We are barely past the halfway mark of the 2010 NFL season, and while there are many questions still to be answered, there are at least two truths that seem inevitable.
1) That Donovan McNabb will not sign a contract extension with Mike Shannahan's Washington Redskins, and will be looking for a new job in 2011.
2) That the Philadelphia Eagles will have questions about their quarterback position going into next season.
And hey...on paper that makes the two a perfect fit.
Of course, there has to be a lot more scribbled down onto that piece of paper. About eleven seasons worth of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, wins and losses, and while one did outweigh the other, in the end it didn't feel like it. If they put odds on that sort of thing, you'd probably get better numbers on Elin Nordegren or Elizabeth Edwards getting back together with their husbands than you do of McNabb and the Birds reuniting.
But really, the move would not be unprecedented. Nearly a decade ago, a young football coach by the name of Andy Reid let his top young defensive weapon, MLB Jeremiah Trotter, sign with the rival Washington Redskins. It was an ugly PR disaster, as the Iggles were viewed as being too cheap, and Trotter went public with his displeasure with Andy and his entire football organization.
When the Redskins cut the underachieving Trotter two seasons later, a high majority of people assumed his bridge back to Philly was nothing more than a pile of ashes. For those unaware, Trotter returned to the Eagles the very next season, leading their defense to the Super Bowl and making the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006.
The Tale of Trot isn't the only one where high-profile Eagles have rode off into the sunset only to return. Hugh Douglas pulled the same thing, signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, bashing Reid's front office, then re-signing the following year. Shawn Barber was brought back for a second tour. Duce Staley and Mike Caldwell were invited back as coaching assistants. Heck, Trotter even made a third return last season.
Despite how he is viewed by the Philadelphia fans, the Philadelphia players have continually shown a loyalty to Andy Reid. To guys like Trotter, Douglas, and Duce, Reid is either deeply beloved or highly addictive.
Who's to say Donovan doesn't feel the same way?
Reid clearly still has respect for McNabb, despite jettisoning him. Anyone who watched Ric Reilly's Homecoming in Honor of Donovan McNabb was witness to that. When ESPN invited Reid to speak, no one seriously could have thought Big Red would accept. Yet he did, publically declaring his admiration for the guy he just banished, proving the bond we'd heard so much about between the two of them not only existed, but remained just as strong this summer as it did at Radio City Music Hall in 1999.
And for the Eagles, really, what other options are there? Mike Vick remains and will always be a controversial figure, no matter how many elementary schools he speaks at. And even if he truly has changed his game to be not just a star player, but a star quarterback, so much of his game is based on his legs, and at the age of 30, does anyone really think that's going to last?
And Kevin Kolb, well, we know as much about Kevin Kolb as we did eight weeks ago, except now we know he isn't immune to concussions. The comparison for Kolb over the summer was to Green Bay Packer Pro Bowler Aaron Rodgers. Does anybody still feel the two should even be in the same League?
There's the draft, but the Birds look like an 8-8 football team right now, which won't put them in a position to select a franchise signal caller. And then there's free agency, where the best option available is going to be...
Oh right. Donovan McNabb.
In this same calendar year, the Philadelphia Phillies traded away Cliff Lee, a move much less popular in this city than the jettisoning of the polarizing McNabb. A few months into the season, Lee was once again available, and despite the fact that it didn't happen, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted after the season his front office looked into re-acquiring the ace pitcher.
His front office made a mistake. But RAJ had the cahones to admit it, and tried to correct it.
This off season, Andy Reid and the Eagles can correct their mistake.
Now, McNabb is no Cliff Lee. That being said, the rumors of his demise are much exaggerated. Forget learning a new system: the 2010 Washington Redskins offense is the worst unit McNabb has played with ever. EVER! They have a crumbling offensive line, a wide receiving corp that was weak enough to let Joey Galloway become a starter, and no running game to speak of. They have Chris Cooley, and that's about it.
The 2011 Eagles, meanwhile, with the quartet of LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, would be the most talented set of weapons McNabb has ever played with. If they can get even a limited amount of improvement from their offensive line, it would be the best Eagles offense ever.
That's right. Better than any of the NFC Championship game losers. Better than the Terrell Owens team. Better than the 2009 team that set a team record for points scored. It would be the best Eagles offense in the history of the franchise.
They just need a proven quarterback.
And really, what better time would there be to have him? All his criticisms aside... and trust me, there's a laundry list...McNabb has unarguably played at his best with that chip on his shoulder. Getting booed at the draft, getting called out by Rush Limbaugh, being questioned by Terrell Owens, even getting benched against Baltimore just two years ago... McNabb always bounced back and shut his critics up by playing great and winning football games. Now he's seen how burgundy and yellow the grass really is on the other side of the fence. Can you imagine how he'll play after getting spurned for Rex friggin' Grossman?
Perhaps the MVP-caliber Vick we saw against Detroit in Week 2 (Ha!) and Jacksonville in Week 3 (Double Ha!) is the real deal. Or maybe Kolb finds a way back in the game we see what the Iggles thought they saw over the summer.
Or maybe the 2010 NFL season ends and the single most important job in the city of Philadelphia, the starting quarterback job, has a big HELP WANTED sign on it. And maybe the man who held the job better and longer than anyone else ever is available.
The question isn't can it happen? The question is: Why wouldn't it? - Eric Marmon
Eric Marmon is the Senior Editor of NYSportsDigest.com. He graduated from Hofstra University, is a retired Whaler, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
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