Sunday, November 19, 2006

A.J. or Garcia -- Who Will Lead Us?

Well, Donovan is done until next year, and there's no use crying over spilt milk. I wish him a speedy and full recovery, but the critical question facing a team seemingly full of them is who is going to under center taking snaps when the Eagles limp into Indianapolis next Sunday night.

First the objective analysis part of the rant:
- This is the exact sort of nightmare scenario that prompted the Eagles go out and signed Jeff Garcia after last year's Mike McMahon debacle. The man's got a good resume for a back-up and when/if he gets his timing down with the wide receivers, he could prove to be very effective.
- The Eagles also scooped up former rescue-the-season QB A.J. Feeley just before the season started when the Chargers made him available. OK so you already knew that, and I suspect you also know that its that signing that made Andy Reid hesitate during the post-game press conference when asked who his starting QB is going to be.
- The team did not respond all that impressively to my audio count (listening to Merrill Reese) Garcia had no fewer than 6 dropped passes in his first 15 instead of starting off hot (he woulda been 12/15 and maybe have had a scoring drive before the 4th qtr) he started off tepid and the team wallowed with him under center. Part of it is execution. We Eagles fans have seen situation before (the team's response to Koy and A.J. in 2002 being the most remarkable) when the Eagles step-it-up in response to their leader going down. Today, no one stepped up to help to Garcia make this a game...not the D, not the O, not the ST. To be totally fair, I thought Westbrook and Stallworth tried to pull their share of the load, but a raft of drops just killed them all.
- At this point, AR and the coaches have a brutal decision. Garcia or Feeley.

The case for Garcia goes something like this: he a former Pro-Bowl QB who made playoff runs before, he's mobile (which the Eagles are used to), and he's got a better pedigree as a starter than Option B: A.J. Feeley. hmmm, that's about it.
Now let me rant a bit about why I would start A.J.:
- note the aforementioned lack of enthusiasm for playing with Garcia...their lack of response/failure to rally after their field general got carted off speaks VOLUMES about whether the team views JG as the answer. IMHO, they don't. Nothing against him, but that's how I read today's situation. In all fairness, I could be wrong.
- as a lifetime fan, its hard to forget what A.J. has already done for the team. His performance a few years ago earned him a lot slack in this town...well maybe not a lot, but it probably earned him plenty of support to get a few starts.
- Perhaps most compelling question regarding who should start for the Eagles is the style of play offered by the two quarterbacks. Garcia is a timing QB, it could take weeks for him to gel with the team. This team in 5-5 and is barely treading water. What we need is a QB who can step in and play MOST like Donovan. A.J. can make the throws that Garcia cannot. Feeley's got a good arm, if he's in there, the offensive playbook will stay intact, for the most part. Garcia showed today that he cannot throw the deep ball effectively...he throws it like Mark Brunell as a matter of fact...occasionally heaving one or two really brisk deep balls that leave you scratching head ((because the throw before he looked like Lamar Latrel the limp-wristed javelin thrower from Revenge of the Nerds)). For the most part, however, Garcia simply does not have the arm strength to make the same throws as Donovan. Having him back there will fundamentally CHANGE the way the Eagles offense has to approach the game. For that reason alone, my personal preference is that Andy Reid dial up A.J.'s number.

CAVEAT: If the Eagles continue to turn the ball over, leave points on the field, squander field position, take stupid penalties, fail to make opponents pay for mistakes, fail to adequately cover ST returner, and fail to find an effective mix of run and pass--in effect continue the idiocies on display yesterday at the LINC--then it WON'T MATTER ONE IOTA who is playing QB for the Birds, because they will lose and embarrass us all.

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