Defensive McNabb spreads the blame for Eagles' troubles

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb doesn't miss blocks or run wrong routes, and he can't be held responsible for the defense allowing points.

So the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback feels it's unfair to blame him for the Philadelphia Eagles' 3-5 start.

"I'm definitely not the whole reason why we lost these games," McNabb said Wednesday. "Can I help? Yes, I can. But I'm not fully to blame for everything that goes on around here. I can help, but I'm not that main solution. I'm a piece of the puzzle, and when the puzzle's put together, then we'll have success."

Just two days after coach Andy Reid left the door slightly open for a change at his position, McNabb seemed a bit defensive.

"We all have to play well," he said. "We all have to do our jobs individually. If we all step up and do our job, then we wouldn't be sitting here right now (at 3-5). But I'm definitely not the single reason for what's going on right now."

McNabb had a fumble and two interceptions in a 38-17 loss to Dallas on Sunday night, with two of those turnovers leading to 14 points in the first half.

Asked Monday if McNabb would remain the starter for the rest of the season, barring injury, Reid said: "That's where I'm looking at things. Again, nothing is guaranteed. That's how I'm looking at it, yes."

The fact Reid said it's not "guaranteed" was a departure from the coach's usual stance. Instead, the honest response suggests Reid would consider benching McNabb at some point, especially if Philadelphia was mathematically eliminated.

The Eagles are last in the NFC East and trail nine teams in the conference. With rookie Kevin Kolb expected to be McNabb's eventual successor, the future could come as early as next month.

McNabb, of course, wouldn't support that decision.

"No, that's my job," he said. "Why would I want to give up my job?"

Less than one year removed from knee surgery for a torn ligament, McNabb clearly isn't the same player who led the Eagles to four consecutive NFC title games and one Super Bowl.

However, his mobility is improving and his overall numbers this season are respectable. McNabb has a 59.9 completion percentage, 2,044 yards passing, nine touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 86.3.

"I'm not happy about the way I've played," McNabb said. "I have to do my job better, and everyone else has to, as well."

Teammates rallied around McNabb, offering support and flatly dismissing any need for a switch.

"Everything that goes wrong on this team is not Donovan's fault," running back Brian Westbrook said. "Everything from fumbles to interceptions to sacks, those are not all Donovan's fault, not totally. Because it's a team sport, one man can't make a football team. ... I've seen Donovan do great things, and I know he still has that in him."

Backup QB A.J. Feeley agreed.

"He's getting better," Feeley said. "You make changes where there's problems. If you're going to make a correlation between the quarterback play and the problems, I don't see it. I don't see a need for a change."

The Eagles could use the final eight games to make a decision on McNabb for next season. McNabb is signed through 2013, but he certainly won't be around to collect the $52.4 million he's due to earn in the last four years of his contract.

His base salary next year is $6.3 million and $9.2 million for 2009. If the team feels starting Kolb next year wouldn't be a significant downgrade, McNabb could be used as trade bait. Or McNabb could be let go if the organization decides to rebuild and let Kolb get on-the-job experience.

Despite the speculation, McNabb still thinks he'll end his career in Philadelphia.

"I'm sure you probably won't write that, but I do," he said. "Everyone goes through ups and downs. All quarterbacks do. Brett Favre went through it; other quarterbacks have. This is a situation, if you continue to build, do you start over? It's not my decision, but I expect to be here."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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