Monday, April 5, 2010

Time Is Passing By Like Donovan McNizzabb

Yesterday, I arrived at my aunt's house to see some of the family for Easter. Not a half hour had passed when my uncle tells me he heard that if the Eagles were going to trade Donovan McNabb, they were going to announce it last night or today — to try and take the spotlight away from the Phillies and Roy Halladay on opening day.

Now, I'm not sure if my uncle had any inside information or if any of this is even remotely true, but if so, mission accomplished. There I was, like so many other people, watching the official start of the baseball season with CC Sabathia facing off against Josh Beckett, as the word scrolled across the bottom line: "Eagles agree to trade McNabb to the Washington Redskins …"

Wait. What? WhAT?!? WHAT!?!?! The Redskins! My roommate and I looked at each other, puzzled, confused, baffled. Well, what the fuck did we get? Their first-rounder? A starter or two? I mean, shit, to trade him to the Redskins, they HAD to get blown away by the offer right? WRONG. Dead wrong.

No, the Eagles didn't get a first-rounder. They didn't get a guy like Albert Haynesworth or LaRon Landry or London Fletcher or even DeAngelo Hall. Nope, not a single player. Instead, the Eagles received as compensation for a 6-time Pro Bowl quarterback, the greatest quarterback in franchise history, the Redskins' 2nd-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional 3rd- or 4th-round pick in the 2011 draft. Um, what? So let me get this straight: The Eagles just traded Donovan McNabb to a division rival for the No. 37 pick and a 4th-rounder that could potentially be a 3rd-rounder next year. This makes no sense. None whatsoever.

Listen, we all understood that the Donovan McNabb era was more than likely ending. The Eagles finished last season with two clunkers against the Cowboys, and McNabb didn't look too great in either game. The Eagles were going younger, and the team clearly decided it couldn't wait any longer for the Kevin Kolb era. I don't particularly agree with this, but fine. Eleven years is a long time, and it's been 11 years of never getting to the summit. There were 5 NFC Championship games (including two years ago) and a Super Bowl appearance, but you know, things never quite ended the way they were supposed to. Add this ending to that list.

The Eagles could have traded McNabb to any other team realistically in the market for a quarterback and it would have been fine with the masses. We were prepared to see him go, even the ardent supporters like me. The writing was all over the wall. But never in a million years could anyone have actually envisioned the Eagles trading him in the division. The Cowboys and Giants have their quarterbacks. So basically, send him anywhere but Washington, and people may not like it (while others will love it), but everyone would accept it. This is completely unacceptable. There were rumors of McNabb strong-arming the Eagles, telling them and other teams he'd rather retire than play there. You know? Who cares? If you can't make a trade to another team work, then don't trade him, suck it up one more season and see how it goes. It's not like the guy is a horrible player. Shit, he led the team to the playoffs yet again last year and to the NFC Championship game the year before. How many quarterbacks can say they've done that? The whole point of trading him, besides getting some compensation, is that you can control of where he goes. The Eagles used that control to trade him to a division rival.

Donovan McNabb is now a Washington Redskin. He will face the Eagles twice a year. You can bet your ass he'll come back to haunt them. I fully expect him to throw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns in his first game back at Lincoln Financial Field. It will make me sick to my stomach, even worse than seeing Brian Dawkins donning a Denver uniform.

At least B-Dawk went to the AFC, out west. It was a coincidence the Birds had the Broncos on the schedule, and it probably won't happen again in Dawkins' career. No. 5, meanwhile, will be making life a living hell for the Eagles. Ask the Giants, Cowboys and yes, his now Redskins how much fun it's been facing him the past decade-plus.

Meanwhile, this move makes the Eagles the worst team in the division on paper. They by far have the worst defensive unit in the NFC East, exacerbated by the Sheldon Brown trade. There are huge, gaping holes at cornerback, safety and linebacker, and still questions about the defensive line, Trent Cole excluded. Add on top of that an offensive line that is in flux and in dire need of repair, and you're setting yourself and the new starting quarterback of your Philadelphia Eagles, Kevin Kolb, up for failure. Sure, Kolb will be stepping in with a boatload of weapons — DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver, Mike Bell — but he'll also be heading into his first season as a starter with a shaky offensive line, a young running back who has trouble picking up the blitz and playing for a fan base that gave the greatest quarterback in franchise history a hard time. Good luck with all that. Should Kolb struggle, which wouldn't be out of the question, it will be funny to see just how quickly all those calling for him to take over turn those cheers into boos. My guess? His third incomplete pass of the year.

Then you have the Redskins, a team that has been the biggest whipping boy of the NFC East during the Donovan McNabb era. Their biggest problem has always been, or at least proclaimed to be, the quarterback position. Now the Skins get McNabb, a man who has dominated the division over the course of his career. Now the Skins suddenly become every bit the contender as the Cowboys. Washington has a phenomenal defense, led by last season's rookie standout Brian Orakpo, a rededicated Albert Haynesworth, tackling machine London Fletcher, and a hard-hitting secondary that includes LaRon Landry and talented if overrated corners DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers.

