Monday, November 26, 2007

QB Controversy

others weighing in on the brewing qb controversy

- phil sheridan votes for feeley

Feeley wasn't perfect. Spotting the Patriots a seven-point lead with that early interception made the hill the Eagles tried to climb that much steeper. And the two late interceptions were killers.

"I take this on my back," Feeley said. "We put ourselves in a chance to win and basically I lost it for us."

That's harsh, but you do have to wonder how fans and the media would have reacted if McNabb played exactly the same game. Three picks. Three touchdowns. Feeley slipped and fell on the first play after the Eagles recovered that surprise onside kick, squandering an important early opportunity. He made some great throws and missed some open receivers.

Actually, McNabb has played exactly that game a number of times. You may remember a three-point loss to the Patriots in a game in Jacksonville a few years back. Three picks. Three touchdowns. As always, when the Eagles lose, McNabb got roasted for it.

But fair is fair. In between the interceptions, Feeley played a terrific game against an outstanding team. He moved the Eagles up and down the field. He read and reacted to blitzes. He threw for touchdowns instead of settling for field goals.

- john smallwood is also pro-feeley

There shouldn't even be a debate.

McNabb has had 10 games to figure things out, knock off the rust, recover from injury, regain his form. For whatever reason, it hasn't happened. The Eagles were lucky to be 5-5 in those starts.

Except for that spectacular game against the Detroit Lions and some flashes here and there, McNabb has rarely looked like an upper-echelon quarterback, much less the one who made five Pro Bowls in his first seven seasons.

I even surprise myself to say this, but the guy at quarterback at this particular moment is Feeley.

This really is as much about what McNabb hasn't done as it is about what Feeley has done in the last two games.

There's no doubt that Feeley's three interceptions - the first resulted in the game's first score, the second came when the Eagles were in range of a game-tying field goal attempt and the third came with 11 seconds left - were costly, but no more so than McNabb's numerous miscues this season.

Still, Feeley did tons more to almost get the Birds a victory than he did to prevent one. There were times when I believed the same thing about McNabb, but now isn't one of them.

I'm not savvy enough to know if McNabb is done for good or just needs more time to get things back together.

The good things McNabb has done in the past are irrelevant to the situation at hand.

This isn't about loyalty or protecting some guy's ego. It's about making the playoffs.
- rich hoffman thinks mcnabb has earned the right to try
After the game, Eagles coach Andy Reid made it as clear as he possibly could: that he expected McNabb to continue to make progress with his ankle and thumb injuries, and that he expects him to practice at some point this week - but maybe not Wednesday - and that if McNabb is healthy, it will be his job again. Period.

It is how a real team acts.

There is a protocol here and it is simple: No man should lose his job because of an injury, and especially not this man - the very face of your franchise for the last 9 years. It is simply how you treat people. It is bedrock. Reid is absolutely correct.

This is not to diminish Feeley or what he did last night, nearly shocking the world. With the whole country watching, anticipating slaughter, Feeley played dynamically. To start the game, he threw an interception that Asante Samuel returned for a touchdown, but then managed to pull himself together. His final numbers: 27-for-42 for 345 yards.

Because it is obvious what last night pointed out - the same thing that the end of last season pointed out with Garcia; the same thing people who root for McNabb have feared for a while. That is, that time and the injuries have robbed him of . . . something. We can debate what that is, that missing ingredient, but there seems little doubt that it is missing. After a night like this one, it is really hard to argue the other side.

But McNabb needs to play again. He needs to be given that opportunity when he is healthy. If the leash is short in this next game, so be it - but he needs to be out there again. He needs that chance. He deserves that chance. If it goes badly, they can then make the hard call - a historic call for this franchise. But they owe him that chance.
- footballoutsiders thoughts are generally pro-mcnabb
Aaron Schatz: Well, this game is 14-14 right now because of the Eagles offense, not the Eagles defense. Which is very strange with A.J. Feeley at quarterback.

Mike Tanier: Haven’t you heard? Feeley is better than Donovan McNabb. Jeff Garcia is better than Donovan McNabb. Kevin Kolb is better than Donovan McNabb. Andy Reid has only started McNabb for the last seven years because he is trying to cover for the high draft choice he wasted on him. I know it is true because I heard it on the radio.

Vince Verhei: My dad also says McNabb is no good, because he has no passion. So now it’s confirmed by a reliable source.

Mike Tanier: He has no passion. He’s also a coward who is sandbagging it with minor injuries so he can skip this game because he doesn’t want to look bad against the Patriots.

Ben Riley: And yet, J.R. Reed seems to be having a good game. The real story here is the Eagles quarterback. What’s gotten in to A.J. Feeley?

Bill Barnwell: Not really Feeley. It’s more the scheme. The Patriots are much better vertically than they are horizontally defensively. They’re a very slow team horizontally, but a great team when you try to stretch them vertically. The Eagles are a team that does a great job of stretching defenses horizontally with Brian Westbrook.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, but this isn’t a lot of Westbrook. This is a lot of finding holes in zones downfield, particularly with those in routes. This is by far the worst defensive game the Pats have played this year. Nothing else even comes close.

