My football juices are flowing once again, which means NFL training camp is upon us. We’re a little more than 6 weeks away from Kickoff 2008, so I’m going to fast forward through training camp and give you my view of the Eagles 2008 position by position, presuming everyone makes it out healthy. Today we start with the quarterbacks.
Starter: Donovan McNabb
Many NFL insiders and fans alike have deemed this season Donovan McNabb’s swan song in Philadelphia. In 10 seasons, Number five has led the Eagles to four consecutive Conference Championship games and a Super Bowl berth, all while becoming the franchise’s greatest signal caller along the way.
Living in Philadelphia amongst the so-called “ knowledgeable” football fan you realize that their glass is always half empty. Yes, this is a fan base scorned from decades of disappointments, but from his first day in “The City That Loves You Back,” McNabb has displayed a winning attitude while getting W’s on Sundays.
In the process he has taken unwarranted shots from fans, media, former teammates even public officials. If he performed great, it was never good enough, there was always someone saying, “He could’ve done this better.” In addition, if things went south, look out for the overkill.
If Donovan threw two picks and three touchdowns in an Eagles victory, you would think that he threw three picks in a loss. When did signing a $115 million contract make someone a “Company Man” or “Not Black enough” It’s always been black or white with McNabb - figuratively and literally.
Listening to McNabb in past years we’ve sensed his hurt, anger, and confidence. This year McNabb has come in with a determination that he will dictate how his career in Philadelphia ends. He has made it clear that he doesn’t plan on handing the reigns over to Kevin Kolb next season or the season after that.
I don’t believe Coach Andy Reid is ready to close out the Donovan McNabb era just yet either. You have to understand that unless Reid wins a Super Bowl with another quarterback, Donovan McNabb will be the defining player in his tenure as coach. McNabb was the first player he drafted and been to hell and back with, all things considered, he’s won with Number five under center and in a wide open NFC, getting back to the Super Bowl is not that far-fetched.
McNabb is still in the top tier of quarterbacks when healthy, and with weapons at his disposal. I believe if Reid had his way, a healthy McNabb would be here until they close the deal. The reality is McNabb’s return in 2009 is up to team owner Jeff Lurie.
2nd String: Kevin Kolb
Don’t read too much into Kevin Kolb being elevated to second string this off-season, if anything the move by Andy Reid makes sense. “I’ve seen improvement [in Kolb], and right now he has a seasoned veteran ahead of him and behind him,” Reid said. “He has a lot of knowledge there to draw from and learn from.
He’s competing right now. That number two spot allows him to get a few more reps than what A.J. might get in the third spot.” I don’t see Kolb taking over for McNabb (God Forbid) in a one or two game situation, If Kolb is going to be looked at it’s going to be with the intention of him being the starter from that point on - however that happens.
Then and only then will we know if he is ready to assume the starting job. Even as the chatter of him possibly succeeding McNabb next season gets louder, Kolb remains focused on his role as a backup. “My ultimate goal is to have a very successful career as a starter.
Right now, I’m just trying to compete every day so whenever the opportunity comes, I’m in good enough physical shape and mental shape to step in as a starter and make plays.” For now all Kolb can do is stay focused and prepared.
3rd String: A.J. Feeley
For a guy that’s been at both ends of the quarterback spectrum A.J. Feeley has been a pro’s pro. Despite filling in for McNabb during his two tour of duty in Philadelphia he has said and done all the right things and realizes his role on the team.
He’s made the most out of his situation here and for that he deserves some props. Now Feeley is penciled in at number three on the depth chart behind Kolb and McNabb, despite his status Feeley maintains the confidence of a starter. “I just get the feeling we’re practicing and playing. It’s kind of beyond the whole numbers game for me.
I think they know upstairs what I’m capable of doing.” Feeley’s eight interceptions in three games last season raised flags with the coaching staff as McNabb threw only seven in 14 games.
Hence the demotion?
“Essentially you want to play, and you want to help the team in whatever capacity that is,” Feeley said. “It’s not that I don’t have ambitions to be a starter again and play all the time. That is what I want to do. But I don’t get caught up in that stuff. Let’s hope "that stuff” doesn’t become an issue.