And the cupboard isn't bare on offense either. Yes, the Skins have offensive line questions of their own, which will assuredly be the team's biggest obstacle. But they also hired Mike Shanahan, a Super Bowl-winning coach who was notorious for having dominant offensive lines in Denver. He's dedicated to running the ball, evident by the slew of running backs to rush for over 1,000 yards during his Denver days, and he just seems to know how to maximize every ounce of ability from his guys, offensive line included. Then you look at the skill position players, and they're better than you think. Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis and Willie Parker are all older running backs with a lot of miles on them, but if healthy, talent-wise they are scary. And given that there are three of them, and Shanahan likes running the ball, a three-headed attack rotating these guys in could be very successful and extend their careers. Oh yeah, and there's Ladell Betts too. Add in Chris Cooley and Fred Davis, and you have two of the more talented pass-catching tight ends in the league. I fully expect Cooley and Davis to catch 700 balls in the two contests against the Eagles this year. Then there is Santana Moss to lead the wide receivers, a receiver who has had plenty of success in his career. Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly were high draft picks for a reason. Neither has produced much as of yet, but they're both still young and talented. Like I said, the cupboard isn't bare.

This is the type of the move that will determine just how good of a coach Andy Reid is, just how good of talent evaluators the Eagles are. Over the years, they've let plenty of veteran, high-producing players go and continued to have success. But the one constant has been Donovan McNabb, giving the Eagles stability at the most important position on the football field. Now he's gone, for better or worse (I think worse, but time will tell).

In the past two seasons, the Eagles have lost every single leader, every prominent player, the faces of the franchise: Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan, Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook, Sheldon Brown and now Donovan McNabb. This team has no identity anymore. The face of the franchise just traveled south down 95. Now the team's face is a big, fat, red-headed one with a stupid mustache and smug attitude. The Eagles have no identity anymore. Let's hope the new one doesn't become losers, because say what you want about Donovan McNabb — he's a choker, a whiner, etc. — he was a winner. No Eagles quarterback has more victories ever. No Eagles quarterback won as many playoff games, threw for as many yards or touchdowns. He was the biggest cog in the franchise's resurgence. Remember this team before Donovan McNabb? Terrifyingly horrible. The Eagles — and Andy Reid —  better hope the team without him doesn't suffer the same fate.

Donovan had his faults, just like we all do. Here in Philadelphia, those faults always seemed to be the point of emphasis. He was here so long without winning a ring that it almost seemed like people forgot about all his considerable talents, about all he had accomplished. But I never did. I never will. Sure, I became as tired as anyone with coming up short, with never quite being good enough, but I also always appreciated the fact that with No. 5 under center, the Eagles always had a chance to win, always were in contention, always mattered. You deserved better, Donovan. I wish you well. I just wish it didn't have to come at the expense of the Eagles. This team makes it so hard to root for them. They really do.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. I couldn't agree more with your last line. You want to root for them...but they make seem to be making it harder and harder. So they have pretty much cleaned house from the 2000's run, yet Andy and Joe get extensions for 3 years.

  2. I'm at a loss for words. Well, no I'm not.

    The Kevin Kolb Era was gonna start anyway, and we all agree on that. However, you don't trade a franchise QB within the division for a bottle of orange juice and a pack of Starburst. You don't do it...unless you're the ungrateful Philadelphia Eagles organization. Simply disgraceful...

  3. These fuckers better draft a stud safety and a stud linebacker with those first and second round picks.

  4. Geez, step away from the ledge.

    It was given he would be the one traded, which diminished his trade value. We werent getting a a 1st, but 37 overall is pretty damn close. I loved McNabb too, but it ended up being a really awkward contract situation. You say he deserved better, but the team caved to his demands, his desires, to go to DC. Reid and co has proven to be one of the savviest teams on draft day, and always do some decent damage when theyre loaded with picks. Their first 2 picks should automatically project as starters and they could easily trade up for another quality starter. I agree with you that one of them better be a LB (Bowman pleaseeeee).

    As for the Birds being on the bottom and the Skins moving on up, you have no idea whats gonna happen. Theyre looking for anyone to take Albert off their hands, and have as many question marks as anyone. I think your optimism for LJ, Willie and Portis is laughable but maybe a flower will grow out of one of their corpses. And look at last year. Everybody was counting the Cowboys out before the season. Look how that turned out.

  5. I agree I may be overly optimistic about the old running backs in Washington's stable, but I hardly think I'm on teetering on the ledge. I think it's ridiculous to trade a at worst good quarterback to a division rival who needs a quarterback. Call me crazy.

    And when referring to Donovan deserving better, I don't mean he deserved better by the Eagles. The Eagles owed him nothing. They paid the man large sums of money for a long time. I mean he deserves better from fans, because here, while he did have plenty of supporters, it always seemed like his accomplishments were diminished and his failures highlighted. It's understandable, but the guy took more abuse than he probably deserved.

    I'm also not counting out the Eagles, but I think you have to say right now, given an unproven quarterback, shaky offensive line and porous defense that now has a hole at cornerback opposite Asante, GAPING hole at safety, and no discernible playmaker at linebacker - I mean, the best linebacker is coming off a major injury, he may not be back to his old form right away, if ever - not to mention a d-line that beyond Trent Cole struggled to generate a pass rush without blitzing, I think it's safe to say on paper this team is in the worst shape in the division.

    Now, that can change quickly, sure. If you can draft starters at safety and linebacker or d-line, solidify the offensive line and not see a big dropoff from Sheldon to Ellis Hobbs, this team can be good. We all know the weapons are there are on offense. The real question will be can this team stop anyone … and will Kolb be as good as the Eagles think right away? First-year starting quarterbacks usually go through some struggles. I think expecting the Eagles to compete for the division with all those questions is laughable optimism, but that's just me.

    The fun part about sports is you never know. We'll find out in the fall.