Defense Has Held McNabb in check.(SPORTS)(REDSKINS NOTES)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 15, 2002 | Go to article overview

Defense Has Held McNabb in check.(SPORTS)(REDSKINS NOTES)


Byline: David Elfin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Washington Redskins have said all the right things about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb heading into tomorrow night's NFC East showdown in Landover. How he's an elusive, powerful runner and a strong-armed passer.

"Donovan is an exceptional athlete," Redskins defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "He's going to make his plays, but we want to limit those. We want to keep him in the pocket and make him throw out of a well. That's the biggest part of the game. Once he's out of the pocket, he has options. He can throw or run. He can take advantage of any little crack and he's strong enough to break hand tackles. We have linebackers that can run him down, but we don't want to put that much pressure on our linebackers and secondary."

There's no doubt that McNabb is the key to the Eagles' offense. But what the Redskins don't say is that they have had as much success as any defense in containing the versatile, 6-foot-3, 226-pound McNabb. Last year, they used swift linebacker LaVar Arrington to shadow McNabb, but new coordinator Marvin Lewis doesn't believe in such spying.

In six starts against the Redskins, McNabb has completed 52 percent of his passes for an average of 147 yards, a touchdown, an interception and two sacks while carrying seven times for 58 yards.

In his 39 regular season starts overall, McNabb has completed 57 percent of his passes for an average of 195 yards, 1.5 touchdowns, an interception, 2.6 sacks while carrying five times for 35 yards.

Most important, McNabb is 21-12 as starter against the rest of the NFL, but just 3-3 against Washington.

"We have a feel for what the Eagles want to do," strong safety Sam Shade said. "Teams try to keep at least one guy back to make sure that Donovan doesn't break the pocket. We've made some mistakes by not maintaining our rush lanes, which allows him to take off and once that happens, he's so elusive. It's like trying to bring down a running back."

Shade and Wilkinson might be tired of chasing McNabb, but defensive end Renaldo Wynn is looking forward to the challenge. He hasn't faced McNabb since he was a senior in high school and McNabb was a sophomore in 1991 in Chicago.

"Donovan has always been a heck of an athlete," Wynn said. "They were our big rivals. I think I tackled him a few times and I might have blocked his shot in basketball. …

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