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05 Apr 2010

Washington's Small Upgrade

by Aaron Schatz

Did the Eagles strengthen a division rival when they traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins yesterday? Or is McNabb an aging quarterback in decline, who may no longer be as good as his heir apparent, Kevin Kolb? Actually, both of those statements may be true.

To guess at what the future holds for McNabb in Washington, I looked at the most similar players using FO's similarity scores system. (That system is explained here.) The most similar single seasons belonged to Warren Moon in 1989, Joe Theismann in 1983, and Ken Anderson in 1981. The ten most similar three-year spans to McNabb from 2007-2009 include:

Player Years Team
Brett Favre 1999-2001 GB
Steve McNair 2001-2003 TEN
Joe Theismann 1981-1983 WAS
Archie Manning 1978-1980 NO
Dan Marino 1990-1992 MIA
Mark Brunell 1999-2001 JAC
Jake Delhomme 2003-2005 CAR
Phil Simms 1985-1987 NYG
Trent Green 2001-2003 KC
Jim Kelly 1991-1993 BUF

That's a good collection of Hall of Famers, Pro Bowlers, and Jake Delhomme. Even though they were in their early thirties, the players on this list generally still had a few good years left. But when you look at their numbers, you wonder whether McNabb will give the Redskins that much more than they got from Campbell. Let's imagine that McNabb's 2010 season looks like the average performance of those ten similar players, in the year following the three-year span listed above. Those players averaged 13 games, primarily because of injuries to McNair and Marino, but we'll pro-rate the averages to 16 games.

G Comp Att PaYd TD INT C% Yd/At Runs RuYD RuTD
QBs similar to McNabb 16 296 487 3411 22 14 60.8% 7.00 33 132 1
Jason Campbell 2009 16 327 507 3618 20 15 64.5% 7.14 46 236 1

(Corrected; this originally said "Jason Campbell 2008.")

The "McNabb comparables" end up with a better touchdown-to-interception ratio, but not by much, and the yardage and completion percentage doesn't match what Campbell did last year. Yes, McNabb averaged over eight yards per attempt last year, but that was a yard more than what he averaged in 2007 or 2008, and he doesn't get to bring DeSean Jackson with him to Washington.

(Note: This is a quick-and-dirty, very imperfect way to forecast McNabb's 2010 season. I am hereby acknowledging that it is quick, dirty, and imperfect.)

FO's advanced play-by-play breakdown doesn't judge McNabb's 2009 season as being that impressive, despite that high yards-per-attempt figure. McNabb finished 20th in our DVOA ratings for quarterbacks, his lowest ranking since 2002, although the rating itself was similar to his performance in 2005 and 2007. Kolb had a higher DVOA rating than McNabb, although with a big asterisk, since he only played in three games. McNabb didn't even rank that much higher than Campbell, who came in about league-average and ranked 25th (out of 46 passers).

McNabb's problem in 2009 was third down. Overall, Philadelphia's pass DVOA ranked fourth among all teams on first down, 15th on second down, and 22nd on third down. That's actually a good sign that McNabb will play better with the Redskins. Our research has shown that third-down performance is a lot more variable than first- or second-down performance, so when a quarterback struggles on third down in one season, that actually suggests improvement the next year. After all, with basically the same offense, McNabb had the opposite splits in 2008: He was best on third down and worst on first down.

However, that comparison brings up the main problem with McNabb in Washington: He's not playing with the same offense in 2010. The Washington offensive line is significantly inferior to the Philadelphia offensive line. McNabb will probably have his blindside protected by a rookie left tackle, now that Washington doesn't need to use the fourth overall pick on a quarterback. The receivers aren't going to be as good either. Santana Moss is comparable to DeSean Jackson, but only if we're talking about the Santana Moss of 2003. Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin have shown a lot more in their young NFL careers than either Devin Thomas or Malcolm Kelly.

Still, it's fairly safe to say that McNabb will be an upgrade over Campbell for Washington. Will Kolb be an upgrade over McNabb for Philadelphia? Well, it's hard for us to predict how good Kolb will be as a regular NFL starter. As noted above, he's played reasonably well, but you can't judge a guy on three games. Do we trust the Eagles' brass? On one hand, the Eagles' opinion of Kolb is a lot more educated than the public opinion. Only the Eagles can judge his knowledge of the playbook and command of the locker room. Most of the passes Kolb has thrown over the last three years have been in practice, and only the Eagles have seen them. On the other hand, plenty of quarterbacks have impressed in practice and melted down under real-game pass pressure.

