First team shines (briefly)
But other Eagles still need improvement after the team's preseason loss to Oakland.
By Larry O'Rourke Of The Morning Call
Donovan McNabb made the most of his limited opportunity to show newly minted Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon what he could do.
After expressing admiration for Moon following Saturday's induction ceremony, McNabb was on the field for only the first nine offensive plays — and threw only three passes — Sunday night when the Philadelphia Eagles' first-teamers got a quick hook from coach Andy Reid in the annual Hall of Fame Game.
McNabb and the starting unit gave the Eagles the early lead on Brian Westbrook's 1-yard run, but the Eagles eventually lost 16-10 to the Oakland Raiders in the exhibition that traditionally kicks off the NFL's preseason schedule. Although Reid had indicated the starters would play roughly a quarter Sunday night, he pulled the first-team offense with 7:40 left in the first quarter and the first-team defense after it finished its second three-and-out series little more than a minute later.
''They got nine plays,'' Reid said of his starting offense. ''I wasn't going to quite let them go a quarter. If it was two series, it was two series. But they got nine plays.''
And ''the 1s'' made the most of them, going 61 yards in 4:51.
''I'll take the one series,'' said McNabb, who completed all three of his pass attempts for 29 yards. ''You want to go out with a bang in the preseason; sustain a drive and get the ball in the end zone. If the 'big guy' [Reid] says you're done, you're happy. If things don't go well and he says you're done, you kind of want to be out there. I'm sure he'll want to see a little more in that Cleveland game on Thursday.''
As good as the Eagles looked with Westbrook carrying six times for 32 yards on the opening drive, McNabb said he won't be lulled into a false sense of security.
''It was just the first drive,'' McNabb said. ''We know as a game would continue on, we would want some plays back. There would be some throws and some running opportunities we would want back. We know as the game would continue we would not have been as crisp as that first series. But we'll look at the film and see what we have to work on.''
It was obvious what the rest of the Eagles have to work on: a lot.
Backup quarterbacks Jeff Garcia, Koy Detmer and Timmy Chang were harassed repeatedly by the Raiders' pass rush, which rushed several of Garcia's throws and sacked Detmer twice. The backups were a combined 16 of 33 for just 139 yards, and Chang and Garcia each threw an interception.
''We had a few protection problems,'' Reid said. ''They took some shots. We have to clean some things up.
''I saw some good things from the game, and some things from guys we need to work on,'' Reid added. ''I told them, 'When you go in at halftime with the [10-7] lead, you need to maintain the lead.' But there were too many turnovers and mistakes.''
The first-teamers certainly did not need the same speech.
McNabb & Co. simply went about their business like it was 2000-04 all over again, albeit with some new faces such as Jamaal Jackson at center, Todd Herremans at left guard and rookies Jason Avant and Hank Baskett in the mix of receivers.
The reliance on Westbrook's running was something new, too, especially since all of his carries went between the tackles.
''You want to be able to both run and pass, and I think we definitely established that tonight,'' said Jackson, who is trying to hold off Hank Fraley's attempts to reclaim the starting role at center.
After joking that ''I'm sure you guys [in the media] are happy'' with the evidence of a running game, even McNabb had to admit: ''Whether it's passing or running, if you're moving the chains that's a good thing for the offense.''