Bob Ford: Eagles should bring back McNabb

Donovan McNabb is looking for work, knows the Eagles playbook, has a good relationship with Michael Vick (left) and with the offensive coaching staff, and he already knows where to park at the NovaCare Complex.
Donovan McNabb is looking for work, knows the Eagles playbook, has a good relationship with Michael Vick (left) and with the offensive coaching staff, and he already knows where to park at the NovaCare Complex. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 06, 2011

The Chicago Bears are in a fight for their playoff lives at the moment, tied for wild-card position with Atlanta and Detroit and facing three road games in the final four of the regular season.

Quarterback Jay Cutler is out with a thumb injury and the backup is Caleb Hanie, whose name sounds as if he should be a suet wholesaler in Alabama. In his two starts, Hanie has thrown six interceptions, absorbed 11 sacks, and the Bears are 0-2. On Sunday, he couldn't move them against the Chiefs, and now with running back Matt Forte possibly out two to six weeks with a knee injury, Chicago will have to be led entirely through the air.

The Bears, however, have no interest in an NFL veteran - a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback from Chicago! - who can be obtained for the price of a phone call, whatever that is these days.

Nope, no interest in Donovan McNabb. Caleb Hanie will do just fine. Receiver Devin Hester went on the radio Monday and said that bringing a new quarterback into the system run by offensive coordinator Mike Martz would be a "waste of time."

Good point. What experience could McNabb possibly have in an unbalanced, pass-happy offense?

Ah, well. All the mighty must fall, and so must those who would have been mighty were it not for a bad case of the heaves during the Super Bowl and an unfortunate penchant for whacking receivers in the toes with the ball and making dumb faces on the sideline.

Still, it is amazing that Donovan Jamal McNabb, just a week after turning 35, with 234 career touchdown passes and 37,276 yards to his name, couldn't find a job upon being released by Minnesota and clearing waivers last Friday. His agent, Fletcher Smith, said conversations have taken place with several teams, but that doesn't necessarily mean, you know, that conversations have taken place with several teams.

All that said, and all that considered, here's one for you: If the Philadelphia Eagles actually believe the final four games of this season might mean something, they should release Vince Young immediately and sign McNabb. (I know, I know. I am aware there is a large percentage of you who must now blindly search the floor for your heads, because they have popped off your necks and rolled away. And, yes, there is a part of me that wrote the sentence just to have that happen. But let's wait and see where the column goes. I have no idea, either.)

On the other hand, if the Eagles are merely paying lip service to the notion that the season is not dead, if the organization realizes that nothing matters any more, then they should definitely stick with Young and not bother giving themselves a better chance to win. It wouldn't be worth the hassle.

All of it might be moot if Michael Vick returns this week and doesn't miss any more playing time. And, failing that, it might also be moot if one of the drunken bears of the NFC East begins playing consistent football. By all rights, the Eagles should already be eliminated by mathematics and not just on style points.

That hasn't been the case, however, because neither the Cowboys nor Giants are all that good, and there is still a narrow gap in the window by which the Eagles could win out and slip through to capture the division.

It won't happen. The Eagles couldn't win four in a row if they were operating the scoreboard, but as long as there is the faintest glimmer of a chance, doesn't the organization owe it to the fans to do everything possible to increase that chance? If the answer to all the above questions is yes - they really still believe, and they have an obligation to the team and the fans - then Donovan McNabb is a better backup than Young. After watching the last game against the Seahawks, I think Wilma McNabb is a better backup than Young.

Let's consider this. McNabb knows the plays (which puts him well ahead of Young, already), he has a good working relationship with Vick and with the offensive coaching staff, and he knows where to park at the NovaCare Complex.

Admittedly, the last two seasons haven't put any luster on his career, but take a look at the three teams that have cast him off. The Eagles are 14-14 since trading him to Washington for draft picks. The Redskins are 5-10 since benching McNabb and going with Rex Grossman and John Beck. The Minnesota Vikings, who acquired McNabb from Washington for even lower draft picks, were 1-5 with him as a starter and are 1-5 since replacing him. Maybe the problem with all those teams wasn't solely McNabb.

In a way, getting Donovan back would be a fitting move for this season. You can't have a dream, after all, without eventually waking to the same, frightful reality that haunted you all those long nights before.


Contact columnist Bob Ford

at bford@phillynews.com, read his blog at www.philly.com/postpatterns, and recent columns at www.philly.com/bobford

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