Just Another Game?

Aug. 13, 2010 - Landover, Maryland, United States of America - 13 August, 2010: Washington Redskins Quarterback DONOVAN MCNABB.

And so it’s almost here. Week 4. Donovan McNabb’s return to Philly. Will he get cheered? Will he get booed? If I’m honest, as long as he’s on the losing team I don’t really care although a good reception would be the classy thing to do. And then boo the living daylights out of him as he lines up behind that awful O-line!

The McNabb era was extremely successful for the Eagles, but my overriding memory of #5 is his failure to win the big games. It was fantastic to win game after game during the regular season and cruise into post season but surely, given all those opportunities, it wasn’t too much to expect ONE Superbowl win?! By the end of last season I was ready for change, especially after the two losses to Dallas. McNabb managed to exorcise that demon right away in Washington with a week 1 win over Jerry Jones’ blue-starred circus, but there was nothing much on that game, certainly not a run at the post season. Now McNabb faces the Eagles at The Linc and he must want this game more than any other between now and week 17. He must be thinking about it 24/7, piling on the pressure in his mind. Wanting a win so badly. Hoping and praying that he doesn’t choke. Again. He must be running through scenarios in his head, imagining the cheers or the jeers from the Philly fans. He’ll say all the right things, that it’s “just another game”, but human nature dictates that the thoughts will run through his head all week – if they haven’t done all summer. Pressure.

And what about Andy Reid? Is his decision to trade McNabb within the division about to be vindicated or thrown back squarely in his face? Is this the game that could finally silence the fans who criticised the move or will it give them more ammo to throw at the Head Coach? Both McNabb and Reid are claiming that this is just another game, but is it? Really? Could it ever be “just another game” given the circumstances? So many questions will be answered on Sunday.

As for the game itself, I can’t wait. Yes, I want to see McNabb lose. Yes, I want to see the Eagles stomp all over a division rival. But most of all, I want to see more of Mike Vick! I can’t remember ever being so excited about an Eagles team and much of it comes down to the incredible performances from Vick. I admired his elusive scrambling abilities when he was at Atlanta, but all along I knew that he didn’t quite have the consistency and all-round game that he needed to be a great quarterback. And then came Vick 2.0. He’s changed the way he plays the game, bringing in far better passing, ball security and a more considered approach to his drives. When he played in Atlanta, I almost felt that no plays were ever called and he simply did whatever he felt like. A huge amount of credit must go to Vick for the transformation, but also the coaching staff who have obviously worked hard with him throughout the summer to create this new superstar in the making. If ever there’s a textbook written about how to take a second chance, Mike Vick will be on the first page. And his view of Sunday? “Just another game”.

I must also mention Kevin Kolb. He would have known that there’d be cameras trained on him throughout the Jacksonville Jaguars game and he played his part faultlessly, but I hope that he didn’t have to put on too much of an act. He looked dangerously lost in week 1 and his lack of movement behind the O-line meant that an injury was bound to happen sooner or later, especially with the loss of Jamaal Jackson too. Kolb will know precisely his own weaknesses and now has time to work on them so that he can make the most of his next opportunity – though with Vick taking so many hits, it might not necessarily be as far away as he’s anticipating. If Kolb needs any pointers about taking second chances, the current starting quarterback should be able to help out.

So what do I want from the big showdown on Sunday?

  1. An Eagles win.
  2. Another exciting performance from Mike Vick and the Offense.
  3. Dominant Defense.
  4. I want to see McNabb fall short of what was needed to win the big game. I want to see the failure to convert 3rd downs, the horrible throws into the ground, the 6 yard passes when he needs 8. I want absolute proof that Andy Reid was right to trade McNabb when he did, and to where he did.

What do I not want to see?

  1. Injuries.
  2. The Eagles secondary being picked apart.
  3. McNabb celebrating a win at the Linc with another team.
  4. That stupid air guitar!

I’m nervously excited. The game is being shown on TV in the UK so let’s put on a show!

Cheers from the UK and GO BIRDS!

[Photo courtesy of PicApp]