Can Philly Recover?
After Donovan McNabb suffered a season-ending knee injury last November, a backup quarterback led the struggling Philadelphia Eagles to an improbable resurgence, closing the season with five straight victories to win the NFC East.
If the Eagles can make a similar comeback this season, they will most likely do it with McNabb under center.
Despite rumors of McNabb's demotion, Eagles coach Andy Reid says he'll stick with the nine-year veteran for the rest of the season, including Sunday when the Eagles visit the division rival Washington Redskins.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Washington -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 37.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Like the Eagles (3-5), McNabb has had an inconsistent season. He has a 59.9 completion percentage and 2,044 passing yards, but has thrown for just nine touchdowns - four of which came in a 56-21 win over Detroit on Sept. 23. That was one of only two games this season in which Philadelphia scored more than 17 points.
McNabb, a five-time Pro Bowler, led the Eagles to four straight NFC championship games between the 2001 and 2004 seasons. But injuries, including the torn right ACL that ended his 2006 season, have affected his play. He had a costly fumble and an interception that led to 14 of Dallas' 21 points in the first half of the Eagles' 38-17 home loss to the Cowboys last Sunday.
"It's easy to point the finger at one guy," said Eagles coach Andy Reid, whose team is off to its worst start since 1999 - his first year at the helm. "But, I don't think that's where we're at right now. There have been a few drops and there's been some pressure. There have been some other things involved there, too. I'm not saying that there aren't plays Donovan wouldn't like to have back. I'm not saying that. I think everybody's had a little piece of that pie."
Although the Eagles mounted their playoff run last year behind veteran Jeff Garcia, McNabb will finish the 2007 season as Philadelphia's starting quarterback barring another injury. Kevin Kolb - the first overall pick from the second round of April's draft - remains on the bench.
"That's where I'm looking at things," Reid said Monday. "Again, nothing is guaranteed. That's how I'm looking at it, yes."
The Eagles remain the only team in the NFC East with a losing record. They're two games back of third-place Washington (5-3).
"It's frustrating," McNabb said. "It's not like we're playing bad, we're just not capitalizing on those opportunities we're given, whether it was in the red zone or eliminating mistakes. It's just not coming together the way we want it to. You can't go out and play well one week and then the next week you find yourself on the short end of it. We need to get a winning streak going and it has to happen now."
The Redskins, meanwhile, are looking to sweep a season series against the Eagles for the second time in three seasons after a 16-year drought. Washington won 20-12 at Philadelphia on Sept. 17.
Last Sunday, the Redskins used their best rushing performance in 20 years to beat the New York Jets 23-20 in overtime. Clinton Portis ran for 196 yards - his highest total since joining the team before the 2004 season - as Washington compiled 296 yards on the ground, its most since gaining 299 on Nov. 1, 1987, against Buffalo.
Coach Joe Gibbs, who also coached the 1987 team, said the win was "more the look of what I envision Redskins football being."
Washington has won seven straight games in which Portis has rushed for at least 100 yards, and is 14-2 all-time when he reaches the century mark.
"I always believed I could do it," said Portis, who totaled a career-low 523 yards in eight games last season before he broke his hand in a game against the Eagles, ending his season. "It's the outside world who always doubted."
"I think the coaches here believe in me. I think my teammates believe in me. To go out and have the opportunity, and to have the success when I have the opportunity, it feels good. At the same time, we know we've got to keep it going."
That could be a challenge against a desperate Philadelphia team. The Eagles have won six of their last seven road games against the Redskins.
"There's a lot of season left here and it's important that we have an urgency and continue to put maximum effort into each game, starting with the Redskins," Reid said. "We need to just win back-to-back games. That's what you need to do, and get yourself on a roll. Things can change quickly in the NFL, but you've got to do it."
By: Staff Writers - Email Us
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