Friday, December 09, 2005

The Great McNabb Debate - Part I

I know it’s not nice to talk about a guy who can’t defend himself because he’s laid up with a sports hernia, but oh well. The Great McNabb Debate rages on. The other day, Brett, a loyal BSJ reader, mentioned in a comment on this blog that “Donovan is NOT a great QB—we all need to accept this.” I hear you, Brett. But right now, there is only one great quarterback—Peyton Manning. After that, Donovan McNabb is as good as it gets.

1. Numbers

How efficient is he? Donovan’s career completion percentage is 58.4% with a best (last year) of 64 %. Manning and Daunte Culpepper are more impressive, with averages of 63.9% and 64.4%, respectively, and bests of 67.6% and 69.2%. But he’s on par with Tom Brady (61.7%/63.9%) and Brett Favre (61.5%/65.3%) and way ahead of Michael Vick (54.2%/56.4%).

Look at it another way: How many interceptions does he throw for every TD? Donovan has a career 49% rating (interceptions/TDs). Peyton the Great is up at 53% and Brady the Bowl-Winner is at 54%, Favre and Culpepper keep each other company at 63% and 64%, and Vick makes me laugh with 73%.

Yardage? Donovan’s 3,875 yards from last year isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s better than Brady or Vick have ever put up, and Culpepper’s only beaten it once. Touchdowns? His high through the air is 31, which Vick and Brady have never touched, and Culpepper and Manning have beaten only twice apiece—and only Culpepper has more TDs on the ground.

2. Intangibles

No player in recent memory has galvanized Eagles fans like McNabb. Charismatic, hard-working, and clean-living, he lets us and his teammates concentrate on the game by never instigating any unnecessary drama. He’s also often done the unthinkable, busting memorable moves and in one game throwing four touchdown passes on a broken ankle.

3. Team Success

As I stated in my last post, since 2000, when McNabb took over, the Eagles are 64 and 28—as compared to, say, the Patriots’ 60 and 32—and they’ve won the NFC East four times and the NFC once.

4. Extra Credit

Even Donovan’s harshest critics can’t deny that he possesses true game-breaking potential. There’s always the possibility he’ll break a play that changes the game completely, whether it be a daring run or a deep pass. Also, no other QB has suffered such inadequate receivers. With the obvious and crucial exception of T.O., Donnie has never had a serious and consistent option.

Big talent. Little box.

So why all the frustration? A few reasons—and, yeah, they’re big ones.

1) He can’t throw a ten-yard pass. If hitting a receiver in the toes was good, he’d be Johnny Unitas.

2) He’s a Mama’s Boy. Can’t he balance those soup commercials with a Colt 45 ad or something?

3) He got tired in the Super Bowl. Allegedly.

Is Donovan McNabb overrated? Yes. He’d have to be. People love the guy like he carried scores of elderly people out of a burning building when, really, he’s nothing more than an above average QB. But he is that, and except for Peyton Manning, there’s nobody better.


Matt Tavani said...

Mark makes some very good points and backs them up with the reality of his numbers.

But I would question his conclusion that he is just an above average quarterback. I would agree that Peyton Manning is the only one better in the game today. I would go so far as to say Peyton Manning is the best quarterback I have seen in my lifetime and matching him is something we probably won't see in the near future. But, if McNabb is #2 (again, a statement with which I agree), I would say that Mark is underselling him.

The laws of averages would tell us that the second best quarterback in the premier football league in the world isn't just a bit above average. He's got talent that few people in the world possess. He's acheived things that few people in the world have acheived.

Eagles fans, McNabb is the glue. We'd better hope he comes back next year healthy and ready to go. If not, this team might break into more pieces than it already has.

Ahamed Iqbal said...

As tough as this year has been we would have had nothing the last five years without D-Mac.
I'd rather have him in there than most any QB with the team we have.
I'm going to give him a 3 year pass, after that I'll give up on him.

Cool blog by the way, nice to read about Philly when I'm away from it.

Riss said...

McNabb has something that puts him above a lot of QBs, his teammates (excepting the idiod Owens) and his fans love him. He pours everything he's got into his team. People can criticize all they want but in this day and age there aren't that many QBs that have a similar effect.