Reid calls a reverse: McNabb's back in

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

On the day after he shockingly gave Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb the hook after a dreadful first half in Baltimore, coach Andy Reid said McNabb would be the starter against the Cardinals on Thursday night.

Sitting in front of an Eagles press corps ready to pounce, Reid nervously looked down at some prepared notes. Reporters wanted to know why he'd ordered quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur to bench McNabb instead of doing it himself. Reid hid behind protocol, but nothing was normal about his decision Sunday.

"It was the right thing to do," said Reid of McNabb's benching. "I wouldn't change my decision."

He once again rolled out his phrase about needing to "step back an inch" in order to move forward. But at 5-5-1, it seems like the Eagles' retreat should probably be measured in miles.

"Sometimes it's good to step back and look at things from a different angle," Reid said. "I expect [McNabb] to go out and play his heart out."

But how tough is it to play your heart out when you're constantly looking over your shoulder? Whether or not you support McNabb, it's pretty obvious that Reid undermined him Sunday. Yes, he was in the middle of an awful funk, but it's not like the Eagles were out of the game.

The move obviously backfired on Reid, in part, because Kevin Kolb played as poorly if not worse than McNabb. But it's about more than Sunday's final outcome. Reid, who will forever be linked to McNabb because they arrived in Philly at the same time, left his quarterback out to dry.

In another time, maybe Reid's move would be viewed as gutsy. But on Sunday afternoon, it simply came across as desperate. On Monday, Reid sounded defiant when he told reporters that he knew McNabb "better than anyone in this room."

But has McNabb ever struck you as the type of personality who might benefit from a good benching? He's a proud player who has enormous influence in the locker room. On Sunday, Reid basically threw McNabb overboard.

Unfortunately, it's part of this league's ruthless nature. A coach will do anything to save his job. And at halftime Sunday, Reid decided he couldn't stand to watch McNabb turn the ball over anymore.

"I know six turnovers isn't Donovan McNabb," said Reid. "I trust that he'll get his part right and the guys around him will."

If the Eagles lose Thursday, there's no reason in the world why McNabb should remain the starter. The Eagles would be virtually out of the playoff picture, and the final four games would give Reid a chance to see more of Kolb.

After he'd been on the stand for close to 10 minutes Monday, Reid reminded reporters that he wasn't a defense lawyer. Really?

"Donovan's the quarterback for this football team," he said, before abruptly ending the news conference.