Ben Riley: All that may be true, but Westbrook has 25 receiving yards. Feeley is reading the blitz and finding the hot route, which, tonight, seems to be the property of Greg Lewis. The Patriots secondary is looking very human tonight, and this game is generating game film a-plenty.

Mike Tanier: The Eagles’ blitz pickup has also been good all game. That’s been a big part of Feeley’s success.

Bill Moore: As Aaron points out, Feeley is doing well picking holes in the zone, but they have also found New England’s secret defensive weakness: Randall Gay. He has made a number of bad plays this year, and is getting toasted tonight.

Bill Barnwell: Nah. Feeley’s nowhere near out of his head. The two interceptions aside, he’s been off on a few other throws high, he’s forced a couple of throws that have fortunately worked out well… Again, this just seems a total schematic match to me.

Aaron Schatz: Clearly, you did not watch San Diego play Baltimore.

If my ears don’t deceive me, Madden and Michaels are criticizing Andy Reid’s clock management. And all around the world, Eagles fans beat their heads against the closest table, wall, or cement block.

I feel really bad for the Eagles fans. Man, they must be so damn frustrated. I can’t believe this is the same team that came out so flat when Tanier and I were at the Linc for Sunday Night Football three weeks ago. This team has so much talent and plays so well at times, but also has some huge holes. The coaching staff makes some great decisions and some stupid ones. Cris Collinsworth is right, what the hell are the Eagles doing running a slant-and-go in field goal range, with three minutes left to keep working towards the goal line?

How obnoxious is the quarterback controversy talk going to be on Philly radio this week? Bad enough to make you want to kill yourself after listening to it, or bad enough to make you want to kill yourself and every single person in a five-mile radius after listening to it?

Stuart Fraser: I was wondering if we were going to have to put Tanier on suicide watch if the Eagles won. Now that they have lost, Feeley is clearly not clutch, doesn’t know what it takes to win, etc. With regards to feeling for Eagles fans, that horrible, horrible, throw did kind of give me Neil O’Donnell/Super Bowl XXX flashbacks for a couple of seconds there.

Mike Tanier: The worst thing is that I will hear it in my classroom. I will hear it in the lunch room. My mom, who gets her information from the doctors in the office she works at and believes everyone else’s opinion over mine, will tell me about it while trying to make chit-chat.

All that stuff I said earlier about McNabb: That’s real talk radio fodder. People are actually saying that McNabb was scared and ducked the Patriots this week. The McNabb haters apply every negative in the world to him: indifferent, lacks leadership, selfish. Cowardly is just the latest and most inane. And the McNabb Haters are legion, because the casual fans who don’t really follow the game just feed off the barstool logic.

Back in 2002, when Feeley replaced McNabb and won three or four games, people actually claimed Feeley was better than McNabb. OK, you want to argue that now, after McNabb has missed parts of three seasons with injuries, go for it. It’s stupid, but go for it. In 2002? You seriously heard the talk back then. Then, last year we had Garcia. The funniest thing was Mike McMahon in 2005. He came into that first game and completed three or four passes. Swear to God, sitting in the bar, I heard a couple of guys start saying, “this kid is good, really finds those open receivers, we might be better off with him in there.” That lasted about a half-hour, but it was amazing how fast they wanted to lay the groundwork. I think if my dog came off the bench and replaced McNabb and somehow tossed a one-yard pass to Westbrook with her mouth, the Haters would start talking about her leadership and guts and intangibles and intelligence and accuracy.

Aaron Schatz: I will say one other thing about “the game plan for beating the Patriots.” Offensively, sure, but the Eagles’ defensive game plan was not as good as it looked. If you blitz the Patriots, you simply can’t count on their receivers dropping this many passes next time. That’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation, or at least a partial one.

Ned Macey: To me, it seemed that the Pats assumed that 95 percent of the offense would go through Westbrook and were going to take that away from them. Then, the Eagles start throwing the ball down the field where the middle has been vacated worrying about Westbrook. Throw in the aforementioned blitz pick-up (which also empties the middle of the field), and we have an explanation for the oft-noticed open middle of the field.

As for Feeley, he obviously played great for him, but were he McNabb, he would have been considered the goat of the game. You lose by 3 points, and you throw an interception returned for a touchdown and an interception into your own end zone when driving for, at least, the game-tying interception? I didn’t think that play call was horrendous. Everyone assumed the Eagles would be methodical, so you see if you can slip one in. If the Patriots don’t bite, you have Samuel and a safety covering what amounts to a decoy. It appeared on a replay that someone (L.J. Smith?) was running free underneath for a short gain that would have gotten a first down. Of course, your quarterback cannot make that monumental mistake.

