Let's start for a minute with McNabb. This move wasn't done to get rid of a guy who couldn't play anymore. The Eagles made this move because they felt the time was right to play Kevin Kolb. Donovan put up solid numbers in 2009. He had some terrific moments. He's still a good starting QB. All the man does is win games. His only losing season as a full-time starter is 2005, the year TO went TO on us. Every other year he was .500 or better. Yes, he had good players to work with. Yes, he had a good OL. Yes, he had a good defense. You don't win like he did without being a big part of that. Donovan didn't make big mistakes and he made enough plays to move the chains and score points. When he was on, the team looked invincible. We never saw that in the postseason, but few QBs are able to pull that off.
I would love to get to talk to McNabb for 20 or 30 minutes. I hope he understands what he meant to the city of Philadelphia. Some younger fans don't realize this, but we were St. Louis, Buffalo, or Oakland following the 1998 season. We had some talent on hand, but were considered a highly dysfunctional organization that needed lots of help. Ray Rhodes won 10, 10, 6, and 3 games in his tenure. Even when we won in 1995 and '96 things felt shaky. Do you realize that Ray signed Daniel Stubbs off the street? He was out of the league in 1994. Ronnie Dixon was driving a concrete truck when we called him. Kevin Johnson was unpacking boxes at his parents liquor store when we called him.
Ray led us to a pair of good years, but the duct tape roster finally caught up to us. You can only go with Barry Wilburn, Harry Boatswain, and Nate Singleton so long. We tried to sign big time free agents in 1997 and '98. Guys were using us. We got Steve Everitt in '97. In '98 both John Randle and Dana Stubblefield talked about visiting here, only to sign deals elsewhere before ever coming to Philly. Our impact DT that year was Bill Johnson. He was a nice player, but we needed a heck of a lot more than him. You don't bring a knife to a gun fight, as the old joke goes.
All of this changed in 1999. We hired Andy Reid and he drafted McNabb. We became a respectable franchise again. We suddenly were able to win games and actually get the free agents we wanted. As Donovan won games and became a star the Eagles actually became media darlings. Imagine that. Donovan gave us a certain kind of credibility. Think about all the success that Tampa had. There was no face for the organization. How many guys ever said "I can't wait to go to Tampa so I can play with John Lynch"? McNabb would go to the Pro Bowl and other stars would gravitate to him. That's how the whole TO relationship started, if you remember.
Donovan helped lead us out of the depths of despair and into the world of Chunky Soup ads and NFC title game losses. All joking aside, he was a great player for us. We've been spoiled with winning and good QB play during his 11 years here. I hope he wins 4 games a year in DC (Dallas and the Giants). I hope he does well personally, but of course I don't want him to ever get back to the playoffs. That has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with his new uniform. Thanks for the memories, #5. Good luck.
Now to Kolb. I like where his head is at. You can read some of the quotes from his press conference here.
Kevin understands this is his team and his time. He also understands that he's not Donovan McNabb. He has no track record to lean on. Donovan could train in Arizona if he wanted. He could do things his own way to a certain extent. Kevin will be in Philly, at the NovaCare complex. He is focused on being the leader of the team and winning games. He has a tremendous desire to prove himself, both to his teammates and to the outside world. Kevin knows that 2 starts last year don't mean squat. He'll be judged on 2010.
I think he has the right mentality. I think he has enough talent around him to win. Donovan was asked to put the franchise on his shoulders in 2000 and carry the team. He did. Donnie was throwing to Charles Johnson, Torrance Small, and Na Brown. He was handing the ball to Darnell Autry. McNabb finished 2nd in the MVP balloting that year because he played so well and we won games. Kevin steps into a whole different situation. He simply has to run the offense and be the leader. Kevin won't try to be Superman. He will just play QB and do his job. That's fine for us.
I don't have the time right now to talk at length about how the offense might change. I'll mention the two areas that stand out. First, RAC yards. We've always done well in this category, but most of that was due to screen passes. Kevin will be an upgrade at hitting receivers on the move so that our guys can use their speed and elusiveness to make plays. Slant passes could be more common now. Second, Red Zone offense should be improved. One of Donovan's main weaknesses is that he didn't anticipate plays. He waited for a player to come open and then threw him the ball. That wasn't effective in the Red Zone. And it really showed the last few years. Kolb should be better in this regard. People love to point out his 2 Red Zone picks, but think about those for a moment. Kevin was picked off by Ed Reed and Darren Sharper, a couple of the best ball hawks in the history of the NFL. The Reed pick was a dumb pass by a QB in his first extended game action. The Sharper pick came late in a game when we trailed 41-22 and Kevin was trying to make something happen. That was also Kevin's first NFL start. I think he'll do a good job in the Red Zone due to his accuracy and ability to anticipate routes. He learned the hard way that DBs can also anticipate. That's a lesson you can only really learn on the field. Thankfully, neither mistake cost us a game.
My expectations for 2010 are to have a winning season and challenge for a playoff spot. I don't see us winning 12 or 13 games and being great. Kevin will have some hiccups. No one expects him to be perfect or a major star right away. At the same time, this notion that he's a scrub or some idiot rookie and we'll only win a couple of games seems ludicrous to me. Big Red hand-picked Kevin to be McNabb's successor. This isn't an accident.
Again, and I can't stress this enough, the organization is behind Kevin. I'm not talking about Joe Banner and some PR interns. Most of the Personnel Dept, coaching staff, and team is for the move. Donovan only had a year left on his deal. People knew he was gone this year or the next. Kevin has won a ton of people over with how he's quietly prepared for this time. He never went to the media and griped. He never tried to cause a rift in the locker room. He just sat and waited, focusing on being ready when his name finally did get called.
I understand that not every fan, analyst, and media member will embrace Kevin. That's okay. There is nothing wrong with being a Doubting Thomas. I think you should at least keep an open mind. I think Kevin will surprise some people with how well he plays and how well he handles being the Eagles starting QB. Give the man a chance.
We now have an opening for a QB. I think we'll probably add a QB in the draft and stick with Mike Vick as the primary backup. We could call Jeff Garcia or someone like that, but I doubt it. I don't see us going for Marc Bulger or any recently released players.
SO MUCH FOR SIMS
OG Rob Sims finally was dealt. He is now a Lion. There were multiple rumors linking him to us and none of them made sense to me. I'm glad he's gone. We've got Todd Herremans at LG and Stacy Andrews at RG. I think the team is fine with both.