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Will the Eagles keep Donovan McNabb? The answer depends on McNabb

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The task is simple if you're the Philadelphia Eagles:Donovan McNabb will be given another chance to come up big when it counts the most this weekend in Dallas.

Beat the Dallas Cowboys  Sunday afternoon and you win the NFC East, secure a first round bye for the playoffs, and grab the number two seed behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC.

Lose to Dallas, you get bumped to the number six seed and risk the possibility of facing the Cowboys or Vikings on the road in the first round.

There hasn't been this much hype over a regular season game for the Eagles in years. And as far as regular season games are concerned, this could arguably be the biggest in the career of Donovan McNabb. Simply put: If McNabb leads the Birds to victory, he is a hero who stepped up when it counted. If he loses, it's just another big game that he has failed to win one time too many over the last decade.

Make no mistake, everyone in Philadelphia knows that McNabb's days in the City of Brotherly Love may be over sooner than later. A lot of this (unfair or not) could very well be determined by McNabb's performance in the playoffs, whether the Eagles want to turn the page next year and turn the reigns over to Kevin Kolb. There are NFL teams who will probably inquire about all three of the Eagles' quarterbacks this off-season (McNabb, Kolb, and MIchael Vick). As far as McNabb's market value goes, he probably has three to four solid years left in his career. Yes, his comments at times can easily be filed under the obscure and random (TO and black on black crime,the "overtime" debacle of last year). Some even wonder if he truly has it in him to rise to the occassion and be THAT quarterback who can bring this city a much needed and long overdue Super Bowl  Championship. Either way, you take the good with the bad. And at the end of the day, McNabb is the most successful quarterback this town has ever seen. If McNabb is blamed for the Eagles' failure to get over the hump, then you have to give him credit for their success. There have only been three NFL teams who have made four consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances (Dallas 1970-73,92-95,and the Eagles from 01-04), and Donovan McNabb had a very large role in making that possible. As we all know around here, this doesn't happen too often. To say goodbye to McNabb over the next year or so may not be the right move. Here's why:DeSean Jackson is quickly becoming one of the most dynamic players in the NFL

First off, McNabb FINALLY has a diversified offensive arsenal at his disposal. It took almost ten years, but the days of Torrance Small, Charles Johnson, and Na Brown are over. DeSean Jackson  has become one of the most exciting players in the NFL, rookies LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin have been pleasant surprises, tight end Brent Celek  has come into his own, and Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver  has been one of the best stories on this Eagles team. Hey, even Michael Vick  is getting in on the action when he's healthy. Wide Receiver Jason Avant arguably has the best hands on the team. Then there's Brian Westbrook, who is obviously not 100%, but anytime Westbrook takes the field, it makes the defensive team edgy.

What is even scarier is that McNabb's new weapons aren't even close to reaching their peak. Look what happened to John Elway  once he got a running game. Nobody was crying about him not winning the big game ever again (sound familiar?). He turned his entire legacy in the NFL around in the last two years of his career, and he was several years older than McNabb is now. To be fair, the Eagles (much like the Packers with Brett Favre and Aaron Rogers) eventually have to think about their future with McNabb and there are financial ramifications as well. Kolb is the heir apparent to McNabb, who filled in admirably for McNabb in the beginning of the season.

In saying this, even if the Eagles manage to get to the NFC Championship Game again this year and lose, they should still bring McNabb back. These are not the Eagles from those other championship games. He has a young team around him, and with an improved defense next season, the Eagles could be the odds-on fIs Kevin Kolb ready to fill Donovan McNabb's shoes? avorite to win the NFC. If the Eagles start the Kevin Kolb era next year, he will inherit a ready-made offensive powerhouse. A powerhouse McNabb has needed and longed for his entire career. Buddy Ryan  never gave Randall Cunningham  the offensive he needed, and it was a truly a crime. When Cunningham finally got those weapons in Minnesota, he had a season for the ages. Moreover, if Kolb manages to win a Super Bowl with this team, you would have to believe McNabb's legacy would not be looked upon as favorably as it should be. I've got two names for you: Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe was good, but............. Ahh, I can hear the sports talk radio already. How ironic would THAT be? And if it would ever happen, it would happen right here in Philly.

As Elway showed, it's never too late to define your career. In the next few weeks, Donovan McNabb could very well define his.