Dump McNabb!


I'm not in Philadelphia, and I'm willing to be enlightened, but this just makes no sense to me:

The Eagles' leading men have been the same two guys for a shockingly long time. The head coach isn't going anywhere. Andy Reid will be here to guide the young 'uns and try to figure out a way not to end up as a poor man's Marv Levy. I'm not crazy about that, but there's nothing to be done. The only variable of any significance that can really be changed is McNabb.

For the record, I've never been a Five hater. Quite the contrary. He's the best quarterback in the franchise's history, and if he doesn't return next season he'll be missed. But at what point is enough finally enough? It's been 11 seasons of Reid and McNabb and wait till next year, of close but not close enough, of final, implacable disappointment.

This is a milder (and I guess more defensible) variant of something that we see every year: The notion that Donovan McNabb is the reason the Eagles haven't won a Super Bowl. Let's start by saying that McNabb didn't play well yesterday. He ended the game 19/37 for 230 yards. One TD. One pick. A lot of those yards were accumulated after the game was decided, as was the touchdown. He was, of course, aided in his futility by an anemic rushing attack (56 yards total) and a defense that gave up 426 yards.

That said, the notion that a discussion of a team's problems should begin with a quarterback who posted a 92.9 regular season rating, strikes me as an overestimation of the rest of the team. It's certainly worth asking what the team could have done better had McNabb played better. But it's also worth asking what the team could have done had he not played at all.

I think the "Dump McNabb" notion comes from the Eagles enjoying three decades of good to great quarterbacking but no Super Bowls. Jaworski was solid in the 80s. Cunningham was one of the most exciting players of the 90s. And McNabb has been one the best QBs of the aughts. Still, none of them brought home a championship.

But it's worth thinking about how bad quarterbacking can really get in the NFL, and consequently, how bad a team can get. I don't think McNabb is Brady or Manning. But the notion that Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick (those were the options) would have beat the Cowboys and led the team deap into the playoffs, elides the difficult truth--the Eagles weren't good enough.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

What makes a story great? The storytellers behind House of CardsThis American LifeThe Moth, and more reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In