The Daily Rant
Rant archives
RSS feed for The Daily Rant RSS Feed
Streaming Daily Rants
Podcast/MP3 Daily Rants
About me
Home Turf
Pave the grass
My news clips
Contact me
Pa. gambles
Pa. pay raise
Pa. papers
Pa. poliblogs
Pa. columnists
Pa. AP news
N.J. papers
N.J. AP news
Good reporting
White House
GAO news
Iraq war
Peak oil
For Men
News feed
Warp Stock
Site map

as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Fumbled summer
Eagles dismantled defense, rather than fix offense.

After a week of harsh criticism focused on the Eagles' quarterback, I can honestly say Rush Limbaugh was wrong and Warren Sapp, of all people, is right.

Donovan McNabb isn't regressing. His team is.

But that's not McNabb's fault.

Blame it on a front office and a coaching staff more focused on the bottom line than the goal line.

Instead of spending the summer filling well-known weaknesses in the offensive line and preparing to open their new stadium with another NFC Championship-quality team, the Eagles dismantled their strong defense.

The front office suddenly became Phillies-cheap and let veteran after veteran defect from what was once arguably among the best defenses in the entire league.

First, linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, a "franchise player" labeled as such by the Eagles, went to the Redskins.

Then linebacker Shawn Barber went to the Chiefs and Brian Mitchell, one of the best punt returners in the NFL and the only guy who showed up against the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship game, went to the Giants. (Like they needed our help or something.)

Then finally Hugh Douglas, the very heart of the defense, jumped the line after the Eagles failed to make him an offer worth close to his value to the team or at least he couldn't refuse. (No horse's heads were available, I guess.)

And let's not fail to mention the bizarre reasoning behind not re-signing All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Freeman, who was summarily reacquired by the Packers, and punter Sean Landenta from the team.

After creating those gaping holes, team president Joe Banner and coach Andy Reid then spent months playing Little Dutchmen with unproven rookies, over-the-hill has-beens (Yeah, Landeta is too old, so let's try replacing him with someone even older - Reid's college roommate.) and cheap never-will-bes.

It seemed like anybody who was older than 30 was asked to retire or move on during the past off-season. In fact, when All-Pro cornerback Bobby Taylor's agents asked about the status of his contract, Banner verbally attacked them.

These moves may have been forgotten by a lot of people in the midst of hoagie-gate and the water fountain scandal at the new Linc, but not yours truly. Forgive me Joe, but if this was the "exciting" summer you promised fans, I want to use my challenge this quarter.

If football was a chess match, the Eagles should have surrendered the season at that point because they'd lost too many pieces. McNabb even uncharacteristically criticized the team's off-season chicanery.

"You realize the situation and the financial concerns and needs teams may have, but those guys have been doing it for a while," McNabb said at a May 4 press conference. "These aren't guys that did it just for one year, they've done it consistently. It's tough to swallow, but you want the best for those guys because they have a lot of years left."

As far as I can remember, and this dates back to the days when Ron Jaworski quarterbacked, the Eagles have always had a lousy offensive line. Their pocket seems to collapse quicker than a house of cards in a strong wind.

McNabb's ability to scramble out of that mess and gain six-to-eight yards before sliding like a baseball player is truly remarkable and makes him the prototypical quarterback in today's game.

Also remarkable is McNabb's canon-like arm, which is a bit too powerful and a lot less controlled than needed. He fires his salvos into his receivers' chests hard enough that it leaves welts or they go low into the dirt. I'm surprised the Linc's grass doesn't have divots by now.

McNabb said he learned something while sitting on the sidelines two months last year watching A.J. Feeley toss lobs to his receivers, but so far we have yet to see any evidence of it.

Lost amid the media furor surrounding Rush Limbaugh racial comments last week was the trash-talking of Warren Sapp, the Bucs' All-Pro defensive tackle. Sapp has a big mouth as well as a big body, so it's understandable why he's been largely ignored.

But what he said makes a lot of sense. "McNabb ain't got no weapons," Sapp told Sports Illustrated. "What are James Thrash and Todd Pinkston? I mean, really. What are they?"

The articles' author, Peter King, answered Sapp's rehetorical question by stating, "On maybe 30 other NFL personnel boards, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston are second and third receivers, or even third and fourth receivers."

Now, I love Thrash and Pinkston, don't get me wrong. I think they've done a terrific job at trying to hold on to some of McNabb's bullets and gain some ground. But at some point in the near future, either they have to tell McNabb how to hit them so they can catch it or they have to go.

McNabb's doing his part just by getting it to them.

Why do you think he sits in the pocket and pauses a good five seconds on every major play hoping that somebody down field can get open?

Any way, that's just this fan's opinion. Enough Monday morning quarterbacking for one day. Go Eagles.

Dave Ralis is the sports editor for phillyBurbs.com. His Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can send him an e-mail at  or call him at 215-269-5051. To read his previous columns, click here.

Oct. 6, 2003