By trading quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles just made themselves much worse, and made one of their greatest rivals, the Redskins, much better overnight.
New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gets a quarterback with a strong arm, good mobility, great experience, and excellent leadership skills.
Meanwhile Eagles coach Andy Reid has given the keys to the offense to Kevin Kolb, a quarterback who has thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions in his career.
McNabb could mean the difference between six wins and nine wins. And nine wins can make the playoffs. Heck, nine wins can even make the Super Bowl – see the Cardinals from two seasons ago.
Ok, let’s not get too excited. Nobody expects that to happen, but it has been said that the NFL stands for “not for long.” These days, teams get better – or worse – fast.
Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, who finished 8-8 the previous year.
When Redskins general manager Bruce Allen made this move, he could have quoted a phrase made popular by his late father George, the Redskins Hall of Fame coach from 1971-77: “the future is now.”
But those who think that McNabb is part of a new “Over the Hill Gang” should look at Brett Favre. If Favre can play past the age of 40, then McNabb at 33 may have several good seasons left.
Also remember that McNabb has become the Eagles all-time leading passer in victories, completions, yards, and touchdowns despite only twice having a great receiver.
The first time was when the Eagles had Terrell Owens and they made the Super Bowl, losing to the New England Patriots 24-21 in 2005.
The second time the Eagles had a great receiver during McNabb’s tenure was last season when DeSean Jackson came into his prime and the Eagles ended up with 11 wins.
The Redskins now have a franchise QB and depth at running back with Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker. One of those three may go. All four of these players have something in common, though – they have something to prove.
Obviously the Redskins need to address the offensive line through the draft. They also need a third-down running back who can catch the ball. Another receiver or two would be nice to complement starters Santana Moss and Devin Thomas. McNabb and Chris Cooley should connect for at least 70 passes. The defense is already solid.
But quarterback is the most important position on the field. And the Redskins finally have a great one.
McNabb is the best Redskins quarterback since Joe Theismann, and yes, it has been 25 years since Theismann’s last season. Mark Rypien was the Super Bowl MVP after the 1991 season, but Ryp had a relatively short career.
It’s not out of the question that the Redskins will still take a quarterback in the draft. McNabb could leave after the season.
Or, McNabb could be the Skins’ starter for the next five years.
Don’t underestimate the power of motivation. It can go a long way. McNabb will be pumped to play against the Eagles and to prove that Philly was wrong.
As for the Eagles, they will now likely be a few games worse than the 10 or 11 wins they usually get.
McNabb is not Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees. But he’s clearly a top ten quarterback, and he’s a top five QB when he’s at his best. The only knock on McNabb is that is accuracy is sometimes a little off.
But overall, McNabb is a franchise quarterback – a sure thing. If history shows us anything, it’s that playing an unproven quarterback is a crapshoot.
For every Manning, there has been a Ryan Leaf. For every McNabb, there has been an Akili Smith (drafted one spot after McNabb in 1999).
Don’t forget, Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey, and Jason Campbell were all first round picks, and only Campbell has become a regular starter, and a mediocre one at that.
Campbell, who started three and a half seasons for the Redskins but struggled with different systems and shaky offenses, will likely go to another team. Newly signed Rex Grossman should be the backup. Colt Brennan, who was on injured reserve last year, may also be headed elsewhere.
Kolb did play well last year while filling in for McNabb for two games, throwing for over 300 yards each game and going 1-1.
But with McNabb, the Eagles were always on the verge of getting to the Super Bowl. How often does a quarterback lead a team to a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter? Hardly ever, except for Brady.
The Eagles also let a top ten running back, Brian Westbrook, depart this year although Westbrook had a couple of concussions last season.
Did Reid outsmart himself? Is he trying to prove he can win with a new quarterback? Is it ego, or is the economy so bad that the Eagles were trying to save the money from McNabb’s salary? Did the decision come from the owner’s box?
Say what you will about Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, but he will pay to put a winner on the field.
Ever since Eagles fans booed McNabb when Philadelphia drafted him second overall in 1999 instead of Ricky Williams, McNabb has never been fully accepted in Philadelphia.
But those fans miss the point. The object is to put your team in a position to win, which McNabb has done year after year.
We’re talking about a city that booed the greatest third-baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt.
These are fans who booed Santa Claus.
McNabb is too good for Philadelphia.
Welcome to Washington, Donovan.
To see my article on examiner.com, click here.