Monday, January 01, 2007

Garcia v. McNabb

WIP is buzzing with talk of a QB controversy in Philly now that Garcia has shown us how this West Coast offense is supposed to be run and has inspired many players to step up and compete. I'm not saying that there is a controversy - I don't know, but it's interesting to think about. So, I want to re-post what I wrote about McNabb's leadership back in October when McNabb was playing like a god...what do you think most people would say now that the Birds are playing so well (and maybe better?) without him?

Careful, one thing may sway your opinion: did anyone see McNabb doing the robot on national TV when the camera panned to him during the Falcons game?

One more thing: Does anyone think that we wouldn't be in the playoffs if McNabb played out the whole season?

Post from October 14:
No doubt that Donovan is having a career season so far; his MVP-like play has been well-covered by the media. His play this season has made me think a lot about him - how he's matured over the years, how he endured the stress of playing in this city, and whether he is our team's leader or just a very good player. Journalists and announcers routinely, especially this season, refer to McNabb as the Birds' "undeniable leader". Is it undeniable that he's our leader?

Before answering that question, I'll put aside his play on the field and the duties that come with the QB position: McNabb is for sure one of the most electric and talented players on the team and in the NFL, and may end up being considered a great QB one day (let's all hope). And QBs are forced to be leaders of the offense because they touch the ball on every offensive play. So, beyond his role on the field and the offensive leadership that has been thrust upon him, does McNabb voluntarily take on the role of team leader?

Well, if he does, he's certainly not vocal about it - like Andy Reid, he's very measured in his interviews and on the sidelines. I like that trait personally because he conducts himself with class and doesn't appear to overeact to any situation. It's easy to have the expectation that your team leader should be boisterous and more showy, which is what you get from players like Ray Lewis. For sure, it's certainly easier for players and fans to be attracted to that type of leadership - there is little doubt as to who is in charge. Trotter and Dawkins seem to share a role like that on defense (and probably for the entire team).

McNabb's more measured approach would seem to translate to poise on the field in high pressure situations - that hasn't necessarily been the case however. His performance in his biggest games has been covered thoroughly so I won't get into that in detail here, but merely reference it as evidence that he may be a reluctant leader. I think the pressure does get to him, but how could it not? For the most part, he has deflected it or bottled it up for the last 7 seasons, but it comes to the surface from time to time. Take the Super Bowl for instance. Let's face it, in the Super Bowl, McNabb looked flat-out scared. It may have been fatigue and the aches from the pounding he took (which is what I like to believe), but his face showed signs of fear...and while his performance was great in some respects (he had 350 yards passing and 3 TDs in that game), it was horrible in other respects (3 INTs and basically a shutdown at the end of the game). He wasn't able to rally the troups when it counted the most - which to me is a key sign of a leader. As an aside, the general failure to show a sense of urgency when the game is on the line exists among both Reid and McNabb and is one of the reasons why our 2-minute drills are horrible.

As everyone knows, McNabb is playing best when he's loose and smiling, joking with his teammates on the sidelines. To me, this indicates he views himself as one of the boys rather than their leader. I think the Birds' leadership resides for the most part in its defensive players, who play like crazed dogs; but to be honest, it's hard to tell sometimes.

Of course, none of this is intended to be criticism of McNabb, but just a thought about what his role is on this team. The city is really fortunate to have a franchise QB of his caliber, especially when you see teams like the Skins, Cowboys and Ravens suffer for years with journeymen signal callers. In any case, I don't know yet whether he'll be the one to lead this team to a Super Bowl trophy, but I really hope so.


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