Tuesday, April 06, 2010

20 Thoughts on the Departure of #5

So the Iggles have traded Donovan McNabb.  I kept planning to write a post about what I perceived to be the inevitable trade, but the Birds managed to make the trade quite suddenly on Easter Sunday.  20 trade thoughts, in no particular order...

1. From the Skins perspective, I agree with the belief that they overpaid. In fact, based on trade value chart calculations, the second/fourth combo is worth a late first round pick (between 25-30), and that's without consideration for the fact that this draft is considered very deep. Also, rumor has it the second pick could somehow jump to a third based on certain conditions (I have no idea what those might be -- assuming they are about as realistic as Andy Reid dropping 40 pounds, but who knows).

2. Though the Skins overpaid, I don't know that they overpaid as shamelessly as they did in the past. This is not like dumping a third round pick on T.J. Duckett. And I actually think this decision has more to do with Shanahan than Snyder. Shanahan is in win now mode -- I think he's close to 60 and wants this team to go for broke, rather than waste time building; this accounts for the signings of Larry Johnson and Willie Parker to go with Portis. The Skins' current backfield would be the envy of fantasy football owners, circa 2005. I'm not sure it matters if the Skins' offensive line continues to made out of balsa wood, but Shanahan's a good offensive coach, so I think they'll be decent on offense.

3. Where I see the Skins' deficiencies is on defense, where they have been very strong in recent years. I don't know that the defensive line, save for Orakpo, does much for them, and I include Haynesworth, who was apparently made available in the McNabb trade (and after Snyder paid the guy $40 mill last year, that says A LOT). The defensive secondary also scares me if I was a Skins fan (LaRon Landry was rumored to be offered straight-up for McNabb, but the Eagles wisely decided they already have safeties who can't cover or tackle). I'd be worried because Shanahan's approach in Denver to defense was to bring in a few big-ticket acquisitions and have very little depth, which sounds like Dan Snyder's mode of operation anyway.

4. For the Eagles... man, they are arrogant as hell. It would be the good kind of arrogant, if I had any faith that they would now win a title. But trading a revenge-minded McNabb within division is pretty much daring him to prove them wrong. In the short term, I think this hurts them, because they do have to play Donovan twice this year, and probably for the next 3-4 years (because there's no way Snyder doesn't sign him long-term). I'm worried about 2010, although am pretty much certain the Eagles will be in contention again this year, and now every year going forward (as per what I will say below).

5. I don't know if I trust the Eagles' coaches to run a game, but I do trust them on identifying and understanding offensive talent. They don't tend to stick with guys whom they don't believe can play, and they have been pretty good at identifying quarterbacks starting with McNabb (this team also drafted A.J. Feeley in round six and turned him into an very good backup and later got a second-round pick for him). So if they like Kolb, and it's pretty clear they do, I'm good with the deal from that perspective. I wish they had another good QB on the roster, though, because Mike Vick may think he really does deserve a chance to start.

6. My biggest worries about the Eagles are on defense, not offense; the offensive skill positions are loaded (Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Celek, McCoy, and Weaver, with good backups like Bell and Cornelius Ingram). Other than Trent Cole, I'm not sure the team had a playmaker on defense at the end of the season, and that includes Asante Samuel. While the Eagles definitely need to rebuild the right side of the o-line, they at least have some pieces in-house who are viable options. On defense, they really need another d-end, at least one cornerback, a safety (although Macho Harris played better than people think last year), a linebacker, and perhaps a defensive tackle for depth. They're now armed with the picks to fill those needs.

7. I would feel worried about Kolb having to deal with the shadow of McNabb while also playing against him twice a year, but I think if he's that much of a wimp, then you wouldn't make him your quarterback. Which makes me think they're really confident in Kolb.

8. As for McNabb... there are a couple perspectives here. I think if you put Donovan with a decent team with weapons (not the Redskins so far as I can see) and a good offensive line, he will still be a good top-10 QB in this league (though toward the bottom of that top 10). He's an older guy and a little too injury-prone in recent years. The guy misses too many open targets and I question his decision-making at times in the two-minute drill. But he's still a better QB than the Redskins have seen in God knows how long, and the best QB the Eagles have ever had.

