April 4, 2010

Rest in peace, Donovan McNabb.


It's just like the Philadelphia Eagles to steal the thunder from the Phillies on Opening Day. Luckily, the baseball season is very, very long, so I'll do a Phillies season preview some other time. For now, it's all McNabb.

I was too young for Randall Cunningham and too smart (even at age 12) for Bobby Hoying. Donovan McNabb is more or less the only Eagles quarterback I've ever known, and now he's gone.

I was for trading McNabb two months ago, and I still am today. I think that they've nurtured Kevin Kolb this long for a reason, and they didn't bother extending McNabb for that same reason. We could argue Donovan's virtues and weaknesses until the cows came home, but for the last few months it seemed like everything would come to a head and the only remaining option would be trading number 5. It became less a question of "Should we move him?" and more "What will we get for him?" In that abstract sense, a second and a third/fourth is about what I expected.

But my roommate noted, and rightly, that the Detroit Lions got a first, third and a sixth from the Dallas Cowboys for Roy Williams (wide receiver edition) a year ago. Granted, the Cowboys had obviously overpaid, even from day one, but it's still disgusting that a division rival paid more for a worse player at a lesser position; kind of taints our move in a very roundabout way.

For the record, let me note that I think McNabb was, and is, a very talented QB. He's brought the city a lot of success, and I think we'll look back fondly on his achievements after the fact.

And he'll make the Redskins better, which is obviously the worst part of the deal. If the Eaglesshipped him off to Oakland, Buffalo or Cleveland, we'd probably never see him again. He'd play out his career in AFC obscurity, and we could evaluate the compensation (as Reid loved to call it in his presser) instead of the move itself.

But nope -- McNabb will be coming back twice a year for as long as he plays in the National Football League, and something tells me he'll have a chip on his shoulder. But how will we, the fans, feel? Will we want the Eagles defense to destroy him, possibly injure him? Not me personally, but I'm sure some assholes will. It'll be very revealing to see the response Donovan gets when returning to the Linc; I know it won't be Dawkins-esque from last year, but I hope there's a standing ovation and an acknowledgment that we did really love him, after all.

But I am a Kevin Kolb fan. I like what I've seen so far, and I also like that he has DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver and Mike Bell to work with. I'm a firm believer that a quarterback (for the most part) is only as good as the players around him, and Kolb will be playing with an extremely talented group of guys. He'll have a bunch of opportunities to put the ball in someone's hands, rack up some yards after the catch and watch his stats soar. That's not a bad thing for a young, inexperienced quarterback, and I think it'll greatly help the kid's growth.

It'll be a learning experience on both ends, actually; we can see how good Kolb looks with essentially the same team Donovan played with in 2009, and we'll see how McNabb performs in a new system with less talent. If this was 2001 McNabb, or even 2004 McNabb, I'd say that he'd dominate no matter who else was on the field. But while he can still bust out a big play or two with the legs, he's more of a true quarterback now than ever.

Will the aged Santana Moss be rejuvenated with a non-shitty QB? Will Chris Cooley have a bounce-back year (we know Donovan loves him a good tight end)? How will the three-headed monster of old running backs (Clinton Portis, Willie Parker and Larry Johnson) handle the running game? I know the Skins have a very solid D, but how their offense shakes out will be something we'll all keep an eye on.

In the end, it'll be very weird seeing someone else other than McNabb behind center. With this and the Sheldon Brown trade, everyone from the 2004 Super Bowl team (sans Akers) has been sent packing. This is truly a new era in Eagles football; let's hope it's as interesting as the last. And let's all get our flat jackets and earmuffs ready for the first Eagles/Redskins game, whenever it may be. If you hated Favre vs. the Packers, for us this will be a thousand times worse.

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