Donovan McNabb's presence in Washington, absence in Philadelphia seems to benefit both teams

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Donovan McNabb likes to crack jokes, play loose and be silly.

His act wore thin in Philadelphia, even though he was the best quarterback in franchise history. In the nation's capital, McNabb is a welcomed addition. It begs the question: Are the Philadelphia Eagles better off without No. 5? Are the Washington Redskins better with him?

The answer could be yes to both questions.

McNabb went to six Pro Bowls and led the Eagles to eight playoff appearances, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl in 11 seasons.

But he didn't win the big one, and the organization decided to move on with Kevin Kolb.

Though Kolb has started just two games in three seasons, he's received high praise from coaches, teammates and analysts. He's considered a born leader who is perfectly suited to run Philadelphia's offense.

"He's not like a first-time starting quarterback," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "He knows what he's doing out there. On the field, you see him directing guys where to go and what adjustments to make. It's like he's been doing this for years."

While McNabb did his thing in Philly, the Redskins had a revolving door at quarterback. They used 10 different starters in 11 years and only one made a Pro Bowl — Brad Johnson in 1999. Washington won only two playoff games in that span.

So, McNabb brings stability and a strong pedigree to a critical position.

"I think it's more psychological for the team, because everybody knows what he's done," fullback Mike Sellers said. "There's no guessing, no questioning. He's proven. Just coming out with that mindset makes everything a lot better."

McNabb's success in Philadelphia is tarnished somewhat by off-field issues. He was a model citizen and class act throughout his tenure with the Eagles, but seemingly always found himself in the middle of odd controversies.

There was the famous booing on draft day, which he never forgot. There was Rush Limbaugh's critical comments in 2003, the feud with Terrell Owens in '05, the halftime benching in '08, vomiting incidents in the huddle and three regular season-ending injuries.

McNabb's personality sometimes rubbed people the wrong way, too, especially when he portrayed himself as a sympathetic figure or promoted his leadership skills. His critics say true leaders don't talk about it, they just do it.

McNabb angered his younger teammates last year when he said the Eagles showed their youth after a costly loss. The final straw for many fans and some radio talk-show hosts was McNabb's air-guitar entrance onto the field before his final game — a 34-14 loss at Dallas in the playoffs. Would Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady act that way before a big game?

Kolb, the son of a football coach, takes a serious approach. He also leads in a quieter way.

"I've always tried to be a leader, even in the backup role," Kolb said. "There are some things that do change, but I don't want to go outside of my comfort zone or do anything that's not expected of me. I want to be myself and do the things that are asked and expected. I know there won't be any problem with it, and the guys will respond well."

Teammates love Kolb's confidence and intensity. They also relate better to him because he's just 26 and the average age of Philadelphia's projected starters on offense is 25.3.

"Kevin reminds me of exactly what he is, that quarterback from Texas that you know is like, 'Let's kick some butt, take some names and have a good time doing it,'" wide receiver Hank Baskett said. "It's good. He has genetic leadership in him and I like it.

"We're going to miss Donovan," Baskett said. "Donovan had a lot of intangibles that come with the years that he spent here and I wish Donovan the best, but right now I'd say Kevin is doing a really good job out here."

The Redskins say glowing things about McNabb. They've bought into everything he brings to the table. Why not? McNabb certainly is an upgrade from what they've had over the years.

"It's his swagger. Donovan comes in and he knows he can win a game for you," center Casey Rabach said. "You know he can do great things. We have obviously seen a lot of him in the past from playing in the same division, and everyone is just as confident in his ability. It's nice to have a guy like that around."

McNabb's presence in a burgundy and gold uniform should make the Redskins-Eagles rivalry more interesting, too. Both teams hate the Dallas Cowboys more, and the Giants are a natural rival for the Eagles because of proximity. But now the most-anticipated game in the NFL this season is McNabb's return to Philadelphia on Oct. 3.

It'll be strange to see McNabb in different colors and he'll certainly hear some boos. But it's likely he'll also get a loud ovation because most fans seem to have appreciated his performance for 11 seasons.

They were just ready to move on. Obviously, so was management.

"You have to develop young quarterbacks in their prime and the best way to do it if you can is to pinpoint the player, develop him while you have the quality quarterback we had in Donovan," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. "Kevin is more than ready to play. Donovan had a good season. There wasn't the feeling that we would drop off in any way. Having a new quarterback, there's a risk. There's obviously an unknown involved there, but there wasn't a sense that this is a drop-off situation. This was a perfect opportunity for the developing player to take the reigns of the team and maximize his capabilities."


AP Sports Writer Joseph G. White in Washington, D.C. contributed to this report.