Behind Enemy Lines Part 1

Tim Yotter from Vikings Update asked Warnest.com's Chris Steuber five questions about the Eagles in preparation for this Sunday's game. Steuber discusses the future of Donovan McNabb, the Billy McMullen for Hank Baskett trade, and Brian Westbrook.

Tim Yotter: It almost seems like everyone expects Donovan McNabb to not be in Philadelphia after this season. What is his status there and has he worn out his welcome?

Chris Steuber: The writing is on the wall and every day it’s becoming bolder that he won’t be here beyond this season. If the Eagles got off to a tremendous start, a start that would captivate the city of Philadelphia, then yeah, I could see McNabb coming back. But when they drafted Kevin Kolb this past April that was the beginning of the end for McNabb as an Eagle. I think there is a 50/50 divide between the fans. Some fans want McNabb to be the quarterback until he decides to retire, while others want a new era to begin. If I had to assess the situation and give you an answer about McNabb’s future, I’d say this is his last year in Philadelphia.

Yotter: Besides his struggles with injuries, do you see other signs that any of his skills are slipping?

Steuber: I think the injuries have caused his skills to diminish. McNabb has never been the most accurate quarterback, but there was always the threat of him making a play with his legs. The one thing I’ve noticed this season is that he’s unable to escape the pocket like he used too. He doesn’t have that burst of speed any longer and that’s hurt his game and caused him to take more sacks. McNabb’s decision-making is questionable this year. He’s always been a conservative passer, who doesn’t like to turn the ball over, but this year he’s locking in on one receiver and not going through his progressions.

Yotter: How has Hank Baskett been used and how good is Philadelphia feeling about trading Billy McMullen for him?

Steuber: Billy McWho? When that trade was made prior to the 2006 season, many believed it was a throw away deal, including myself. But Baskett proved he was a player. He had a really good rookie year, as he hauled in 22 receptions for 464 yards and two touchdowns. This year, he’s played sparingly, but hasn’t been utilized to his full potential. The Eagles offense has struggled for most of the season, except for their unexplained 56-point output against Detroit, and they haven’t given Baskett a chance to succeed. Baskett is behind Reggie Brown, Kevin Curtis, and Jason Avant on the depth chart. I think he should get more opportunities to make plays, because he is a big receiver with great hands and leaping ability. At this point, the Eagles have to find an answer to their offense, most notably, their passing game.

Yotter: Has there been a noticeable difference in the philosophy of Philly’s offense since Brad Childress went to the Vikings. If so, how?

Steuber: Not really. It’s basically the same offense with a few more wrinkles. The Eagles try to run the ball more, but it all comes back to the passing game. Things look different this year for the Eagles, because McNabb is struggling. If McNabb was the same player he was during the 2004 season, the year Philadelphia went to the Super Bowl, the offense may look a little different. But overall, the scheme and philosophy haven’t changed.

Yotter: The Vikings have begun to motion Adrian Peterson out of the backfield lately. How long did it take Brian Westbrook to become really effective in doing that?

Steuber: Westbrook was a natural receiver out of the backfield when he came to Philadelphia as a rookie from Villanova. He was effective from the beginning. The biggest question surrounding Westbrook was “could he be an every down back?” Early in his career he suffered a few freak injuries and gained the label of being “injury-prone”. Even today, Westbrook still has to deal with his doubters who don’t believe he’s a featured back. He’s probably one of the most exciting players in the league, who doesn’t get the respect he deserves. But to answer your question, Westbrook was a tremendous weapon in the passing game from the beginning, but it took the Eagles a couple of years to finally feature his full potential.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. If you have any questions for Chris, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.



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