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News » Bob Ford: Eagles' McNabb is toast

Bob Ford: Eagles' McNabb is toast

Bob Ford: Eagles' McNabb is toast
BALTIMORE - This is how the party always has to end. The kitchen is stacked with dirty dishes and someone has thrown up in the guest bathroom, and eventually the host has to clear his throat and announce a little too loudly, "All right, I guess it's getting to be that time."

Andy Reid picked up the last stray coats from the bed yesterday, tossed them to the stragglers who couldn't take the hint, and closed the door heavily behind him. It was quite a party, but it's getting to be that time.

Cleaning up from the affair - a 10-year ride during which the music played loudly for a long while and the Eagles came within three (OK, fine, four) points of a world championship - won't be done quickly or easily. It is going to done, though, and the lasting memory of the end of the Donovan McNabb era is that the next one will take a while to start.

"When you get beat up like we did today, that's a head coach's problem right there, man, and a direct reflection on the job I'm doing," Reid said after the Eagles were embarrassed, 36-7, by the Baltimore Ravens .

If a loss like this would have tasted bitter anytime, it was particularly galling one week after the team didn't show up against the Cincinnati Bengals , a week during which Reid implored the Eagles to show some urgency and at least try to make the playoffs. He yelled at them. He reminded them that jobs were on the line. He did everything he could to reach a team that is still reachable. Apparently, the Eagles are either unwilling to listen or unable to respond. Either way, Reid knows what that means. End of the party.

He benched McNabb and that, of course, is the big story on Inaction News. The sight of a healthy McNabb standing on the sideline with his hands stuffed in the pockets of a warm-up jacket was shocking. It wasn't undeserved, although the quarterback is far from the team's only problem. He was awful against the Bengals and maybe worse against the Ravens. There's not much a five-time Pro Bowl player can say about a 13.2 passer rating except that it won't help secure a sixth appearance.

Sitting for the rest of the season won't do much for McNabb's resume, although Reid said he hadn't decided whether the veteran or young Kevin Kolb would start against the Arizona Cardinals in the coming Turkey Bowl. It honestly could go either way.

Reid could think twice about the situation and give McNabb another chance, explaining away yesterday's second half as a wake-up call. They have been so inextricably linked for a decade, it is hard to imagine this cold afternoon in M&T Bank Stadium was really the last stop on the line. Plus, it wouldn't do much for McNabb's possible trade value. Plus, the kid didn't exactly light it up, either.

Kolb did get some valuable experience and learned a few things. He learned that when a team calls a pass play on a second-and-goal situation at the 1, that's taking the difficult path to success. McNabb could have told him that one.

But the measure of Reid's resolve that a change has to be made, and the best indication that Kolb will become the starter, is that the score was just 10-7 when McNabb was pulled. In the past, there wouldn't have been any question. That was then, however.

Before you break out the champagne to celebrate the end of the frustrating McNabb era, there are a couple of things worth remembering: The rebuilding of this team will be painful, and Reid will be the one doing the rebuilding. Don't expect anything else.

On offense, the line is either creakingly old, of average talent, or in California catching moonbeams. The star running back is always hurting. The receivers are so-so. And the new quarterback is unproven. He could be fine or he could be a loud bust. Other than that, everything is set.

Reid has studied this landscape and knows what it means. He also has studied his quarterback and apparently decided that the man who was once in that uniform is no longer there. McNabb's completion percentage is in the bottom quarter among NFL starters. He has been good against bad defenses this season (except Cincinnati), and either just all right or far worse against the better ones. He has not been good enough, and it seems Reid has stopped believing in him. Being yanked at halftime, three points down, is the definition of that.

He also has stopped believing, it would appear, that this team can make the postseason. That's another reason to let Kolb have the final five games. Reid can get a better idea if the younger quarterback is as good as he hopes, which would be a head start on the rebuilding process.

Hey, it was a great party while it lasted, and it lasted longer than most. The dogs are barking in the alley, though, and the neighbors have called the cops.

Maybe it's fitting that the guy who let things get out of hand is the one holding the broom. He started sweeping up yesterday.

Contact columnist Bob Ford

at 215-854-5842 or bford@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/bobford.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 24, 2008

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