It’s all about the power of positive thinking. Call it spin. Call it delusion. There was no blowup. There was no explosion. No threats, no screaming, no war of words in the media. If you close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears screaming “LaLaLa, I can’t hear you,” it makes it far easier to pretend that what happened didn’t actually happen.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan yanked McNabb from the Redskins-Lions game two weeks ago with two minutes left and the Redskins trailing by five in favor of Rex Grossman, who promptly lost the game when his fumble was returned for a Detroit TD. Shanahan said Thursday he expects McNabb to start against the Eagles on Monday night at FedEx Field – if his sore hamstrings allow it. No comments regarding McNabb’s cardiovascular ability, his knowledge of the 2:00 drill or the playbook and nothing specific about whether or not Grossman would make another cameo appearance in the same situation. Call it what it is. Washington Redskins QB Donovan McNabb got benched last week, then stood there with his arms folded watching Grossman. He has barely said anything since. Coach Shanahan, conversely, has said far too much on the subject.
“I like to handle my business behind closed doors,” McNabb told reporters covering the Redskins Thursday at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va. “I don’t like to go through the media and try to vent or react to certain situations. That’s not being a true professional. My professional manner is to talk to you man-to-man and try to find out what the problem is.” McNabb said he spoke with Shanahan and his son – offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan – during the bye week, and he said he’s prepared to put the whole thing behind him.
“You find out the problem, you come up with a solution and you move on,” said McNabb, who spent the 1999 through 2009 seasons with the Eagles. “What do you really get out of the deal before it becomes like an ongoing battle and a he-said, she-said. That’s just not how I go about business. The guys [in the locker room] know I’m just going to be me. I’m hands-on and I believe it’s important for the guys in the locker room and people in this organization understand how I feel. That’s by sitting down talking to them and for them to get to know me.”
Shanahan told Philly writers in a conference call Thursday that he wishes he had handled the whole thing differently. He said he doesn’t regret removing McNabb, but he does regret his feeble explanation. First, he said McNabb didn’t know the offense well enough to run the two-minute drill. Then he said McNabb wasn’t in good enough shape to run the two-minute drill. Then he said McNabb’s sore hamstrings were the reason he wasn’t in the game at the end.
“I think you always probably would clarify things a little bit more,” he said. “But it’s over with and you move on.” Asked how his relationship is with McNabb, he said only, “The relationship’s good.” Asked whether there are hard feelings between McNabb and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan – Mike Shanahan’s son, he said, “No, that’s not the case.” Asked whether McNabb understands the Redskins’ two-minute offense, he didn’t really answer. He sure didn’t say yes.
“I think any time that you don’t practice something for a while it’s always a little tougher,” he said in a conference call with Philly writers. “It’s like learning a new language. If you come in and you learn a new language, and you don’t get a chance to practice it at all, sometimes it’ll be tougher. We hadn’t practiced [the two-minute drill] since he hurt his hamstrings, and anytime you don’t practice anything it’s really hard to get good at it.”
When the Redskins acquired McNabb from the Eagles back in April, it seemed like a lock that they would sign him to a long-term contract. That hasn’t happened. McNabb’s benching combined with a contract due to expire at the end of the season has led to speculation that this year will be McNabb’s only year in Washington. Shanahan said he wants McNabb to stay with the Redskins.
This week, the soap opera Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles @ FedEx Field. McNabb Bowl II. Washington already won the previous tilt @ Lincoln Financial Field. Week 4′s loss to the Redskins featured Washington’s cadre of running backs gaining 169 yards on 35 carries. Something had to give. Something did – Da Iggles.
Once that game ended, Michael Vick was injured, the Eagles defense felt like they gave Washington the game and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott made immediate lineup changes. He inserted Moise Fokou in as the starting SAM linebacker. He bumped veteran Juqua Parker back into the starter’s role at left defensive end over rookie Brandon Graham. In the four games to follow, the Eagles allowed an average of 62 rushing yards per game. The turnaround has been amazing, against quality backs like Frank Gore (San Francisco), Michael Turner (Atlanta) and Chris Johnson (Tennessee). Now, the Eagles prepare again for Washington and a chance to see just how far the run defense has come.
