Happy Now, Birds Fans?

With the McNabb era ending, I just have one thought: Be careful what you wish for

The religious calendar read “Easter Sunday” yesterday, but for many Eagles fans, it might as well have been Christmas. Their dreams came true when the team shipped quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Redskins for a pair of draft picks. We didn’t exactly see and hear people in the streets banging pots and pans with metal spoons, and there was no celebratory gunfire, but you can bet there is a sizeable contingent of Birds backers delighted by the move. [SIGNUP]

The trade puts an end to the arduous divorce between the Eagles and McNabb, swings the balance of power on the team squarely to the Joe Banner/Howie Roseman camp (isn’t that comforting?) and signals the beginning of the Kevin Kolb Era, which has been inevitable since the Eagles drafted the quarterback three years ago. McNabb is gone, off to smile for the cameras in D.C. and giving new coach Mike Shanahan an experienced arm with which to begin his tenure.

As for the happy Eagles fans, who finally are free of McNabb’s yoke and his onerous .667 success rate as a starting quarterback, make sure to keep that edge of yours. After years of begging for change, you have it. So make sure you hold Kevin Kolb to the same standard which you applied to McNabb: Super Bowl or else.

Be certain to criticize his every emotion. Attack him when he throws an incompletion. Look past things like record low interception rates and Pro Bowl appearances and bay at the moon when you don’t get a parade down Broad Street. It will be his fault and only his fault. If the line doesn’t protect, the front seven can pressure the enemy QB or the secondary plays like the “South Park” kids, the blame still goes on Number Four.

It will be interesting to see whether the Eagles fans prove to be hypocrites in the next coming years. Jettisoning McNabb brings the number of players from the ’09 roster shipped off or let go to 10. No matter how vehemently coach Andy Reid or the Gold Standard crew in the executive suite protest, this is a rebuilding year. For the past decade, that kind of talk was unacceptable. Either the Birds were loading up for a Super Bowl run, or they might as well have been playing soccer. By getting rid of McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Sheldon Brown, Chris Gocong and others, the Eagles have committed to their younger players, which should be great news to fans of Macho Harris, Quintin Demps, Winston Justice, et al. Philadelphia now controls five of the first 87 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, affording them tremendous flexibility and allowing them to trade up or down, one of Reid’s favorite April activities.

That should make Draft day plenty fun, but it shouldn’t necessarily fill fans with confidence for the upcoming year. It’s obvious now that the team’s glaring weaknesses will be addressed with young players, and even though Reid has hit some home runs in recent drafts with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, he still remains a scattershot drafter, so those of you expecting this year’s lode to include multiple starters had better wise up.

It’s not going to be an easy season for the Eagles, but at least McNabb is gone, right? This opens the door to Kolb and begins his quest for the Hall of Fame, which his two starts last year clearly indicated was a possibility. Kolb has talent, but the scorched-earth crowd that believed change under center was necessary didn’t seem to understand that the Eagles are taking a substantial risk by handing over the offense to the University of Houston product.

It’s entirely possible Kolb will become the kind of quarterback Eagles fans love. He’s an accurate passer who fits the West Coast offense. He has had three seasons to learn and grow. He looked good during his 2009 audition. (Don’t worry about those interceptions against the Saints; they don’t really count.) Kolb will probably put up some big numbers. But will he win? That’s the acid test in Philadelphia, or at least it has been the past 10 years. With McNabb, it was never about the regular-season wins, the multiple trips to the post-season or the success once he got there. Nope, it was about the Super Bowl, and Eagles fans demanded that outcome. When they didn’t get it, they killed the quarterback.

Kolb gets his chance now, and he deserves a honeymoon period. But should he falter, there had better be the same vitriol directed at him as was sent McNabb’s way. There had better be a carpetbagging radio host with a bus full of rowdy fans ready to excoriate Kolb and then spend years killing him under the guise of objectivity. There had better be a myopic approach to football that puts the entire responsibility for winning on the QB, even if that refutes the long-held opinion that Philadelphia sports fans are knowledgeable.

Donovan McNabb is gone, and thousands of Eagles fans are delighted. But as you throw rose petals at the feet of his successor, remember to include some banana peels, too.

You don’t want to look hypocritical, do you?

If you have the time, check out the Union’s debut Saturday. Any team that plays as physically as they do is bound to win the hearts of Philadelphia fans

Pay no attention to the Phillies’ pitching woes. Don’t worry about Raul Ibanez’s power outage. It’s World Series or bust! Isn’t it?

Don’t be surprised if Villanova starts a serious investigation into moving its football team up to Division I-A. The Wildcats have already looked into using the Union’s new stadium, the better to solidify their status in the Big East Conference.