And that does mean something. We may have forgotten, but we saw some very dark days of Eagledom from 1991-2000. After Randall Cunningham started getting hurt, we saw QBs like Bubby Brister, Rodney Peete, Ty Detmer, Koy Detmer (it always cracks me up a little that there were TWO Detmers, and BOTH started games for the Eagles), Bobby Hoying, Doug Pederson... put it this way -- none of those guys (with all due respect to the underrated Peete) would make you forget A.J. Feeley. The tough thing about the NFL is that it is exceptionally hard to win year after year without an elite-level QB. The Birds had that for the last decade, and here's hoping they still do, because without such a player (as the Skins know) it's awful hard to win.

9. Andy Reid says the fans in Philly treated Donovan fairly.  On the whole, I think he's right.  There were idiots on the extreme who never gave him the respect he deserved, but that's true of any fanbase  McNabb was a lightning rod in Philly, but every starting quarterback is going to get the lion's share of credit and blame for his team's success/failure.  Yes, Donovan won almost two handfuls of playoff games for the franchise, which pretty much blows away anything any other QB ever did.  Yet he never won the Super Bowl and lost four NFC Title Games.  He handled himself well, but also was the guy heading the team when it lost some very painful games, and bore his share of responsibility for those losses.

10.  McNabb was and is a great guy, a good teammate, and close to Hall-of-Fame caliber QB. He played hard, he gave his all, and he played hurt. The fact that he still wasn't embraced in Philly says as much about Philly as it does about McNabb. The fact that most of us (including me) still profess undying love for the safety who left us last season and aren't in tears this morning also says something about Donovan.

11. Back to the Skins.  Hearing DC sportstalk radio debate the trade is like hearing a rehash of everything I've ever heard about this team for the last decade in this town.  There's a contingent of devoted defenders of the team who think they have it made and/or this is a good move even if the team's not ready to contend (on the idea that they're "changing the culture"), and a contingent of people who are so cynical of Skins management that they could do well in Philly.  My beliefs on the upside of the trade for the Redskins are above, but I'd add this additional thought: part of the reason the Redskins have had depth issues the past several years has been a lack of appreciation for having multiple draft picks.  Donovan won't be able to help if they can't address the team's depth.

12.  Anyone else think the Eagles did this to try and steal some thunder from the Phillies on Opening Day?  As an aside, Roy Halladay kicks butt.

13. I have always been a Rick Reilly fan, but his column on the trade is insanely dumb. Reilly hits the Eagles for trading McNabb within the division and doing what's best for McNabb by saying Belicheck would never do something like trading a Pro Bowl QB with years left on the odometer in-division to an offensive genius like Mike Shanahan. Take out the offensive genius part, and Belicheck did trade a Pro Bowl QB with years left on the odometer in-division. The guy's name was Drew Bledsoe; if you want to fault Reid, perhaps the blame should be that he doesn't have Tom Brady waiting in-house to take the reins.

Reilly then tops one dumb example with anpther dumb example -- he cites the Brooklyn Dodgers trading Jackie Robinson to the Giants, a team he hated, so as to force Jackie's retirement. Maybe Reilly only covers baseball so he can mock steroid users, but he should know that the Dodgers and Giants are division rivals. You know, like the Eagles and Redskins.

14. Back on the conspiracy to upstage the Phillies point -- the trade can't be a bad thing if it annoyed Bud Selig. Hell, I'm now hoping the Eagles announce a trade of Michael Vick on the night of the All-Star Game.

15. I have to agree with Paul Domowitch, who is wondering why everyone believes Andy Reid's clout in the Eagles organization has diminished.  I think Reid's playing master politician here.  If the Birds lose now, it's because Joe Banner and Howie Roseman forced McNabb out of town.  If the Birds win with Kolb, it's because Reid and his staff got the young QB ready.

16.  McNabb is now taking on the number once worn by Heath Schuler in D.C.  As a result, I'm expecting Donovan to run for Congress in 2022.

17.  I'm now really looking forward to the Eagles draft.  Knowing that, they will probably trade out of the first round.

18. Peter King threw out the first "Tim Tebow to the Eagles" rumor.  Thank you for starting that train.

19. Anyone else want to see that first Eagles-Skins game at Fed Ex?  Or the matchup at the Linc?

20.  For the record, I will always like McNabb the QB and McNabb the person.  I hope he has a great year in 2010 while I also hope the Skins go 3-13 (two wins over Dallas and one win over the Giants).  In the meantime, I'm ready for the Kevin Kolb era.

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