It will be Monday Night Football in the nation’s capitol. NFC East Division rivals. Grudge match. QB controversy. McNabb’s Old team vs. McNabb’s New Team. Hogs vs. Birds. There is no shortage of drama off the field as questions abound. Will McNabb play? Will Michael Vick tear the Skins apart? Will the Skins tear Vick apart again?Will Mike Shanahan or Kyle Shanahan keep playing QB do-si-do? Will Kevin Kolb make an appearance as Michael Vick’s flak jacket-protected ribs crack again after Andy Reid forces 3 QB sneaks on the goal line? Will LeSean McCoy and the Eagles running game provide some ball control on offense as they did against Indianapolis? Yes. Yes. No. No. No.Yes.
If a game plan works, you repeat it. If a team is beating you, then you make adjustments. If your game strategy is flawed, you have to try something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Andy Reid has always been reluctant to change, to rescind control, to adjust within the course of a game – and game management is not his strong suit either. Hmmmm… what do you think it would take? Would a convincing win over a more talented Indianapolis team convince Coach Reid? Would it take a ball control rushing attack that limited the league’s most effective offensive QB? Would it take a breakdown of the Week 4 Redskins game to realize that Donovan McNabb was virtually a non-factor? All of these points are valid. No one knows this better than the Eagles coaching staff. They watch game tape. They study trends. They are paid very large sums of money to be aware of all these factors. Fans have been criticizing Reid’s game management, clock management, timeout management and play calling for 11 years. Brad Childress is long gone. Can’t blame him. Todd Pinkston’s fear of Redskins safeties is a distant memory. Sonny Jurgenson hasn’t played in the NFL for quite a few years. Not his fault. Terrell Owens is playing Batman and Robin in Cincinnati so you can’t use that excuse. Donovan McNabb is on the other sideline. Can’t blame him. So what is the one true constant lo these many years in Philadelphia during the Andy Reid Era? Give up? Well I can see why some of you might guess David Akers, Swoop or the Eagles cheerleaders but the answer is actually Andy Reid.
EAGLES FANS TO ANDY REID, “RUN THE BALL, ATTACK MCNABB, BREAKDOWN THE REDSKINS O-LINE AND PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GANGREEN DON’T WASTE YOUR TIMEOUTS AND YOUR CHALLENGES AT BONEHEAD TIMES!!! “
Looking at the game semi-objectively… the Eagles are playing better football over the past 6 weeks. On paper the Eagles should be the better team. Washington is coming off their bye week but the Eagles carry momentum from their win against Indianapolis. The Eagles seek revenge against a division rival who beat them 6 weeks ago at home. Now the Birds need to even the score and assert themselves as a force to be reckoned with. The NFC is wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide open. Aside from the New York Football Giants, New Orelans and Atlanta, very few teams have true bragging rights. Tampa, Minnesota, Green Bay and Philadelphia all have just about an equal shot at the playoffs. NY Giants are favored to win the NFC East while New Orleans, Tampa and Atlanta will grapple for the NFC South. This means that only the NFC East champion is likely to make the playoffs. Will Green Bay or Minnesota win the NFC North? Will any team with a winning record win the NFC West? Four division winners, two wildcards… Well we know Dallas will not be a factor and we hope that Washington will be more focused on the 2011 Draft after this week.
Replace those remote control batteries, fluff up those couch cushions and make sure you have beverages and snacks ready to go. Eagles vs. Redskins on Monday Night!!!!
Fun Eagles promo http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/index.html
NFC Power Rankings based on schedule, head-to-head
1. NYG 6-2
2. GBP 6-3
3. PHI 5-3
4. NOS 6-3
5. ATL 7-2
6. TBB 5-3
7. MIN 3-5
8. STL 4-4
9. WAS 4-4
10. CHI 5-3
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org