Trade McNabb, Fire Reid and Demolish the Vet

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network

Veterans Stadium
A Eagles' fan walks away from Veterans Stadium for the last time following Philadelphia's 27-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -- Of all those ideas, the one that is closest to reality, of course, is doing away with a field and stadium that is as outdated as the game plan of the Philadelphia Eagles this past weekend when they encountered a warm weather team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had the thermostat in their locker room turned down to 32 degrees to get them ready for the big encounter.

Philadelphia had treated the visitors with disdain, insulted them before they arrived, ridiculed them when they got here and planned victory parties prior to the battle even getting underway. The Mummers were having their outfits cleaned and pressed, the mayor had a meeting to choose the parade route, the TV, print and radio bobble heads were inciting the fans to riot, to book travel to San Diego lest they miss out on the party. All players could speak of was their being a "team of destiny" and a branded memory of last year's loss to St. Louis, which they felt never would have occurred with home field advantage.

Along comes the Divisional Playoff Game but no trophy, no title, nothing except being NFC East Champions, whatever that is worth. And here it is. The home field advantage. Yes, that is meaningful and, according to the team, local pundits, fans and talk show hosts, the gateway to the Super Bowl. "Not in our house," they chanted.

Make your expectations high and the fall from grace is worse than leaping from the Empire State Building to see if you will bounce when you encounter the pavement. The fact of the matter is that the splat! heard will leave you lying there as one limp and ugly mess.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid argues a call with side judge Tom Fincken. Reid was out-coached by Jon Gruden's Bucs.
I predicted that Jon Gruden would make the difference, that Andy Reid would be out-coached and that is precisely what happened. Over-confidence is a heavy burden to bear. Philadelphia has a good quarterback in Donovan McNabb, a very good one. He is not great. This is the same draft selection that fans down here did not want. Then they elevated him to a pedestal that does not suit him yet. Their season of destiny was one of good fortune. Their offense did not exist and they had no running game to strike fear in the hearts of opponents or set up the pass. Duce Staley was, and is, good for one run of merit a game. That is it.

The letdown was predictable.

They do not have big time wide receivers. No Marvin Harrison. There is no Jerry Rice, regardless of age, Tim Brown or Terrell Owens. They do not have a linebacker like Lavar Arrington, one that can rush the passer and play the run. Why was everyone in Philadelphia surprised at the loss?

They need a tight end, someone bigger and faster than Chad Lewis, one for whom Lewis can be a complement and bigger threat.

Hugh Douglas came to Philadelphia to win a championship. It is not to be, and the Eagles must find a pass rushing defensive end to replace him or share that spot with him. The big fella is a free agent but one has to doubt that he will go anywhere.

Speaking of that, Brian Dawkins, a starting defensive back with talent, is in the final year of his contract. A long term deal written in green has to be done soon.

Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb walks off the field after throwing a game-clinching interception to Ronde Barber in the fourth quarter.
But the talk shows on local radio are besieged with callers wondering if it is time to trade Donovan McNabb after four years and no Super Bowl. They are close to hanging in effigy, or real, the very same coach they idolized for an entire season and who just won coach of the year honors from AP, a title and trophy he should pass to Jon Gruden as quickly as possible.

McNabb simply needs better tools around him. He cannot be called upon to create 60% or more of the offense. Reid must take lessons in creativity and aggressiveness. Trades and wholesale line-up changes are also the order of the day. Philadelphia will be in the hunt again next season. That is not solace enough for them today, for this week, this year or years to come. This was their shot at the Super Bowl. As far as they were concerned, it was pre- ordained. The white smoke had been seen in the sky and the vote had been taken? Eagles elevated to the throne.

Is a new prince in the wings? Nope. Koy Detmer is a free agent and proved he can play. Two choices await - never be a full time starter with Donovan in town (and he has a contract that goes through 2042 or thereabouts) or look around for a job with more playing time.

Correll Buckhalter will be back at full strength next year but he and Staley need more. What? Another back with speed and strength. Dorsey Levens is not the answer. He will be gone. Joining him will be Antonio Freeman, distraught and anxious to find a coach that wants a greater passing game.

Shawn Barber, starting weak side linebacker, is another free agent. He stays unless Reid gets rid of him.

Brian Mitchell, the biggest threat the Eagles have right now, is a free agent as well. It is a toss up but my guess is that he stays. Punter Sean Landetta returns and so does the kicking game.

Is that enough for McNabb and Reid? Enough to keep them in town. Forget Iraq. Philadelphia streets are running with green blood today, and everyone is looking for something else to do besides watch Oakland and Tampa Bay this Sunday.

The truth is that they brought it upon themselves, team and fans alike. That does not mean that it is time to desert the ship. It is, however, time to regroup. It will be Eagles and Giants again. Dallas is two years away and Steve Spurrier still thinks that this is the SEC and not the NFL.

Trade McNabb? Be serious. Run Reid out of town? Not this season or any other soon.

The biggest letdown in Philadelphia sports history just took place. The city is in mourning. Psyches and people are leaping from the Walt Whitman Bridge. WIP radio (sports talk) and its callers will bemoan and replay the game for weeks, maybe months. Neither the Flyers nor the Sixers will be a salve to soothe the hurt. At least this is not Buffalo. Think about that for a little while and you, if you live in Philadelphia right now, just might feel better.

As for this Sunday's game, that analysis comes in a few days. Will the Philadelphia team and its total organization take the loss as badly as the fans? You gotta be kidding!

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