Michael Vick(notes) has the Eagles thinking about the Super Bowl, but McNabb is probably just looking to regain some lost pride when he returns to action Monday night at FedEx Field in a NFC East rematch.
Washington (4-4) had last week off after coach Mike Shanahan made the controversial move to bench McNabb with the Redskins trailing by six late in a 37-25 loss at Detroit on Oct. 31. Rex Grossman(notes) entered and was promptly sacked to lose a fumble on his first snap that the Lions ran in for a touchdown.
Shanahan said after the game that McNabb was pulled because Grossman had a better understanding of the team’s two-minute offense. The next day, the coach said nagging hamstring injuries kept McNabb from practicing at full speed and created doubts as to whether the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback had the “cardiovascular endurance” to run a two-minute drill with no timeouts.
The day after that, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said McNabb had been told he would possibly be benched. McNabb said that was not the case.
The bye week may have come at the right time for all involved, and they are ready to move on and focus on beating Philadelphia (5-3) again.
“Yes, I’m satisfied,” McNabb said. “You get what you ask for, and after that you put it behind you and move on.”
McNabb is still hampered by sore hamstrings. He stayed after practice Wednesday for extra work, but seems likely to start.
“Right now, he’s improved from last week, but by no means is he full speed yet,” Mike Shanahan said. “As we go later in the week, I’ll get a feel exactly where he’s at, but right now I can’t tell you if he could go full speed.”
The last time McNabb was benched was by Reid during the Eagles’ 36-7 loss at Baltimore on Nov. 23, 2008. McNabb responded by throwing 14 touchdowns to just five interceptions over a 6-2 run the rest of the season that included the playoffs as he led Philadelphia to its fifth NFC title game appearance in his 11 seasons with the Eagles.
Vick believes he can help the Eagles take the next step and lead them to a Super Bowl victory. He told Reid that before last week’s 26-24 win over Indianapolis.
“We have a lot of rising stars, we have a lot of young guys who are very dedicated and we have some veterans who have been around for a long time,” he said. “I think that if we just put it all together we can make a run at it.”
Vick completed 17 of 29 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown, and had 10 carries for 74 yards and another score. He made his first start since he suffered rib cartilage damage that forced him to leave a 17-12 home loss to Washington on Oct. 3.
That game marked McNabb’s much-anticipated return to Lincoln Financial Field. McNabb did not play well, completing 8 of 19 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown. His one interception came during a second half in which he went 2 of 11 for 10 yards.
McNabb - whose passer rating of 76.0 is his lowest since he was a rookie in 1999 - will be facing a defense that is gaining in confidence after slowing down the Colts. The Eagles sacked Peyton Manning(notes) three times and Asante Samuel(notes) intercepted him twice.
“We’re a young defense still,” defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. “There are a lot of new faces and we just keep working hard. When you come to work and you work hard, good things are going to happen.”
McNabb’s woes have made the Eagles look smart for dealing him to the Redskins. That seems to be the case because of the success of Vick, who has thrown for 1,017 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions, and whose NFL-leading passer rating of 105.3 is the highest of his career.
Vick got hurt against the Redskins because he was fighting for extra yards on one of his patented scrambles. He won’t alter his approach.
“I play this game the way I play it and I’m not going to change,” Vick said. “I think I did a good job protecting myself at times and I think at times when I knew the hit wasn’t going to be as devastating, I was able to protect myself. I’m not going to play this game scared or hesitant or conservative.”
The Redskins rushed for a season-high 169 yards in last month’s win at Philadelphia, with Ryan Torain(notes) gaining 70. Torain had 10 yards in Detroit before leaving with a hamstring injury, but has returned to practice.
The Eagles have won eight of their last 10 visits to FedEx Field.