Monday, April 05, 2010

So Long Donovan. I Feel Sad.

The departure of long time friends continues as Donovan McNabb- the greatest Eagles’ quarterback of all time- leaves after a decade of service to those of us in Section 204.

I took pains to put in “greatest” to drive home the magnitude of his departure. McNabb started 142 regular season games for the Eagles. In almost all of them, the Eagles had the better quarterback. Only the goalie in the NHL has a bigger impact in American team sports, and the Eagles just traded away this decade long resource. The next ten years of Eagles’ football will not feature such a sustained advantage.

Plus, he was a good guy in a world where a lot of lousy athletes get a lot of ink. It was fun in the national media to characterize Philadelphia fans as louts who did not appreciate #5. No doubt there is a vocal group of dopes on 610 WIP. But in my experience in Section 204, family and friends, anyone that I knew who was a knowledgeable Eagles’ fans, thought the guy was a good player. Anyway, the Redskins will never have to worry if he is prepared, in shape or committed.

Nevertheless, it had to happen. I cannot complain for two years about the overpaid, underachieving McNabb-Westbrook axis- then complain when the Eagles break it up. The high second round pick with the three in 2011- is equivalent (according to the chart) to a low first round selection. Seems fair. You can quibble with the tactical nature of an inter-divisional trade, but frankly Washington is going to have to prove to me first that they are are worthy measuring stick. Sort of feels like the same Redskin shortcuts: take a clearly declining veteran player for two first day draft picks. I mean, isn’t this a team screaming for a pair of quality o-line prospects?

In a strategic sense, yes, I’d have traded McNabb. For the first time since 2007, the Eagles are a clear step behind the conference powers and a divisional rival. They aren’t going to win a Super Bowl next year with Unitas at quarterback. The Eagles are taking advantage of the uncapped year to purge roster mistakes right and left. They are cleaning house of underachievers and thirty-somethings. So might as well do it now. It is never going to be easy.

Plus, Kevin Kolb is the prototype of doing things the right way- drafting and developing your core players rather than exchanging a pair of first day picks to solve endless holes caused by trading your said draft selections. But part of that is allowing your groomed players to actually, you know, play- particularly when they have a single year left on their deal. Kolb has shown enough to deserve a year long audition. He was frankly pretty darn good in his pair of starts this year (700 plus yards passing, 4TDs, 3 INTs). Frankly, I want to see him- get Kolb a year of seeing the elephant in a year with zero big expectations.

Plus, it is the Eagles. Even a rebuilding year will probably have them at ten-ish wins, in the divisional mix until December. This is a team that was missing seven offensive starters last year for significant time (Curtis, both Andrews brothers, Peters, Westbrook, etc.) still won eleven. They will keep moving forward.

Still, it is not about tomorrow today. McNabb was a lot of fun here- and I was a big fan. But this change was never going to be a good day- so best be done soon and quick.