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Monday, October 30, 2006

Week 8: Birds Drop 3rd Straight

When the football season ends before October, there’s not much good to say. The Eagles dropped to 4-4, and despite all of their babble last week, look every bit the part.

I said last season that the “window of opportunity” for this team’s core group to win a Super Bowl had closed with the departure of you-know-who, but stopped short of saying the Donovan McNabb – Andy Reid tandem could never win it all.

Now, I’m convinced that Reid will never hoist the Lombardi Trophy with McNabb as his quarterback. In fact, I doubt Reid will ever win it all, and I guarantee McNabb won’t.

I think McNabb has a fragile psyche that was damaged beyond repair in the Terrell Owens debacle. He was already scared to death to run too much for fear of being compared to Randall Cunningham, practically nullifying the thing that made him special as a QB. He’s come out of that slightly, but he’s simply not good enough to be a QB that is predominantly pocket passer.

Whether it will ever be admitted or not, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg basically announced last week that McNabb is not equipped to make quick decisions. Discussing the debacle at the end of the first half in Tampa Bay, which saw Donovan McNabb throw a short pass to L.J. Smith and allow time to expire in the first half, he said: “The play call was a good play call. And that's an excellent play for that situation. It wasn't a good play for Donovan, so we'll do a couple other things.”

I don’t give a damn what’s said after that, it’s an absolute indictment on McNabb’s decision-making skills. No one wants to touch it because of the racial stereotype of a “black quarterback,” but when a coach in the most tight-lipped coaching staff in the NFL let’s that come out, it’s clearly time to question McNabb’s abilities in this area regardless of his color.

McNabb’s dry, monotone non-answers in press conferences also hint at a fragile psyche. Trust me, I don’t care if he gives the press good quotes or not. I do care that the guy in the natural role of leader on a football team doesn’t have the guts to step out of line for a millisecond from the coach’s tight-lipped demeanor and answer a damn question. I care even more if it has nothing to do with the coach and he actually wants to give these type of answers.

Then there is Reid, who got away with his I-know-more-than-you attitude because he won a ton of games. Well, he’s not winning anymore, and it’s time for more than “I’ve got to do a better job.” Again, I don’t care what Reid gives the press. But he is completely incapable of adapting, and apparently too stubborn to change.

Yesterday was a perfect example of why you don’t have a pass-first offense in Philadelphia — it was windy and cold. It’s pretty much the expected weather for the majority of the NFL season. Yet, in eight seasons Reid has not only not developed a running game, he steadfastly does not think he needs to.

The press loves to make a joke out of “Andy just loves to pass” when the team’s winning. But that really does seem to be his attitude — he does what he does, and that’s it. There’s not one example that I can think of where Reid truly adjusted what he was doing in-game to win a game. He simply never changes.

Time of possession isn’t just something the media talks about; it’s a real stat that indicates plenty about a team’s effectiveness, and Reid just ignores it. There’s a total lack of discipline on this team — dumb penalties, dropped passes, etc. For five years Reid tried to get by with sub par receivers in this offense — that’s just stupid — and waited until the last-minute this year to try to avoid it, which hasn’t worked.

Their whole philosophy of allowing veterans to walk away in free agency has simply failed. While they were winning, Joe Banner would crow about not letting emotion get in the way of constantly cutting players loose so the team could avoid the drop-off teams like Dallas and San Francisco experienced. The problem is those teams won Super Bowls, and the Birds are in mid-drop-off anyway.

It’s the time of year that everyone likes a good scare, so I’ll end with the scariest thing for Eagles fans: Reid is reportedly signed through 2011, attached at the hip to McNabb, and works for an owner less likely to change than he is.

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