McNabb says mechanics talk 'getting out of hand'
The Minnesota Vikings were leading by a lot, and their fans were finally enjoying a victory.
The bounce passes by Donovan McNabb sure didn't go unnoticed, though. He was booed more than once during the 34-10 win over Arizona, a reaction he said surprised but didn't bother him.
During a week when the Vikings have been feeling the relief of their first win and expressing optimism the momentum can continue into the thick of their schedule, they've also been subject to further scrutiny about the state of their passing game and whether it's competent enough to help even out their record.
That's because McNabb connected on only 10 of his 21 throws last Sunday against Arizona and through five weeks ranks in the bottom six among NFL starting quarterbacks in completion percentage (56.8) and yards passing (849). On one drive in the fourth quarter, McNabb's throw to Percy Harvin on a bubble screen bounced and his rollout pass four plays later to Visanthe Shiancoe hit the turf about five yards short of a seven-yard pattern.
On that one, McNabb saw Shiancoe stumble at the beginning of his route. He said he tried to pull the ball back, concerned the defender would be in position for an interception, but it slipped out and wilted in front of him.
McNabb nodded as a question was asked about that throw, seeming to acknowledge his mistake, but he has sidestepped the criticism as often as he can.
''You understand what happened, and you move on to the next play,'' McNabb said.
Shortly after McNabb stepped behind the podium, heavy rain began to hammer on the fieldhouse roof at Winter Park, making it difficult for reporters to hear his responses. That's typical of McNabb, staying calm in the storm.
''There were obviously some throws I wanted back, but those are things you do every week. It's not just one week. You try to clean that stuff up for the up and coming weeks because you know some teams are going to try to duplicate what other teams have been able to do against you,'' McNabb said.
Coach Leslie Frazier mentioned casually a couple of weeks ago the Vikings were examining McNabb's throwing motion and footwork, and the frequency of his erratic passes have kept the issue on the hot topic list for fans and analysts.
''This whole mechanics thing is getting out of hand. Everybody works on mechanics, no matter what position you play,'' McNabb said Wednesday at his weekly news conference, the closest he came to showing any frustration about the continued attention on his inaccuracy.
He added: ''I'm all about winning. I'm not about numbers.''
Make no mistake, though: McNabb has never been an exceptionally accurate thrower, even while playing in the West Coast offense in Philadelphia that's based around low-risk passes.
McNabb's best year was 2004, the season the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. He connected on 64 percent of his throws, and he had only eight interceptions against 31 touchdown tosses. But McNabb's career passing percentage is 58.9. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, by comparison, are above 65 percent.
His strengths have been an ability to run for first downs, throw while rolling out or scrambling and avoid costly mistakes. Plus, he led a lot of winning teams.
True to form with Minnesota, McNabb has moved well for a 34-year-old with spotty pass blocking in front of him and turned the ball over just two times in five games. But the Vikings are 1-4, and he hasn't been good enough to perform above the work-in-progress offensive line or the group of receivers that lacks a game-breaking, down-the-field target.
With Adrian Peterson running the ball and a reliable defense, the Vikings don't want McNabb to take risks. But perhaps there are instances where he's been too cautious, a delicate balance for any quarterback to strike.
''He knows that. He's had a ton of success in our league, and sometimes you just have to let it go,'' Frazier said. ''And he will, and he has.''
Bernard Berrian can help McNabb get going as much as anyone on the roster.
Stuck on the inactive list Sunday for a disciplinary reason, Berrian declined to discuss his punishment or much on any other subject when approached after practice Wednesday.
''That's old news. I'm already over it. Can't do nothing about it now,'' said Berrian, who has only two catches for 37 yards this year.
Berrian said he believes his standing with the team - and his chemistry with McNabb - is fine.
''I have always been a big believer in spreading the ball around and getting guys involved. It's not that I have been avoiding him or trying to get the ball to him,'' McNabb said. ''We are going to connect on those. Those are things that will continue to evolve as we move on.''
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