Football: Donovan McNabb, the Eagles' Leader

by Suzie Raven

Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles love Donovan McNabb when the Eagles win, hate him when they lose. He was a hero when they made the Super Bowl in 2005, the villain when they tied the Bengals last November.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of bad-mouthing* the quarterback when games go wrong. There’s no excuse for the humiliating 13-13 tie with the Bengals. McNabb threw three interceptions against one of the worst defenses in the National Football League (NFL). However, this season’s tie should not over-shadow McNabb’s other accomplishments in the 2008-2009 season.

McNabb set team records this season with 3,916 yards passing and 345 completions. His strong throwing arm, combined with his ability to move in the pocket, helped him lead the Eagles to four wins out of the last five games this season. They squeaked into the playoffs on the heels of these wins, before decisively beating the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants on their way to the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship Game.

Sometimes, a quarterback will throw three interceptions against a bottom-dwelling team. Sometimes, he will have 361 yards and a 63.6% completion rate, like McNabb in the Eagles 38-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the season opener. Fortunately, McNabb has more games resembling that Sunday in St. Louis than the game against the Bengals.

"I'm partial to No. 5," star safety Brian Dawkins said. "When he's healthy, he's one of the best quarterbacks in this game.”

How can you argue with a quarterback that leads his team to the NFC Championship game?

*My use of the word bad-mouthing is not an invitation to rip on fans from Philadelphia.

(Editor's Note: For more on the Eagles and the playoffs, please see "Rocky's Football Corner: Second Guessing the Second Season" and for more on the conference championship games, including predictions, please see "Rocky's Football Corner: The Playoffs & the Zebras." The Eagles will play the Cardinals today, Jan. 17, in Arizona in the NFC Championship game; the game will be televised on FOX at 3 p.m. EDT.)

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