In year number 11, with a fortified offensive line in front of him, with depth as he has never had at wide receiver around him, with a system in place that works, with great talent in the backfield, more success is in the making for quarterback Donovan McNabb. He showed it in the June Organized Team Activities. The offense clicked. The timing was right. The confidence McNabb showed in throwing to his tight ends, his receivers, his backs ... it all looked so promising.
What will McNabb be asked to do, though? Is there tweaking in the making for the offense? Will the Eagles look to throw the football 30-35 times a game and spread the field and use the top-to-bottom speed on this roster and create great matchups? Or will the Eagles take a more balanced approach, and maybe follow the formula they used in playoff wins over Minnesota and New York last year, when the points were hard to come by?
Or will it be a game-by-game proposition? The Eagles seem to have the personnel to beat defenses any which way they want. They can line up and play smash-mouth football, and they can spread 'em out and throw the ball all around the yard.
And that brings it all back to McNabb, who is in such a great place right now, both physically and mentally. He is primed to continue his prime, and he has a great situation around him in every way imaginable. It used to be that the Eagles needed McNabb to be great to win games. They wanted to feature McNabb and throw the football a lot, and McNabb had to be terrific to win.
While he still needs to be on his game, McNabb doesn't have to throw for 345 yards and three touchdowns to win. He can hand off to Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy. He has maybe the best fullback he has ever had in Leonard Weaver behind him. He has an excellent offensive line -- on paper, yes -- in front. And the pass catchers are really going to be outstanding.
So is McNabb in line for the best season of his career? And is it fair to measure the success he has in terms of his numbers, or by the wins and losses the Eagles generate?
I'm interested to see how it all unfolds. I look at a game like the opener against Carolina and my thoughts right now are that the Eagles must go in with a patient approach and understand that things aren't going to come easily against a good Carolina defense, one that is still stinging from its playoff loss last season to the Cardinals. It is just as important how McNabb manages the games as it is how he flashes big numbers. And maybe his most important statistic is turnovers, a category in which McNabb has historically been outstanding.
That bizarre stretch of poor play last year was alarming most of all because McNabb turned the ball over against Cincinnati and Baltimore, and because in earlier games he missed chances to make big plays. It was very uncharacteristic of McNabb, who righted things after the benching in Baltimore.
Anyway, we'll see how quickly the offense finds its stride in the training camp ahead -- four weeks away!!! -- and through the preseason and then into the regular season. McNabb is obviously a gigantic key to the whole puzzle, and as much as things around him have changed in the months that have passed since the loss in Arizona, is it fair to wonder what stays the same with him, and about him?