McNabb confident, not content Entering his 7th season as the Birds' starter, he wants to right the ship. By Bob Brookover Inquirer Staff Writer There are lots of ways to measure success in the world of professional sports. Longevity is one of them. It's really quite simple: If you're good enough, you stick around. If you're not, you move on. Donovan McNabb has stuck around. Only Green Bay's Brett Favre, Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Tennessee's Steve McNair have been the starting quarterback for their current teams longer than McNabb, and it appears as if McNair's run with the Titans is close to the end. "It does mean something," McNabb said yesterday after the Eagles staged a full-squad minicamp workout at the NovaCare Complex. "It means you have that confidence knowing that there are things you have been able to do year in and year out. It means that management and the coaching staff as well as your teammates have confidence in you." McNabb, entering his eighth season and seventh as the Eagles' starter, has compiled a nice resume, but he knows whenever NFL Films puts together its biography on him that 2005 will be one of the low points. "The thing we've been able to do that's exciting is [contend] each year," McNabb said. "There's always been the possibility of the playoffs or Super Bowl. Obviously with what happened last year, it kind of puts us back in our first couple years, especially my first year when we came off a 5-11 season. But we knew what we had to do to turn things around." The vibe McNabb gives is that he believes he knows what must be done in order for the Eagles to regain their status as one of the best teams in the NFL after last year's 6-10 disaster. "What's different from 1999 is that we had so many injuries and, of course, the other stuff that happened last year," McNabb said. "But there were games where we were so close. Either we were up and all of a sudden we'd lose a game or we were close to coming back." In 1999, the Eagles lost six games by six points or fewer. Last year, they lost five games by seven points or fewer. McNabb said he has watched video of himself from last season and has learned from it. "I'd watch my footwork and my decision making," he said. "There were times when I could have run the ball and picked up yards, but I wasn't able to do that with the injury. I look at the film and say, 'OK, right here I could have done this.' I think it makes me mentally stronger going into the following year." Perhaps. But there is going to be doubt about McNabb again as he begins a season in which he'll turn 30 years old. For all the aggravation Terrell Owens caused the quarterback, he was a lethal weapon on the field. Now, he's gone and the replacements are both far less annoying and far less appealing. "We have some weapons," McNabb said. "They're not household names... but they're guys we have confidence that can make plays for us. I didn't have a big-name receiver until T.O. got here, but I had confidence in guys like James Thrash and even going back to Charles Johnson and Torrance Small when I was learning the offense." McNabb was quoted earlier this off-season as saying, "It's somewhat frustrating at times when you're seeing other players that possibly could help you joining other teams - especially in your division." That was taken to mean that he wasn't happy that the Eagles didn't sign free-agent receiver Antwaan Randle El, who landed with the division rival Washington Redskins. It was also reported that he was unhappy when the Eagles failed in their bid to trade for Green Bay's Javon Walker, who ended up with Denver. "It would have been great to have both those guys," McNabb said. "But there's a reason we didn't get those guys." Now McNabb believes he can revert to spreading the ball around as he did before the arrival of Owens. He thinks his age is an advantage and he said he has been driven this off-season by slogans that he plans to sell on the shirts in a clothing line he'll soon be releasing. The No. 1 slogan has been, "If you can't trust family, who can you trust?" "And I didn't take that in the way of the things that happened last year," McNabb said. "That had some of that in it, but I think it's a slogan people can abide by. In life, you go through different things and you need somebody to fall back on or talk to. If it's somebody who turns his back... you have to ask, 'Can you really trust him?' That's a question everybody has to ask in life." McNabb wants the Eagles and his teammates to trust him. He wants them to believe that he's the franchise quarterback who can right the ship that went way off course a year ago. In a few more months, we'll see if his confidence in himself translates to wins on the field.