PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Donovan McNabb isn't his old self. Reggie Brown is no T.O. Kevin Curtis isn't even Donte' Stallworth.
Added up, that explains why the Philadelphia Eagles' once-potent passing attack has been mediocre.
``Our pass game has to get better,'' offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. ``It was terrific for one game, and we'll work hard and we'll prepare. They have great effort and great preparation. They just have to get better.''
The Eagles are averaging 235.8 yards passing per game, which is 11th in the NFL. But they'd be fifth-worst in the league if not for a spectacular effort in a 56-point output against the Detroit Lions in Week 3. McNabb threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns against the Lions, and Curtis had 221 yards receiving and three scores.
They haven't done much in the other three games. Neither has anyone else on offense except for halfback Brian Westbrook. Overall, the Eagles have scored 28 points - one TD and seven field goals - in their three losses.
``I think there were just entirely too many mistakes,'' McNabb said. ``We made mistakes as a unit, as a unit that is experienced, that has had success in previous years. It's definitely frustrating and upsetting. We look forward to erasing the mistakes, changing and moving in a positive direction.''
McNabb clearly hasn't been the player he was before tearing a knee ligament last November. His ability to scramble out of the pocket and create big plays is limited now, and he's made some poor throws. Sometimes, McNabb just hasn't had anywhere to throw because Curtis, Brown and the other wideouts aren't getting open consistently enough. Or, he hasn't had time to pass.
In a 16-3 loss to the New York Giants that preceded last week's bye, McNabb was sacked 12 times, tying an NFL record. It probably wouldn't have mattered if Terrell Owens or Stallworth were out there because McNabb kept going down, though a few of those sacks were coverage ones.
It hasn't helped that tight end L.J. Smith, McNabb's safety valve, missed the last two games and was hampered by injury the first two. Smith is expected to play against the New York Jets on Sunday.
``There's no one thing,'' Mornhinweg said. ``Our passing game is based on precision and timing and accuracy and catching the football and making some yards after the catch. We just have to get better at that.''
Brown, a third-year pro, has been a major disappointment. He has just eight receptions for 81 yards after catching 46 passes for 816 yards and eight TDs last year.
Curtis, signed after Stallworth left for New England, has eight catches for 102 yards, excluding his career-best game against Detroit.
Before Owens came along in 2004 and Stallworth last year, McNabb had success with some pedestrian receivers. From Charles Johnson and Torrance Small to James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, McNabb found a way to put up big numbers.
Brown, Curtis, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis are a more formidable receiving corps than any McNabb had pre-T.O. So, if McNabb can get on track, the passing game has a chance to thrive.
``I feel confident in the receivers that I have,'' McNabb said. ``All of us have obviously talked and just made sure that we're going to take full advantage of the opportunities that are given to us. This offense is based on timing, and if the timing is thrown off a little bit, some routes you have to hold onto a little longer, and some you don't. We just have to get back to that mode with our timing and chemistry being where it needs to be.''
Notes: FS Brian Dawkins will sit out his third straight game with a neck injury. CB Lito Sheppard is listed as questionable, but practiced this week and might play his first game since injuring his knee in the opener. Lewis is doubtful with an ankle injury.
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