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Eagles' Reid Weighs In On McNabb


Just about this time two years ago, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid benched his quarterback – Donovan McNabb.

The Eagles were struggling and turning the ball over and Reid hooked McNabb from a blowout by the Baltimore Ravens that left them with a 5-5-1 record.

Less than a week later, on Thanksgiving night, McNabb started against the Arizona Cardinals. McNabb completed 27 of 39 passes for 260 yards, the Eagles went on to clinch a playoff berth and they reached the NFC championship game against those same Cardinals.

"We caught Arizona at the right time on a Thanksgiving weekend, a short week. And that kind of snowballed things from there," Reid said the other day in a conference call with reporters.

Things have snowballed elsewhere as well, since Redskins coach Mike Shanahan pulled McNabb in the final two minutes of the loss to the Detroit Lions. Rather than a short week, in which a controversy might more quickly be buried, the Redskins then went into their bye.

And so the issue lingers, with the Eagles coming to town Monday night.

Reid clearly did not want to involve himself in another team's issues, even when it involved McNabb.

Would the quarterback he traded to the Redskins in April exact revenge on Monday night, vent his frustrations on the Eagles? Try a crowbar if attempting to pry answers from Reid.

"I'm a big fan of Donovan. That's the best thing I can tell you," he said. "I've never been able to predict the future. I can't do that. I said it when he was here -- I was his biggest fan here. I love the kid to death."

Reid drafted McNabb in 1999, nurtured him, built the offense around him. Their relationship grew with time. Time has not been an asset for the Redskins as coach Mike Shanahan acquired McNabb and installed an offense not quite like what McNabb knew best.

When Reid sat McNabb down in 2008, they had years invested in their mutual understanding to fall back on. Shanahan's hooking of McNabb (and the subsequent explanations) gets no such cushion.

"Every coach is different in how they handle things. You're talking about one of the all-time great coaches down there," Reid said. "Everybody does it different, has had success doing it different ways. So I'm not here to judge or anything else."

Let's not forget that Reid anointed Kevin Kolb as McNabb's successor and then, after Kolb was injured in the opener, turned to Michael Vick, declared Kolb was still his starter, then went back to Vick. Coaches do what coaches do.

One comment he made, almost in passing, seemed the most telling. As he recalled the aftermath of his benching of McNabb, Reid said: "Donovan and I talked. I'm not going to get into what we talked about but we talked immediately after the game and he knew the reasonings and everything else. I kept a very open communication with him. I don't think it's quite like this one."

An interesting observation from someone who said he really hadn't much followed this saga.

QUOTABLE: "Be great today. Be great going forward." – Dallas Cowboys interim head coach Jason Garrett's message to the team as he took over a 1-7 mess with the firing of Wade Phillips. ... "You see the guys and the talent that's on the field and you wonder how this can be an 0-7 team. This doesn't look like an 0-7 team." – Buffalo Bills linebacker Shawne Merriman, acquired last week on waivers from the San Diego Chargers, now injured and not expected to play Sunday. ... "He's making the discussion harder and harder each week." – Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini, on rookie quarterback Colt McCoy and his chances of holding off Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, both coming back from injuries, for the starting job. ... "I miss winning every week. That was fun." – Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. At Southern Cal, he compiled a record of 97-19 over nine seasons. The Seahawks are 4-4. ... "I don't go into a season looking to be 1-15." – St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson. The Rams are 4-4. ... "My whole goal was just to be able to have my own trailer, live in that and coach football. That was my life's ambition." – Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

AROUND THE NFL: The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to crush the running game. They're allowing 2.6 yards per rush. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is 6-0 in games on Monday night after the 27-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. ... The New York Giants rank second in the NFL in total offense and first in total defense. ... The Bills are the only NFL team to score on every red-zone possession. Sixteen trips have netted 11 touchdowns and five field goals. No team, however, has fewer than Buffalo's 16 red-zone possessions. ... The NFC's three highest-rated passers play in the NFC East. Michael Vick of the Eagles leads all passers (105.3), followed by the injured Tony Romo (94.9) of Dallas and the Giants' Eli Manning (91.7). ... Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski leads the NFL with 24 kickoffs for touchbacks. Raiders punter Shane Lechler tops the league with a 49.1 net average. What a huge help that field-position edge is for the defense. ... Moved to left end this year, Chris Long has begun to show the pass-rushing skills that the Rams kept waiting to see. He has 4.5 sacks. The Rams made him the second overall pick in the 2008 draft. He totaled nine sacks over his first two seasons. He started only four of 16 games last season. ... With a league-leading 2,944 yards, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers is on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 set in 1984. If Rivers continues at his current rate, he'll finish with 5,233. ... Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks has nine touchdown catches and the club record is in sight, but a telescope is required to look back into the past. The club mark of 13 was set in 1967 by Homer Jones.

Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at and follow him on

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