Given the direction of recent talks between NFL owners and players, there's a chance the lockout could be resolved by mid-July. Which means a frenetic free agency leading into training camps and the regular season. One player who will be in a new uniform for the 2011 season: quarterback Donovan McNabb.
After a forgettable season in Washington, where McNabb was eventually benched for Rex Grossman, he'll be somewhere -- anywhere -- else once the lockout ends. On Friday, McNabb appeared on the Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN Chicago to talk about, among other things, Jay Cutler and Brian Urlacher.
Cutler, like McNabb, has been a target of criticism during his career, sometimes for reasons out of his control.
"I went through [struggles] pretty much myself last year and you know the whole deal about it is just let [Cutler] know, Hey you just have to brush it off and understand you can play this game and play it at a high level," McNabb said. "You’re gonna have some tough times, but don’t put your head down because you’re teammates see that and once your teammates see that and once your teammates recognize that they feel like you’re not into it anymore, do whatever you have to do spend time after practice. If it’s communicating with the guys, spending time watching extra film, whatever it may be put that extra time in cause once things change then you’ll begin to gain your confidence back and play the way you’re capable of playing."
Cutler doesn't appear to be at that point; his teammates have his back, including Urlacher. (McNabb, on the other hand, has plenty of experience with teammates questioning his leadership skills.)
With no real NFL news to report, Urlacher has been a topic of conversation because of his ongoing verbal slapfight with Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones. (Here's the backstory.) McNabb was asked to describe Urlacher at this stage of his career. His views differ slightly from Jones'
"Brian is a very effective linebacker, a great leader, a guy who gets to the ball, he’s in the right place at the right time and I think when you’re a veteran linebacker those are your qualities," he said. "It’s not about your speed like your coming out of the combine. It’s not about guys running sideline-to-sideline. It’s about being in the right gap at the right time. It’s about getting the guys in the right position to be very successful on the defensive side. That’s what Brian is. Brian is your guy that you have confidence that he’s gonna make that play on the third down when you need it.
"…Brian to me is one of the top three linebackers in the game and I hate to put numbers behind guys because now you feel like your slighting them, but when I saw that top 100 list and I see Brian at 49, first of all people need to understand players did not vote on that."
When asked if he thought Urlacher was a Hall of Famer McNabb didn't hesitate. "Absolutely." Jones, no doubt, disagrees.