Donovan McNabb must wake up every morning and ask himself, "How did I get here"
The Eagles franchise quarterback has been treated like a washed-up retread of late, and it's hard to find a reason for his fall from grace.
After a knee injury ended McNabb's 2006 season, Jeff Garcia quarterbacked the Eagles to a division title and a playoff victory. In the offseason, with Garcia gone to Tampa Bay, the Eagles drafted Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb—which had the national media all but ready to run McNabb out of Philadelphia with pitchforks and lanterns.
Somewhere, Rush Limbaugh is smiling.
Donovan McNabb is the Philadelphia Eagles, whether the team likes it or not...and apparently they don't. Regardless, the Eagles' hopes in the upcoming season rest squarely on the quarterback's ability to show that he isn't finished in Philly.
And rest assured—he's not.
Expect 2007 to serve as Exhibit A that McNabb has more than a little left in the tank. He understands the Andy Reid offense better than anyone, and he knows how to effectively captain the team. He's a leader on the field and in the locker room. He makes his teammates better.
There is, in the end, nothing more beautiful than a McNabb touchdown bomb—and nothing more awkward than his Michael Jackson touchdown dance.
A return to form after a season-ending injury shouldn't be too tall an order for McNabb, especially given his successful recoveries in years past. More importantly, he's taking over an offense that's firing on more cylinders than at any point since Terrell Owens' departure.
If anything, their late-season success under Garcia gave the Eagles O a badly-needed shot of confidence.
Brian Westbrook enjoyed one of his finest seasons, showing up in big moments with timely touchdown runs and proving his versatility as a receiver out of the backfield. As always, the biggest concern about Westbrook is durability—but he's coming off a full year of health, and rookie Tony Hunt out of Penn State should provide some bruising relief when Westbrook needs it.
Wide receiver Reggie Brown also blossomed last year and should continue to flourish with McNabb at quarterback. Kevin Curtis is too white to replace Dont' Stallworth—but he'll at least stay on the field more than his predecessor, and could conjure images of James Thrash.
Though the Eagles' receiving corps may never be spectacular, it's more than enough for McNabb to work with.
The offensive line, meanwhile, has jelled into one of the finest units in the game. The big guys up front range from downright scary (Shawn Andrews and Jamaal Jackson) to downright hairy (Jon Runyan). No team in the NFC East can match their size, strength, and power, and when this group gets going, Eagles running backs are nearly impossible to stop.
Speaking of not stopping the run, the Philly defense will continue to struggle up front. The unit that played like a turnstile last year has been further weakened with the loss of Darwin Walker. On a team built for postseason success, this glaring weakness is troubling.
Fortunately, the team's linebacking corps got a boost from the addition of Takeo Spikes, and the secondary should remain dominant so long as Brian Dawkins is flexing his muscles (literally) at safety.
The bottom line: The Philadelphia Eagles have a chance to be very good in 2007. The offense will be as strong as ever, and if defensive coordinator Jim Johnson can find a way to patch the holes in the run defense, Philly will be the team to beat in the NFC East..if not all of the NFC.
Donovan McNabb might still be asking himself, "How did I get here" ...but if things go right, he may just be referring to the Super Bowl.
Projected finish: 10-6, 1st in NFC East
Keep your eyes on: OG Shawn Andrews—quickly becoming one of the NFL's best guards.
Take your eyes off: DT Brodrick Bunkley—quickly becoming a regular at Carl's Jr.