We’ve talked about the hardships Carson Wentz faced as a Philadelphia Eagles rookie, but that was nothing compared to what Donovan McNabb endured in 1999.
Regardless of where you are in the ‘Donovan McNabb belongs in the Hall of Fame argument’, whenever you bring up everything we use to hold it against him, his supporters and detractors will quickly point to the talent he had around him for his defense. Just think about it. As soon as he got a number one (and Hall of Fame) receiver in Terrell Owens in 2004, Philly got to the Super Bowl.
During his first two years int the league (before the NFC Championship Game appearances), it’s honestly a miracle he survived to tell his own story. Think about that the next time you’re telling his story.
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McNabb’s top two targets at wideout in 1999 and 2000 were none other than Torrance Small and Charles Johnson. For those who don’t remember, or for those who are choosing not to, this not-so-dynamic duo were the original receives that exemplified the ‘Man, this young quarterback looks great. Just wait until we get some real receivers in here’ theory. Does that sound familiar?
Small would lead the Eagles in receiving in 1999 with a whopping 655 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson somehow managed to outdo that total in 2000 with 642 yards and seven trips to the end zone. As for the other wide receiver options? Well, McNabb was able to pick his own poison (his poison, no one else’s… this unit did more damage to him than it did to the opposing defense) from the likes of Na Brown or Dameane Douglas. Then, of course, there were cameo appearances in 1999 from Dietrich Jells, Brian Finneran, and Troy Smith that preceded an appearance by Alex Van Dyke in 2000.
The 2000 season would also mark the year that Todd Pinkston joined the fold, bringing some sense of stability to the position. Oh, you don’t believe us? Pinkston’s five seasons in Philly tie him with Reggie Brown as the longest-tenured Eagles receiver of the decade. That’s absolutely wild stuff there.