Eagles know Donovan McNabb. And vice versa.
Donovan McNabb had 11 years to learn the ins and outs of Andy Reid's offense. And the Eagles had 11 years to learn every one of McNabb's tendencies, strengths and weakness. With so much familiarity, who has the advantage Sunday?
Players and coaches on both sides seem to think the first-hand knowledge might balance out by the time the teams take the field Sunday. In fact, Eagles' coach Andy Reid said the whole thing is "overblown."
"If he was playing middle linebacker, I'd worry about that just a little bit," Reid said of McNabb. "But things happen so quick out there. And you've got so many plays in the playbook. You can't feasibly go over everything. Mike Shanahan was in this system, so he knows how it works. It's a matter of the players on the defensive side playing."
Seeing the same group every day in practice doesn't necessarily mean you have a major advantage when you see them in a game a year later, players say. McNabb is obviously running a different system.
And the Eagles have seen a lot of change on the defensive side of the ball since McNabb left town. "We all know each other on a personal level," McNabb said. "We know
each other by the way we play or how they may call a game. But things happen differently. They're obviously going to try to attack me a lot differently than they've done with some other quarterbacks. I expect that. But they have some tendencies that I've seen, and they know that."
Jim Johnson was the Eagles' defensive coordinator for almost all of McNabb's time in Philadelphia. Sean McDermott took over the Eagles' coordinator prior to the 2009 season, shortly before Johnson died of cancer. It's still a blitz-heavy scheme, though McNabb might not recognize some of the faces.
Philadelphia's starting defense last Sunday featured five players who didn't start the team's season opener in 2009.
"I think this defense is completely different than the one he's seen over the years," said Eagles safety Quintin Mikell. "We have a whole complete different personnel, a lot of new guys, lot of new faces, lot of new tendencies and a lot of new schemes. So although he knows some of the stuff we do, we have a lot of different stuff that we do now."
"At the end of the day, it's still football. ...Once you put the pads on, all that stuff goes out the window," Mikell said.
| September 29, 2010; 2:57 PM ET
Categories: Donovan McNabb
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