The wait is over – the Pundit has returned. And there it is, the roaring clap of six hands, as the three people who actually visit this site stand up and raise their voices in jubilation. Your “lazy” Pundit was in fact quite busy attempting to find a new apartment and wrapping up the details as he heads off to grad school in the fall, all while attempting to watch every single Phillies game. But now he has returned, and has a few things to say to Mr. McNabb.
As most of you know, Donovan McNabb had the final two years of his contract reworked, earning him an additional $5 million or so. Yippie. And as many in the blogosphere/media market are privy to, the deal offers the Eagles a lot of flexibility, in that the biggest chunk of his guaranteed money doesn’t kick in for the second year of the contract until May 5th of next year, meaning that if he sucks it up this year, he can be released or traded without them taking a major hit. And if he lights it up, or at least stays at the level we’re accustomed to, they can extend him and try to move Kolb if they so desire.
And, more importantly, if anybody wants him.
Call it what you want – a monetary make-up kiss, a sound business decision, a way to spend all of that money that they can’t possibly spend. We can argue about the implications of this move by the Eagles and McNabb until the cows return to their residences, going from green to blue in the face trying to predict the future.
Well, do it somewhere else. I want a Superbowl, damnit, and I want Donovan McNabb to bring me one.
I’ve heard all of the arguments on every side, and I’m done with them. Oh, McNabb is one guy out of 21 on the field, you can’t put it all on him. Um, yes I can – and I will. Just like I’ll heap most of the praises on Tom Brady or Joe Montana for their late-game heroics, so too will Donovan be the goat. I call that a Pundit’s Prerogative. But look at the Steelers’ or Ravens’ teams from years ago – they won with defense, and didn’t rely solely on the QB to lead them. It’s a team effort. Yeah, true – but those teams also didn’t throw the ball 59.6% of the time, like this Eagles team does. He has to be the guy in the system, and I expect they’ll take some of the pressure off of him with a running game that should be used more this year. He brought them back against the Cardinals, and almost bailed the defense out after their horrendous first-half. Yup, but with the game on the line, and the ball in his hands, he couldn’t lead them to victory.
Listen, I’m a Donovan McNabb fan. He’s the best quarterback this organization has ever seen. He’s led them to five NFC Championship game appearances, one Superbowl, blah blah blah. You know all of the accomplishments by now. The guy is good, damn good, and I didn’t want to see him go after this season, especially given his turnaround after the benching. Even if the benching had nothing to do with it (cough). When he’s on, he is still a top-ten QB in this league, and they don’t exactly sprout from foliage.
But expectations also change as success occurs. Let’s use the Detroit Lions as an example of how expectations work. Last year, they won nothing. They even went to McDonald’s and ordered sodas during one of those peel-off promotions, where even if you don’t win one of the big prizes, you still win a small fry or something. And they didn’t even get the small fry. They peeled off the sticker to see what they had won, and emblazoned in large red letters were the words “YOU SUCK – WE GIVE YOU NOTHING,” reducing Jon Kitna to tears and causing him to temporarily renounce his fate.
So anyway, if the Lions win one game this year – just one – it’s an improvement. The year after, you’d like to see them get to around five or six wins, and be more competitive. After that, they should be a game off of .500 in either direction, winning and losing a lot of close games. After that, they should make the playoffs. After that, they should win the division and win a game in the playoffs. After that, win the division, maybe get a bye, advance to the NFC Championship game, and make a serious run at the Super Bowl. After that, win the Super Bowl. That’s a seven-year progression, but its the Lions, so bear with me.
Now imagine that over those seven years, the Lions had already made four NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl, coming close but losing. Imagine they had the same QB over the span of those years. Wouldn’t his legacy, despite all of his previous success, still be riding on whether or not he was able to get over the final hump and win the big one?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, ask Dan Marino why a giant asterisck falls on his head every time two people argue about the best quarterbacks of all time and bring his name up.
Expectations are relative. We’ve seen Kobe take over games before, so when he isn’t totally dominating, we call it an off night. Never mind the fact that 97.6% (arbitrary number alert) of the population could never come close to matching one of his off nights on the court – when you reach a plateau, anything less is considered a fall.
You’re in Philly, Donovan, at least for one more year. We ain’t gonna change who we are. You took the money, now you have to take the heat. I want so badly to see you floating down Broad Street, smile stretched from ear-to-ear. I will personally go out, find a crow, shoot the damn thing, and eat it raw for all of Philadelphia if you win a Super Bowl. Well, perhaps only metaphysically, but you get the point.
Do, or do not. As Yoda reminds us, there is no try. At this juncture in your career, Number Five, such are the stakes.