tr1 Posted October 27, 2005 Share Posted October 27, 2005 Denver was one of the toughest defenses we played...look for McNabb to have another bad day. Posted on Thu, Oct. 27, 2005 McNabb seeks comfort zone By LES BOWEN http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/sports/13007647.htm firstname.lastname@example.org ICE AND ultrasound. Stretching and warming up. As unexciting as they sound, those would seem to be the keys to reviving the Eagles' offense. Of course, a running game would help, too, but we all know where that stands. For the Eagles to become the team they were and the team they should be, Donovan McNabb needs to feel comfortable again. And maybe opposing defenses need to see that the quarterback is more comfortable, so they'll be a little less eager to come after him like wolves running down wounded prey. Eagles coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Brad Childress continue to deny that McNabb is at all limited by the sports hernia he has been playing with since midway through the season's second game, against San Francisco. But again yesterday, McNabb spoke much more candidly than his coaches had about what it is like trying to acclimate himself to playing with an injury that isn't going to heal this season. "At times, you're not able to get [your legs] up under some throws, so you've got to use your upper body a little bit,'' said McNabb, who has posted back-to-back passer ratings of 64.7 and 69.0 in a 33-10 loss to the Cowboys and a 20-17 victory over the Chargers. Defense and special-teams touchdowns, and an interception that led directly to a field goal, account for 17 of the 30 points the Eagles scored in those games. "It works sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't. But it hasn't affected it, as far as pulling me away from the majority of things that I do.'' Yet McNabb, whose career rushing average was 6.3 yards per carry coming into this season (390 attempts, 2,459 yards), has gained just 8 yards on the ground, on 14 carries (0.6 yards per carry). His longest run of the season is 5 yards. "I tried to run [against the Chargers],'' he said. "You're just not running as fast as you used to, and you try to make plays just like you normally do.'' All three sacks Sunday, including one that took the Eagles out of field-goal range, were the result of McNabb trying to scramble and finding he couldn't elude his pursuers. He agreed yesterday that he has to get more attuned to throwing the ball away in such situations. If McNabb continues to play like he's played the last 2 weeks, it's hard to imagine the Eagles making the playoffs, let alone returning to the Super Bowl. But Reid yesterday alluded to McNabb feeling better this week, even though the injury can't really heal, and McNabb seems to think he can become more comfortable and more effective as he and the training staff figure out what treatments are the most helpful. He said after the Dallas game he was going to devote more attention to warming up before games, though the Birds' string of slow starts continued against the Chargers. "The off-field stuff is definitely helping,'' McNabb said yesterday. "There's not much you can do as far as trying to get rid of the hernia... You try to come up with ways to alleviate the pain, get the swelling out, be able to use your hips and your legs. At times, it kind of stiffens up on you, but it will eventually get looser. We've been doing a good job as far as trying to come up with other ways of being able to compensate for the injury.'' McNabb said stretching before practice and games, and ice afterward is important, along with ultrasound treatment and electrical stimulation of muscles. "You just try to come up with something that tries to take some of the swelling out,'' he said. Everyone in the locker room understands fans' frustrations with how the Eagles' high-powered offense has sputtered the last two games. Everyone understands that if you limit LaDainian Tomlinson to 7 yards on 17 carries, you ought to beat the Chargers handily, not on a miraculous touchdown return of a blocked field goal. "[Fans] feel like we feel,'' middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "Especially from an offensive standpoint. Out of all the ability we have on offense, to see us struggle like that, it's tough. They expect those guys to go out and put up 30 or 40 points, but [a complete turnaround] is not going to happen in a week. I understand how the fans feel, but we're going to get it together.'' In practice yesterday, Trotter thought he saw encouraging signs of the offense starting to get its swagger back, the way the defense did against San Diego. "I talked to [left offensive tackle] Tra [Thomas] today, and I said, 'My "dawg'' is back.' He seems like he's got that 'dawg' back, talking noise and just choking people for no reason,'' Trotter said. "That's the way you got to be, man. You've got to choke somebody just for no reason, just because you feel like it.'' Developing a running game that could account for more than last Sunday's 10 plays and 25 yards would certainly help the offense develop some rhythm, and perhaps, some "dawg'' as well. "No doubt, it'd take the pressure off our whole passing offense, really,'' said running back Lamar Gordon, when asked if an effective running game would take pressure off McNabb. "If we can get in position where we can run, where the [down-and-distance] situation is good for us to run in, we can take pressure off the quarterback, the receivers, everybody.'' Gordon thinks penalties have helped make the Birds so one-dimensional. "It's real hard for a coach to want to run when it's first-and-15, when it's second-and-13,'' he said. Tight end L.J. Smith said teammates deeply respect what McNabb is trying to do, and aren't exasperated by his struggles. "I don't know if he's going to feel 'comfortable,' '' Smith said, when asked if he thought the QB was headed in that direction. "He's adapting. You can tell he's out there hurting, all the time. The old Donovan would run out of a lot of situations that he's been put in this season. It's obvious the mobility is just not there. But he's playing with it, and that's all we can ask of him right now. That's all he can ask of himself, is just to go out there and try to play with it.'' Smith said he thinks the offense will come together quickly, will find a rhythm and stop struggling so hard. It has too many weapons to stay stymied for long, he said. McNabb agreed. "This offense is definitely going to get rolling,'' McNabb said, "and we'll be sitting up here smiling, talking about how many more big plays we're going to make.'' Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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