Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Nov 2005

McNabb Out for Season

Donovan McNabb will have season-ending surgery. As his season ends, so, effectively, does the Eagles'. Can anyone remember a team that has had a more disappointing season? I don't remember anyone picking any team other than Philadelphia to win the NFC East, and now, I think it's safe to say, they're completely out of the running.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 21 Nov 2005

25 comments, Last at 23 Nov 2005, 3:50am by Travis


by MikeT (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 2:55pm

Argh. Ack. Bleah.

by Madden 06 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:04pm




by charles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:07pm

any time roy williams intercepts your pass it's time to shut it down.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:15pm

Jokeland in 2003 was pretty disappointing. Well, not to Denver fans, of course, but to the league as a whole. At least the Eagles are reasonably competitive this season. They've beaten some teams, and they're staying in games against the teams they haven't beaten. And part of their struggles can be attributed to injury and such. Oakland just went from probably the best team in the entire league to probably the worst team in the entire league without any major personnel losses.

Yes, I understand that they lost Gannon, but they sucked before the lost him. At least the Eagles were still good when they had both Owens and McNabb.

by Kevo (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:19pm

AND Lito Sheppard. How many starters can a team lose? This is probably the injury-plagued season I've ever seen the Eagles suffer through.

by Bassett (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:28pm

Most disappointing season?

Ummm... I'm living it... this and pretty much every season since my childhood.

Jets Fan

by Yuri (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 3:29pm

I think it was a clear case of "wait and see how we do against the Giants." It seems that the Eagles are not coming back as they did with Detmer/Feeley subbing for McNabb a few years back. If there's no playoffs in the cards, might as well have surgery now.

It's sad to even ask the question, but can the Eagles actually go 0-6 in the NFC East a year after going 6-0? I think they should be slight favorites against Washington at the Linc and maybe slight underdogs vs the Giants, so they have a decent shot at avoiding the ignonimity.

by Murr (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 4:21pm

I keep trying to keep this season in perspective: the teams has had 4 great years, going deep in the playoffs, and the offseason crap combined with the injuries this year was just too much for any team to overcome. So - we have one bad year. I live in DC - I've been watching a very rabid fanbase deal with 10 crappy years. (And probably enjoying it too much...)

But that doesn't stop me from throwing things at my TV on Sunday while yelling, "C'MON! How can you NOT double-cover Plexico? EVERYONE knows Eli is looking at him first!!"

They're just good enough to keep me frustrated now.

by B (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:00pm

Re #4: I don't think many people felt that Oakland would repeat as AFC champions in 2003, whereas Philly was the hands-down pick to make the superbowl this year. Oakland in 2003 were too old plus Bill Callahan as coach pretty much doomed thier season.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:28pm

Jeez, MDS, why the McMahon hatred? Is it because DVOA can't quantify what he brings to the table? Does he have that Vick-like magic (no, not herpes) that these fancy FO numbers just don't capture?

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 5:55pm

Re: #5
How many starters can a team lose?

Sorry -- no sympathy from over here. :-)

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:07pm

#7, Yuri
I don't understand why he didn't decide to get it this week. If they win with McMahon starting, doesn't that mean a healthy McMahon is better than a hurt McNabb?

#8, Murr
Ahh, the joys of being a rabid NFL fan. I watched the Eagles @ Redskins game this season with rabid Eagles fan. At the end of the game I swore up and down that McNabb would run around and make a play. He was convinced he would throw an INT.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:17pm


An idle question--if you could have every Pats player (including those on IR) back at full health, in exchange for Brady being out for the season, would you take that trade?

by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 6:50pm

I don’t understand why he didn’t decide to get it this week. If they win with McMahon starting, doesn’t that mean a healthy McMahon is better than a hurt McNabb?
I think the Vikings did a pretty good job of illustrating why that doesn't follow. They could have gotten a fluky win that would have nominally kept them in the playoffs.

The problem I have with that reasoning is that they wouldn't have been in the playoff race at 5-5 either.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 7:21pm

Just to quantify the Eagles down for the count this year, or suffering significant injuries limiting their play:

QB - McNabb (groin/hernia)
#2WR - Pinkston (achilles)
#2RB - Buckhalter (knee)
#1DB - Lito Sheppard (knee, ankle)
#2DE - McDougle (gunshot)
#4S/KR/PR - Reed (leg nerves)
LB/Wedge Buster - Short (leg)
P - Johnson (hernia)
K - Akers (hamstring)
C - Fraley (shoulder)

Add on the Owens sideshow.

