The End of an EraI to this day believe there has been no quarterback who has received more undeserved criticism than Donovan McNabb. From the day he was drafted he was booed which would eerily foreshadow what was to come. I get it, the guy didn't get it done. He didn't bring a Super Bowl to the City of Brotherly Love, but there is no doubt McNabb had a positive impact (much more positive than negative) on that franchise. You talk about a man who was the subject of an abundance of criticism throughout his career that one could think that he was a criminal.
The 1-4 record in NFC Championship games are well-documented. The throwing up in the Super Bowl is well-documented. He didn't get it done. It's simple and I get that, but at the end of the day, the man was responsible for a gargantuan amount of regular season success. Sporting a 98-62-1 regular season record, won nine playoff games (9-7), won four NFC East crowns (not including 2006 led by Jeff Garcia), and he did it all with respectable numbers. There is no telling what the Eagles could have done if he didn't have multiple seasons derailed by injuries. He also made the Pro Bowl six times. This was by no means a scrub.
The guy could play professional football yet at the end of the day, it was never enough. He couldn't get it done and was eventually ran out of town after a defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn't just that the Eagles lost, it was the fact that they were blown out by a team who hadn't sniffed a playoff win in over a decade and at the same time was the first time ever Reid and McNabb went one-and-done together. The marriage was over and they would trade him to Washington Redskins. In hindsight, it appears as if the Eagles made the right decision seeing as how McNabb's career would end, but I don't believe Washington and Minnesota were good fits for him. I believe McNabb had another good two years left in him had he spent them with Philly. However, Philly seemed to believe that Kevin Kolb was their savior so they turned to him. Which I believe was one of many mistakes and contributed to the fall of the Eagles.
The Return of Mike VickVick literally bailed out the Eagles in 2010 and it started in Week 1 after Kolb was injured against the Packers and Vick would engineer a near-comeback win. A season mired by injury, Kevin Kolb would be relieved by Mike Vick who would go on to go 8-3 as the Eagles starter. He would have by far the best season of his career. Leading them to an NFC East crown. Finishing with a 21:6 TD:Int ratio with over 3000 yards passing, over 600 yards rushing with 9 rushing TDs, and a 100.2 QB rating. Although it wouldn't end well seeing as they lost to those same Packers again in the Wildcard. The Packers would go on to win the Super Bowl and Eagle fans were left wondering 'what could have been' once again. It would lead to an offseason that would once again end up being a huge mistake.
Trying to Buy a ChampionshipOver the years it's been proven that you just can't buy championships. The Washington Redskins have proven that and so have the Dallas Cowboys. Building through the draft (or undrafted free agents) has always been the blueprint to building a championship team. The Eagles would add themselves to that exclusive list of trying to buy a championship and failing. Not only did they give Mike Vick a huge payday, but they would give a huge contract to Nnamdi Asomugha. They also handed out contracts to Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, and Jason Babin. It seemed as if every time you looked up, the Eagles landed a coveted free agent. In hindsight, it has proven to be a mistake just as it happened with previous teams. Trying to buy a title can lead to chemistry issues and guys being handed starting jobs without truly working hard for it. Competition within camp is always the best way to build an organization and when you are bringing in high-priced free agents, it's hard to achieve that.
As it also happens, Mike Vick came down to earth from his 2010 season. In 2011, he looked nothing like the Vick from the previous season and he couldn't stay healthy either. The wheels had already fallen off after 2011. Vick's downward spiral would continue into the 2012 season, and now he's lost his job because he was predictably injured again and even when he was healthy, he was turning the ball over way too much.