Thursday, December 21, 2006

Those who do not learn...

By Tim McManus

Everything looked bleak the day Donovan went down.

January aspirations crumbled along with the signal-caller's leg. The schedule was too daunting. The rest of the players weren't good enough. All was lost.

Then, something funny happened: Behind a backup quarterback that was considered shaky at best, the Birds ripped off three straight wins to jet right back into the playoff mix.

Now tell me, am I talking about 2002 or 2006? Crazy how history repeats, huh?

There are a ton of similarities between the two seasons, both in the Eagles' performance and the fans' reaction to it.

Left for dead, the Birds used the 'Nobody believes in us but us' cry in both cases to gain footing and inspiration. The level of play rose to a man. Offensive lineman held their blocks for an extra half-second. The skill position players fought just a little bit harder for an extra inch. The defense clamped down.

And the coaches adjusted as well. The play-calling, without the services of McNabb, was simplified and more balanced. It became more of a possession offense rather than hit or miss, allowing the defense to breathe just a little bit easier.

With everything around him clicking, A.J. Feeley went 4-1 in '02. This season, under similar circumstances, Jeff Garcia has posted a 3-1 record and can match Feeley with a victory against the Cowboys this week.

The script is proving to be almost identical, which leads to the question: Why can't the fans and media accurately predict the ending?

The Eagles parlayed Feeley's five-game success into a second-round pick, as a quarterback-starved league overlooked logic in the hopes of striking gold. Feeley subsequently got his chance to be an everyday starter, and struggled mightily.

Today, he serves as the third-stringer for your Philadelphia Eagles.

Garcia, likewise, will get a chance to start somewhere next season, with teams ignoring his seasons in both Detroit and Cleveland in the hopes of also hitting it big. He, too, will fair poorly, and will finish his career as a backup.

During the Feeley era, there was an abundance of fans who cried for him to remain the starter, saying that he is better suited for the offense, throws a better ball etc... These same people choose to forget about his time in Miami, and screamed for Feeley to start in front of Garcia when McNabb went down this season.

Those same people have resurfaced, only now it's to say that Garcia should stay in to guide their Eagles to the promise land. That he's grittier. Is a better fit for the offense, etc...

Did you not learn your lesson the last time around? It's like having a cheat sheet in front of you, and still choosing a different answer.

One more time, class, just to make sure we've got it: Donovan McNabb is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, and is mainly responsible for the best stretch of success in Philadelphia Eagles history. When he gets hurt, it is the job of his backup to come in and continue to win games. If they do that, it does not mean that McNabb should lose his job or that his backup is suddenly a world beater.

We have already been through this. The answer is in the archives. Shame on you who do not recognize that.

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