Donovan McNabb likely staying put in Philadelphia
Strong finish to regular season, solid playoff will keep McNabb in Philly
Dan Pompei | On the NFL
5:06 PM CST, January 24, 2009
To hear them explain it in Philadelphia, Donovan McNabb is to blame for everything from the Eagles' failure to win a Super Bowl to the crack in the Liberty Bell.
Coach Andy Reid knows better, so expect McNabb to be wearing wings on his helmet when the Eagles open the 2009 season.
Whether the Chicago native gets the contract extension he desires is another matter. The Eagles probably would be wise to wait another year before making that call, as McNabb already is signed through the 2010 season.
I wouldn't go so far as to say the Eagles should make a commitment to McNabb now that would make him their starting quarterback when he will be pushing 35. But at 32, he is a fine player.
He has been for a number of years, and he reached a personal best in passing yards this season. His passer rating (86.4) was the fourth best of his career. His completion percentage (60.4) was third best. His number of touchdown passes (23) was third best.
Of more importance, he resurrected the Eagles' season by helping the team win four of its last five games when he came back after being benched. He also led Philadelphia to two road victories in the playoffs before the Eagles lost to the Cardinals in the NFC championship game.
During that eight-game stretch—the most critical eight games of the season—McNabb had a 92.2 passer rating, completed 62.7 percent of his throws and threw 14 touchdown passes to five interceptions.
Some Philadelphians claimed he choked in the NFC title game, when in fact he was the reason the Eagles almost won it rather than the reason they lost it. He threw for 375 yards and led two third-quarter touchdown drives that helped the Eagles overcome an 18-point deficit. It wasn't McNabb's fault the Eagles' defense let the Cardinals score again.
What Eagles fans need to ask themselves is how could the team possibly improve without McNabb? Maybe they could put all their chips on a Matt Cassel trade, but there is no guarantee Cassel will be the quarterback he was in New England.
The only quarterbacks in the league who clearly were better than McNabb this season were Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Philip Rivers and Chad Pennington.
There is a group of maybe eight quarterbacks who were about as effective as McNabb. We could debate if McNabb was better or worse than each, but the truth is there wasn't a lot separating him from Cassel, Jay Cutler of the Broncos, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Tony Romo of the Cowboys, Matt Ryan of the Falcons, Matt Schaub of the Texans, Jeff Garcia of the Bucs and Eli Manning of the Giants.
So what we have established is McNabb was among the top 14 quarterbacks in football this season, perhaps among the top 10. Maybe the Eagles believe Kevin Kolb eventually could be a premier quarterback, and maybe he can. But McNabb is an Eagle in the hand; Kolb is an Eagle in the bush.
The Eagles would be served best looking for better players to surround the very good quarterback they have rather than looking for another.
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