Benching McNabb Is Not the Answer
Posted by Derek
Ok, fine. You beat me down. All anyone wants to talk about is McNabb, so fuck it, let's talk about him.
Here's the best argument you're going to read for benching the franchise. Notice it includes the following statement: "Not all of this, not even most of this, is McNabb's fault..."
Unfortunately, since so ... many ... people want to dump this entire mess on McNabb, let's not leave it at that. Let's go a little deeper.
FACT: McNabb hasn't played that badly this year.
Don't take my word for it, look at the damn numbers. McNabb's passer rating this year is 86.3, a number which:
- Ranks him 13th in the league
- Is higher than his career mark
- Is better than Drew Brees (84.6) and Eli Manning (79.5) and Jason Campbell (74.8)
FACT: The Eagles' skill position players -- with the exception of Brian Westbrook -- are mediocre.
Tom Brady has three receivers better than anyone McNabb has. Peyton Manning has two. So do Carson Palmer and Jason Campbell. Manning has Plaxico. Romo has Owens and Witten.
McNabb has bupkis.
Have you noticed so far that the Eagles run basically three plays this year:
- McNabb gets sacked right away.
- McNabb has plenty of time and stands in the pocket for five seconds desperately waiting for someone to get open.
- They give it to Brian Westbrook.
That's it. That's the offense.
FACT: Despite this lack of talent, the Eagles have the league's ninth-ranked offense.
Quarterbacks generally have something to do with that.
FACT: Without choke jobs by the special teams (Green Bay) and defense (Chicago) the Eagles would be 5-3 and well-positioned for another run at the playoffs.
Unless your idea is that by benching McNabb we could use him to return punts and/or play linebacker, I'm not seeing how that's going to help much here.
McNabb is not the reason the Eagles suck this year. Has he been great so far? No. He's been very, very average. So if you're benching him, it's not for poor performance. If not performance why then?
I am providing here the three reasons you might legitimately consider benching McNabb. As a public service, I will also explain why all those reasons are completely, totally fucking stupid.
1. Bench McNabb because he's not getting it done and Kolb deserves a chance.
The only way you can argue this is if you simply don't understand that rookies quarterbacks suck.
And how's Vince Young been treating the folks down in Tennessee these days?
Kevin Kolb may or may not be a great NFL quarterback some day -- the odds are against it, by the way -- but right now he's just another deer in the headlights rookie who can't beat out AJ Feeley for the job as #2 quarterback.
Sepaking of AJ Feeley, let's use this moment to demonstrate why expectations matter so much. McNabb is getting killed around here for having a season where he's been basically average, while a few years back Feeley was lionized for the job he did stepping in for McNabb and Detmer to keep the ship on course for a few weeks. Funny how that works.
2. Bench McNabb because the team isn't going anywhere without rebuilding and it's time to see what we have in Kolb.
That's basically Bob Ford's point. And I'd agree with it, if this were 2010.
But what are you going to learn by playing Kolb now? You'll find out that he's not ready for the speed of the game or perhaps at best he does a little better than we all expect and we feel like he has something of a future.
Kolb needs more time to learn the system. He needs years more of practice and he needs to study the NFL game. As much as it pains me to say it, the waiting game works.
Furthermore, McNabb is NOT that old. I covered this in voluminous detail back in May after the draft, but I realize not everyone reads during the offseason. I looked at the careers of all the most recent quarterbacks who made the Hall of Fame and I found:
At least for these guys, their numbers were actually better after they hit their early 30s. Completion percentages go up, TDs go up, INTs are down and QB rating is better. Their yardages go down a bit, but that seems to be mostly a function of playing fewer games.
I honestly think the guy McNabb most compares to is John Elway. Neither guy was the most accurate player, but both were playmakers. They did what they needed to do to win games.
But check out Elway's career numbers. In 1992, Elway was 32 years old. His career seemed to be going the wrong way. His passer rating that season was 65.7. But the Broncos didn't give up on him.
And as we all know, it's a good thing they didn't.
McNabb has years of good football left in him (yes, if he stays healthy). In the NFL, teams rebound in a single offseason. With a couple of smart acquisitions (which I want to talk about later), the Eagles could be right back in this thing next year.
3. Bench McNabb because teams have figured out how to stop him and at least someone else gives us a chance.
The theory goes as follows, take away the deep ball, focus on containing Brian Westbrook, and eventually the Eagles offense would stop itself. Supposedly this is all McNabb's fault because he's not accurate enough and he's not a good "fit" for the West Coast offense.
First of all, it's not McNabb's fault that his receivers can't get open. When he had Terrell Owens, the coverages didn't matter, McNabb got him the ball. When he had Donte Stallworth, the coverages didn't matter, McNabb got him the ball. And when he had Todd Fucking Pinkston, again, the coverages didn't matter, McNabb got him the ball (whether he caught it or "lost it in the lights" was another matter).
How many times have we seen Kevin Curtis run a sideline route this year with zero separation from the cornerback? A dozen? How many times have the other receivers ever managed to get deep this season?
It's not the coverage, it's the players. The Eagles better hope the Pats let Stallworth go after his one-year prove-it deal this year and the team can go crawling back to Drew Rosenhaus to try to work something out.
That or maybe draft someone fast. You know, like everyone else occasionally does.
The second issue is the overblown question of accuracy. Supposedly McNabb will never "succeed" in the WCO -- although what that means in the context of his five Pro Bowls is a mystery -- because he's not a 60-percent passer. Well, first of all, when he had Owens, he was a 60-percent passer. In fact, 64.0. But more importantly, do you realize that the difference between McNabb's 58.4 lifetime rate and the magic 60.0 level is about five passes a season?
Hell, Reggie Brown could take care of that all by himself by just catching the ones that hit him in the hands.
X's and O's only get you so far. At some point, there has to be a guy on the field who beats the guy assigned to stop him. McNabb's situation this year is much like the criticism Jim Johnson faced last year on account of the poor performance of his defense. You don't hear anyone out there saying that Johnson somehow re-learned how to coach this season. He just has better players.
Now, for pete's sake, if you're going to keep screaming, at least spread the wealth.