A rash of compelling stories that broke throughout the day kept us from getting back to the intriguing events that unfolded last night in Philadelphia.
And to get a better perspective on what went down at Lincoln Financial Field, we called Howard Eskin of WIP radio in Philly, who shared with us some additional details regarding the frustrations displayed by quarterback Donovan McNabb as to the impact of the insertion of quarterback Mike Vick on the inability of the Eagles’ offense to establish a rhythm.
Though head coach Andy Reid denied that McNabb made a gesture to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg indicating that McNabb wanted to pull the plug on the first phase of the Mike Vick experiment, the video that played throughout the day on ESPN is unmistakable.
McNabb makes the one-handed “kill it” gesture multiple times, sharply waving his hand under his chin. And though I’m not much of a lip reader, it’s pretty clear that McNabb’s message to Mornhinweg includes the phrase “got no rhythm.”
Per Eskin, multiple players confirmed after the game that McNabb was miffed. Mornhinweg declined comment when he was asked by Eskin about whether Donovan was upset.
Since Mornhinweg wasn’t made available to the media generally after the game, he wasn’t grilled on the topic by the assembled media.
So the reasonable conclusion is that McNabb already is pissed, and we’re not surprised by that.
We heard in the wake of the announcement that Vick had signed with the Eagles that McNabb wasn’t happy with the move. And we didn’t believe for a second the sanitized, self-serving “I pretty much lobbied for Vick” stuff that McNabb was selling once his every facial gesture was being scrutinized. There were plenty of inconsistencies in the statements made at the time regarding the precise nature of McNabb’s role, and so we refused to accept at face value the story that the Eagles were selling — especially since the Eagles had been blatantly untruthful about their interest in Vick in the days and weeks before suddenly signing him.
As we’ve previously explained it, we think that McNabb will go along with Vick’s presence if Vick understands his place, and if the organization will continue to kiss McNabb’s ring (and possibly other areas of his anatomy).
That said, we’re not quite sure what McNabb wants. He said that the offense needs to establish a rhythm before Vick can enter the game at quarterback.
So when does that happen?
And if/when a rhythm has been established, why would the Eagles disrupt it by putting Vick under center?
Then there’s a factor that we hadn’t previously considered. If coming out for a play or two disrupts McNabb’s ability to establish a rhythm, what does a handful of plays do for Vick’s ability to get into a groove? Last year, Miami’s Wildcat package entailed Ronnie Brown taking the snap, at a time when Brown already had been on the field. Vick will be coming in cold, running a play or two, and then leaving again before he can even begin to warm up.
Sure, Kordell Stewart managed to make that role work 14 years ago with the Steelers. But he was a rookie at the time. Vick spent six years in the NFL as an every-down quarterback. His new function will require a major adjustment to his prior mindset.
Maybe, then, Vick’s best role will be to serve as a backup quarterback only, and as a part-time receiver or running back or kick/punt returner. We say that only because we’re getting the feeling that that’s the only role for Vick that McNabb will truly tolerate.
Bottom line? Stories of redemption and second chances sound great in a vacuum. But when it’s time to win football games, that stuff goes out the window.
And if the situation on Thursday night was sufficiently frustrating to make McNabb break ranks from the “happy thoughts” approach that had characterized Vick’s first two weeks with the team, what will happen if Vick’s spot duty keeps the Eagles from establishing a rhythm during a game that actually counts?