Monday, April 05, 2010

Goodbye Donnie Mac

Wow. What a weekend. So much news and very little time to devote to it all these days as things at work have picked up to the sickest degree I can ever recall experiencing. I don't know how much value there is to this anecdotal evidence, but all signs point to business being as brisk right now for my company as it has been at any time in the past couple of years, so you economy-watchers should take that for what you will. Anyways, of all the stuff I have to write about this week (I've got five posts in draft form already half-written, ranging from my 2010 MLB over-unders in team win totals, to another nice tournament score for me, to the NCAA tournament, you name it and I've started a post about it), the biggest and most timely news has got to be my beloved Eagles' surprise trade of Donovan McNabb to the hated Washington Redskins.

Who knew that two weeks back in the middle the 2009 NFL season would end up meaning so much to the Philadelphia Eagles? Remember when Donovan McNabb went down with a broken rib in Week 2 of last year's season, causing him to miss two games heading into the team's bye week? Well, what you may not recall is McNabb's 25-year-old backup Kevin Kolb filling in more than amply in McNabb's absence, going an impressive 55 for 85 in completions, racking up a huge 718 yards passing whole throwing for four touchdowns vs three interceptions in those two starts, becoming the first player to throw for 300+ yards in his first two NFL starts in league history. Well, all that has come to roost now, as not even a year later, McNabb is now gone, traded to a division rival at that, and now it's officially become the Kevin Kolb show in Philadelphia. Eek.

How did this happen? It's business, as usual. McNabb remains under contract for one more season with the Eagles, but next year he will be 34 years old -- especially concerning for a guy who's missed a few games in each of the last few seasons and who has traditionally made so much of his big plays using his athleticism -- and he will become at that time an unrestricted free agent. And McNabb has already made it clear that he wants / expects a long-term deal after next season in order to lead a team's offense going forward. Now the Eagles, ever the spendthrifts, already know they are not going to pay McNabb the likely 15-20 million dollars in guaranteed money that they would be required to pay him next year if his contract talks go similarly to those of the other, say, top 5 or 6 quarterbacks in the league today. So, the thinking goes, if the Eagles are going to lose McNabb after next season for sure, and get nothing in return, then why not trade him today instead, and take back from Washington the 37th pick in the 2010 NFL draft as well as a 3rd or 4th round pick -- let's just say roughly the 100th pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

So that's what it comes down to for Donovan McNabb for Philly, huh? A 37th pick and a future 100th pick in the draft. This still stuns me. After leading the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and five NFC East championships in his 11 years in Philadelphia, during which time he and head coach Andy Reid became the longest-tenured pairing of quarterback and coach in some 20 years, and the 6th-longest tenured pair in history. After being a 6-time pro-bowler, and probably deserving of being there even more than that. During his 11 years in Philly, only the Colts and the Patriots have won more games, and no other team in the NFC. McNabb leaves the Eagles as the all-time franchise leader in completions, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards, passing tds and total wins. And for what? A 37th pick and a future 100th pick in the draft. Sheesh.

The big question right now I think is how will the city of Philadelphia respond to this move? For starters, the fans of Philadelphia -- notoriously difficult to satisfy as they are -- are well aware of all the great stats above about McNabb's career. Almost every seat in the house at the Linc is purchased by a season ticket holder, and those guys are there for every game, and have been there for every game McNabb had started since he was drafted back in 1999 to the boos and jeers of Philly fans who wanted the team to draft resident stoner Ricky Williams. If Kolb comes in and sucks up the joint, those fans are going to be disgusted to a degree worse than I am sure even Eagles management can envision. They know how prolific of an NFL quarterback McNabb has been over the years. Who else has won five NFC East titles in 11 years? Nobody. Ever. He's won a lot of games in this town, and he's had a number of incredible plays that display his unique brand of athleticism:

That being said, the Philly fans are all also painfully aware of McNabb's only one win in five NFC Championship games, including two of those games where the Eagles were the higher seed and I believe three of them where the Eagles were favored to win the game, including in 2009 against the Arizona Cardinals. And let's not forget the one NFC Championship game that McNabb won back in 2004, what happened then? He went to the Superbowl, and promptly barfed through his football mask during the 4th quarter after starting off classically slow and really being largely inaccurate and ineffective during most of the first three quarters of the game. Of course by this point it is common knowledge that the Patriots used cameras to illegally record the Eagles' practices, signal calls and game calls for that game, so obviously that has to be factored in to the equation, but in the end taken with McNabb's overall big game performance, and the fans in Philly I am pretty sure will not have too much trouble with the decision to move in a different direction.

But trading McNabb within the Eagles' division is very telling, and I think this is the point that is going to give Eagles fans the most heartache about this deal. My first thought -- and the one that I still believe, ultimately -- was that this was obviously the best deal the Eagles could find, or why else would they send this guy to a hated division rival? I heard Andy Reid inexplicably state in the press conference on Sunday night that they took great pains to trade McNabb to a team he wanted to play for, and that he was not "willing" to play for Buffalo or Oakland but expressed a willingness to play for Mike Shanahan in DC. If that's what the Eagles did, then they are the biggest chumps of all time. But I doubt it. I think in the end, a 37th pick and a future 100th pick is the best offer the Eagles could get for McNabb at this point in his career. Which is still really amazing to me.

One thing the Eagles have certainly done with this intra-divisional trade is given everybody in their fan base -- those who like McNabb and those who dislike him -- a reason to be unhappy about this deal. And now we will likely get to be reminded of those reasons twice a year for the foreseeable future too.

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Blogger l.e.s.ter said...

If nothing else, the Redskins' D is going to have a lot of help preparing for two games a season.

Kolb's 300-yard games came against the Saints and the Chiefs.

8:33 PM  

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