McNabb on read-option: 'It's just a fad'

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McNabb on read-option: 'It's just a fad'

Collinsworth on what he has seen from the Eagles so far

September 19, 2013, 9:00 am
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Donovan McNabb went to six Pro Bowls during his 11 years with the Eagles. (USA Today Images)

Donovan McNabb doesn’t hesitate to give his opinion when asked about the read option, the latest trend in offensive NFL football.

“To me, it’s just a fad,” McNabb said.

McNabb, who went to six Pro Bowls during his 11 years with the Eagles, will have his jersey No. 5 retired and will be inducted into the Eagles’ Hall of Fame Thursday night, when his former coach, Andy Reid, brings the Chiefs to the Linc to face the Eagles.

His former team is almost exclusively no-huddle these days, with a dimension of read-option, and even Reid, a West Coast offense traditionalist in Philly, runs a healthy dose of pistol with the Chiefs.

This is the NFL of 2013. And McNabb, whose nine playoff wins rank ninth in NFL history, doesn’t like it.

“I enjoyed the West Coast offense, I enjoyed the no-huddle and two-minute drill we ran, but I’m not trying to run 90 plays in a game,” he said Wednesday night after arriving in Philly.

“I don’t know if any offensive player would want to run 90 plays in a game. If you’re running 90 plays in a game, that means your defense is pretty awful and you’re running entirely too many plays.

“At Oregon, [Kelly] may have ran 75 plays in a game, but you’re not going to run 85, 90, not in the NFL, and teams and defensive coordinators are a lot better than what you’re going to see in college.”

The Eagles ran 77 plays in a Week 1 win over the Redskins but only 58 in their loss to the Chargers Sunday.

Their 63 points through two games are third-most in the NFL so far, and their 477 yards are second-most.

“I tip my hat off to what they’ve been doing the first two weeks, but there comes a time if you’re up by 14, up by 21, maybe with about 11, 10 minutes to go, it’s time to go into a mode where you’re trying eat up some clock,” McNabb said.

“You can’t continue to run that fast-paced offense because it continues to run down not only their defense, but it wears your offense down, too.”

The big question about the no-huddle and read-option is whether they put a quarterback at excessive risk.

Robert Griffin III had a tremendous rookie year last year, but he wasn’t healthy by the time the playoffs came along.

Does Michael Vick face the same future? Putting up great numbers early but unable to finish out the season? McNabb fears that fate for his former teammate and several other current Eagles.

“It’s not so much Mike, I think it’s all the guys,” McNabb said. “You worry about the depth, you’re worried about the injuries and long-term.

“Right now, everything looks great, but I’m just worried as this thing continues, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, if guys get hurt, who’s going to step in? What guys do you have to fill in in these key roles? … If guys go down, who’s going to fill in?"

McNabb on Thursday night will become the ninth player in franchise history to have his number retired, joining Reggie White (92), Chuck Bednarik (60), Steve Van Buren (15), Brian Dawkins (20), Pete Retzlaff (44), Al Wistert (70), Tom Brookshier (40) and Jerome Brown (99).

He’ll be the first offensive player to see his number retired since Retzlaff, more than 40 years ago.

McNabb was asked what emotions he’ll be experiencing Thursday night at the Linc when he achieves the ultimate honor shy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I’ve thought about it for the last couple weeks, but to try to explain it, I really can’t, because I just don’t know,” he said.

“When I came out of the tunnel during training camp when they announced the alumni, that was a feeling that I just haven’t had in a while. … Everyone talked about how I never showed emotion, I was overwhelmed by it at that particular time. I guess another side comes out of you when you get kind of caught up in emotions like this.

“Who would have thought you’ll get your number retired and go in the Wall of Honor [Eagles Hall of Fame]? When you’re a kid, you want to be Michael Jordan, you want to be Walter Payton, you want to become this icon, and you’re telling your parents this, but do you really think it will happen?

“What’s the percentage of it truly happening for an individual? Not very high. So for me to be a part of it, it’s truly special.”

The Eagles and Chiefs have only met in Philly twice -- in 1998 and 2009 -- but as fate has it, Reid will be in town Thursday, about 14½ years after his decision to draft McNabb set the Eagles off on the most successful decade in franchise history.

Under Reid, the Eagles won 10 playoff games, nine of them with McNabb (and one with Jeff Garcia). Every other coach in franchise history has combined for nine playoff wins.

There were six division titles, five NFC championship game appearances, an average of 10 wins a year for a decade and a Super Bowl appearance in 2004.

McNabb was traded on Easter 2010, and Reid was fired the day before New Year’s Eve 2012. Their paths will cross again Thursday night on national TV.

“I wanted him to be a part of it, and it’s rightfully so for me to go into the Ring of Honor and have my number retired, I want the person who was more than responsible for it, who took a chance on me and stuck with me for 11 years and had success with me,” McNabb said of Reid.

“He played such a major part, not just on the football field but off the football field, too. In 1999, he and (general manager) Tom Modrak decided to take me with the second pick … and for him to take a chance on me to be the face of the franchise says a lot.

“Being together 11 years and the success we had together, I don’t think anyone could forget the times that we had. You all have ups and downs, but I think we had more ups than downs.”

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