When 13-year Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid said he would recommend free agent quarterback Donovan McNabb to other NFL teams on May 15, what would be a better ringing endorsement?
Not convinced? How about career stats of 37,276 passing yards, 234 passing touchdowns, 29 rushing touchdowns, and a rating of 85.6? Aside from New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his two Super Bowl wins, McNabb was the second most accomplished NFC East quarterback of this current generation. Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo has never even made the NFC title game.
McNabb was responsible for Reid’s best success in the league all the way until he left the team in 2010 to join the rival Washington Redskins. During the McNabb era with the Eagles, they made the playoffs 8 out of 11 times with six appearances in the NFC Championship games and a losing appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX at the hands of the New England Patriots. McNabb is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and won his biggest accolades as a player in his lone Super Bowl run in 2004 garnering NFC Offensive Player of the Year and NFC Player of the Year honors. Suffice it to say, his replacement in Michael Vick has a long way to go to fill that gap McNabb has accomplished there.
So why hasn’t McNabb been signed since his failed stints with the Redskins in 2010 and the Minnesota Vikings last year? How has a man so accomplished fallen so far off the league radar? Let’s analyze his recent stints in Washington and Minnesota.
His stint under the Mike Shanahan-coached Washington Redskins ended with 3,377 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions marking the first and so far only time in his pro career that he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. He was demoted to third-string on Dec. 17, 2010 following the loss with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in favor of Rex Grossman. The very same Grossman who in his nine-year career amassed an “impressive” 56-60 touchdown-to-interception ratio and almost “Trent Dilfer-ed” his way to Super Bowl XLI with the Chicago Bears in 2006 before losing to the Indianapolis Colts. Guess things were really bad in the Redskins locker room since a man of McNabb’s stats and capabilities were not seen since the days of Mark Rypien and Doug Williams, both of whom won Super Bowls for the franchise.
Guess Shanahan thought so much of McNabb, they decided to trade with Minnesota the following year for a sixth-round choice in 2012 and a conditional sixth-round pick in 2013. Head coach Brad Childress thought so much of him, he was benched on Oct. 18, 2011 in favor of rookie Christian Ponder despite throwing 1,026 passing yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions and a respectable 82.9 rating in a 1-5 stretch before the Vikings finished 3-13. Following his release from the team on Dec. 1, 2011, no team considered him as a stopgap for a playoff run. The Chicago Bears expressed interest, but decided it was too late to sign him for their playoff push. They ended up losing five straight games and eliminated themselves from contention to end the season.
So here we are in 2012 deep into free agency and past the draft and McNabb is still teamless. I suspect McNabb’s “charming” personality didn’t really endear himself in the Redskins and Vikings locker rooms, but considering he was still better than anything either coaching staff had begs to question why there was such a lack of patience considering his success with the Eagles. Lesser quarterbacks were given more attention and playing time. Christian Ponder might well be the future in Minnesota, but Daunte Culpepper sat out his rookie year and look what happened to his career after Randal Cunningham left? I’m guessing McNabb probably wanted to “mentor” his young protégé as much as his Viking predecessor, Brett Favre did, which is hardly or not at all.
Mark my words–McNabb will play in 2012, but it’s shameful that he has to wait for as long as he has while people who have accomplished a lot less are given another chance. At this point, McNabb is probably eaten more than his share of humble pie, especially given his many years of experience in Philadelphia. I can guarantee you he probably does not feel entitled to a starting position (unless it’s the CFL, USFL, or AFL at this point) rather he just wants to compete and play. He probably isn’t the most “supportive” teammate in the locker room, but I can see a few teams who can use him in a potential starting role. McNabb being 35 doesn’t factor his current viability, just ask Vinny Testaverde or Drew Bledsoe, who stayed relevant in their long careers.
We know Ryan Tannehill is the future of the franchise, Matt Moore is the incumbent and Pat Devlin is penciled as third-stringer, but it probably couldn’t hurt head coach Joe Philbin to garner some excitement in the fan base and veteran leadership in McNabb to allow Tannehill to hit the books hard so he can fit that role when he’s ready. In the very least, the attention from HBO’s Hard Knocks can help win over teams and football fans who may have soured on him over the years.
Make no mistake, regardless of what happens barring serious injury, Tannehill will replace Moore unless he has a career season or they encounter some great success. The presence of McNabb should in the very least push Moore to get better. McNabb could very well take Moore’s job if Philbin is able to help restore McNabb to his Eagles’ form in his decision-making, which is not so far-fetched considering his prior success with Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers.
Kansas City Chiefs
The uncertainty of Matt Cassel’s health last year raises the question if Brady Quinn or Ricky Stanzi would be ready to step in. The short answer is probably not. McNabb is at least an upgrade over Quinn.
As well as Matt Flynn played for the Green Bay Packers during his brief appearance, there is still a question mark whether or not he can handle fulltime duties on a weekly basis. Tarvaris Jackson has had an average career before being usurped by Brett Favre ending his tenure as Vikings starter in the 2009 season. Despite his best year with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 throwing for 3091 yards and having a 14-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Flynn was still signed to compete with him. McNabb could well take advantage of the situation if Flynn has trouble picking up the offense and outshines Jackson.
As originally posted here.