|A Little Help Please?|
|Written by Mark Grey|
by MARK GREY
It has now been three weeks since the Phillies won the city of Philadelphia its first major championship in over 20 years. The parades are over, all the championship t-shirts and hats have been sold, and it is now time for the sports fans of Philadelphia to get back to what they do best: BOO. Thanks to the Phillies' post-season success, the Eagles received a free pass the first half of the season, but we all knew it was just a matter of time before the critics came out. Every year, no matter how well or how poorly the Eagles do, the biggest punching bag in the city is Donovan McNabb. Everybody in the city wants to ask the question: can McNabb help them win? The bigger question is: can the Eagles help McNabb win?
Since the day McNabb was drafted nine years ago, the Philadelphia fans have unfairly booed him. No player in the NFL who has accomplished as much as McNabb has been criticized more than him. Whenever the Eagles begin to struggle, the media and the fans start to call for McNabb's job...which just doesn't make sense. My question to all those fans in Philly who want to get rid of McNabb is this: who would you like to quarterback your team? Do you really think that getting rid of him means that you will be getting Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? There are very few quarterbacks in this league right now who are better than McNabb and the ones who are won't be leaving their teams any time soon. To get rid of McNabb just to bring in some journeyman like John Kitna or another team's unproven backup is nothing more than a downgrade.
If Philly fans are looking for someone to blame for the Eagles' struggles they need to look no further than the man who put the team together, Andy Reid. For some reason that I just can't understand, the Eagles, who are 10 million or more under the NFL salary cap every year, have refused to surround McNabb with the weapons that other first rate quarterbacks have. No other quarterback is asked to do more with less than McNabb. The one year McNabb had a first rate receiver, he had off the chart numbers and led his team to the SuperBowl. Since Terrell Owens' ugly departure from the team, the Eagles have done next to nothing to replace him. When you look at the receivers other teams have brought in to help their quarterbacks over the last couple of seasons, it sure looks like McNabb is getting the short end of the stick. Just in his own division, the Cowboys have brought in pro bowlers Owens and Roy Williams, the Redskins brought in pro bowler Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, and Antwan Randel El ( I know Lloyd was a disaster but at least it was an attempt), and the Giants brought in Plaxico Burress to help out Eli Manning. With every team in the division bringing in Pro Bowl wideouts, the best the Eagles can do to help McNabb is the Rams' third receiver? In a division based on downhill power running, the Eagles' biggest back is 217 pound Correll Buckhalter. Last season, the Eagles were the only team in the division without a Pro Bowl tight end on its roster. With such a large discrepancy in offensive talent, is it really any wonder why the Eagles find themselves in last place in the division?
All across the NFL top rate receivers have been switching teams, but none of them have found a home in the city of brotherly love. Bernard Berrian, Chris Chambers, Derrick Mason, Randy Moss, Javon Walker, and Wes Welker have all switched teams in the last three years and the Eagles have passed on all of them. At the start of this season, there were rumors that the Eagles were in talks with the Cardinals about trading for superstar receiver Anquan Boldin. Just when it started to look like the team was finally going to get McNabb a game-changing receiver, they couldn't make the deal happen and Boldin is having a career year in Arizona while the Eagles are starting an undrafted guy named Hank Basket. How many Pro Bowl receivers have to become available before Reid and the Eagles decide to get one?
McNabb's biggest critics love to say that “he can't win the big game.” The bigger story should be that despite the lack of firepower that other elite quarterbacks have, McNabb has still played in many big games. McNabb's seven playoff victories are more than Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, and Matt Hasselbeck have combined. Peyton Manning, who has had the luxury of playing with two all-pro receivers, as well as a Pro Bowl tight end all at the same time, has the same amount of playoff wins as McNabb. Carson Palmer, like Manning, plays with two Pro Bowl receivers and has never won a playoff game, yet no one is calling for his job. Those who say McNabb is not a winner could not be further from the truth. His 78-43-1 record shows that he is no stranger to winning, and his 7-5 playoff record is one of the best among active quarterbacks. If McNabb's 78 wins are not impressive enough, one should take a look at who he has been winning with. In 2005, he won two playoff games on his way to the SuperBowl with Freddie Mitchell as his leading receiver. How bad was Freddie Mitchell, you ask? So bad that after being cut by the Eagles that off-season, he would never play another NFL down again despite being healthy and 26 years old. For years McNabb has been winning with wideouts who are lucky to just be in the league, let alone starting. With such poor play at the receiver position it is no wonder the team's running back has become its best passing option.
For years now McNabb has been taking heat for all of the Eagles' problems, and its just not fair. Do Eagles fans forget that they had only won 14 total games in the three seasons prior to McNabb's arrival, and in his first year starting they won 11 games and he finished second in the MVP voting? If the Eagles want to get the most out of McNabb's talents while he still has them, they need to get him some weapons to work with. What the Eagles are doing is like buying a Hummer, putting Ford Focus wheels and tires on it, and then complaining about how it performs in the snow. If the Eagles think they can win with McNabb then they need to give him some players to win with. Look at Kurt Warner: just when everyone thought his career was over, he was able to get two first rate receivers again and he is back to being an MVP candidate. Even when McNabb had merely decent targets like Donte Stallworth, he showed what he can do. Is it really fair to compare McNabb with quarterbacks who have their choice of pro bowlers to throw to while he throws to Jason Avant and Greg Lewis? It's about time Reid and the Eagles' front office get McNabb some help, and it's about time the Eagles fans give him a break.