Donovan McNabb was once one of the preeminent quarterbacks in the NFL.
That’s clearly no longer the case.
In fact, the former All-Pro perennial is embarrassing himself and ruining his legacy by clinging to a career that should be over. After a disastrous season with the Washington Redskins in 2010, McNabb is now floundering with the cellar-dwelling Minnesota Vikings.
He seems a shell of the field general who once led the Eagles to five NFC title game appearances in 11 seasons and pretty much made an entire city eat its words for ripping the organization when it made him the #2 overall draft pick out of Syracuse.
Where McNabb was once a brilliant offensive player, he now spearheads a passing offense that ranks 31st in the NFL, out of 32 teams. Just two years ago, with many of the same players, the Vikes were Super Bowl contenders.
McNabb was benched twice last season with the Redskins, and it would appear that he’s headed for the same landing spot with the Vikings. But head coach Leslie Frazier, who hand-picked McNabb this offseason, is trying to stick by his quarterback.
“Based on these four games we’ve had this season, we’re not at a point where we’re making a quarterback change,” Frazier told the Associated Press on Monday. “I mean, there are a lot of things we need to correct on our football team based on the fact that we’re 0-4. But, at this point, quarterback change isn’t one of those changes.”
How long Frazier, who is in first season as head coach, can retain his faith in McNabb remains to be seen. Through four games McNabb has passed for just 680 yards while at least 15 quarterbacks have passed for 1,000 yards or more at this point.
While coming off a so-so performance — 202 yards, two touchdowns and one interception — during Sunday’s 22-17 loss to Kansas City, McNabb has a quarterback rating of 80.9 during the first four games, tied for 18th in the league. To be fair, there are some big names even lower on the list, such as the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets, who ranked 19th and 27th, respectively.
At some point the Vikings will feel the pressure to give first-round draft pick Christian Ponder a crack at replacing McNabb. With a veteran-laden team that includes running back Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, Frazier may be reluctant to indicate that the franchise is rebuilding. But what do you tell them when the team is 0-8?
McNabb did not face the media on Monday, but from past comments you can tell he is feeling the heat.
“Everybody loves the backup,” he said last week. “But that’s for every team. When things go well, the quarterback is the one who sees all the attention. When things go wrong, they are the ones who get criticized the most.
“But it’s a team game no matter what, whether you’re winning or losing.”
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(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)