Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lay Off Of Donovan

Since Monday night’s game against the Washington Redskins, talk of Donovan McNabb’s precipitous decline has quickened in football circles. His unconvincing performance made him a target around water coolers on Tuesday morning. His comments made to HBO’s Real Sports making the claim that black quarterbacks face more scrutiny [than white quarterbacks] have once again made him a lightning rod for criticism in Philadelphia and beyond.

Source: Eagles Gab

When asked if white quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer are held to the same standards, McNabb responded, “Let me start by saying, I love those guys. But they don't get criticized as much as we do. They don't."

In two words, I agree. When Carson Palmer returned from a career-threatening knee injury last season, pundits and fans alike used words like “courageous” to describe his performance. Can the same be said for the 5-time Pro Bowl quarterback [and other black quarterbacks in the NFL] who has missed 13 games the last two seasons? Absolutely, positively not. Having watched nearly every snap of his first two games, McNabb has looked shaky in the pocket and he has shown signs of overcompensating on his throws. Being fair, Carson Palmer lacked the poise shown in 2005 and early 2007 throughout the entire 2006 season, and he has Rudi Johnson (over 1300 yards rushing the last three seasons), two stud receivers and a suspended jailbird who’d be the number one wide receiver in Philadelphia. If Palmer shows more self-assurance and holds onto the ball late in just one of their games, the Bengals would have had as many wins as player arrests likely resulting in a playoff appearance.

Source: Reading Eagle

As many football experts have noted, prior to last season, McNabb had achieved more than Peyton Manning by making the Super Bowl and leading his team to multiple NFC championship game appearances. He has done this without the supporting cast that is at the disposal of either a Manning or a Palmer. Though detractors will cite that his sole Super Bowl appearance was a result of having Terrell Owens on the same team (and on the same page), McNabb led the Eagles to two playoff victories that year without his top receiver’s services.

Expecting McNabb or any other quarterback to be at the same performance level as he was prior to his season-ending knee injury last year is unfair. In fact, I suspect some of the gripers reached for McNabb in fantasy football leagues and thought that he would scorch underrated defenses in Green Bay and Washington. Consider it a lesson learned. Another lesson taught is that players who miss a considerable amount of time due to injury in three of the past four seasons do not return as the same player with the same abilities in spite of marvels in the medical field.

Adjustments must be made by the coaching staff and the altered player in order to maximize upon the skills that remain at the player’s disposal. Yes, I’m talking to you, Coach Reid. Why use a first-day draft selection on a 3rd running back if your play selections are dominated by short passes over the middle [to players who only know how to run slant and out patterns]? Without a wide receiver on the roster that can a) take a hit over the middle and b) hold onto the ball, the coaching staff must utilize the split backs formation more often in order to develop a steady diet of the power run. This will allow for McNabb to manage the game more efficiently and use the play-action pass to maximize the production of inexperienced, finesse route runners. While the thought of using a talent such as McNabb as a game manager scares most Eagles fans, this change in mindset and action will result in the most wins for the organization and nurture the beleaguered quarterback to health as he continues to recover from his latest injury.

It must be noted that Donovan McNabb has been sensitive to media criticism and this has taken away from his perceived focus on the gridiron. Nevertheless, McNabb has been and continues to be expected to perform at a top-five position level without the skill position corps of other upper-echelon NFL quarterbacks (excluding Tom Brady until this season). Additionally, poor special teams play and uneven playcalling have preceded McNabb’s lackluster showcases as reasons for the Eagles’ early season defeats.

With all of this said, do us all a favor and lay off of Donovan McNabb.


summy said...

So when are you and Donovan getting married?

While I don't think all of the haterade being thrown his way is fair, I definitely don't think this is a constructive view on him either. McNabb did make the Super Bowl before Peyton did...but he also played in the NFC, and in what was at the time the NFC's weakest division at that. So making the NFC Championship games 4 times shouldn't be viewed as horribly remarkable. Furthermore, he lost 3 of them, and I believe 2 of the losses came at home.

I don't have HBO, so I don't know the entire context of the question/statement, but if we exclude QBs like Manning and Palmer, there are plenty of whiteys who get criticized, cough*Rex*cough.

McNabb is a solid QB, and as a football fan I wish Andy Reid would get him some quality wideouts (even though that would hinder my Redskins) and call some better offensive plays. But Donovan isn't all that amazing either...unless we're talking about vomiting with the game on the line :-)

Paymon said...

Grossman getting criticized is completely fair. He once admitted looking forward to New Year's festivities rather than his game.

As for his 3 NFC Championship game losses, one was against the Greatest Show on Turf who was heavily favored. The Bucs, who crushed the Eagles (from the weak NFC), went onto annihilating the Raiders even worse. Don't get me started on that Panthers game. McNabb didn't even play most of the game after he was injured on a DEAD BALL play by Greg Favors (what's happened to his career since?).

I hope Andy Reid gets quality WRs too. That way, we'll know if McNabb is on his way to being done.

Armin said...

I see purple in McNabb's future. As bad as Travaris Jackson is doing, and as futile it would be to throw Holcomb in there, maybe the Vikes make a move.

If the Ravens didn't have a love for Kyle Boller, I think McNabb would be the best fit in Baltimore.

Don't rule out Jacksonville or Kansas City either.

Clement? Do the Jets make the smallest iota of sense?