Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Jan 2009

ESPN INSIDER: Eagles Began Turnaround With Arizona

In this ESPN Insider feature, Doug Farrar looks at how Donovan McNabb performed before and after the Cardinals game that marked the Eagles turnaround. (Insider subscription is required.)

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 16 Jan 2009

8 comments, Last at 20 Jan 2009, 4:13pm by tuluse

Comments

1
by AlanSP (not verified) :: Fri, 01/16/2009 - 8:15pm

I think it's somewhat misleading to divide McNabb's season into pre- and post-benching periods. Most accounts that I've read, including this one, make it sound like he had been struggling the whole season prior to the benching, but this really isn't the case. As Aaron pointed out in the NFC championship preview, McNabb's slump lasted all of two games (actually a game and a half due to the benching). He played well for the 9 games before that and for the 7 games since.

My view is that we don't need the benching or anything other event to explain how he played afterward. That's more or less his normal level of play. He had a couple of bad games, like all quarterbacks do on occasion, the only difference being that his coach decided to make a drastic move in the middle of one of them.

2
by Wait, what? (not verified) :: Fri, 01/16/2009 - 10:21pm

My view is that we don't need the benching or anything other event to explain how he played afterward. That's more or less his normal level of play. He had a couple of bad games, like all quarterbacks do on occasion, the only difference being that his coach decided to make a drastic move in the middle of one of them.

Agreed. Granted, his DVOA was really bad in a couple of mid-season games, and most of his best performances in the year came post-benching, but it's really more of a "media-loves-a-storyline" thing than anything else.

3
by Thames (not verified) :: Fri, 01/16/2009 - 10:46pm

I agree. Benching McNabb had more to do with the typical Philadelphia crisis-of-confidence in McNabb than overall poor performance from him. He's a good quarterback and he had a brief slump.

5
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sat, 01/17/2009 - 8:13pm

I don't quite think that's true. I think Reid benched him for a perfectly valid reason - he was struggling. He had every reason to struggle, too - his wife delivered twins ~two-three weeks later.

He even admitted later that he was distracted during that period. He said he tried to have it not impact his performance on the field, but come on.

I dunno why everyone points to the benching as the reason for McNabb's turnaround rather than his wife giving birth. Most of the players on the team (Dawkins, Westbrook) refer to the twins being born rather than the benching as the reason for why McNabb seems more "focused."

6
by AlanSP (not verified) :: Sun, 01/18/2009 - 5:24am

Established quarterbacks in the NFL do not typically get benched because they struggle for a game and a half. For comparison, here are Peyton Manning's numbers from weeks 10-11 last season: @SD 34 of 56 328 yds 2 TD 6 INT(!), vs KC 16 of 32 163 yds 0 TD 1 INT. Roughly the same point in the season that McNabb's "struggle" occurred and arguably worse. Had Tony Dungy benched Manning, would you say he had a perfectly valid reason for doing so?

8
by tuluse :: Tue, 01/20/2009 - 4:13pm

IIRC, Manning's DVOA remained high in that San Diego game. Also most of the picks weren't his fault.

4
by livingonapear :: Sat, 01/17/2009 - 7:03pm

I think one of the reasons that it felt like more of a slump, was that Philly hadn't dominated, at least not to the point expected, Seattle and San Fran. Both of those games felt like escapes, or at least near disasters, and the Giants loss did not help things. Throw in two bad games, and you have what feels like a full blown slump. If anything, the "I didn't know you could tie" thing made it feel that way.

Looking back objectively, he's actually had a very good season, even in the conventional stats sense (minus those two games of course), but it sure didn't feel like it then.

7
by AlanSP (not verified) :: Sun, 01/18/2009 - 5:27am

Only in Philadelphia can a 26-7 win feel like an escape or a near disaster.