Some final thoughts from the week the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb:
*I expect Donovan to start out gangbusters with the Redskins. He doesn’t want to admit it, but the fans’ frustrations and his own frustrations were an anvil around his neck these past several seasons, really ever since the Jeff Garcia year, an unsettled situation that morphed into the drafting of Kevin Kolb. Don needed this change as much as the Eagles did.
You might have noticed the way he threw himself into the ‘Skins offseason conditioning program. He only participated in that here if he was rehabbing a serious injury from the season before. His batteries are recharged; Donovan’s first month of the season is going to be lights out. After that, the reality of the Redskins’ wifty o-line and the fact that he really isn’t quite what he was five years ago – especially in sensing and sidestepping pass rush pressure -- will have a leveling effect. But brace yourself for a slew of premature boy-the-Eagles-sure-screwed-up stories from the national media.
*If the Eagles do end up trading or releasing Michael Vick in the coming weeks, I would not be at all surprised to see Jeff Garcia return for a third stint in midnight green. I know he's tossed his helmet into the ring. Ideal guy to mentor Kolb.
*I don’t put much credence into that “blocking Sam Bradford going to Washington” business, as a reason why the Birds traded with the Redskins. It comes from other GMs theorizing what the Eagles might have been thinking. Big leap from there to “this must have been what happened.” In this internet age, lots of media folks are eager to be Bob Beamon, if it helps their “brand.”
What I think happened: There weren’t that many really good offers, as April rolled around. The Redskins’ bid was pretty good, and Donovan liked the idea of going there. Other considerations might have dovetailed, but those were the two elements driving the deal, along with the fact that the Birds had decided they absolutely, positively needed to move on. I’m not sure they were quite at that point earlier in the offseason.
Speaking of which, very interesting and potentially damning to see an Andy Reid ally like Mike Holmgren imply the Eagles could have gotten more earlier in the process, before some of the suitors made other QB arrangements, based on indications the Birds initially wanted more than a second-rounder this year and something for later. But again: If Kolb leads the Eagles to a Super Bowl title, nobody will care what they got for McNabb.
*Got a long, thoughtful email from a fan, contrasting Roy Kolb’s statements in my Thursday story with Sam McNabb’s talk this week of Donovan being resurrected on Easter, etc. The letter-writer felt Roy was a breath of fresh air.
I think Roy and Sam are good people. Both fathers did an excellent job raising their sons to be decent, responsible human beings. They are in different situations right now. If a time comes when the Eagles trade away Kevin Kolb, I doubt Roy will be any happier than Sam was.
In the toxic atmosphere that developed around Donovan here, Sam and Wilma took a fair amount of heat. I never thought they really deserved it. There is nothing obnoxious about appearing in a soup commerical, campaigning to raise funds to fight diabetes, or wanting to help young African-American quarterbacks; they are still a tiny minority in an NFL otherwise dominated by African-Americans. I think the McNabbs have always seen themselves as cultural warriors, and I think they mostly have fought the good fight.
That doesn’t mean they couldn’t be hard to take at times, such as with the Easter analogy. Sam delivered it to a national reporter Tuesday, after stiff-arming the Philadelphia media at the Redskins’ press conference introducing Donovan.
Covering the team, I didn’t find the McNabbs so overbearing – remember, I covered Eric Lindros’ entire career in Philadelphia, I know from overbearing. But I wish they could have been a little less tightly focused on fighting that cultural war, could have loosened up a little. (The same wish goes for their younger son.) It was frustrating that they weren't a little more discerning about who in the local media tried to be fair, and who just rode the tide of popular opinion. In their eyes, I think we were all the same malevolent, middle-aged white guy, intent on tearing down Donovan. They were not much for nuance. If somebody somewhere at your media outlet wrote or said or drew something they felt was a cheap shot, that was it for you. (In that sense, come to think of it, they WERE like the Lindros family.)
*Rich Hofmann already wrote this, but I really don’t see why the Eagles are going to be terrible this year, as some folks seem to assume. I don’t think the 2010 Kolb is going to be a huge step down from the 2009 McNabb. If the o-line and defensive secondary come together, I would expect a winning season. Not the Super Bowl, but a winning season. In the NFL, youthful talent might make you erratic, but it shouldn’t make you incompetent.
That same sense of relief I expect to buoy McNabb in Washington will echo here; I think that was really what DeSean Jackson was trying to say the other day. I don’t believe he necessarily wanted Donovan gone, but I know he wanted this uncertain mess to be settled, once and for all. Lots of people did, yours truly included.
*Maybe next week I can start thinking about the draft again?