McNabb scrambling for answers
PHILADELPHIA -- What a difference a week makes.
For one quarterback, at least.
While Tom Brady atoned for his poor showing against Buffalo yesterday, the Eagles' Donovan McNabb came up with one of the worst efforts of his career after opening with a clunker against Tampa Bay last week.
That puts the Eagles at 0-2 in their new Lincoln Financial Field -- 0-4 if you count exhibition games -- and the offense has produced 10 points.
McNabb, the foundation on which the Eagles have stood the past two seasons -- coming within a fingertip of reaching the Super Bowl both years -- seems to be crumbling to the point where Philadelphia may need a ladder just to reach the playoffs.
Unless you talk to Andy Reid.
"There's nothing wrong with Donovan," said the Eagles coach.
That can't be good news for the Eagles if a line that reads 18 for 46 for 186 yards, with 2 interceptions, 7 sacks, 3 fumbles, and a rating of 33.4 qualifies as "nothing wrong."
Philly fans will beg to differ as complaints about McNabb began last week, after he did not throw downfield or run with the ball against Tampa Bay. With the Eagles having a bye, that provides two long weeks for the fury to escalate on the talk shows after back-to-back losses.
McNabb missed targets, did not see open receivers, and despite gaining 53 yards on six carries, rarely resembled the nimble runner able to turn a near-sack into a long gain.
It is not what teams want from their $115 million quarterback.
Reid was pressed several times about McNabb, and offered the same refrain: "It's not about Donovan." As usual, he avoided answering most questions directly and talked about himself being better prepared.
"It's a team effort," Reid said. "Please don't point the finger at Donovan."
The Pro Bowl quarterback, whose last interception turned into a Tedy Bruschi touchdown, did not take his coach's advice.
"It goes back to being critical of yourself," McNabb said. "There's nothing wrong with the offense, it's just making sure the guy that's running the offense is doing the right thing. Right now [me running it well] is something I just can't agree with.
"I know that I'm way better than what I've been doing, but again, it all starts with the quarterback. If I'm not playing well, then the troops aren't able to rally around. All the pressure is put on my shoulders. Once we get this thing rolling, then obviously we won't have to worry about anything."
For now, it would pay to be a tad concerned.
Philadelphia has looked listless in its two losses, specifically the offense. The defense might deserve a pass, considering four defensive ends, the starting free safety, and a starting cornerback did not play yesterday.
But the "healthy" offense has generated just 513 yards and 10 points in two home losses, with 2-0 Buffalo awaiting in two weeks. It is a far cry from a unit that set a team record for points last year and reached the NFC Championship Game the last two years. The Eagles rushed for just 99 yards yesterday.
"I don't think we're doubting ourselves," tackle Jon Runyan said. "You start doubting yourself and you panic, you're not going to play well.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with Donovan. We just have to execute on the offense and we have to make plays."
But the man who has made so many big plays for the Eagles seems lost right now.
"Balls are away from the receivers, it's just consistency," McNabb said. "My focus is consistency right now, and it's something I don't have. I just have to refocus myself."
At least somebody realizes that.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.