Donovan McNabb is right. He just said it wrong. This, for him, is nothing new.
McNabb, the greatest quarterback in Eagles history, once again disparaged the essence of Carson Wentz, for whom he has no affection. It’s clear why that is so. If Wentz can stay on the field, he would supplant McNabb as the greatest quarterback in Eagles history.
If that smells like jealousy, well, it is. When given the chance, McNabb simply cannot help himself. He is plagued by foot-in-mouth disease, except when he’s talking about Terrell Owens.
This time, McNabb on Saturday told CBS Radio that the Eagles should give Carson Wentz no longer than two more seasons to drive them deep into the playoffs, and if he doesn’t, then they should abandon him.
“I think in the next two years or so, he needs to find a way to get out of the second round of the playoffs,. What Nick Foles was able to do, take them to a Super Bowl and then possibly take them back to the NFC championship, proves that, hey, some people can get into that offense and be very successful. [Wentz] hasn’t been healthy. He hasn’t really proven to me, besides the year before he got hurt, in his first year, of really the MVP candidate. He needs to get back to that mode.
“I think, personally, if he can’t get out of the second round in the next two, maybe three, years, but really two years, to be honest with you. If he can’t get out of the second round, they should look to possibly draft another quarterback because you just don’t know about his durability. Staying healthy is very key in this league. The team only goes as far as their quarterback takes them. And they put so many eggs in the basket with Carson Wentz and he has to prove that in the next two years.”
Usually, this would result in an eye roll and a shrug and we’d all move on. Then again, if Eagles tackle Lane Johnson hadn’t tweeted that current Eagles don’t respect McNabb, and led that tweet with six snake emojis, we probably wouldn’t care much, either.
Johnson doubled down Sunday night on WIP-FM, when he disparaged any Eagles veteran who visits the team then criticizes it:
“This is what I meant,” Johnson said. "Every training camp, we have all of these ex-players come and shake our hands, wish us good luck. Then, they just go out and just talk hate. I feel there is a lot of envy, jealousy, and I see a lot of fakery.' "
So, in Johnson’s view, no former player should criticize any current player or the team’s efforts. Ever. That’s “hate.” Every former Eagle must forever act as an Eagles cheerleader.
Or, essentially, any Eagle who becomes an analyst.
This, of course, is absurd. This, of course, is what makes Lane Johnson so entertaining.
McNabb’s response, via Twitter: Four laughing-till-they-cry emojis; the phrase “Deal with it”; and a GIF that said, “Winning.”
For the record: McNabb is not winning.
He realized this Monday and made an attempt to clarify his comments wth three semi-apologetic tweets. It was much too little, much too late.
The warring intellects of McNabb and Johnson are, sadly, evenly matched. Both were foolish to degrade themselves to this degree, but then, that’s who they are: elite talents, horrible diplomats.
Regardless, McNabb was right about the quarterback issue.
If you can sift through the passive-aggressive resentment, McNabb’s recommendation was based mainly on Wentz’s injury history. Wentz has suffered a significant injury each of the last four seasons, dating to the broken wrist that cost him half of his senior season at North Dakota State.
Wentz currently is recovering from a fractured back that ended his 2018 season in December, a year after a knee injury ended his second season in December. Wentz has not been a part of the Eagles’ playoff runs the last two years, and he watched Big Game Nick Foles earn himself a four-year, $88 million free-agent deal with Jacksonville last month.
So, to that degree, McNabb is right. Wentz gets hurt. Unless you believe 2016 sixth-round pick Nate Sudfeld can carry a team to a Super Bowl — he has thrown 25 passes in three years — then the Eagles should nurture a long-term solution in Wentz’s shadow.
That’s how Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers got their starts, and that was the plan for Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson, too. Guess who else was drafted as insurance for an injury-prone veteran?
So, at some point, the Eagles should insure themselves, sooner rather than later. They have picks Nos. 25, 53, and 57 in the NFL draft this week. If Duke’s Daniel Jones falls into the second round, nab him, and groom him. And, if Wentz somehow stays healthy, trade Jones, like Favre was traded by the Falcons, and like Jimmy Garoppolo was traded by the Patriots.
Less investment? Fine. Snag 6-foot-7 Central Connecticut giant Jacob Dolegala on Day 3, or maybe Easton Stick, Wentz’s former college backup, who ran a 4.62 40-yard dash and who, like Wentz, ran the Bison’s pro-style offense and will arrive ready to play.
But that’s not the way McNabb cast it. As is so often the case, McNabb said the important part last. Had McNabb begun his comment, “Because of his durability, the Eagles should hedge their bets and have a viable replacement ready if Wentz collapses,” this wouldn’t be such a mess.
Had he simply apologized, he might have cleaned things up. Instead, in his smug and clueless way, he made things worse.
Deal with it. Oh, please.
This is the just the latest in a series of legal and social missteps McNabb has made since his retirement. The growing list only further erodes the level of appreciation Philadelphia has for its greatest quarterback.
No. 5 might always love you, but the feeling is becoming less and less mutual.