Friday, December 16, 2005

The Great McNabb Debate – Part IV

Read Part I, Part II & Part III of the Debate

Which quarterback is truly elite? I'll tell you who's not...or at least not yet.

Two days ago, on this blog, Matt said plenty in response to Andrew’s December 12th column—namely:

1) Donovan McNabb is one of the league’s top quarterbacks
2) Jake Plummer is not

But one of Andrew’s points requires specific condemnation—that point being that Ben Roethlisberger is a better quarterback than Donovan McNabb. When I first read it, I brushed it off, figuring that Andrew was on some mood-altering drug since realizing that T.O. would never again wear an Eagles uniform, and that the drug was impairing his judgment. But then Ahamed Iqbal, a loyal BSJ reader, showed support for the notion, writing on this blog, “Brady, Manning, Palmer and maybe Big Ben are definetely above him.” Now, I know Andrew can go off the deep end sometimes, but Ahamed? Ahamed, I count on you to be the voice of reason around here! Well, it looks like this time around that voice of reason will have to be mine.

Let’s begin with the obvious: Including the postseason, the kid has 26 games under his belt. He simply doesn’t have the record to be considered a premier QB. But that doesn’t matter to Andrew or Ahamed, so let’s look at the numbers.

Clearly, we have to concentrate on last year. Big Ben’s most impressive stat was his 66.4% completion percentage. But Donovan was right behind him at 64%. How about yardage? With only one less start, Ben had—count ‘em—more than 1200 less passing yards. TDs in the air? Ben: 17. Donovan: 31. TDs on the ground? Donovan had 3 to Ben’s 1. And my favorite QB stat—Donovan: 8 interceptions in 469 attempts; Ben: 11 picks in only 295 tosses.

This is getting embarassing. Oh wait—Andrew credits Donovan’s success to the West Coast offense. Yes, it’s a pass-friendly offense. But you know what else is pass-friendly? A good running game. Last year, Jerome Bettis racked up 941 yards and ex-Eagle Duce Staley put together 830. Much as I like him, Brian Westbrook’s 812 rushing yards don’t stack up. Everybody knew Donovan was passing on almost every play.

As for receiver support, Terrell Owens is the most talented receiver in football. But Hines Ward is excellent in is own right. Take 2002: 112 catches, 1329 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns. So with the Great Roethlisberger, he must have blown those numbers away, right? No. 80 catches—and only 4 touchdowns.

How about defensive support? I have no complaints with last year’s Eagles defensive squad, but how did those Steelers rank? In yards: #1. In points: #1. Not bad.

But one of Andrew’s biggest problems with McNabb is his performance in big games. Should I even go here? Is it even fair? No, but oh well. Roethlisberger’s sudden fall from grace in last year’s postseason was sad. The wunderkind got whupped two weeks in a row. Against the New York Jets he threw 2 interceptions that almost cost the Steelers the game. Against the Patriots, he was picked 3 times, fatally wounding an already struggling Steel City defense.

Also, Ben’s a graduate of the Brett Favre school: he’s exciting but reckless and often hurts his team by pulling out playground moves more suited to athletic quarterbacks lke Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, or (yep) Donovan McNabb.

Don't get me wrong: Big Ben's time will come.

I like Ben Roethlisberger. He seems like a good, hard-working player, as well as a nice guy. He has a real future in football. But to compare him with McNabb is silly. In fact, it doesn’t hold up under even the slightest scrutiny.


Andrew Tavani said...

COME ON, Mark.

Should we rename this the "Great Ben Roethlisberger Debate?"

I'll grant you that Ben doesn't have the body of work that McNabb has and his big game performances have been subpar, but McNabb choking in big games was only one of my points.

Also, you vastly underestimate the importance of having Owens on the field. Sure, McNabb had 31 TDs last year, but in 2003 he only had 16....and, yes, he played in all 16 games. That's a little more Roethlisberger-like, isn't it?

You can spin the numbers any way you want, but the fact remains that McNabb just isn't THAT good. Like I said, he's MAYBE slightly above average. That's it. No deep end...just reality.

Matt Tavani said...

But, Andrew... Jake Plummer?

James Byner said...

Where can I order one of those Big Ben clocks that you used in your post?

Andrew Tavani said...

Yes, Matt. Plummer--this year--is WAY better than McNabb. Don't believe me? Look at Plummer's stats and look at McNabb's.

Now, tell me who's better!! This year!

NEWSFLASH: McNabb is not that of these days that notion will sink in with you guys.

Mark Tavani said...

Officially licensed BIG BEN Roethlisberger wall clock. Great for any room. High quality quartz movement with a sweep second hand. Molded plastic construction with built in hanger. Requires one (AA) battery (not included). Measures 12.75" in diameter. Made in USA. NOT available until December 26th.


Available at the Steeler Penguin Pirate Store (

James Byner said...

Mark, you're definitley right that McNabb had the better statistics last year and obviously the better career numbers - but if the debate were about who would better lead the Eagles from this point forward, I would take Roethlisberger.

When you look at McNabb's numbers from his second season, they are similar to Ben's rookie year. When you consider that McNabb is currently in his prime, and that Roethlisberger has more maturing to do and therefore more upside potential, I would rather have him leading my team.

Matt Tavani said...

Well, Andrew I have looked at both Plummer's and McNabb's stats and for this year, they look might similar. Plummer's are slightly better. Considering Plummer doesn't have a torn abdomen, that should be the case.

Andrew Tavani said...

Sorry Matt. You can't use the hernia as an excuse...if the hernia was hindering his play to the extent that his numbers are worse than Plummers, he simply SHOULD NOT have been playing.

Huge ego. Poor coaching.

Anonymous said...

Black quarterbacks don't win superbowls.

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