The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN



Well that was fun -- the Donovan McNabb era in Philadelphia.
And with Sunday's benching in Baltimore, the days of division titles and NFC championship runs are over. Replaced with a suddenly flailing franchise unsure about what direction it's heading in.

So is it all McNabb's fault? The answer is no, not completely. The number one culprit is Andy Reid, both for his lopsided play calling and his personnel decision-making. Donovan has clearly struggled mightily over the last four or five games -- with the last two in Cincinnati and Baltimore marking some of his worst career performances. Amazing how things change when Brian Westbrook is injured and ineffective. McNabb has forced the action badly without Westbrook. Sunday, it appeared the Eagles might actually run the ball in the first quarter until Correll Buckhalter went down yet again. Andy, um, you need a running back. But there wasn't anyone available other than a wounded Westbrook -- Lorenzo Booker wasn't even active. Take the absence of Shawn Andrews and a blocking fullback, and you're stuck with an offense, and a franchise, going nowhere.

So that brings us to the benching, which I believe was the wrong call. Yes, they're looking for a "spark" according to Andy Reid. How ironic the only one they got was a special teams TD against the team headed by their former special teams coach.
The Eagles, despite the overtime debacle against the Bengals, were 5-4-1, in the wild card pack and only three points down on the road at halftime. Surely, even an ineffective McNabb coupled with some good defense and decent field position could at least move the Eagles into David Akers' FG range. Apparently not.

So, in came the rookie Kevin Kolb, who while ineffective, was not to blame for this fiasco.
Without a running game, the passing game is doomed. And that brings us to the 1st and goal from the one -- set up by a strong Kolb drive against the Ravens defense. It was a two touchdown game. First down, QB sneak, just short of the goal line.

Let's see Andy, what should we do on second and then third and then fourth down?
How about three more QB sneaks to get a half inch behind six 300-plus grown men.
Nah, play action, make it hard on the kid. And like that, 108 yards later, Reid was caught in perhaps his most embarrassing and insulting play-call ever.

It's sad watching this happen to the coach and QB who teamed-up in 1999 to resurrect a struggling franchise to form the best era ever in Philadelphia Eagles football. But the era, with a tie included, is spiraling towards the 6-9-1 and 3-13 days of Ray Rhodes.

In the end, there's blame to go around, from owner Jeffrey Lurie to Reid and down the line to McNabb and beyond. McNabb's notion last week that he didn't know the overtime rules is absurd. Get your head in the game kid. Except that's part of the problem. McNabb's not a kid anymore. He's an NFL veteran who can't run or elude the run the way he once did. And now he doesn't have to. Not on the sidelines at least.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  November 24, 2008; 9:27 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Hmmm, "best era ever in Philadelphia Eagles football"? I would have thought that was the late 1940's when the team actually won two championships back to back as opposed to losing a Super Bowl and never getting another chance. Guess "best ever" really means "best lately".

Posted by: kguy1 | November 25, 2008 10:14 AM

Right, McNabb's not a kid, which is why in four of their losses, when all they needed is a yard or two, McNabb is either afraid to override the coaches call, ignorant, or just not knowledgable that he "can" audibilize the play calling. Just like not knowing the over time rules. His statement about not knowing the rules was ended with him saying: (paraphrase), that he wondered what would happen in the Playoffs or even the Super Bowl, if it ended in a tie. One other thing to remember. When was the last time, if at all, when McNabb led the team to victory when they got the ball last? I can't remember a single time, (touchdown scored, not field goal, as I think we may have won at least two by way of field goal).

Posted by: jpbreeze | November 25, 2008 10:44 AM

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