Last week Eagles fans were treated to a throwback performance by Donovan McNabb. The former Syracuse stand out threw two touchdown passes and rushed for a pair in Monday’s 31-9 win over the Packers. The Eagles’ quarterback completed 16 of 30 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Despite getting sacked four times, McNabb was mobile, rushing for a season-high 47 yards and two TDs for the first time in a career game. “I decided to go back to my style of play,” McNabb said, “and if the opportunity is there, take full advantage.”
McNabb looks quicker this season. Apparently, he lost somewhere around 20 to 30 lbs. Maybe he stopped eating his Chunky soup. Now Matt Hasselbeck is chowing down on the stuff. If you lose the Super Bowl do you automatically get a commercial deal for Chunky soup? What a random consolation prize.
This is the McNabb Eagles fans fell in love with after booing him at the 1999 NFL draft. The quarterback has made a career out of this love-hate relationship with his fans.
McNabb has to prove himself this season. There are many fans and enemies of the Eagles that say they can never win a Super Bowl with McNabb under center. They cite his inaccuracy as a fatal flaw. For every perfect touchdown pass, like the one to Greg Lewis against Green Bay, there is a pass at the feet of LJ Smith or a 200mph bullet at a receiver five yards away.
McNabb is to passing a football as Allen Iverson is to shooting a basketball. It is universally accepted that these are two extremely gifted athletes, but their careers have been peppered with criticism for these weaknesses. While the numbers clearly highlight Iverson’s troubles, McNabb’s do not.
Just look at his production this season, a 106.0 passer rating, 1,248 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception and 86 yards rushing in four games after totaling just 55 in nine games last season.
These numbers, combined with the Eagles’ domination of the NFC since the turn of the century allow him some buffer room from harsh criticism. It seems like whenever things go bad for the Birds, it isn’t McNabb’s fault.
Early in his career, fans of McNabb employed the “Randall Cunningham Defense.” Cunningham never reached his full potential in the NFL because he was never given any serviceable receivers to throw to. This was the argument for McNabb’s inaccuracy. Blame the receivers.
Then the Eagles signed T.O., and combined with the emergence of Brian Westbrook as a receiving threat, McNabb had his stud pass catchers. This resulted in a Super Bowl appearance.
We all know what happened the following year.
Now, McNabb has Donte Stallworthe, Reggie Brown, LJ Smith, Lewis, Westbrook and I’ll even throw Hank Baskett in there.
This is the year McNabb should be remembered for. All bets are off. It’s time to see just how good five really is.