This year has looked bad as an Eagles fan ever since the Owens sideshow started. Then Reed was injured. The early news out of training camp (McDougle shot, Johnson, Buckhalter and Pinkston out) didn't bode well.

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:02pm

Again, a counter from a Pats fan:

Players out for the year, or having missed significant play time (3+ games) or suffering significant play limiting injuries:

#1 C Dan Koppen (IR, Wk 9)
#1 LT Matt Light (Out most of year)
#1 RT Tom Ashworth (Missed a bunch of games)
#1 RB Corey Dillon (

by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:03pm

Sorry, that last post (in it's entirity) should have been:

Again, a counter from a Pats fan:

Players out for the year, or having missed significant play time (3+ games) or suffering significant play limiting injuries:

#1 C Dan Koppen (IR, Wk 9)
#1 LT Matt Light (Out most of year)
#1 RT Tom Ashworth (Missed a bunch of games)
#1 RB Corey Dillon (-100% all year, missed 3+ games)
#2 RB Kevin Faulk (out for most of season)
#3 RB/#1 FB Patrick Pass (missed a bunch of games, played - 100% in others)
#1 DE Richard Seymour (missed 5 or so games, -100% ever since),
#1 LB Willie McGinest (broken hand impairing play for 5 or so games)
Backup LB Ryan Claridge (IR, entire season)
#1 S Rondey Harrison (IR most of year)
#3 S Guss Scott (IR most of year)
#4 S James Sanders (missed a bunch of games, -100% in all but one other)
#2 CB Randall Gay (IR after half the season, -100% for rest of year),
#3 CB Tyrone Poole (IR most of season)
#4 CB Chad Scott (IR almost entire year)
#5 CB Duane Starks (IR after half season).

That list includes 5 players that could have been legitimate pro-bowl candidates, and 8 starters from last year's superbowl.

That's not including #1 TE Daniel Graham (missed 2 games and counting), #2 WR David Givens (missed 2 games and counting), #3 WR Troy Brown (-100% for most of the year), and a bevvy of short term injuries (for two games there, EVERY defensive lineman on the roster but an undrafted rookie was listed as questionable).

Sure the Eagles have been decimated. But they're not the only ones.

by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:07pm

Must...keep....from....hanging...self....worst...letdown...EVER! (even worse than Super Bowl loss...)

by NF (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 8:23pm

The Eagles' last shot to turn things around were wiped out by Roy Williams' interception return.

by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 9:24pm

People who dislike any technical aspects of the site should let one of the Outsiders, generally Benjy, know rather than posting about it.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 11/21/2005 - 10:52pm


I'd say injuries have hit Green Bay, New England, and Philly the hardest this year, and in that order.

This year, New England is lucky to be playing in the AFC Least, while the Eagles unfotunately find themselves in the NFC Beast.

by ElJefe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 2:04am

It's tough to gauge injury "luck" with any certainty in the NFL because it's not always about quantity, and not every team has the same positions where injuries could be considered to dramatically affect quality. Who would have ever thought the Eagles would really miss Todd Pinkston?

Part of the Eagles problem this season has been bad luck, but part of it is bad planning. There is no excuse for entering training camp depending on Correll Buckhalter. I don't think it is a coincidence that the Eagles running game perked up once Lamar Gordon had a couple of months to digest the offense, but it should have never come to that. A player of Gordon's caliber had to be available for minimum compensation (money or a draft pick) before training camp started, in anticipation of Buckhalter getting hurt. If Correll is healthy, you're not out much. If he's not, you've CYA for the start of the season.

And the Eagles had a cluster of injuries at the position they were most vulnerable: WR. Again, a little bad luck and some bad planning. They released last year's #3 (FredEx), had last year's #2 blow an achilles, and TO went nuts (as should have been expected). This meant their WR corps was last year's #4 (who they thought would move to the #3 this year), a rookie in a notoriously difficult offense to learn, a guy who got cut by the Redskins (and hence has to go through almost the same learning process as the rookie), and Billy McMullen. They gambled they could get through this season with Pinkston and Owens, and got burned. Why they didn't use their copious cap room or a draft choice on an insurance policy for Owens, I'll never know. There had to be a player available who had played in this offense and could have been a #3 receiver. (Or threatened Pinkston for the #2.)

