the new york football giants
18 September 2006 ¬
" Manning vs. McNabb - Upon Further Review.. "
At first glance, it's hard to criticize Donovan McNabb after the Eagles' 4th quarter collapse against the Giants on Sunday. He threw for 350 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, avoided virtually all of the pressure that New York's defensive line tried to generate, and built his team a comfortable 24-7 lead into the second half. You can certainly point to Philadelphia's weakened corners and Correll Buckhalter's ineffectiveness in running down the Giants late, and you can put plenty of blame on Andy Reid's timid and mismanaged game plan as the Eagles began to slip.. but a lot of it is justified falling on the shoulders of Philadelphia's beleaguered quarterback.

When the Eagles are playing well around him and momentum is on his side, McNabb is a top five quarterback in this league. That's easy. But what is also easy to see, at this point in his career, is that when the chips are down and the Eagles need a man to carry their offense, Donovan McNabb does his best Johnny Cash impression: ", no, no, it ain't me, babe." You'd have a hard time figuring it out if you lived under a rock and only had access to box scores, but the dark side of #5 -- a side that Eagles fans must be getting used to seeing by now -- made an appearance on Sunday. It didn't help that he drew a bizarre false start with 4 minutes left in the game and his team up by only 10 points deep in Philadelphia territory.. but more than that head-scratcher, McNabb looked helpless and complacent as he watched the game come undone around him. He went 4-8 and threw for a meager 32 yards in the 4th quarter and overtime combined; Eli Manning racked up 225 yards and accounted for three TDs during that same span, despite being sacked 8 times overall and being pressured on more than a dozen other instances. While it's true that the Eagles were more concerned with running the ball and eating clock, it's also true that McNabb suddenly became incapable of bailing out the running game when their conservative strategy stalled in its tracks.

Eagles history is chock full of similar examples. McNabb threw consecutive season ending interceptions in 2001 and 2002 during NFC Title Games, and in his third time around in 2003, he threw three picks and finished with a QB rating of 19.7. Millions of people watched in 2004 as a sick and dazed McNabb was unable to muster any urgency with his team down 10 and less than six minutes remaining in Super Bowl 39. While he did throw three TDs during that affair, he also threw three more INTs, including yet another interception that effectively ended the Eagles' season.

Now, Eli Manning is a pretty easy target for ridicule. There's no doubt he's received the golden treatment for most of his life, and the terms under which he dictated his draft-trade to the New York Giants certainly rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. But there's also no doubt that in the most urgent and downtrodden situations, young Elijah has already demonstrated a focus and intensity that Donovan McNabb will likely never display. During both of New York's first two games this season, Eli led come-from-behind attempts that resulted in a victory on Sunday and a tight 5 point loss in the opener against Indianapolis. While his play for the full 60 minutes certainly leaves something to be desired (understandable for someone who hasn't yet played two full seasons in the NFL,) his last-minute heroics this year are really a microcosm of his short career. Since he entered the league during Week 7 of the 2004 season, no other quarterback has led his team on more 2-minute drill scoring drives than Elijah Nelson Manning -- not Carson Palmer, not Tom Brady, not Brett Favre or even big brother Peyton. The numbers don't lie: his QB rating during a given contest jumps, on average, almost a dozen points in the 4th quarter. Vince Lombardi once said that a player's "finest hour.. is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious." Eli has already proven to the Giant faithful that when the clock winds down, he's got nothing left in the tank. Can you really say the same for Donovan F. McNabb?

Eli is clearly a work in progress, and his performance during the Giants embarrassing shutout loss to the Panthers in the 2005 NFC Wild Card Game is an indicator of that more than anything else. But the most difficult traits to develop in a young quarterback -- poise, intensity, and quick decision-making under fire -- are all traits that he has already demonstrated in spades. To put it bluntly, Eli is a gamer, and as much as you can poke fun at baby brother, you can't deny the pedigree.

When my team is flying high, I'm willing to admit (a rather stout admission from a diehard Giants fan) there aren't many players I'd rather have behind center than Donovan McNabb.. but when it hits the fan, I'm not even sure I want to see him pacing the sideline.


Blogger JB said...

The fact is that McNabb threw 2 perfect passes in overtime and in the 4th quarter that were sure first downs only to have them dropped by LJ Smith and Stallworth respectively.

If you're going to criticize him, you can't ignore those facts. Had the team executed and caught perfectly thrown balls there's a real good chance the Eagles hold on for a win that game. Had LJ Smith caught the ball on his hands the game would probaly hav been over.

Plus, you can't revise history and look at bare stats in the playoffs. You can't ignore the fact that in the Panthers game McNabb had balls picked after they bounced off recievers hands. You can't ignore that his reciever let a guy walk in front of him(a basic no no for WRs) on a quick in route.

I'm not saying McNabb is Tom Brady by any means. Certainly Eagles fans blame him for coming up short in certain situations, definetly the superbowl. But it's blown way out of proportion most of the time.

The fact is that this guy has won more playoff games than any QB in the game today not name Tom Brady. Bad big game or clutch QBs dont' win that many playoff games.

1:57 PM  

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