For Philadelphia, this trade came down to the present vs. the future. When it comes to going after the championship in 2010, McNabb is certainly more of a sure thing. A 34-year-old McNabb is still a better bet than a 26-year-old Kolb with two career starts. But in a couple years, unless the Eagles are just completely wrong about him, a 28-year-old Kolb with two years of starting experience is going to be a much better bet than a 36-year-old McNabb. Kolb, Maclin, Jackson, running back LeSean McCoy, and tight end Brent Celek will all be 26 or younger this season. Those players will all be able to grow and develop together.

As for the Redskins, there's no question this makes them an improved offense for 2010. But McNabb isn't as much of an upgrade as people may think, and his ability to improve things is severely limited unless Washington can fill some of its other holes. And in a couple years, Washington fans may look back on this as yet another example where the Redskins made a big move for a veteran on the downside of his career. The difference is that the Redskins are getting McNabb earlier in his decline compared to those other guys.

(This article also appears today at ESPN.com Insider.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 05 Apr 2010

142 comments, Last at 12 Apr 2010, 3:06pm by Kevin from Philly


by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:32am


I have a problem with comparing things that happened in 1978-2005 without adjusting for passing environment. Of course Jason Campbell stats are better than guys who played in 1970s and 80s. A signifcant number of qb's in the league look better than that group. Something is wrong with the comparison when the 25th ranked qb compares well to that group.

by fek9wnr (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:10am

I was just going to say this. Half the passers on this list had their measured season before the 1995 rule changes that significantly bumped passing stats, and all were before the 2004 changes that bumped them further.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:54am

True, but the McNabb seasons that were used to create that list of similar quarterbacks ALSO took place from 2007-2009. So what you are saying is that if McNabb is most similar to quarterbacks before 2005, then McNabb is even less impressive than people think. Right?

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:40pm

but you are comparing
1992 QB's passing yards to Jason Cambell's 2008 passing yards.
1992 YPA to 2008 YPA
1992 TD passes to 2008 TD passes
1992 Completion percentage to a 2008 percentage.

- You are NOT factoring in that the Redskins finished in 28th place out of 32 teams ( wins)... At least partically due to poor starts and un-clutch finishes by Campbell ( value at the margin).

- You are NOT factoring in his high fumble rate, and non-ability to avoid sacks.

- Campbell's stats aren't his true problem and the whole idea that Mcnabb isn't a whole lot better than Campbell due to "stats" is misleading.

Campbell isn't as good as his stats. I don't think Matt Schaub is currently as good as his stats are either. To say Matt Schaub is now a verge top 5 QB because of his stats is unfair.

The whole reason why you think Mcnabb isn't a huge "upgrade" over Campbell is because you are so laser focused on the Completion Percentage, TD passes, etc. while ignoring the PROCESS to get to that point.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:08pm

I think it's a good point that sack rate is a relevant factor that wasn't mentioned, though I'd add the caveat that the sack rate is partially on Campbell, and partially on the fact that he was playing behind luminaries such as D'Anthony Baptiste.

Wins are not an individual stat, nor should they be.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:17pm

It is also comparing the 1992 QBs' passing yards to McNabb's yards, 1992 YPA to McNabb YPA, 1992 TD passes to McNabb TD passes, etc. The comparison here does not adjust either Campbell or McNabb. They are both "compared" in the same fashion.

However, yes, it does not include sacks or fumbles. Last year, Campbell had eight more sacks and three more fumbles in two more games.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 2:27pm

Campbell has 33 fumbles in the last 3 years
Mcnabb has 26 fumbles in the last 3 years
That's a 27% more fumbles for Campbell.

Campbell has 33 fumbles on attempts or 1 fumble per 43 attempts
Mcnabb has 26 fumbles on 1487 attempts or 1 fumble per 57 attempts
A similar ratio which favors Mcnabb

Also consider Mcnabb has been on a playoff team
Campbell wasn't on a winning team ( picking up garbage yards).

