Enemy Intelligence: The View of McNabb From Philly

Enemy Intelligence: The View of McNabb From Philly
November 12, 2010, 10:58 am
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Friday, November 12, 2010 6:00 AM

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How is the Donovan McNabb benching playing in Philadelphia? What is Michael Vick doing particularly well and how well is his offensive line protecting him? What is the best way to attack the Eagles defense? Is Andy Reid under the gun to win it all now? To get the answers to these questions and more, we asked Jason from Bleeding Green Nation, SB Nations fine Eagles blog, to answer some question about the team he follows so closely. Thanks much to Jason for his excellent insight and we recommend that any Redskins fan who wants some additional Enemy Intelligence about the Eagles go visit www.BleedingGreenNation.com. CSN WashingtonWhat is the view of the McNabb-Shanahan-benching-cardiovascular endurance situation from the Philly fan standpoint? Is the impression there that Andy Reid covered up for substandard work habits on the part of McNabb? Jason BThere's a significant portion of the Eagles fan base that sees McNabb's benching as a validation of a lot of criticisms they've been making about McNabb for years. Many fans have felt like McNabb was coddled by Andy Reid and that his lackadaisical or goofy attitude was not that of a "leader." They'd point to his always smiling after a bad play or his goofy faux guitar strumming before the playoff game in Dallas last year as evidence of McNabb not taking things as seriously as he ought to. Personally, I've always argued against this idea. After all, this is a guy who has been able to rehab himself back from how many major injuries? That's not something you can do without working your tail off. Still, even amongst those of us who have always been fans of McNabb, it's become obvious in recent years that there's a disconnect between what he seems to see and what is actually happening. We saw this when he kind of blamed the Eagles young players for a loss last year in which he clearly had not played well. We saw this a few years ago when he demanded a meeting with Eagles ownership after he had been benched against Baltimore after several weeks of poor play. We saw that this year when after not playing particularly well in the Redskins win over the Eagles, he displayed a lot of bravado and declared that the game was proof that the Eagles had obviously made a mistake in trading him. His reaction to all the reasons given for his benching seemed to be to say that he'd never heard of any of it before. I just find it hard to believe that a coach had never once communicated a concern to his QB about either his grasp of the playbook or his physical conditioning. Especially if that concern was so great that he would bench him over it in a critical moment. CSNMichael Vick returned with a bang against the Colts. Other than the obviousextreme mobility, rifle armwhat do you like about his game? What flaws do you see that a defensive coordinator might be able to take advantage of? JBFirst and foremost, you have to love his basically off the charts ability to protect the football. He has literally not turned the ball over once in the regular season this year. It's a stark contrast to what we saw in preseason where he turned the ball over a slew of times in a very limited amount of time. For some reason, when the season began for real everything changed for him. I honestly can't even think of a lot of instances where he nearly threw a pick or had a costly fumble. He's seeing the field now probably better than an Eagles QB has maybe ever... It's really that unbelievable that through five games where he's played significant time that a guy who has been so turnover prone in the past has done such a 180. I'm as shocked as anyone to say that there really aren't many flaws in the way Vick is playing now. I was certainly not a believer in him when the season began... However, there are a few concerns. First and foremost it's that even after his injury he still is more than willing to get hit and take on defenders. For a QB, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. We all want to see our QB stand in the pocket and take a hit after a throw if that's what it takes, but we're seeing Vick put his shoulder into a safety 20 yards beyond the first down marker. Andy Reid has more or less been begging him to slide or step out of bounds, but he's been taking big hits this year when he really doesn't have to. This is kind of what got him hurt the last time these two teams played. I would also say that a few times this year he's shown a tendency to take off a little but early if he doesn't see anyone open. He's certainly better in that department than he ever was in Atlanta, but the tendency is still there. CSNIf you were playing against the Eagles defense, where would you attack? What are the units strong and weak points? JBDespite the fact that they actually played