Eagles' Passing Game Takes a Hard Hit (to the McRibs)

Kody LeibowitzContributor ISeptember 14, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 13:  Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles lays on the ground after injuring his knee in the second half of their NFL season opener against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 13, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. McNabb did not return to the game. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Who could have foreseen another Donovan McNabb injury?  

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback went down with a cracked rib during the seventh offensive drive, which resulted in a touchdown by the same player.  

There is no doubt that the injury will affect the potent passing game.  The only question is, "To what extent?"  How many games, if any, will McNabb sit for?  Can Kevin Kolb take over and put up similar numbers with the receiving core, or will the front office resign recently released quarterback A.J. Feeley?  

All of these questions can be answered within the upcoming weeks, but now Eagles fans have to suffer with wondering and waiting.

Before the injury, there was a lot to look forward to this season.  Five players could sum up the entire offensive season: McNabb, DeSean Jackson, rookie Jeremy Maclin, running back/hybrid back Brian Westbrook, and oh yeah, some guy named Michael Vick.

Now Eagles fan have to sit and wait, pray and hope, as to whether our first game's performance can be duplicated in the upcoming weeks until our guy is healthy again.

Analysis of Week One

Before the injury to McNabb, there was a lot of upside to the passing attack.  Of the first three drives, two were off of interceptions from cornerback Sheldon Brown. Those picks set up a 48-yard field goal from David Akers and a nine-yard touchdown pass from McNabb to tight end Brent Celek, respectively.  

Within the first three drives, McNabb went three of six for 32 yards and one touchdown. McNabb then competed in four more drives—one that resulted in a four-yard shovel pass for a touchdown to Westbrook, an interception to Jon Beason, and the now-infamous three-yard touchdown run by McNabb, which resulted in the dubbed "McRib-incident."  

Then came trouble.

Kolb was placed into the game by default and finished the day off seven of 11 for 23 yards, two fumbles (one lost), and a quarterback rating of 67.6.

Wow, that's not something to be ecstatic about for the next couple weeks, maybe.  

The receivers looked shaky and rusty.  There were plenty of missed catches from the group, including Jackson, Kevin Curtis, and Celek.

The longest completion was 18 yards to Jason Avant, the perennial 3rd-down wideout, and no one had more than 37-total yards of offensive plays.

However, Jackson did have a nice punt return for a touchdown.

Overall, the passing game, which is usually the strength of the offense, took a backseat to the injury and running game.  The total passing numbers were: 17 of 29 for 82-yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

Not too good, especially for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

What to Watch for in Week Two

McNabb, McNabb, and McNabb.  

That is it.  Period.

If he cannot play against the New Orleans Saints, then don't expect a shoot-out.  Kolb cannot put up the numbers that are expected, even with these receivers.  He is just a terrible quarterback who cannot throw a ball to save his life.

The Saints' secondary will destroy him.  I know, laugh at that prediction: the Saints secondary will pick off an Eagles quarterback.

Every other position of the Eagles will and must step up if McNabb is gone for an extended period of time.  If not, it will be a long game—possibly games depending on the severity.

If McNabb plays on the fractured-rib, then the Eagles will beat up on the Saints' defense.  Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions put up 27-points against their pathetic defense, so why couldn't a hurt McNabb and receiving crew put up 35 or 42?

Also, if McNabb plays, look out for Jackson and Maclin going deep for at least three total touchdowns.  Mark it down.

Crystal BallLooking Into the Future 

If McNabb is unable to play for the next couple of games, then:

Michael Vick will start for the Philadelphia Eagles Week Three at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.


It will be the worst move ever made by this franchise.

Look, I'm all for Vick playing again.  I think he will be a tremendous asset to the team.

But he is NOT a starting quarterback yet.  He needs time to gain his confidence back, and placing him as the starter for Week Three will be the biggest mistake Andy Reid has ever made with this franchise.

Let him get his feet back with the Wildcat formation, slot receiver, and running back sets like Jackson.


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