Feeley's productivity vs. Pats gives Reid option at QB
If Donovan McNabb is completely healthy, he's the Eagles quarterback.
End of debate.Al Bello/Getty ImagesDonovan McNabb's availability for Philly's next game will not be decided until later in the week.
Now all coach Andy Reid can do is hope McNabb is healthy enough to play this week against Seattle. While McNabb is making progress from thumb and ankle injuries that kept him out of Philadelphia's loss at New England, Reid said he wanted his quarterback at 100 percent before he plays again.
"We'll see how he does," Reid said Monday. "We're trying to get him back to 100 percent before we stick him in the game."
The QB situation is eerily familiar for the Eagles. They were 5-6 last season and McNabb was out with a torn knee ligament. Garcia stepped in and led Philadelphia to five straight victories and one more in the postseason.
The Eagles are 5-6 again and probably need to win their final five to have any shot at making the playoffs. McNabb is sidelined, but the thumb and ankle injuries are nowhere near as severe as the ACL, and the plucky backup's play against the Patriots has some fans and columnists calling for Feeley to be the No. 1 QB.
"I understand how those things work," Reid said. "I think it's a pretty good situation to be in myself. If you have that many quarterbacks that people think can play, then that's a good thing."
Not if the situation becomes a distraction or a full-blown controversy.
If McNabb can't go against the Seahawks and Feeley wins with another efficient effort, then a true QB controversy is exactly what Reid will face.
Feeley led the Eagles to a pair of touchdowns after McNabb was knocked out of a 17-7 win over the Dolphins. Then he nearly led the Eagles to a stunning victory over the undefeated Patriots in perhaps Philadelphia's best-played game of the season.
Making his first start since December 2004 and the 14th of his career, Feeley completed 27 of 42 passes for 345 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Patriots' 31-28 win on Sunday night.
Feeley's second pass attempt was intercepted by Asante Samuel and returned 40 yards for the first touchdown of the game. Feeley also threw another pick to Samuel late in the game, and an interception to James Sanders on the left sideline on a pass intended for Reggie Brown on the Eagles' final drive.
"I'm sure he'd want a couple of those back," Reid said. "For the most part, he got the ball out on time and did a nice job. I thought he had a good command of the huddle and he didn't let the crowd or anything affect his play."
McNabb worked out Monday morning and any decision about his availability would not be made until later in the week. McNabb was not ruled out against the Patriots until Saturday morning.
McNabb had started every game since returning ahead of schedule from the torn knee ligament. He hurt the thumb on his throwing hand early against Miami on Nov. 18 and left after injuring his ankle in the second quarter.
"I thought that before he was hurt with the ankle and the thumb, I thought he was making progress to get back to 100 percent of what he was before the knee injury," Reid said. "So, that aside, that's my 100 percent, where he was before he got hurt. Now you tack on two more things, as a coach you'd be foolish to stick somebody out there that has a bad thumb and a bad knee."
No matter how many public hits McNabb absorbed over the years, Reid has shown an unwavering loyalty to his franchise quarterback -- with good reason. McNabb led the Eagles to four straight NFC title games and a trip to the Super Bowl, all while putting up some of the best numbers in franchise history.
"Donovan's had so many great games for us," Reid said. "He's one of the greatest quarterbacks in this team's history and will go down as one of the greats in the NFL."
The Super Bowl season, though, was three years ago and McNabb's play has been more mediocre than magnificent ever since 2005. He hasn't won more than five games in any of the last three seasons (though he can build on that total this year) and the toll of the knee injury, the sports hernia and other assorted physical ailments have robbed him of his ability to make dazzling plays.
The ordinary ones weren't so easy, either. Before McNabb was hurt against the Dolphins, he completed only three of 11 passes for 34 yards with two interceptions. His QB rating was a dismal 0.4.
There is a good reason why the Eagles surprised McNabb by drafting Kevin Kolb.
Still, there is no way Reid would ever yank McNabb's starting spot because of an injury or because a backup played a solid six quarters.
"I'm not sure one game here determines what's hot and what's not," Reid said.
The only part Reid has determined is that a healthy McNabb is owed at least one more shot to make the season right.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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