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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The End of an Era in Philadelphia?

Or, is it?

Is Donovan McNabb through in Philadelphia?

Is the Andy Reid era over?

Don't be so sure.

First, the Eagles' ownership seems to love Reid. Second, the head coach seems to love Donovan McNabb. So, until we hear more, we can't assume that Donovan McNabb is through permanently as the Eagles' quarterback. Yes, he had a bad day today, but so did the Eagles' offensive line (which didn't do a good job protecting him or his back-up, Kevin Kolb, who did nothing to suggest he'll become a household name if and when he succeeds McNabb at quarterback). As for the Eagles' offense, we'll, it hasn't been all that imaginative for years.

Second, the Eagles have a thirty-year waiting list for season tickets, and their fan base would much prefer to have their homes foreclosed upon than give up their precious Eagles' tickets. So, they're not that likely to walk. Perhaps the Eagles would take a hit in merchandise, but my local Dick's cashier told me that they sell many $110 dollar NFL replica jerseys to fans. The bottom line is that the bottom line will remain healthy even if the Eagles keep Reid and McNabb.

Third, Kolb didn't look like the second coming of Roger Staubach, John Elway or Matt Ryan today. Now, putting him into a close game against the agile, hostile defense of the Ravens wasn't totally fair, and the offense line didn't seem to know how to protect him. So, fans have to be careful what they wish for. Yes, McNabb has looked bad in the past three games, can throw off the wrong foot and into the ground, but no fan should be eager to replace him unless we're pretty sure that the replacement will be an improvement. Kolb didn't look to be a step up, at least not today.

Fourth, the same holds true for Reid, but the argument to replace him is easier. He has shown blind spots as a general manager and a coach, each year for the past several years. The team seems to have reached a point where it won't get much better under his stewardship. More frustrating is that a Tom Coughlin-led Giants' team -- which seemed on the verge of imploding only two seasons ago -- is now the franchise to be emulated in the NFL. That's pretty hard for Birds' fans to take. And, of course, the Cowboys are trying to reclaim the mantle of being "America's Team" and the Redskins have finally turned the corner under the tumultuous ownership of Daniel Snyder. I would think it would be easier to replace Reid with a coach that has a chance to succeed than it would be to replace McNabb with a quarterback who can do better, at least next year.

Fifth, ironically, it would seem, the Birds' front office would be more likelly to part with McNabb than Reid. At least, that's the sense I've gotten from reading the local press in Philadelphia and listening to the radio. I still believe that McNabb can win a title with the right team and under the right system -- he needs better receivers than he's enjoyed during his tenure in Philadelphia. And, if the Eagles were to trade him, it's hard to believe they'll get more than a third-round draft pick for him. That trade, for the right franchise, could prove to be a steal.

So what do the Eagles do? They're 5-5-1, and realistically they'll have to win out to get to the playoffs. That would mean beating each of their division rivals, plus Arizona and Cleveland. More likely than not, they'll win only one of those games.

The air waves will be burning tonight and all next week about the Eagles, their coach and their quarterback. Expect the discussion to ensue throughout the remainder of the season.


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