WHAT DOES Donovan think? It is not the only question that matters, but it is among them. It has to be. Donovan McNabb is your quarterback, and you cannot win a Super Bowl this year without him being good, and if you aren't trying to win a Super Bowl this year, then he shouldn't be your quarterback anymore. So you have to care about his reaction, at least a little.

What does Donovan think? This is different from what he might say in public in the days or weeks following the 2008 NFL draft, when the Eagles again traded out of the first round and used their first pick in the second round on another defensive tackle (Trevor Laws), and then used their next pick on a very fast part-time wide receiver and full-time return specialist who is the size of a 10th-grader (DeSean Jackson), and also traded a fourth-round draft choice for a smallish running back the 1-15 Miami Dolphins didn't want anymore (Lorenzo Booker).

McNabb might say anything when asked his reaction. He might applaud. He might be coy. He might demur. He might do all three in the same paragraph. Who can know anymore?

But what he says and what he thinks, really thinks, are probably different. We will not know the truth until he gets on the field. We will not know until he brings the team into the red zone, and takes the snap from center, and scans the field, and . . . and . . .

His arm will speak. His legs will speak. Only then will we know what Donovan thinks.

In an intellectual sense, in a football sense, the Eagles have done the correct thing here. To repeat a column from 2 months ago: The lesson of the New York Giants' victory in the Super Bowl, watching their superior pass rush, was that the Eagles needed to become really good at something. That is how winning NFL teams are built. That is what the Eagles have lacked the last couple of years. They were pretty good pretty much everywhere but scary nowhere.

It makes sense that the Eagles would try to become really good on defense. It makes sense to load up on that side of the ball, particularly along the line. They need to take the ball away again on defense. They need to improve the offense's field position, both with defense and with the return game. The Eagles have worked to do that through the offseason. It really impresses you as a good, sound plan.

But what does Donovan think? It is the question that nags, never far from the surface.

Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis are good receivers, but McNabb would not/could not throw them the ball in the red zone. Backup Jeff Garcia threw it in 2006 and backup A.J. Feeley threw it in 2007, but McNabb would not/could not bring himself to complete passes down there.

It doesn't matter whose fault it is, but it needs to be fixed. It could be fixed with a big, credible, veteran wideout whom McNabb trusted in that part of the field, where the windows into which a quarterback must throw the ball are both tighter and more fleeting than anywhere else.

But that chance seems gone now - although the Lito card does remain to be played. Maybe that's when we find out, when Lito Sheppard is finally traded somewhere. (He has to be, doesn't he?) Maybe that's going to provide the answer.

It is hard to know anymore. Again, the Eagles have planned this well, it appears, this loading up on defense. And they have at least tweaked their offensive capabilities. The balances are pretty delicate. Maybe this will be enough. Maybe.

Maybe Booker, who can catch out of the backfield, frees up Brian Westbrook a little bit more in the red zone. Maybe Jackson can give them a little something right away (although franchise history suggests it might be a tiny-little something). Maybe a healthy L.J. Smith at tight end will matter. There are a lot of maybes. And in the end, it is McNabb who has to make this thing work.

But will he? After all of Mike Mayock's cogent enthusiasm, after all of the Kiperbole, we are left with this one man, with the quarterback about to enter his 10th season with the Eagles, with all of his successes and all of the complications.

What does Donovan think? The answer only means everything, and it isn't coming until September at the earliest. *

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