Mcnabb has more upside with more TD's, passes yards, team wins etc. So when you consider the risk ( sacks/fumbles/picks), Mcnabb is far superior to Campbell

Also consider Campbell was throwing lots of checkdowns, wasn't standing the pocket reading defenses to throw the ball downfield as much ( lots of shorter passes), didn't have the same upside as far as TD's and Yards as Mcnabb and the stats look worse.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 3:32pm

27% more fumbles on a team with a ridiculously worse offensive line is actually not that bad. The fumbles are coming from the fact that Campbell was way too tentative about getting rid of the ball.

Unfortunately for Washington, so is McNabb.

Also consider Campbell was throwing lots of checkdowns, wasn't standing the pocket reading defenses to throw the ball downfield as much ( lots of shorter passes), didn't have the same upside as far as TD's and Yards as Mcnabb and the stats look worse.

McNabb throws checkdowns, too, for exactly the same reason Campbell does. He's not that accurate and is very cautious with the ball. McNabb historically has one of the lowest interception rates in the league - and Campbell's about the same.

There are two areas where I think McNabb's a big improvement over Campbell. One of which won't help Washington, and one will.

1: Downfield passing. Probably won't help Washington because they don't have the WR/OL combination for it, and they also don't have a coach with Andy's obsession at outsmarting the opposing guy.

2: Throwing under pressure/on the move. McNabb's really, really good at throwing while on the move. Has been for years, and still is. Campbell tended to check down when the pocket collapsed, which is probably what he was *coached* to do because it's hard to throw accurately on the run. But McNabb can.

Problem with #2 is that if McNabb's forced to move around a lot and throw on the run, he's going to get injured. That's how he's gotten most of his serious injuries.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:08pm

"27% more fumbles on a team with a ridiculously worse offensive line is actually not that bad" Campbell was way too tentative about getting rid of the ball. Unfortunately for Washington, so is McNabb.

- But Mcnabb has a good feel of the pass rush and can get away, and keep the plays going. He's not ignorant of the pass rush where he's standing there and the whole stadium sees the guy closing in on on him where he gets wacked and fumbles. Mcnabb will be sliding and running away from defenders and has one of the better grasps of feeling the rush. Just because somebody gets sacked, doesn't mean they have to stand there, pat at the ball tentitively and them fumble.

"McNabb throws checkdowns, too, for exactly the same reason Campbell does. He's not that accurate and is very cautious with the ball."

Mcnabb throws a lot of checkdowns but Mcnabb is VERY VERY smart at reading the defense ( especially mid range throws) and is underrated in this aspect. Mcnabb will also take shots downfield when neccesary. His accuracy is below average, but his reads are above average. This is better than vice versa, " a guy that throws a pretty ball but makes too many bad reads".

Donovan Mcnabb is good at throwing on the run, and Shanny likes a lot of waggles, bootlegs, and quarterbacks that can move ( like Elway/Cutler). That seems to be a strength of Donovan's game. Mcnabb should also be able to make the quick reads that are needed with smaller lineman that Campbell wouldn't be good at. If Shanny builds the offense into what he wants he will roll Donovan out, and utilize Cooley and Davis in all sorts of those TE plays like Denver and Houston use, the Redskins offense can honestly drastically improve next year as Mcnabb seems like an ideal Shanny guy.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:35pm

- But Mcnabb has a good feel of the pass rush and can get away, and keep the plays going. He's not ignorant of the pass rush where he's standing there and the whole stadium sees the guy closing in on on him where he gets wacked and fumbles.

Have you actually watched many Eagles games over the years? McNabb actually doesn't have a good feel for a pass rush. He's just a very big, very strong QB who's hard to take down at first contact.

I could seriously give you a giant, giant list of McNabb sacks where he just stood there, looking, looking, then tried to move when things closed down and bam, sack.

Go and find those "McNabb gets away, keeps the play going" plays and you'll see they virtually always involve McNabb getting hit and shaking off the contact.

Now, does this matter? Campbell clearly *isn't* as strong as McNabb is, so yeah, McNabb will be better at getting away from the pass rush. The difference is that McNabb's pocket ability *depends* on having relatively good OL play. Those "keeps the play alive" plays you're referencing - most of them were *crazy* long. That's not McNabb compensating for poor OL play. It's McNabb being tentative due to his own inaccuracy and subpar WR play (how many crazy "McNabb run around a bunch and find a WR open" plays did you see last year? Not many - cuz they weren't needed.)

