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Finishing strong is No. 1 goal for Birds

The Eagles say they are counting on McNabb to lead them for the rest of '07 - and beyond.

It doesn't really matter what Donovan McNabb said to Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver Sunday before the Eagles' victory against the Dallas Cowboys.

Even if the quarterback did tell Oliver that the Eagles are distancing themselves from him and that the organization is overly concerned about the negative fan reaction to him, the statement is wrong.

By playing McNabb instead of rookie Kevin Kolb on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome, the Eagles truly believe they are planning for their future. Barring injury, there is no reason to think that McNabb will not be the quarterback on opening day 2008 - and if you don't like it, too bad.

Team president Joe Banner made that clear when he told WIP-AM (610) earlier this month, "I can't envision any reason why Donovan McNabb would not be the starter in 2008."

That statement left some things open for interpretation, but head coach Andy Reid has made every attempt since then to quash the idea that the Kolb era is on the horizon and McNabb's days in Philadelphia are numbered.

In fact, Reid has done it so many times that he is now officially sick of doing it. When anyone tries to ask about the quarterback situation, the head coach gets testy. When asked yesterday if it was important for McNabb to finish strong in the Eagles' final two games against the Saints and Buffalo Bills, Reid parroted one of McNabb's own quotes before he returned from his ankle injury against the New York Giants.

"I've told you before, Donovan is a confident guy," Reid said. "He doesn't have anything to prove to anybody. He's done all that. He needs to go play, just like the rest of the guys need to go play and do their best."

Reid said Kolb would be the Eagles' third quarterback against the Saints, the same role he has been in all season whenever McNabb and backup A.J. Feeley have both been healthy.

When asked if he was eager to see Kolb play, the irritated coach said, "I'm done. I've already told you. Let's move in a different direction here."

While some Eagles fans may want to see the Eagles move in a different direction at quarterback next season, McNabb said yesterday that if the team could end this season with a three-game winning streak, it would do wonders going into next year.

He also said a few quality additions would be nice, too.

"I think that, for this team, we could use a lot of big-play types of guys on both sides of the ball and special teams as well," McNabb said. "But that's not my decision to make. I'm not in the war room. They'll do whatever's needed for us to take another step further."

If those words sounded familiar, it's because McNabb uttered something similar after the Eagles were defeated in their third straight NFC championship game in 2004.

"I just think we need firepower on both sides of the ball," McNabb said before the Eagles traded for high-profile wide receiver Terrell Owens and signed free-agent defensive end Jevon Kearse.

The difference between then and now is that this Eagles team is 6-8 and has been eliminated from the playoffs. Back then, the Eagles had been one win shy of a Super Bowl for three straight seasons.

If the Eagles still believe they are close to competing for a trip to the Super Bowl and they're convinced that McNabb is still the quarterback who can take them there, then more offensive weapons wouldn't be a bad idea.

The Eagles, of course, already have the most productive running back in the NFL in Brian Westbrook. McNabb noted that Kevin Curtis is just 30 yards shy of joining Owens as the team's only 1,000-yard receiver during the Reid/McNabb era.

Although McNabb's words at one point sounded similar to the ones he spoke after the 2004 NFC championship loss to Carolina, he spent some time on the podium talking about how this season has reminded him of his rookie year, when the Eagles finished strong and carried the momentum into 2000.

"It's disappointing and frustrating," McNabb said of the team's failure to make the playoffs. "We're trying to get two more wins under our belt so we can go into the off-season with confidence. It does carry over."

Westbrook agrees with the idea that it would do wonders for the Eagles' confidence if they could close the season by beating Dallas, New Orleans and Buffalo.

"You see teams like Green Bay who have had a great season after finishing strong last year and adding some pieces," the Pro Bowl running back said. "They finished very strong and carried it on to this year."

Of course, the Eagles would also like to end the Saints' playoff hopes after being knocked out of the playoffs by New Orleans last season. Minnesota's win Monday night over Chicago eliminated the Eagles.

"Since Minnesota did it to us, we're looking forward to doing it to somebody else," McNabb said.

And it's obvious now that the Eagles are moving forward with No. 5 as their quarterback.