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Donovan: A Story of Love and Hate

  By: Michael J. Cheal 

  

  Over the last ten years, Eagles fans have either loved or hated #5.

 

  It all started in the 1999 draft when Eagles fans wanted Ricky Williams, but McNabb was selected instead. His first experience was one of hate when he was almost booed out of the building. That season, he didn’t start enough games to get a real grip on whether he was worth it.

 

  The 2000 season was his first real test. He had an impressive showing, finishing second to Marshall Faulk in the MVP balloting. Eagles fans welcomed him into the city.

 

  In 2001, 2002 and 2003 however, the love turned into hate as the Eagles advanced to the NFC Championship game all three seasons and lost. Many fans felt McNabb was the reason for the losses because of the interceptions he threw in those games. While it is true that a lot of the blame should be shouldered on him, the receivers were rightly held responsible too.

 

  We all remember the game against Tampa Bay when McNabb drove the Eagles down to Tampa’s goal line, and he threw that interception to Ronde Barber who ran it back for a touchdown and sealed the Eagles fate. Who can ever forget Todd Pinkston’s case of the drops in the 2003 NFC Championship that led to those interceptions?

 

  Of course, there was the Super Bowl in 2004 against New England when McNabb just didn’t have a good game; maybe because of nerves, or he was sick, or whatever else.

 

  He is inconsistent through out games; he’ll throw it above the receivers’ heads, at their feet, or behind them to the point were the receiver has to stretch his body in an unnatural position to grab the ball. He does deserve many of the criticisms he’s had over the years.

 

  The receivers don’t help McNabb out very much: I can remember in a game against Washington last year when he threw to a wide open Greg Lewis. The ball hit him right in the chest, and he dropped it. That was just one example, if I went through all of them last year, I’d have to write a book, but the fact remains the Eagles had the most drops of any team in the league at one point last year.

 

  Another thing I noticed was last year Donovan ran a lot more than in previous years. He should do more of that this year. The last three or four seasons, he’s had this mentality that he wants to be a pocket passer. That’s not who he is. In 2000, the reason he was so successful was because he did take off and run when a receiver wasn’t open. When any quarterback in the league is a threat to just start running, defenses have a harder time containing the offense. He wasn’t as bulky last year as in previous years, so that might have had something to do with his change in philosophy, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after he lost some of the bulk, he ran more. It helps his endurance too. He needs to bulk down this season.

 

 

  Will the fans love or hate McNabb this season? Who knows? Some will stick up for him. Some will boo every time he throws the ball low or high. The only thing I know for certain is this: Everyone in the city will never completely view McNabb as a hero until he wins a Super Bowl.

 

 

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