- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Philadelphia Eagles have not enjoyed 2007.

Two of coach Andy Reid’s sons, Britt and Garrett, were arrested in separate incidents Jan. 30 on drug and traffic charges. Britt, who also pulled a gun on another driver that day, had his bail revoked after a DUI last week and is in jail awaiting sentencing. The Jan. 30 incidents caused Reid to take a six-week sabbatical.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb, coming back from ACL surgery in November, hardly played in the preseason. Neither did safety Brian Dawkins (Achilles tendon), the quarterback of the defense; tight end L.J. Smith (sports hernia); or Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews (ankle). New defensive tackle Ian Scott and end Jerome McDougle suffered season-ending injuries in August.

Defensive end Jevon Kearse, who missed the final 14 games of 2006 with a serious left knee injury, didn’t look like the old “Freak” this summer. Kearse played the entire first half of the third preseason game but didn’t record a tackle, a sack or a hurry.

All of that bad news might have been erased by a season-opening victory in Green Bay. Instead, the Eagles lost the game 16-13 to the Packers, and they lost Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard for an indefinite period with a sprained knee. J.R. Reed and Greg Lewis both fumbled punts that led to 10 Green Bay points. Reid responded by cutting Reed and re-signing Reno Mahe, their top return man from 2006.

“We thought we could get it done with those guys we had there, and it didn’t work out,” Reid said. “That’s my responsibility.”

The defense, which featured three new starters at linebacker, did its job, sacking Brett Favre four times (a half sack from Kearse) and limiting him to 206 yards while holding Green Bay’s running game to 2.7 yards a carry.

However, McNabb completed just 15 of 33 passes for 184 yards and wasn’t the mobile quarterback who used to bedevil opponents with his legs. McNabb, who wears a brace, ran four times for just 9 yards and doesn’t expect to be 100 percent until November.

“It was important that he got that game in, a complete game,” Reid said.

Of course, there’s still a major sense of incompletion in Philadelphia. After making the playoffs four years running and losing three straight NFC Championship games — the latter two at home — Reid, McNabb and Co. finally broke through in 2004 but lost the Super Bowl. They plummeted to 6-10 in 2005 when McNabb missed the final seven games with a sports hernia. The Eagles were 5-4 last year when McNabb got hurt, but surprisingly they went on to finish 10-6, win their fifth NFC East title in six years and a playoff game without him.

And so the 30-year-old McNabb remains a quarterback without a title.

The Eagles, who tomorrow night will suit up just 11 players who played in Super Bowl XXXIX, have just five players left from Reid’s first playoff team in 2000: McNabb, Dawkins, offensive tackles William Thomas and Jon Runyan and kicker David Akers.

Only Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy have won more games than Reid the last eight seasons, and they both also won Super Bowl rings. With Indianapolis winning last year, Philadelphia is now this decade’s version of the Buffalo Bills of the 1990s, the Miami Dolphins of the 1980s and the Los Angeles Rams and Minnesota Vikings of the 1970s, perpetual playoff teams who never won the championship.

“Not that we’re trying to say the window is closing, but we’ve been through the Super Bowl, we’ve been through the NFC Championships, we’ve been in the playoffs. It’s time now to seal the deal,” McNabb said.

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