I don’t hate Donovan

Notes in Samsara questions my Patriots’ pick:

I can’t help but think…. Some folks might want New England to win because of something to do with the Philadelphia Quarterback…

I don’t even dislike Donovan McNabb, although I am still a critic – and I saw nothing in yesterday’s game to change my mind about him in the slightest. But if NiS is thinking to slyly impute racism, I’ll be curious to hear his explanation for my staunch cheerleading for another, better black quarterback, Mr. Daunte Culpepper.

McNabb is not a bad quarterback. But he is not a great one either. His three interceptions were par for the course against a good defense, he couldn’t hit his receivers in stride to save his life and only Westbrook’s phenomenal one-handed behind-the-back catch on third down in Patriot’s territory preserved Philadelphia’s second touchdown drive. Don’t forget that McNabb actually threw four interceptions, but one was called back on a penalty.

The difference between McNabb and Brady was stark. When Brady got in trouble, he quickly threw the ball away out of bounds. McNabb, on the other hand, was still dumping off to his outlet receiver in the middle of the field with less than a minute to play and no timeouts. This is not exactly quarterbacking that brings Staubach or Montana to mind.

I do give McNabb credit for learning pocket discipline. I’d rather have him behind center than another much-overrated QB, Michael Vick. But getting your team to the Super Bowl is no indicator of quarterbacking greatness, since Neil O’Donnell did as much and Trent Dilfer actually won one. Like Dilfer, McNabb’s success is more than a little dependent upon a great defense, which held Corey Dillon under 100 yards and did not allow New England a single first down in the first quarter.

And is there anyone who doubts my characterization of Andy Reid as an average gameday coach now? That was the most pathetic two-minute offense I’ve seen in years. The only thing that really surprised me was Belicheck’s decision at the end of the game; considering his fearless playcalling, I was half-expecting a fake punt when the punting team came out. No, on the other hand, that was the second surprise. The first and biggest one was the decision to blitz on the Eagles’ last touchdown. I could hear TMQ’s outraged cries all the way from the Potomac before the ball even left McNabb’s hand, and judging from Belicheck’s reaction, I’m guessing that he was as surprised with the crazy defensive call as I was.

You’re two scores up, time is running out and Philadelphia hasn’t solved the zone all night. This is the moment to blitz your safety, Romeo? Still, it was good to see Belicheck, Crennel and Weis gather together in a hefty huddle-hug as the game ended. It may be a long time before we see as effective – or as large – a coaching trio working in such harmony again.