Saturday, April 25, 2015

McNabb: Foles not a franchise quarterback, runs like a 'turtle'

Donovan McNabb has stirred up some fuss and furor by declaring Nick Foles is not a franchise quarterback.

McNabb also said during a local radio interview that Foles runs like a "turtle."

"When he’s running the read-option, I’ve never seen a quarterback move so slow," McNabb said, though he did praise Foles as a pocket passer.

On the other hand, McNabb defended the Eagles’ decision to part ways with speedster receiver DeSean Jackson.

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After the "franchise" remarks on 97.5 The Fanatic, sharp disagreement was voiced by Sal Paolantonio, who covers the NFL for ESPN, with more praise for Foles added this morning by ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.

Does Foles "give you the impression he’s a franchise quarterback?" Harry Mayes, cohosting with Brian Baldinger, asked McNabb, now a Fox Sports 1 analyst, on Tuesday.

"I really can’t answer that at this particular point," McNabb said. "But if I had to, give or take, I would say no. He won’t do what he did last year. That just won’t happen, 27 touchdowns, two interceptions. I see him being more of a 25 touchdown, maybe eight, maybe 10 interception guy."

That answer makes no sense, Paolantonio said on Mike Missanelli’s afternoon show.

"I’ll take 25 and eight every year, Mike!" Paolantonio said. "... If he gives me 25 and eight, on average, for the next five years, that’s the dictionary definition of a franchise quarterback, and he’s going to get paid."

Worth noting is that Foles compiled those 25 touchdowns in 12 games, which translates into 33 touchdowns over a full season.

Paolantonio also disputed how McNabb suggested Foles needed to learn that "you don’t have to take chances all the time. There’s nothing wrong with checking down to the back, utilizing your tight ends. You don’t have to take the shots all the times."

The Eagles offense under head coach Chip Kelly is "predicated ... on repetitive accuracy," SalPal said. "We’re going to take what the defense gives us. ... The big plays that they had downfield were the result of the defense being out of position."

McNabb spoke further on the subject on Fox Sports 1, saying, "Too many times as fans, as media members, we get excited when we see a player put up great numbers one year, but the next year doesn't follow."

Colleague Peter Schrager took issue, saying that if Foles "comes close" to the great year he had last year, "he's a franchise quarterback."

While Gruden didn’t debate the semantics of the term franchise quarterback, he downplayed the notion teams have probably figured out Foles by now.

"I think they’ve all figured out that he’s a heck of a quarterback if you ask me," he said this morning to Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg on The Mike & Mike Show. "He’s a young kid, he’s got tremendous size, he’s got functional mobility, he’s disciplined with the football."

Don’t forget how innovative Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is, said Gruden, a former Eagles offensive coordinator who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"If you think you’ve seen all of Chip Kelly’s playbook, you’re kidding yourself," Gruden said. "They just added Darren Sproles. You’re going to see a two halfback offense with he and LeSean McCoy you haven’t seen before, I promise you that."

Ultimately, he added, you judge a quarterback not by statistics but by victories. "For Nick Foles to turn the corner and become great, he’s got to get to the playoffs again and advance when he gets there," Gruden said.

McNabb also clearly suggested Kelly has played a huge role in Foles’ success.

McNabb praised Foles by saying, "With his size he does a great job of delivering the ball out of the pocket and giving his guys great opportunities," but pointed out that Foles isn’t asked, like Green Bay’s Aaron Rogers, to fit passes "into a tight window."

"I’ve asked Chip Kelly, ‘Why is it that somebody is always wide open?’ " McNabb said.

Eagles backup quarterback Mark Sanchez looks new and much improved under Kelly.

"Who is this guy?" McNabb quipped. "... He looked better than Nick Foles, but I’m not saying Nick Foles shouldn’t be your starter. Nick Foles is your starter."

As for DeSean Jackson, who was cut by the Eagles before signing with the Redskins, McNabb said:

"You have to set the tempo early. You got to be a disciplinarian. You got to lead the way for these guys, and if they kind of falter or don’t want to obey the rules or follow along with what you’re trying to express, then you’re going to have to cut ties with them. That’s exactly what you’ve seen happen with DeSean Jackson."

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com. Follow @petemucha on Twitter.

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