Problems go deeper than just McNabb
You open your ears and listen. "It's not all Donovan," coach Andy Reid said at his Monday news conference after the Eagles' 16-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. "Everybody has a little piece of the pie on this thing. I've said that before."
You open your ears and listen.
"It's not all Donovan," coach Andy Reid said at his Monday news conference after the Eagles' 16-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. "Everybody has a little piece of the pie on this thing. I've said that before."
Yes, the coach has said that before, many times before and more than ever this season.
In fact, you can't believe what you're hearing and you wonder why you even bothered opening your ears.
It's not all quarterback Donovan McNabb's fault that the Eagles are 5-8 and have had more problems scoring than a homely mutt at the Westminster Dog Show.
"Starting with me, we can all do a little bit better," Reid said.
This, too, you've heard before.
Please, no more.
So you tune out and you turn on the game tape positive that you'll discover it's mostly McNabb's fault that the Eagles managed only 13 points, marking the seventh time in the 10 games he has started and finished that the offense has scored 17 or fewer points.
You look at the Eagles' 12 offensive series. You look at McNabb's 30 passes, three sacks and two scramble runs. You look for the mistakes that have so many convinced it's time to turn the page and bring in the next quarterback.
What do you discover?
It's not all McNabb's fault.
Not even close.
Sure, it was another disappointing offensive performance, but pinning even the majority of blame on McNabb is wrong.
Let's start by noting that the most critical, momentum-changing play was made by Brian Westbrook, the best player on the field for either team. The running back's third-quarter fumble - which was recovered by the Giants and turned into a touchdown - wasn't McNabb's fault.
You could blame tight end L.J. Smith, who did a poor job of blocking defensive end Justin Tuck. Westbrook blamed himself, and he meant it.
McNabb, who had missed the Patriots and Seahawks games because of a sprained ankle and swollen thumb, got off to a great start with the help of some strong running by Westbrook.
He completed five of his first six passes and led the Eagles to a touchdown on their opening drive. Then he had the chance to lead the Eagles to another score when the offense got the football at the Giants' 47 to start its third series of the game.
It wasn't the quarterback's fault that offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg thought it would be a good time to let wide receiver Greg Lewis throw a pass, setting up a third-and-long situation that McNabb couldn't convert when the Giants immediately pressured him.
One series later, McNabb completed a third-and-2 pass to Jason Avant for a first down, but it was nullified because the wide receiver was flagged for illegal motion.
That's not the quarterback's fault.
McNabb dumped the ball to Westbrook on the next play, and he came up 1 yard short of a first down. It's not a bad decision to let Westbrook go for a first down in open space.
When the Eagles got the ball on the Giants' 8 early in the second half, guard Todd Herremans immediately was flagged for a false start.
Not McNabb's fault.
He did make a bad decision on the next play when he took a sack instead of dumping the ball to Avant for a short gain, but it was obvious McNabb was trying to make something more happen. It was a minor mistake.
The third-and-goal play from the 12 was ill-conceived. McNabb sailed a quick throw over Smith's head in the right flat, but even if the tight end had caught the pass, he wouldn't have gotten into the end zone. Unless McNabb audibled to that play, which did not appear to be the case, it wasn't his fault.
The next series, McNabb found wide receiver Kevin Curtis for a first down on third and 3, but then he followed it with a terrible throw on a rare attempt to go downfield. A bogus false-start call on center Jamaal Jackson put the Eagles at second and 15. On third and 11, McNabb dodged a safety blitz and threw to a tightly covered Reggie Brown, who probably should have made the catch for a first down. It would have been a tough catch, but the Giants' Plaxico Burress, who once was open to playing for the Eagles, made tougher ones.
Westbrook's fumble came on the first play of the next series.
McNabb was sacked for a second time to open the series after that, and his mistake again was that he didn't throw the ball away after getting out of the pocket, creating a second-and-17 situation. The series ended when McNabb escaped a cornerback blitz and scrambled for a 5-yard run that fell short of a first down. If the quarterback had looked to his right, he could have thrown to Avant for a first down. That was his worst series of the game.
After that, it's tough to find anything the quarterback could have done differently to prevent the Eagles from losing for the eighth time in 13 games.
It wasn't his fault that umpire Roy Ellison missed a clear pass-interference call in the fourth quarter. McNabb did a good job of giving David Akers at least a chance to try that 57-yard field goal at the end of the game.
Close your ears and open your eyes, and you'll see that whatever is wrong with the Eagles goes far deeper than the quarterback.
It's all there on the videotape.