I know the Eagles defense didn’t exactly shut the Patriots down, but they did only allow seven (should have been 10) second half points. Sure there were drops, but they basically made the Pats a receiver screen and quick dumpoff offense. Brady had nothing down the field. If the Eagles still had Rod Hood or some third cornerback who had a prayer of staying with Welker, then they may have won.

Mike Tanier: Rocky went the distance with Apollo. Feeley played very well, but it wasn’t some other-worldly performance. He had three touchdowns and three interceptions, including one in desperation. Weren’t those McNabb’s Super Bowl numbers? In the end, you have to be more careful when you throw to Asante Samuel’s side of the field.

As an Eagles fan, I am a little happy to see the effort, particularly on offense. But I am also ticked. This offense would have beaten the Packers and the Redskins in the first meeting. It would have taken the ball out of the Bears’ hands. It would have made those fumbled punts irrelevant against the Packers. This was the offense of a seven- or eight-win team. Where has it been?

McNabb haters know who they will blame, but it’s not just about the quarterbacking. Where have these receivers been all year? Where has this offensive line been? Saw ‘em against the Lions and a little bit against the Redskins. DVOA has seen them much of the year, and I guess they have been there when the team has been between the 20s, but I haven’t seen it in the red zone, and I didn’t see it against beatable opponents early in the season, when the Eagles could have made this game more meaningful.

And the next morning, when Mr. Tanier heads back to school…

Mike Tanier: The custodian stopped me at 7:30 to talk up Feeley. My homeroom aide is talking up Feeley. They aren’t saying: Well, if McNabb is banged up, we can win a game or two with Feeley. It’s: Feeley is better, reads the field better, more accurate. I guess not only is Andy Reid an idiot, but the front offices of the Chargers and Dolphins are idiots for letting a potential franchise quarterback like Feeley slip through their mitts.



Anonymous Phil said...

I really feel for McNabb. According to FO, he's 18th in DPAR and PAR this year with 13 TD, 6 INT and 3 lost fumbles. Not Probowl #s, but hardly benchable ones either.

Their 5-6 record could easily have been 6-5 if the special teams hadn't screwed up the GB game and 7-4 if the D had held the Bears game.

7:36 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

i saw that too. another interesting comparison is DVOA for mcnabb vs feeley (since we can't compare don's DPAR with aj's DPAR as they are cumulative numbers).

this season's DVOA is 2.8% for mcnabb and 4.5% for feeley. so as bad as mcnabb's been playing, he's had about the same level of on field performance as two of the better games aj has played.

3 tds and 3 picks = good game for feeley

3 tds and 3 picks = bad game for mcnabb

i don't disagree that feeley played pretty well, but most people are basing it off relative performance compared to expectations. if mcnabb or peyton manning throw up a 3 td/3 int day, they stink relative to what people expect from them -- perfection. since aj has lower expectations, everyone's happy with what was a decent performance.

9:53 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this has been said before, but I'll say it again. I don't think the worst coast offense is a good fit for Don's skills. Actually, it's probably the worst fit for him. People always point to his low INT %, but many times he doesn't make the throw that the worst coast offense requires. It's timing, you throw the ball to the spot, the recievers supposed to be there, in stride and gets big yac. Don seems to wait for the throw to be there before releasing the ball, which is why sometimes he takes those maddening sacks. I think in some ways, AJ trusts the system more and that's why the offense seemed more in sync even without a huge game from Westbrook. I don't ever recall the eagles being a big YAC team. They were more vertical the T/O year and the other year that they led the league in long pass plays, and many of those long pass plays were just that -- long, deep throws by Don, not rcvrs going crazy running the ball.
I'm kind of torn here, I don't really like McNabb, and he's only a .500 QB since the Super Bowl, but I don't know that AJ's the answer, and putting Kolb in admits you're rebuilding Sigh !
More questions :
--where the hell has Greg Lewis been ? I thought we saw flashes SB season, then he vanished. I think he was a big TO guy, and TO leaving might have had some effect on him. Was tonight an aberration, or will we see more of the guy?
-- Is JR Reed as good as he looked tonight ? Or was he just amped up at having a start ? I don't know that he's better then Quentin , but I liked him more than Considine back there.
-- Where has this O-line been all season ? This was by far their best game -- solid pass protection, good blitz pickups. The Patriots definitely keyed on Westbrook, but we still scored a bunch o points.
You're right TMG, about expectations. I have not even considered burying Feeley despite the 3 picks, but if it was Don, I would have stayed up late last night and home from work today digging the hole in my backyard. Should be fun watching this play out.


12:23 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Captain, i was gonnat say exactly the same thing about leading/trusting his receivers. I perceive this as McNabb's biggest problem. He holds the ball too long and doesn't just let it go. This worked better when he could still run (I think TMG has pointed that out already).

I also think that Reid for some really strange reasons tailors game plans more to his other QBs, while with McNabb in there its the entire thing, whether it fits #5 or not. really strange in my opinion.


3:01 AM EST  

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