It will be very interesting to see how they approach this position this off-season, but I get the feeling the Pinkston is protected by being McNabb's buddy. Personally I wouldn't count on him returning and would sign a player with the intent to replace him. If Pinkston looks good in training camp, then you just have a lot of depth.

So ... a pass-first offense loses most of their WR production, doesn't have the necessary personnel to switch gears and emphasize the run (no way were the Eagles going to hand the ball to Westbrook 20 times a game, and there was no 2nd RB), and then has the QB pick up a new injury every week. Spice liberally with a concussion-prone TE (who you have backed up by an undrafted rookie, because you seem to have a real phobia of veteran backups) and you have a real recipe for a trainwreck.

The Eagles have an absurd amount of cap space available in the offseason, but I don't trust them to spend it. I'm afraid we're going to get another "Look, we're doing something" payout, a la Jevon Kearse, when the Eagles really need to sign some backups who have actually played in this league before.

Having said all of that, we would probably also be having this conversation about the Patriots, except the other three teams in the AFC East are totally incompetent. (Maybe 3 of the 4 worst in the AFC, all in one division.) I can see the Pats clinching their division after 14 games ... with a 7-7 record. :)

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/22/2005 - 3:33am

Significant Jets' injuries this year, offense only:

#1 QB - Chad Pennington - shoulder - IR - last played week 3
#2 QB - Jay Fiedler - shoulder - last played week 3
#3 QB - Brooks Bollinger - concussion week 11
#4 QB - Vinny Testaverde - various leg injuries
#1 RB - Curtis Martin - played through knee injury since week 2
#2 RB - Derrick Blaylock - foot - IR - last played week 5
#2 FB - B.J. Askew - various leg injuries - missed 6 of last 8 games
#2 WR - Justin McCareins - played through various leg injuries since week 5
#3 WR - Wayne Chrebet - concussion - IR - last played week 9
#1 TE - Chris Baker - broken leg - IR - last played week 9
#1 C - Kevin Mawae - torn triceps - IR - last played week 6
#1 T - Jason Fabini - moved from LT to RT week 5 after sprained knee - IR after week 9 with torn triceps
#1 G-#2 C Pete Kendall - back - played, but completely hampered last two weeks
#? T - Marko Kavka - broken arm - IR - injured in last game of preseason

The Patriots, Eagles, and Jets have all suffered disappointing seasons, but I think the Jets' has been the most so.

The Patriots have won the Super Bowl 3 out of the last 4 years. The Eagles have made the NFC championship game 4 consecutive years. Both have franchise quarterbacks, cap room, and highly competent coaching and management.

Meanwhile, the Jets suffered yet another excruciating early elimination, and had only this season to succeed before going through cap hell under the stewardship of Herm Edwards and Terry Bradway.

by NF (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 1:32am


I can see the Jets going through cap-hell and none of the offensive players they release being players that the average NFl team would need as a starter, other than the wide receiver corp. Except for Mawae and Pennington, but the Jets would have to be nuts to release them. Another exception is Curtis Martin, about whom it is not clear if his decline is because he is injured, problems with the offensive lne, the lack of a passing game, or if he is just getting too old. If he was released, teams might roll the dice on him and check him out in training camp and the preseason, but from right now, the only team he'd be an obvious starter on is on teams in running back hell(Baltimore, Arizona).

On defense, the only player that I can think of that would be highly demanded as a starter on most teams in the league would be Ty Law.

There must be other good players on the Jets that an average NFL team would start that I don't know about. It can't be possible that the Jets would get themselves into deep trouble with the salary cap running a team without a lot of star players on their roster.

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/23/2005 - 3:50am


Shawn Ellis, Jonathan Vilma, and John Abraham would definitely start for most teams in the league. Ellis ($3.9 million cap number next year) and Vilma ($2.2m) aren't going anywhere, while Abraham is an unrestricted free agent.

Horrible Jets salary numbers for 2006 include, but are not limited to, Chad Pennington ($12 million, 18 million if cut before June 1), Dewayne Robertson ($6.76m, $8.38m), Curtis Martin ($8.2m, $7.9m), and Wayne Chrebet ($2.16m, $2.57m).

Full information can be found in the link under my name.