It is a dynamic as old as sports, the circling of the wagons (or, in the modern day, the circling of the Escalades). A pro team comes back from a rough patch and declares that everybody was against them all along, that nobody believed but the people in the dressing room. You have heard it a million times.
You aren't really hearing it from this Eagles team, though -- except for quarterback Donovan McNabb. He is into a complete victimization-as-motivation mode. As he said after Sunday's beatdown of the Cowboys, "They've thrown me out, ran over me, spit on me, but you know what, I continue to prevail. I kept my chin high, staying positive and making sure that the guys in this locker room understand that if given the opportunity we would take full advantage of it; that last week just wasn't us, and if anything worked in our favor with all these scenarios, I would not let them down."
Spit? Well, OK.
Whatever it takes.
Some people are insulted by all of this. That's a little short-sighted. Because McNabb has been criticized through the years -- never more so, at least implicitly, as when Eagles coach Andy Reid benched him at halftime against Baltimore last month.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: this man has always used criticism as fuel. Even if he is embellishing or inventing a little here, well, so what? He has been inconsistent this season. The benching was entirely deserved even if the timing was lousy -- I mean, what chance did Kevin Kolb have against that Ravens defense without any pre-game preparation?
Three things happened after that day: Brian Westbrook got healthier, the play-calling got adjusted, and McNabb settled down. And if McNabb is fueled now, increasingly, energizingly, by whatever criticism has come his way, that's all good. If he wants to point at the name on his jersey after a big play, that's all good, too.