Careful What You Wish For: Eagles Choose A.J. Feeley Over Jeff Garcia

Ron GloverSenior Analyst IMarch 2, 2007

Icon If, heaven forbid,Donovan McNabb isn't able to finish next season, I don't want  the Eagles' playoff hopes hanging on the arm of A.J. Feeley.
I know that Feeley went 4-1 as a starter in 2002, when the Eagles lost McNabb and Koy Detmer in successive weeks. But after joining the Miami Dolphins as a free agent in 2003, Feeley struggled as a starter and was eventually supplanted by Jay Fiedler.
So why is Jeff Garcia on his way out of Philadelphia?
Maybe we should be used to this in Philly: A player comes out of nowhere, performs at a high level, and seemingly earns his place in the city's heart...then without so much as a phone call is unceremoniously dumped for reasons that no one is able to understand.
In 2007, Garcia seems to be the odd man out. In McNabb's absence, Garcia captivated Philly fans with his gritty play and fiery presence, and led the Eagles to six consecutive victories, the NFC East title, and a home playoff win over the New York Giants. More importantly, the quarterback said all the right things: He stated openly that he loved playing in Philadelphia, and acknowledged more than once that the Eagles were McNabb's team—and that he was happy to be a backup if it meant staying in the city. 
You've also got to figure that Garcia knew he'd step in as the starter if McNabb's rehab didn't go according to plan. And in my opinion, that's where the problem started.
For the second year in a row, the Eagles have made a personnel adjustment to reassure McNabb that he's the unquestioned leader of the team. It's a recurring pattern: Any player who explicitly (Terrell Owens) or implicitly (Garcia) threatens McNabb's spot in the pecking order gets shipped out of town.
Owens' case, of course, was an obvious one. Garcia's was more subtle. After the playoff loss to the Saints, Brian Westbrook spoke glowingly about how Garcia took charge on the field and gained his teammates' respect in the locker room. Now I know Westbrook meant no harm to anyone—but understand me when I say that a comment like that can have serious ripple effects in a team's hierarchy. 
I don't doubt that McNabb's psyche has been damaged. I know that the last thing he needs coming back from injury is to be looking over his shoulder expecting a quick hook. But let's be honest: The Eagles have catered to McNabb for sometime now and have nothing to show for it.
Maybe it's time to take off the kid gloves.
The bottom line is that the Eagles should have at least tried to re-sign Garcia. The fact that talks weren't even initiated makes me wonder whether McNabb played a direct role in the decision.
But does Mama McNabb's blog really have that much sway with the Philly front office?
The Eagles aren't far off in the NFC. In Garcia, they had the perfect insurance policy. For the first time in years, Eagles fans didn't have to worry about seeing Koy Detmer under center—we had a backup who could win games for us...when it counted.
But then again maybe we had this quarterback shuffle coming. Sometimes, folks in Philadelphia get exactly what they ask for.
Think back to Garcia's second game, against the Carolina Panthers, when he'd just gotten his bell rung. He stayed down for a second or two, but he got back up and trotted to the huddle. Still, that didn't keep 60,000 "knowledgeable" football fans from booing the fact that A.J. Feeley wasn't brought into replace him.
Well Philadelphia—it didn't take a shot from Julius Peppers to get Feeley inserted as your backup quarterback, just a new three-year contract extension.
Who are you booing now?