October 17, 2007

McNabb Still Confident

Donovan McNabb is the first to admit that in the first five games of the season, the Eagles have dug themselves a pretty big hole. Sitting at the bottom of the NFC East and having already dropped games to division rivals Washington and New York, some might say it is time to start thinking about the Wild Card.

Not McNabb.

"I think one thing that people tend to forget is - the NFC East championship comes through Philadelphia," he said yesterday. "We have to protect our territory and we have enough time to do that."

While the situation could undoubtedly be more favorable, McNabb fully believes that until someone officially knocks them off, the Eagles remain the kings of the NFC East. Yes, Dallas is 5-1, New York is 4-2 and Washington is 3-2, but McNabb feels as though if the Eagles take care of their business, anything can happen.

"I think at this point, it's hard to say where anybody is. You may start out 5-0 and you could tail off," McNabb said. "The Giants started 6-2 last year and then they kind of fell off. Nobody ever remembers September and October, they always remember November, December."

No matter how well the Eagles play, they will need some of their division rivals to - as McNabb put it - tail off. Dallas has been especially hot in the early going, and New York has won four in a row. Washington's defense has been one of the best of the league, ranking third.

In addition, all three have favorable matchups this weekend — Washington hosts injury-riddled Arizona, the Giants host sliding San Francisco and Dallas hosts inconsistent Minnesota — but McNabb stressed that unless Philadelphia remains focused on the task it hand, it will not matter what other teams do.

"We can't worry about what other teams are doing," he said. "We can only focus on what we need to do here."

McNabb is not necessarily a rah-rah type of motivator, and his strong words on Wednesday were encouraging to some of his teammates.

"We definitely know that if Don is all in, and with a statement like that, we're all in," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "We don't want to let him down in any kind of way. That's how he feels and that's the way we feel."

McNabb also said Wednesday that he thinks the offense specifically is getting closer to returning to the form it displayed in previous seasons. Still, even his teammates on the other side of the ball appreciate the vote of confidence and share his enthusiasm.

"It makes me feel really good. That's our man. That's our leader," safety Quintin Mikell said. "If he has that much confidence in that, it gives us that much confidence. I think we are on to the right track right now."

Some players also said that while McNabb's declaration is encouraging, the team never wavered in its belief even throughout the slow start.

"We had confidence already, we just need to go out and perform. It's obvious that victories aren't going to come easy. We have to go out and earn them," safety Sean Considine said. "It's a lot of hard work during the week so we can go out and hopefully perform well on Sundays."

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