10 observations: Eagles-Ravens
As always, here are 10 observations from the Eagles-Ravens game: 1. I remember after last week, Rich Hofmann wrote that the Eagles' tie to the Bengals would forever be remembered for Donovan McNabb saying he didn't know the overtime rules. Well, I think today's game may very well be remembered for Andy Reid pulling Donovan McNabb and not even being the one to tell him. In case you missed it after the game, Reid was asked how McNabb responded when he told him he was being benched. Reid's response: "I haven't talked to him yet. I'll talk to him after this." I was watching on TV, and it seemed like everyone in the room was stunned, and for good reason. Reid said his coaches broke the news to McNabb. The two have had each others' backs since the Birds drafted McNabb with the second overall pick in 1999. They have never blamed each other, and have gone through the ups and downs of the past decade together. Fifty years from now, we will be looking back on this as the "Reid/McNabb" era. So that Reid wasn't the one to tell McNabb that he was done, likely once and for all in Philadelphia, is unbelievable. 2. In our live chat, every week a fan asks me if Kevin Kolb will go into the game. And pretty much every week, I say no, McNabb will be the quarterback. So when someone asked in the first half today, I responded that I would be "stunned" if Kolb saw any time in the second half. And stunned I was when McNabb was pulled in the second half and Kolb very likely took over the reigns of this franchise with 14:56 left in the third quarter. 3. It's pretty difficult to talk about the actual game when so much else is happening, but I was taking notes so we'll try. The Ravens called a running play with fullback Lorenzo Neal with 13:29 left in the second quarter. Why is this significant? Neal was the fourth different player to carry the ball for the Ravens. The Eagles, meanwhile, had a banged-up Brian Westbrook as their only option after Correll Buckhalter went down with an injury. Lorenzo Booker was inactive for the third straight game. Just seemed kind of ironic to me. 4. All week, the national media piled on McNabb for not knowing the overtime rules. That didn't change much today during the pre-game shows. Terry Bradshaw wore a necktie with McNabb's face on it. Seemed pretty lame to me, but to each his own. The ESPN guys, meanwhile, advised Philly fans to be careful what they wished for. "Sometimes I don't even know why he wants to be there," said Tom Jackson about McNabb. "Be careful what you wish for Philadelphia. Don't be stupid," said Chris Berman. 5. The Eagles' offensive line has seen better days. They were manhandled up front by the Ravens. The Eagles' rushing total of 86 yards looks better than it actually was. At one point, Westbrook had carried 10 times for 18 yards. The Ravens had two sacks, and tackle Haloti Ngata was an immovable object for pretty much the whole game. 6. The optimist says... We should all be happy. The Eagles have hit rock-bottom. The Kevin Kolb era can finally begin. He got in a nice rhythm at one point, taking the team down the field before being intercepted by Ed Reed. Those mistakes are going to happen with a quarterback seeing his first significant time. It will be good to get him some action the rest of the season and then he can get the nod as your starter next year. If Reid is back, fine. If there's one thing he's shown, it's that he can develop a young quarterback. And if not, fine. A new philosophy couldn't hurt at this point anyway. By the way, special teams produced a touchdown, and the defense delivered a spirited effort for most of the game. Maybe the future is bright? 7. The pessimist says... Wow, Andy. I thought nothing you did would surprise us at this point. The mindset was to make one final push for the playoffs, right? So could you have picked a worse time to start the Kolb era? Against a punishing defense like the Ravens with a banged-up Westbrook in the backfield? Smart move. And you don't even tell McNabb he's being benched? I'm a pessimist so I've been calling for that move for quite awhile, but even I thought you should have been the one to break the news. This offensive line is in shambles and has no depth. The defense quit in the second half. And even though the special teams scored a touchdown, it also gave up a blocked punt. A complete regime change is the only thing that would satisfy me right now. 8. In our chat, much was made about McNabb clapping after Kolb's interception. If you've followed McNabb's career over the past decade, I think you'd agree with me that it was a "keep your chin up" clap moreso than a "see, you can't succeed in this situation either" clap. In fact, haven't we seen McNabb clap after his own mistakes before? He's had some problems with guys like T.O. and Freddie Mitchell in the past, but overall, McNabb has generally been liked by teammates. Quarterbacks tend to stick together so let's not read more into this than we should. 9. As for Kolb, some are already roasting the guy. In fact, I just heard the Governor question Kolb's ability on TV. Let's be fair here. I have no clue whether Kolb is going to be good or not, but judging him on the second half of this game is ridiculous. The Ravens' defense is one of the better units in the NFL, the offensive line did not play well, and Westbrook was not effective. Let's at least give the guy a chance before we label him a bust. 10. I actually worked in Baltimore for 2.5 years when things turned on Brian Billick. The final straw seemed to be when he lost the locker room. For weeks now, I've said I didn't think that would happen to Reid because he was generally liked, but now I'm not so sure. He benched Omar Gaither and L.J. Smith and pulled McNabb. Is his generally good relationship with players now fractured? How can it not be? Like most other people who have been following this team, I've been saying Reid will be back next year. But I'm certainly less convinced now than I was about nine hours ago.