Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just Good Enough To Lose

Donovan McNabb is a good quarterback.

Not a Hall-of-Famer. Not a Superstar. He's good.

Then why for years, is he glorified in the media as one of the best. A superstar? When he so clearly is not; rather just a slightly above average guy who can play pretty well, but can't carry his team to the Promised Land.

McNabb's whole career has been full of heavy praise, decent results, but ulltimatly disappointment. A few years back, The Sporting News ranked him the number one quarterback in the NFL, ahead of Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Tom Brady, yet the has lost 4 NFC Championships games since then. And then, just a week ago, Jason Whitlock , decried everyone for attacking McNabb for not knowing the overtimes rules and praised him as being a better quarterback than Kurt Warner?

Better than Kurt Warner? Mr. Whitlock, even a cursory examination destroys than assessment. Warner's completion rate is 65.4 to McNabb's career completion rate of 58.9. Warner's Y/A rate is 8.0, McNabb's is 6.8. Warner's QB rating 93.8 to McNabb's 85.9. Also, Warner has won a Super Bowl and in 2 weeks will have been to 3—McNabb has been to only won and lost. In fact, to repeat, McNabb has been to 5 NFC Championship games and lost 4 of them? Warner's postseason passer rating is 97.3; McNabb's is 80.8.

Whitlock, in last week's column, wrote that if McNabb won yesterday and if McNabb goes on to win a Super Bowl, than Whitlock says it's fair to compare McNabb to Peyton Manning. Really, Mr. Whitlock? What makes you think the two should even been in the same category—Manning's Super Bowl win and McNabb's Super Bowl loss? You know what the say happens when you assume, right?

But OK, I'll play along. Comparing Manning (who Whitlock called a choker just the week before—what would you call McNabb now) to McNabb.....well there is no comparison. Statisically, the two aren't even in the same league. In regular season games, Manning is far superior; he's had 8 season's of QB ratings of over 90, to McNabb's 2. Manning averages 259.3 passing yard per game at a 64.4 completion rating. McNabb averages 218.8 yard passing per game at under 59% rating. McNabb's 59% completion rating ties him with Bobby Hebert for 145 all-time. Conversely, Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning are 2nd and 3rd all-time respectively in completion percentage.

The comparison between Manning and McNabb doesn't hold in the postseason as well. Manning is still better in every important category; completion percentage, QB rating, and most importantly, yards per pass completion, where Manning is a yard better than McNabb.

Yards per pass completion is the category we should focus on—because it shows that the quarterback not only completes the pass, but puts the receiver in a position to not break stride and continue to gain yards after the catch. Manning put passes in stride with the receiver; McNabb has been terrible—especially in big games—in putting the ball near the receiver, but in a position to only make the catch, not to continue to gain yards.

Look at yesterday. McNabb, especially in the 4th quarter threw behind receivers or too high. On the Eagle drive just after the Cardinals scored the go-ahead touchdown, McNabb threw 4 incompletions in a row, all low, high or behind his receivers. Whitlock writes about McNabb, "But if McNabb gets the Birds past Arizona and wins the Super Bowl, then you might hear me arguing that McNabb is Peyton Manning's equal. McNabb has never had the kind of offensive supporting cast that Manning has had in Indy."

Is it possible, Mr. Whitlock, that Manning made those receivers—Anthony Gonzalez, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark—better than they would, or should have, been? By being a better quarterback, he put them in a position to play to, and beyond, their capabilities? Something McNabb couldn't do with Freddie Mitchell, Chad Lewis or Todd Pinkston?

One more comparison; Manning has never had the defense that the Eagles have had. Since the beginning of his career, the Eagles have consistently had one of the best defenses in the NFL, including this year, where they were ranked 3rd in over defense. The year Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl, the Colts were ranked 21st in overall defense.

None of this takes into account Donovan's frailness versus Manning's health. McNabb has been injured several times (including the 2005 Eagle run when Jeff Garcia came and drove the 5-5 Eagles to the NFC Championship game), whereas "choker" manning has never missed a game in his career.

So Mr. Whitlock, if Peyton is a "choker" who's postseason play is "indefensible," what is Donovan McNabb?

A pretty good quarterback who is just good enough to lose the big game.


Pete S said...

We saw McNabb a microcosm of McNabb's career in these play-offs. We saw few brilliant plays against the Giants in the second half mixed in with a bunch of plays that should have gone for big yardage but McNabb fouled up with inaccurate passing. He's always good for a stupid pick or two as well, which we saw in his last two games. And TO was right about that Super Bowl - McNabb was out of shape.
Good call, P-Cat - McNabb is overrated and probably always has been. He's not even in Warner or Manning's league. Heck, you'd have to convince me he's better than Eli Manning.

ABS said...

I dont understand the hate for McNabb. I guess as a Giant fan, I have always seen a damn good QB who had the Giants number (except for that home game in 07 when he got sacked a zillion times). The guy had one bad game in the 2008 season but overall had great #s. And while he has lost several times in the championship, bottom line is HE GOT THEM THERE which a high % of QBs dont do. Also you cant argue with lifetime 194/90 TDs to INTs -- thats 100+!! Now I hate the Eagles & their fans (although not as much as the Cowboys) so for me to praise him...

If you wanna go with an overrated QB, how about a guy who had a 50.1%completion %, 173 INTs to 220 ints
and was hurt a lot (like Warner). Guess who that was? Thats right, Joe Namath, who is in the HOF. And if you are going to put a guy in for one SB win, then where is Phil Simms -- who not only had better overall stats than Joe but had a better SB game.

Oh yeah, Dan Fouts and Warren Moon are in the HOF without going to a SB -- why not McNabb?