Genius or Idiot: How Will Trading Donovan McNabb Define Andy Reid?

Lou DiPietroAnalyst IApril 5, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 2:  Head coach Andy Reid of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 during the second half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 2, 2005 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After weeks of speculation, it finally happened: Donovan McNabb was traded.

To the Washington Redskins. A division rival, and a bad one at that.

As that crawl came across the bottom of my TV screen while watching the Yankees-Red Sox game last night, my initial reaction was one of incredulity. What just happened? Did I really see that?

After thinking about it and seeing that the Eagles ostensibly got what they wanted (a top-40 pick and then some), I came to one conclusion.

Andy Reid is either a genius or an idiot.

There will be no middle ground with this trade; either Reid will look like a shrewd VP who knew that McNabb, like many other veterans he’s cut over the years, was ready to be gone...or he’ll look like Mike Ditka trading the Saints’ entire draft to get Ricky Williams.

There are a couple factors that prevent me from making that determination now, though.

On the genius side, we have...


Insider Knowledge

While neither McNabb nor Reid would ever say so, perhaps Andy saw something in Donovan—physically or mentally—that suggested he would have an inability to be effective in 2010. He certainly looked terrible in the final two games of 2009 (against Dallas, no less) and has made the ground one of his favorite targets over the last couple seasons.


Soldier of Fortune

Let’s be honest, the Redskins stink and have for a few years now. Yes, McNabb makes them better...but what if Reid sent McNabb there knowing that he wouldn’t be able to turn them around overnight and could in fact be gone after one year? Stupider things have happened, and Jeremiah Trotter didn’t make the Redskins defense much better when he defected years ago.


Divisional Strife

By sending McNabb to the Skins, Reid and the Eagles will have to play him twice. But the Cowboys and Giants will too. Imagining the opposite of the above scenario; if Donovan can elevate Washington even a little bit and make them more of a challenge than a speed bump (they were 0-6 in the NFC East last year and are 6-12 since 2007) for Dallas and New York, it could help an Eagles team with a fairly tough schedule survive the tide.


Offensive Shift

While DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are deep threats, they’re more than capable of being so off short routes just as much as long ones. Reid may want to go to a more conventional West Coast offense, and the combo of Kevin Kolb’s accuracy and Michael Vick’s wild card is a much better fit than Donovan McNabb is for that right now.


Eye to the Future

As I pondered in an article weeks ago, McNabb was the only Eagles offensive skill starter over the age of 27. Four of the other five (plus Jason Avant) are locked up for a few years, and DeSean Jackson soon should be, so Reid may finally understand that he may need to put Kolb in and take a step backwards now in order to avoid a huge crash later.


Five reasonable factors for sure, and any one of them could be closer to the truth than we know.

But on the other side, there’s that one big nugget that could make this the dumbest trade ever...



If you were Donovan McNabb, wouldn’t you be pissed off to the max right now? So much for loyalty, although at least he got his wish of a (somewhat) quick resolution.

Not only will McNabb be out to prove that he’s still got it, he now has a chance to do just that against Reid twice a year for however long he’s in Washington.

Given a new coach, likely a new blind side protector on his offensive line, and a fairly good trio of weapons in Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, and Clinton Portis, McNabb will certainly have the chance to succeed right away.

And for as classy as both McNabb and Reid have been in these divorce proceedings, you know No. 5 will be out to do what Rick Vaughn told Lou Brown he would do in the infamous “I didn’t cut you” scene in Major League.

That potential is reason enough to make this trade a ridiculously dumb one.

If the Donovan McNabb era swings the balance of power in the NFC East, it may also be the thing that finally kills the Andy Reid era in Philly.

But at least they got a second-round pick out of it.

Too bad they treated Donovan McNabb like a second-class citizen in the process.