Phil Sheridan | Donovan's woes: Team's focus on the future won't help him now.

Posted: April 30, 2007

If you believe what Steve Young said about Brett Favre, then Donovan McNabb had a very unpleasant weekend.

This was Saturday afternoon, just after the Green Bay Packers took a defensive tackle with their first-round pick. Young, serving as one of ESPN's 5,000 talking heads, made an intriguing point. As a franchise quarterback whose career is winding down, Favre would get the message that the Packers were more interested in the long term than in winning right now.

A franchise QB, said Young, who would know, watches the draft with an eye toward what his team is doing to help him win games. Will he get someone to throw the ball to, or a lineman to help protect him?

McNabb has not been heard from publicly since Andy Reid left him a voicemail telling him "not to worry" about the Eagles' selection of a quarterback with the 36th pick of the draft. Actually, as of last yesterday afternoon, McNabb had not been heard from privately, either. Reid said he hadn't spoken to his QB.

Knowing McNabb, he is less worried about Kevin Kolb being behind him on the depth chart than he is about the needs not addressed by Kolb's selection.

If you're McNabb - or Brian Dawkins or Jon Runyan or any of the veteran Eagles who are more interested in 2007 than in 2010 - you had to be disappointed with this draft. Asked whether this year's draft was more about the future than usual, Reid conceded, "You could probably say that."

Reid and general manager Tom Heckert passed on the chance to get a likely starter with their first-round pick, traded down and then took a young quarterback who could develop into Joe Montana or David Klingler or something between those extremes.

That doesn't mean the Eagles had to take a wideout or Miami tight end Greg Olsen as a gift to McNabb. Given the problems on defense, a new cornerback or linebacker would have been every bit as welcome.

The Colts used the last pick of the first round on a new wide receiver for Peyton Manning. The NFC champion Bears took Olsen with the pick before that. Yesterday, the world learned that New England - which had already signed Donté Stallworth - acquired Randy Moss in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

It feels much better to be Tom Brady today than to be McNabb, and that's not even factoring Gisele Bundchen into the equation.

Why should you care how McNabb feels? Because we're not talking about placating his ego here. We're talking about making moves that plug holes and give the team a better chance to return to the Super Bowl in the near future. In this case, what's good for McNabb is good for the fans, too.

Reid said he wasn't concerned how either the fans or his players would react to his drafting a quarterback so high.

"You can't do that," Reid said. "You've got to do what you think is right for the football team. . . . I think players ask, can this player help us win games, either now or down the road?"

Players, as a rule, are much more interested in the now than in down the road.

This all ties into something Eagles owner Jeff Lurie was saying the other day. His goal as owner is to keep the team competitive and within striking distance of the Super Bowl for the long term. The common wisdom says the NFL is cyclical, that every period of success must be paid for by a down period.

"I don't buy into the declining window of opportunity," Lurie said. "You try to extend [success] as long as you can."

The selection of Kolb makes more sense from that perspective. This isn't about whether the rehabbing McNabb is ready for the start of the season. Kolb won't be ready to play Sept. 9 in Green Bay, anyway. This is about preparing McNabb's long-term successor, about finding the guy who could be leading the team from 2009 through 2020.

It was telling that Kolb received the most interest from the Ravens and Patriots as well as the Eagles. Brian Billick and Bill Belichick, like Reid, are coaches who would appreciate a player who describes himself as a "grinder" in the film room.

"Coaches put in a lot of long hours," Kolb said. "I figure I can do the same thing."

He also said that McNabb "is better than me right now."

The "right now" was the interesting part.

Kolb will play the fourth quarters of preseason games and then pretty much disappear for the regular season. This is not his time or his team. It's still McNabb's time, and he can't help but notice that his team for 2007 is not markedly better today than it was on Friday.


Contact columnist Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or psheridan@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/philsheridan.

 

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