As a season-ticket holder, I’ve had the pleasure, and sometimes displeasure, of watching Donovan McNabb play quarterback and succeed more often than not despite overwhelming odds. That won’t be the case anymore as the McNabb’s time in Philadelphia is ticking after he was benched during the Eagles’ embarrassing loss to Baltimore on Sunday.
While Andy Reid said he won’t decide until Monday whether third-year man Kevin Kolb or McNabb will start against Arizona on Thursday, there’s no chance he goes back to McNabb. He all but made that official when he didn’t have the guts to tell McNabb of his benching himself, sending quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur to deliver the news instead. And while Eagles fans and critics nationwide will search for ways to pin this disappointing season squarely on McNabb’s shoulders, the blame falls solely on Reid.
As the Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Reid has final say on personnel decisions, making him responsible for the mess that is the Eagles. Reid drafted Jeremy Bloom, Tony Hunt, Jerome McDougle, Matt McCoy, Billy McMullen, Ryan Moats and Matt Ware, all of whose careers in Philadelphia were underwhelming to be kind. Players like Reggie Brown, Sean Considine, Winston Justice and L.J. Smith figure to follow shortly.
Reid went into last season without a proven punt returner, costing his team the season opener against Green Bay. Reid let solid fullback Thomas Tapeh go to Minnesota, replacing him with Dan Klecko, a natural defensive tackle who played fullback occasionally during his career. Reid brought in Matt Schobel and Kris Wilson to challenge Smith, an underachieving talent, but Schobel doesn’t even dress and Wilson was cut before the season.
Reid lacks the ability to make in-game adjustments, calls mind-boggling plays, can’t manage the clock or his timeouts and refuses to establish or even show the desire to establish a running game.
That the Eagles made the playoffs in McNabb’s first four years as a starter, including three straight NFC championship appearances, is a miracle since he was throwing to the likes of Charles Johnson, Todd Pinkston, Torrance Small and James Thrash. Yes, Philly’s defense was stout and NFC competition not, but having McNabb’s sheer talent and play-making ability helped, too.
McNabb obviously isn’t that kind of player anymore, but that’s what happens as quarterbacks age. He’s been injured, inconsistent and won’t even attempt to run. But football, maybe more than any other sport, is a team game and the team around McNabb has failed. And who is in charge of that team? Reid.