Commentary

Reid, McNabb don't talk to each other about benching until after loss

The move Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid thought would provide a spark completely backfired, as the Eagles collapsed in the wake of the second-half benching of QB Donovan McNabb, James Walker writes.

Updated: August 6, 2009, 5:21 PM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

Donovan McNabbGeoff Burke/US PresswireAgainst the host Ravens Sunday, Donovan McNabb was pulled after the first half after he went 8 for 18 for 59 yards, two interceptions and a fumble lost. He and replacement Kevin Kolb combined for 132 yards, 4 INTs and a 12.5 QB rating.

BALTIMORE -- For the first time in his entire football career, a healthy Donovan McNabb stood on the sidelines in a helpless state of mind.

The Philadelphia Eagles franchise quarterback looked uncomfortable during his second-half benching Sunday. His face had a look of disappointment, shock and loneliness. With a hood over his head, it suggested McNabb also experienced a sense of embarrassment.

He was not alone. The Baltimore Ravens embarrassed the Eagles in a 36-7 rout at M&T Bank Stadium. McNabb played one half and was pulled after throwing for 59 yards and committing three turnovers.

"My first [reaction] for me was 'Wow,'" McNabb said. "But you go along with it."

The move Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid thought would provide a spark completely backfired. With the Ravens leading 10-7 at intermission, Reid decided to switch to second-year backup Kevin Kolb. Baltimore (7-4) responded by scoring 26 unanswered points as Kolb (73 yards, two interceptions) was dazed and confused by the Ravens' complex defensive schemes.

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That has left Reid undecided on how to move forward with his quarterbacks in preparation for Philadelphia's Thanksgiving Day game against the Arizona Cardinals. Reid, who didn't second-guess himself afterward, said a decision could be made as soon as Monday.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I didn't think it needed to be done at that time," Reid said. "I'll evaluate it and see what needs to be done here, coming up for this game on Thursday.''

[+] EnlargeKevin Kolb
James Lang/US PresswireKevin Kolb (4) got a rough introduction to the Ravens defense Sunday.

The Eagles' locker room was sullen. There was general distress after a loss that dropped the Eagles to 5-5-1 and likely out of the NFC playoff picture. But there was also confusion as to why the coaching staff would bench a veteran quarterback and five-time Pro Bowl selection when the Eagles trailed by just three points.

"It was a surprise to me,'' sixth-year Eagles tight end L.J. Smith said. "[McNabb] would be the first to tell you that he probably wasn't playing as well as he wanted to. But I haven't seen that since I've been here, so it was definitely a shock.''

McNabb was 8-for-18 for 59 yards with two interceptions and a fumble in the first half -- a miserable 13.2 quarterback rating. One week earlier, he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in an overtime tie with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Baltimore Ravens Philadelphia Eagles

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Watch highlights from the Baltimore Ravens' 36-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Despite a few natural disagreements that occur between a quarterback and head coach, McNabb and Reid have had a good relationship during their decade together, which has included a Super Bowl appearance and six playoff berths. Reid defended McNabb last week when his quarterback admitted he did not know NFL regular-season games could end in a tie.

Yet it was interesting that Reid did not personally tell McNabb he would not return to the game. Instead, Philadelphia quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur informed McNabb at halftime that he was being benched.

"I know you're going to try to spark something up by this whole deal,'' McNabb said. "But I was told, and Kevin went out in the second half and tried to do what he can do.''

Although McNabb wouldn't admit to it, his sideline mannerisms suggested he was upset by the decision.

With his arms inside the body of his coat, McNabb generally stood about 10 yards away from Reid during the entire third and fourth quarters. There was no conversation between the star player and coach until after the game.

McNabb refused to comment on the details of his conversation with Reid, but said he would not have pulled himself in that situation.

"That is why I'm not the coach,'' McNabb said bluntly.

McNabb's passer rating was the second-lowest of his career. In fact, he has seven turnovers (five interceptions, two fumbles) in his past six quarters of play.

Whether the benching was temporary or for the remainder of the season, it raises a ton of questions surrounding McNabb's future in Philadelphia and whether he still fits with the same franchise that drafted him 10 seasons ago.

"I personally don't care about my time being here or expecting to be here,'' McNabb said. "When you're in a game like this, you don't focus on your future and all of that. You try to focus on trying to win a game. At this present time, I'm not even thinking about what happens after the season is over."

James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com

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ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter