NFC East: McNabb benched
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The complete transcript from Eagles coach Andy Reid's Monday news conference:
Tough loss yesterday. I would like to address the quarterback situation right off. [QB] Donovan McNabb will be our starting quarterback for the Arizona game on Thursday.
I mentioned this yesterday, that sometimes you have to take a step back to step forward in a positive way, and Donovan will do that. This has nothing to do with [QB Kevin] Kolb's performance or Donovan's performance. I think it was the right thing to do. I would not change my decision on that, on what I did yesterday.
Obviously, we have to do a better job with turnovers. Nine turnovers in two games is absolutely ridiculous. That's my responsibility to get that right and to get, really, the rest of the football team right, and I will do whatever it takes to do that. And beyond that, I think it's important that the players understand that, the coaches understand that, and the people that are around me in this building understand that.
Other than that, it really doesn't matter to me. We have a short turnaround. We have a Thanksgiving Day game. We are practicing today and tomorrow. It's important that, after I have an opportunity to address the team this afternoon, that we move on from yesterday's game and we get on with Arizona and we get on quickly with Arizona.
They present a very explosive football team. Offensively, you won't find two better receivers in the National Football League than what they have. They have a quarterback that is a future Hall of Fame player and a couple of running backs that are very good players. Defensively, they fly around and they make plays. They have a safety that is second-to-none, [SS Adrian] Wilson. Karlos Dansby, their linebacker, is a tremendous player. I could keep going on.
They have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the football. Special teams, they do a great job on special teams. So, it's important that, as much as we all want to dwell on this game, that it's not going to happen. We are going to move on. Learn from it and move on."
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
It's hard to imagine what it's like on talk radio in Philly this morning. People have talked about the end of the Donovan McNabb era ever since the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb in the second round, but still, Andy Reid's decision to bench McNabb at halftime of a close game in Baltimore came as a shock.
Let's take a look a look at what folks around the country are saying about McNabb:
- Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports! says the end is near for McNabb.
- Don Banks of SI.com talks about the 10-year itch that Eagles fans seem to be feeling with Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.
- Here's what Les Bowen of the Eagletarian had to say Sunday evening.
- Here's how McNabb found out he was getting the hook.
- Rich Hofmann has an excellent column on how Andy Reid is playing against type with this decision. In fact, he's coming across as desperate.
- Bob Ford of the Inquirer says the 10-year party's over in Philly.
- Ashley Fox of the Inquirer is the first to come out and definitively say "stick with Kolb."
- Phil Sheridan says there's no turning back for Andy Reid.
|Doug Benc/Getty Images|
|Things didn't get any better for the Eagles after quarterback Donovan McNabb was benched.|
Even with an incredibly ineffective Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles played a tough Baltimore Ravens team very tight in the first half, trailing 10-7. But after Eagles coach Andy Reid surprisingly pulled his franchise signal-caller at halftime in favor of Kevin Kolb, the wheels quickly fell off in this game -- and maybe for the Eagles' season, as the Ravens scored 26 straight points in embarrassing fashion. After the game, Reid would not say with any certainty whom his quarterback would be Thursday night when the Eagles play host to Arizona.
McNabb was not playing well leading up to his benching. Lately, his passes have been sailing, his mechanics and footwork have faltered and overall, his accuracy has been flat out poor. He has been missing open receivers and leaving plays on the field that simply needed to be made. The same was true Sunday, but probably worse than ever. The Eagles' record since McNabb's return from a knee injury at the start of last season has been below their norm and Philadelphia has been atrocious in very close games. However, Reid's pass-heavy play-calling and the lack of a consistent running game -- particularly in short-yardage and goal-line situations -- heaped an awful lot of responsibility on the shoulders of McNabb.
So, what to do now? If Reid feels as if his team has any possible chance at the postseason, it has to be with McNabb behind center. Being thrust into a game against the Ravens' defense is not the best way for a young quarterback to get his feet wet, but Kolb showed no signs of being ready to lead this team and save Philadelphia's season. Kolb also would get precious little practice time this week before the Thursday night game. So Kolb would have to prepare mostly in the film room for an attacking Cardinals defense that can confound even the most experienced quarterbacks. Not to mention, the Eagles will need all the points they can get to compete with the high-scoring Cardinals.
McNabb is the best quarterback that Reid has and the season isn't lost, at least not quite yet. That isn't to say that Kolb shouldn't take over at some point in this fading season, but now is not the right time.
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