For Birds, youth at what cost?

 Posted by at 12:32 pm
Aug 032010

August 3 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan

“Things are so much different here now.

The sun, hidden so long by the shadow of Donovan McNabb, is now free to shine brightly. The grass, shoved rootward by the former franchise quarterback’s footfalls, now grows lush and verdant. The trees are greener, the clouds fluffier and whiter. The food in the cafeteria is fresher and more delicious.

At least that was the impression created by the players McNabb left behind when he was traded to Washington on Easter Sunday. Listening to the comments from the next generation of Eagles, you got the sense that they finally felt free to become a great football team now that McNabb and a host of other veterans had moved on.

And that is fine, except for one minor detail that has been all too easily overlooked. Most of the players running around on the three fields at Lehigh have shown few signs of being as good as the players who made the Eagles a winning team for the last decade. They seem to believe they will become a winning team because they are wearing the same uniform as McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and the rest of the purged vets.

This whole phenomenon was best expressed by a fan Monday morning. After Kevin Kolb overthrew a tight end, the guy shouted, “Even his incompletions are better than McNabb’s!”

Yes, it is awfully good to be Kolb right now. He hasn’t let anyone down yet.

There is an element of human nature at work here. What else are the young players supposed to say? That they’re doomed to failure because all the players who won division titles and playoff games are gone? Of course not. To get to this level, athletes have to have self-confidence. To take the field on Sundays, football players have to believe they can win.

But it is disrespectful of what their predecessors accomplished here to talk as if those players were some kind of impediment to the development of the younger guys. For years, Andy Reid managed to infuse his team with young players who asserted themselves as stars among their already established teammates.

Nobody held Westbrook back. Nobody stopped Trent Cole from becoming a Pro Bowler. McNabb was on the other end of most of the plays that made DeSean Jackson into a young superstar.”

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