McNabb to start at QB

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb stands on the sidelines in the third quarter after being benched Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Although he sat half the game, coach Andy Reid has decided to start McNabb on Thursday against the Cardinals. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

Donovan McNabb will be the starting quarterback on Thursday night against Arizona, coach Andy Reid announced.

“Donovan is the quarterback for this football team,” Reid said toward the end of his Monday news conference. “I don’t want to leave here until you understand that.” 

  Then Reid got up and abruptly left the NovaCare auditorium.

   Earlier when asked whether McNabb would start the final five games, Reid said, “As I sit here right now, he’s my quarterback, my starting quarterback. If I felt differently, I would start the other guy.”

   Presumably, Reid got exasperated as reporters repeatedly tried to pin down the length of McNabb's leash. Reid never said whether it was one play, one series, one quarter, or the rest of the season. But he was given a chance to declare McNabb would start the rest of the way, and he declined.

    McNabb was pulled at halftime of the Eagles' ugly loss to Baltimore on Sunday. McNabb was 8-for-18 for 59 yards, threw two awful interceptions and had a fumble.

McNabb learned that he was being yanked from quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur. Reid met with the quarterback privately after the game for about 10 minutes.

“That’s not what we do," Reid said when questioned about not telling McNabb himself. "That’s how things are. I really don’t care what anyone else thinks about that. That’s how we do it. The coach tells the player and then I address it afterward … It was a tight time window. It’s not a matter of disrespecting Donovan or any other player for that matter. That’s why they have coaches to do those things.”

 McNabb was on the sideline and watched Kevin Kolb struggle in the second half. Kolb was 10-for-23 for 73 yards with two inteceptions, including one returned an NFL-record 108 yards by Ed Reed.

Reid said the decision had nothing to do with the way Kolb played or the way McNabb played. As he did Sunday, he again spoke of  McNabb taking a step back to take a step forward.

“I think it was the right thing to do,” Reid said. “I would not change my decision on what I did yesterday.”

Reid said he had spoken to both quarterbacks this morning, but declined to say what he said.

Asked what he thought benching McNabb accomplished, Reid said: “We’ll see. We’ll see.”

Reid said he had confidence McNabb would be able to turn things around despite his recent struggles. He declared he knew McNabb better than anyone in the auditorium knew him.

“Donovan is going out to play, man,” Reid said. “That is what he’s doing. Sometimes it is good to step back and look at things from a little different angle. I expect him to go out and play his heart out.”

He also said that he was not worried about the reception that McNabb might receive from the crowd at the Linc.

"We can't worry about all that, man," Reid said. "You take care of what you can control."

The Eagles' offense has not scored a touchdown in 99 minutes, 29 seconds of game action since the third quarter against Cincinnati and has only one TD in 140:30.

The Birds will practice today and tomorrow and then have a walkthrough Wednesday in advance of Thursday's game. McNabb is scheduled to meet with the media tomorrow.


And the fallout continues from other precincts as well ...

Here is Cris Collinsworth on NBC's pregame show last night:

"Donovan learned last week the game could end in a tie, this week he learned the game could end at the half. The only thing worse than Donovan McNabb was his replacement and the decision by Andy Reid to replace him. You do not take a kid who has not practiced and put him in at halftime on the road against this Baltimore Ravens killer defense. The season ended today for the Philadelphia Eagles. Donovan McNabb is finished in Philly is what I believe."

And Jimmy Johnson on the Fox pregame show, and that was before McNabb was pulled: “It’s time for a change with McNabb and Reid should be back.”


In injury news, running backs Brian Westbrook (knee, ankle) and Correll Buckhalter (MCL sprain), and cornerback Asante Samuel (stinger) did not practice. Defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley, who injured a knee during the game, did practice.