie Mitchell to playing on a broken ankle to not calling audibles when Reid’s play calling begged to be fixed.
I guess McNabb thought having Reid’s back all this time gave him some wiggle room, just like how Mike Holmgren (Reid’s hero) gave Brett Favre opportunities despite the legend throwing a ton of picks while having a few quarters here or there. It was unbelievable how “wronged” McNabb was by Reid’s desperation move, but he now has the chance to prove he is still the same five-time Pro Bowl player — while most likely showcasing himself for the Vikings, Bears, Rams, Lions, Panthers, and the rest of the NFL.
Reid I guess trying to pump McNabb back up finished by saying, “Sometimes you have to step back to step forward in a positive way and Donovan will do that.” These last 5 games of the Eagles season will be a doozy as this 5-5-1 team finishes out the string toward their third non-playoff season in four years. But one thing is apparent “change” is in the wind around Broad & Pattison and if Reid doesn’t watch it McNabb will not be the only one changing addresses this off-season.