Philadelphia Eagles News

The Home Of Building QBs

As we continue to make up news and speculate beyond all reasonable boundaries of logic during this work stoppage, Schefter had one that made me stop in my tracks: He thinks it is a reasonable possibility that Vince Young, sent packing -- literally -- in Tennessee last season, could land with the Eagles should Philadelphia trade Kevin Kolb in the months to come.

At first, I chuckled. Was this an attempt by Schefter to fill up time, to throw it against the wall and see what sticks? Maybe. But then it dawned on me, the ultimate message here: Philadelphia is the place to go for talented quarterbacks who need to get back on the right track.

Hey, I don't know a thing about Vince Young and his next NFL stop. I know that he is a talented player who had his career sidetracked last season with the Titans. To have Schefter speculate that Young would be a fit here doesn't hold much water for me, because nobody really knows what is going to happen when the NFL is again open for business and players are free to move from one team to another.

What *does *have an impact is that Schefter -- and many others -- think the Eagles are the team to go to when a quarterback is in need of some rehabilitation. And judging by the track record built up during the Andy Reid era, that premise is correct.

The list is one you know: Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Jeff Garcia, Koy Detmer. OK, so Mike McMahon didn't work out as planned, but he came with warts and lasted only a year and then was moved off the roster.

The track record is an impressive one. Reid and his offensive coaches throughout the years have done a marvelous job of establishing a rock-solid scheme and meticulously working with the quarterbacks in the system to have success.

"It works," says ESPN's Ron Jaworski, "because Andy understands the position and what needs to be done to provide a stable environment and the right mechanics for the system. You don't have that in many places. He has outstanding coaches who know what they are doing. You see the results. So many teams in this league are in desperate need of a quarterback. The Eagles have had the position covered for 13 seasons. That's incredible."

Reid's selection of McNabb with the second pick in the 1999 NFL draft is, of course, where it all started. McNabb had flaws, but he won a ton of games here and, at the end of the day, was far and away the best pick in that quarterback-rich draft. The Eagles were able to blend the West Coast offense with McNabb's skills, incorporated his mobility into the picture, and consistently ranked as one of the best offenses in the NFL.

One of the best examples of the franchise's ability to build quarterbacks came in 2002 when McNabb suffered a broken ankle in the memorable game against Arizona. He played on the ankle and threw four touchdowns that game, but was then sidelined the remainder of the regular season. No problem. Detmer came in and threw two touchdown passes, ran for a third and set up a fourth score on a throw that cost him the rest of the season: He suffered a dislocated elbow on the play, a gruesome moment that forced the Eagles to play their third quarterback of the season.

No problem. Feeley led the Eagles to a 4-1 record down the stretch of the regular season by playing efficient, intelligent football. And from that time on, the Eagles have been looked at a team that develops quarterbacks as well as, or better than, any team in the NFL.

"It is a good place to play for quarterbacks," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "It starts with the player, of course. I look for players who have gut instincts, decision-making skills, accuracy and timing. Those are the four things that are most important, with gut instincts being the key. Then you get into athleticism and arm strength and these other singular abilities. It's hard to evaluate, but it is pretty clear if you are around them enough, if you see enough film on them and if you delve into it more.

"It's always the player first, because ultimately he gets it done or he doesn't. The mentality of the player is important, too. I believe there are certain ways the position has to be played, and if the quarterback has the mentality where he wants to be the very best player he can be, and play that position at the highest level, then this is a good place for him."

The Eagles don't want quarterbacks who rely on their arm strength or their athletic ability solely. That's why Vick's story is so remarkable: He was a Pro Bowl quarterback in Atlanta largely because he outran his lack of preparation. He has said many times that he didn't work as hard as he needed to work early in his career. Once Vick became an Eagle, he took the mental side and the discipline aspect of the job to a new level.

"Michael picked up this offense very quickly and he understood how critical it is to play the position the way we want it played here. Along with that, there is a certain way to approach the job, and Michael embraced that," said Mornhinweg, who has coached a Who's Who of great quarterbacks in the league, including Brett Favre, Steve Young, Garcia, McNabb and Vick. "I'm proud of all the work the quarterbacks have put in. They have put in the effort and have realized the rewards for their work."

Mornhinweg didn't delve too deeply into the specifics of the way the Eagles train quarterbacks, but he continually emphasized the players' instincts and mental toughness and intelligence for their success in Philadelphia.

In the NFL, in a way, the saying is that if you can make it in Philadelphia, you can make it anywhere. The truth is, though, that few of those quarterbacks have success after their time in Philadelphia. And Mornhinweg can credit the players all he wants, but there has to be more than the intangibles he listed to find a successful quarterback. Teams across the league look for the same traits. But few have such a fertile breeding ground as the Eagles do.

Quarterbacks can leave here polished players and go to another team and have it all break down. Feeley, for example, was traded to the Dolphins after his first time around here and was shell shocked by a poor offensive line and an inadequate supporting cast. Garcia led the Eagles down the stretch in 2006 and then signed with Tampa Bay and took his lumps with the Bucs. McNabb, of course, had an awful season with the Redskins in 2010.

"We want really sharp guys who can handle a lot," said Mornhinweg. "I think one thing that Andy does a great job with is finding players who can play in this city. Not every player can do that. It's a tough city, so we need to have quarterbacks who are strong mentally. We've found them and we've had quite a little bit of success."

Who's next? The quarterback roulette is turning in the NFL and the Eagles are a power player in the game. They have a quarterback, Kolb, who is in the news every day. They have a third quarterback, Mike Kafka, whom the Eagles think can develop into a very good player in the league. And Vick, we all know, is in the prime of a career that is about to take off for an extended period of time.

It is a wonderful position to hold in a quarterback-starved league. Whatever the Eagles are doing, they are doing it very, very well. And the rest of the league is noticing -- players, coaches, the media and the fans. If you play quarterback and you want to take your game to a new level, become an Eagle. The track record says you are going to improve and get your game to where you want it to be.

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