Reid & McNabb Returning to Eagles Next Season

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb will be back in Philadelphia next season. With that out of the way, the biggest question is whether the Eagles can win a Super Bowl with this coach and quarterback.

The Eagles have reached the NFC championship game five times in
the last eight years, only to lose four, including Sunday's 32-25
defeat to the Arizona Cardinals. The one year they advanced, they
lost to New England.

So, Reid and McNabb are judged on their playoff failures. It's
probably unfair considering all their success, but that's life in a
city with passionate fans and a win-it-all-or-else mentality.

"One out of five isn't good enough," Reid said Monday. "I'd
much rather be moving on."

Now that it's official the Eagles won't end their 48-year
championship drought this season, the critics are bashing Reid and
McNabb the way they did when Philadelphia was 5-5-1 in late
November.

But neither is going anywhere, according to team president Joe
Banner.

Hoping to end speculation, Banner issued a statement through a
team spokesman saying Reid and McNabb will be back. Owner Jeffery
Lurie already has said he wanted both to return.

It's possible the front-office structure could change. Reid also
is the executive vice president of football operations, and Tom
Heckert the general manager. Perhaps Reid will delegate more
responsibility to Heckert or someone else so he can concentrate
more on coaching and possibly some personal matters. Many of his
close friends are concerned about his weight and his family went
through a crisis when his two oldest sons were arrested in 2007.

"I haven't thought about that stuff," Reid said when asked
about potential changes. "We never talk about that kind of
stuff."

McNabb's future was uncertain when he got benched for the first
time in his career during halftime of a loss at Baltimore on Nov.
23. It seemed the Eagles might want to move forward with Kevin
Kolb, a second-round pick in 2007.

But McNabb returned to the lineup, led the Eagles to a 4-1
record down the stretch and an unlikely playoff berth as the No. 6
seed. He played well in two playoff victories on the road and had
an up-and-down performance against Arizona.

McNabb struggled in the first half Sunday. He misfired four
times, including two passes that could've been touchdowns, on
Philadelphia's second possession that ended with a missed field
goal. But he was superb in leading the Eagles back from a 19-point
deficit to a 25-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.

After the defense promptly relinquished the lead, McNabb needed
to drive the Eagles 80 yards for the tying score with 2:53 left.
But he threw four straight incompletions from the Cardinals 47,
finishing 28-of-47 for 375 yards, three TDs and one interception.
He also lost a fumble, got sacked twice and was called for
intentional grounding.

That only fuels those who say McNabb can't win the big game.
After all, he seems to always come up short when he has a chance to
lead a comeback victory in the final minutes.

But McNabb can't be blamed for the loss to the Cardinals. A
defense that had allowed only four TDs in the previous six games
was the main culprit. They couldn't stop Kurt Warner, Larry
Fitzgerald & Co. in the first half, putting the Eagles in a 24-6
hole. Once McNabb put Philly ahead, the defense gave up the winning
score on a 14-play, 72-yard drive that last 7:52.

The team's only Pro Bowl picks - cornerback Asante Samuel and
free safety Brian Dawkins - had poor games. Defensive mastermind
Jim Johnson was outcoached by Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd
Haley.

"The defense didn't get off the field when we were supposed
to," Dawkins said. "The offense did their job; we did not. They
drove the field. They got us points. We went ahead. Defensively, we
have to get off the field and we did not."

Though management has made it clear it wants McNabb to return,
he could force his way out by demanding a contract extension.
McNabb, signed through 2010, already said he wants a new deal.

McNabb didn't want to discuss the issue after the game, and was
unavailable when players cleaned out their lockers Monday.

"I feel very good about Donovan," Reid said. "I think Donovan
had a heck of a year. I thought he guided this football team as
well as he ever has. He's a great person and a great player."

The Eagles have more pressing contract decisions. Bookend
tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan, who've protected McNabb
throughout his 10 seasons in Philadelphia, will be free agents.
Dawkins, nickel back Joselio Hanson, running back Correll
Buckhalter and tight end L.J. Smith also will be unrestricted free
agents.

Age is a factor with Dawkins (35), Runyan (35) and Thomas (34).
Hanson and Buckhalter are valuable players. Smith almost certainly
won't be back.

Runyan sounded like a guy who didn't expect to return.

"I've done my part," he said. "I'll sit back and let it
unfold."

Buckhalter, who missed three full seasons to knee injuries early
in his career, wants a chance to be a starter.

"If the opportunity presented itself, I'm going to take it,"
he said.

The Eagles have two first-round picks, Nos. 21 and 28, and an
extra fifth and sixth. They also have cornerback Lito Sheppard as
trade bait. The former All-Pro hardly played on defense the final
two months.

"I want to be back on the field playing, however that needs to
happen," Sheppard said.

The Eagles put all these offseason decisions on hold by staging
a remarkable turnaround. They were written off after a tie against
woeful Cincinnati and a lopsided loss to the Ravens, but won three
straight to get back in the playoff mix. They were all but
eliminated after losing to Washington in Week 16, but got help from
other teams and whipped Dallas 44-6 in essentially a playoff game
for the final wild-card spot.

Philadelphia beat Minnesota, knocked off the defending Super
Bowl champion New York Giants and went to Arizona as a 3½-point
favorite only to come up short - again.

"The ultimate goal for us is to win the big game," cornerback
Sheldon Brown said. "We accomplished some good things. We didn't
get to the big dance, so it's nothing to brag about."


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