quite well against the Colts, I'd still say the LB corps would be the place to attack the Eagles. For years they've struggled to cover TEs and this season it seems like screens have constantly been a thorn in their side. The Colts had probably their most success with the TE screen and the Lions really carved the Eagles up with RB screens to Jahvid Best. Also, it appears that rookie safety Nate Allen, who the Eagles took with the 2nd rounder they got for McNabb and has really played well, will be unable to play after hurting his back against the Colts. So I would think the Skins would be wise to take some deep shots to test his backup, rookie 7th round pick Kurt Coleman. CSNWhen Redskins and Eagles met in Week 4, the Philly offensive line was struggling somewhat with a lot of criticism being aimed at left tackle Jason Peters. Has the unit been able to right the ship? Give me a quick scouting report on the O-line. JBI think it was hard to point out any one guy on the line that was struggling more than another at that point. Peters was injured not long after that game and only just returned this past week after having knee surgery.. He didn't give up sacks to Dwight Freeney, but Michael Vick's legs were certainly a part of that. Overall, the Eagles line has been a mash unit. I think the projected starting line played together for a quarter or two in the first game this year and that's been it. Since then they've been shuffling guys in and out thanks to one injury or the other. One of the guys who was shuffled in, Max Jean-Gilles, had actually really started to play well and ended up suffering a concussion on Sunday... So obviously the line has been very inconsistent. Not just from week to week, but from half to half some times. For instance, I thought they really struggled to start the game last week, but finished strong. So it's really hard to predict how they'll play in a given week, but it's safe to say that the line is not a strength of the team. CSNFrom what I can tell, in the past year or so, Andy Reid has gone from being a bland, milquetoast personality to one who is loose, cracks jokes during interviews, and who seems to be enjoying himself. Was I missing something earlier? And will the new Reid be permitted to coach the Eagles as long as he wants to or is it Lombardi Trophy or bust in the next couple of years? JBIt's been interesting to see him lately hasn't it? I agree, he has seemed like a more relaxed guy lately. I think in some ways it's because he got a new contract recently, his family situation has stabilized, and generally the calm you get from being somewhere so long... but that I said I do think he really likes his team. The Eagles put up this clip of the locker room after their win over the Colts and Reid is actually dancing with the team. I never thought I'd see something like that. He really believes in Michael Vick beyond just as a football player. I really think he sees a guy who has made mistakes and learned lessons in life much like his own sons have (or he hopes will). He really wants to be a part of his success. Plus, I said before the season that trading McNabb removed a burden from this team. It was the burden of Lombardi or bust every single year. That pressure really does start to get unbearable. It's not McNabb's fault, it's just that when you've got a franchise QB that's advancing in age there's this constant fear that the "window is closing" and that if you don't win know than he'll be gone and you'll doomed to yeas of rebuilding while you try and luck into another QB. By trading away McNabb I think Eagles got rid of a lot of that desperation. There's still pressure to win and there always will be, but I think Reid or the fans have this same kind of fear that we did in years past. The fear that it was now or never with McNabb. CSNWhos going to win on Sunday and why? JBI think the Eagles are really primed to win this game. They've certainly got the momentum after their win against the Colts whereas the Redskins have obviously been in a downward trend. There's a mood of optimism around the Eagles and clearly a cloud of doubt that the Redskins are dealing with. November has traditionally been when Reid's teams have played their best. The one big advantage that the Redskins should have is that they're coming off a bye, but it's really mitigated by the fact that the Eagles are only a week removed from their own bye and get an extra day of rest withe game on Monday night. In the end though, I think it will ultimately come down to the fact that Michael Vick is going to outplay Donovan McNabb, which is a concept I honestly couldn't even fathom until very recently.Redskins blogger Rich Tandler answered some questions for the folks at Bleeding Green Nation. You can find that exchange here.
Join Redskins blogger Rich Tandler for an in-game chat from the press box at FedEx Field during the Redskins-Eagles game on Monday night. Things will get underway onwww.CSNwashington.comshortly before kickoff and continue all game long.