With the Washington Redskins back at practice, we can once again all go gaga over Donovan McNabb. Does he have anything left in the tank? Is he a bust? Can he help the team win now and in the future? We turn to our long-time colleague Thomas Jackson of Eagles Eye, for in-depth answers about Donovan the man, the myth, the legend.
Redskins Hog Heaven: Terrell Owens and Freddy Mitchell bashed Donovan McNabb for his Super Bowl performance in Super Bowl 39. Did Donovan McNabb choke in that game?
Eagles Eye: First of all, the Super Bowl XXXIX nonsense regarding McNabb's alleged "choking" (or puking, if you must!) shall be put to rest. Both T.O and Freddie ("FredEx") Mitchell have huge grudges against McNabb and the game plan from that Super Bowl game. Neither thought they were given enough feature plays to earn a fabulous DisneyWorld adventure for themselves and families! That said--- McNabb had (and still has) asthmatic, possibly COPD, symptoms--- which mimic cardiovascular disease onset...it's a genetic thing which was aggravated by several serious rib injuries during his pro career to this point. McNabb was gasping for breath and airway clearance during the final drive of that legendary Super Bowl---he was not vomiting, as so many amateur physicians surmised at the time---including Drs. Owens and Mitchell. Dehydration adversely affects his condition. I assure you, the greatest high school athlete ever to emerge from the Chicago PS system has no problem with big-game pressure... It is a medical thing... Secondly: He threw 3 TD passes in that game, and also 3 TD's in the 2008-09 NFC Championship game...how can anyone realistically say he choked?
RHH: A medical thing? I don't find reference to that anywhere.
EE: I can only confirm McNabb has suffered from "symptoms" that are similar to asthma. This is what Shanahan was hinting at last week when he used the term "cardiovascular issues" at the press conference. I had learned of this about a year ago from some insiders at the Philadelphia Eagles organization who prefer to remain nameless at this time---but insist it will all come out later in McNabb's autobiography. It also explains why McNabb spends winters and springs in Arizona, where the climate is dry and somewhat easier for him to manage his symptoms when training.
RHH: Is Donovan McNabb done as an elite quarterback?
EE: McNabb had a statistically great year for the Eagles in 2009. I saw no decline in his production as a passing QB or winner. Granted, he did not take off and run a lot the way he did at age 23...but he could still escape a pass rush with the best of them. And to those critics who say McNabb was "inaccurate" and threw too many "dirt balls": well, I've had personal conversations with McNabb where he flat out states the "dirt balls" are a safe way to dump the ball if the play isn't there, since the only guy who could catch them would be the intended receiver. And if you look it up, McNabb owns the lowest interception percentage of anyone who has ever thrown for over 30,000 yards in the history of the game.
RHH: How does an Eagles fan assess McNabb's fight for ol' DC?
EE: The problems in Washington this year? Similar to what happened in the playoffs against Dallas last year when McNabb was an Eagle, his offensive line and pass-protection were decimated at that point. McNabb needs time for a deep drop to work his combined expertise and downfield vision...give him that time, and you will see a great passing QB with one of the strongest downfield throwing arms in the league. Deny him that time, and you will reduce him to journeyman status. Trust me, McNabb can still win, and he knows how to win. Given enough time to set up, he can make an ordinary receiver look terrific. You just have to buy him some more time back there...maybe one-half second is the difference it requires.
RHH: What should Mike Shanahan do?
EE: This season is still young. Shanahan still has time to make adjustments to improve pass protection. As underachieving as the Redskins passing game has been to this point, they're still 4-4 and very much in the divisional title race. I've seen McNabb go on five or six game winning streaks where, if he gets the time to set up, he is unstoppable. It's not too late for Shanahan and McNabb to get that cohesion working a whole lot better. If they don't, who knows?...even a healthy McNabb under siege without good pass protection can still gut out 8 or 9 wins for you in ugly winning fashion...and this year, that may be enough for a playoff appearance.
If it doesn't happen, maybe he gets shipped out in 2011 to Minnesota and is reborn a la Kurt Warner behind a great offensive line? Anything can happen with this guy, because...he can still play at a very high level. It's just a little hard to see that positivity right now...Believe me, as a Philly fan, I know what you're going through. But McNabb is not the problem...it's the beating he's taking at the offensive line of scrimmage.
RHH: Then, why do Iggles fans have such heartburn over McNabb?
EE: They were just jealous! They envied him...making impossible scrambles and long TD bombs look easy...his easy way with a media interview...his smiling confidence even in the face of setback or pressure...I honestly think some fans were just jealous! And ignorant...too many people in Philly think they know football...but as former QB and NFL head coach Ted Marchibroda once said, "they don't know what they don't know..." McNabb would be blamed for a call that came in from the sideline. McNabb would be blamed for throwing a ball away as opposed into triple coverage... I also think there was a racially biased component inherent in his criticism by some of the Neanderthals in the audience. "He doesn't always hit his man in stride like Tom Brady does..."... idiots.
Tom Jackson is a long time Eagles fan and colleague from the old MVN. He is the feature writer on Eagles Eye, www.eagleseyeblog.com on the Bloguin sports network. They do great work covering the Philadelphia Eagles. Go take a look. We'll be here when you get back.
Point after: The 14-2 New England Patriots made a lot of teams choke that season. Neither Terrell Owens nor Freddy Mitchell reached another Super Bowl. No references to Albert Haynesworth were harmed in the creation of this post.