This seriously reminds me of the Cutler-to-Bears trade - except McNabb's not a 20-something QB in his prime. But it's not going to turn out the way that Washington hopes. At least not for the first year.

Donovan Mcnabb is good at throwing on the run, and Shanny likes a lot of waggles, bootlegs, and quarterbacks that can move ( like Elway/Cutler). That seems to be a strength of Donovan's game.

Yup. And it'll be a strength of Donovan's in Washington. For the first four or five games before it cracks a rib, tears a tendon, or sprains an ankle.

Don't get me wrong, McNabb'll be more exciting than Campbell was. And the Redskins will appear to have a chance in, say, the 2nd and 3rd quarters or so. But they aren't going to win that many more games.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:27am

"Have you actually watched many Eagles games over the year?"
No Pat, I never watch the Eagles sigh.

Mcnabb doesn't have a feel for the pass rushers? He's fantastic at looking downfield and running away from defenders. Campbell will stand there and have a free DE run right at him and the whole stadium sees it but him, where as Mcnabb has strong pocket awareness. He'll mobility went down with age and injuries but he'll shake and move when guys are coming at him making him harder to sack. Early in his career he'd take off and run but he's very good at keeping his eyes downfield and throwing to open guys. You are basically arguing that Mcnabb isn't good at avoiding sacks.

Contrary to popular belief Mcnabb has had a good line for much of his career. That has helped him but his ability to scramble has also helped. Big Ben and Mcnabb are physically hard to sack ( and yes do have a good feel for pass rush), where as Peyton Manning & Brady are difficult to sack because of excellent presnap reads.

by Bad Doctor :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:07pm

McNabb has traditionally done a fine job in feeling the rush and reacting accordingly, but he has really fallen off the last year or two in this regard. (That, or he was never any good and Runyun and Tre helped hide this weakness.) I'm saying this anecdotally, but I believe FO made mention of finding something similar in their charting/stats from last year ... something about how the Eagles had a lousy adjusted sack rate, yet a very good adjusted hurry or hit rate, which leads one to question whether the poor sack rate is extra attributable to the quarterback's awareness (or lack thereof) rather than the O-line.

As best I recall, he still is very good at throwing on the run, although those plays haven't stood out to me in the last couple of years like they did in his prime. I would expect Shanahan to implement a playbook for McNabb similar to the one he used for Jake Plummer ... remember all the stories about Plummer's Bronco renaissance being attributed to the designed rollouts and bootleg plays? If I'm a Redskin fan, that's something that would give me a lot of optimism.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 9:48am

Bad Doctor,

I'd agree that Mcnabb traditionally does a fine job at feeling the rush and acting accordingly ( moving at just the last second to avoid a sack and keep the play alive), but that he also wasn't as good at this two years ago and last year. It was VERY much so when he was coming back from injury, but he seemed to gain more mobility back last year.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 6:33pm

No Pat, I never watch the Eagles sigh.

I know you say you do, but as far as I can tell, you don't, because you keep describing what McNabb does, and it's exactly what he doesn't do.

Please, please, go find videos of McNabb and Campbell and show me how they're different. Because what you're saying is exactly what McNabb does. With the difference that McNabb is *big* and so can't be brought down as easy as Campbell.

For instance:

Campbell will stand there and have a free DE run right at him and the whole stadium sees it but him

Take a look at the 14-second scramble video. A rusher comes free, and McNabb doesn't move until the rusher is a yard away from him, and even then, he moves backwards, and the rusher hits him, at which point he spins away and starts scrambling. That's not good pocket awareness, that's upper-body strength.

Or here, a random sack from last year. A rusher comes free as McNabb is dropping, but he doesn't adjust his drop or immediately release to his hot read who's open.

Or this one, from the same game, where McNabb completes his drop, and actually progresses past through a read when there's a rusher coming right at him.

Contrary to popular belief Mcnabb has had a good line for much of his career.

What are you talking about? "Popular belief" has had the Eagles having a good line for virtually all of his career. Who exactly is saying the Eagles have had a bad line?

Big Ben and Mcnabb are physically hard to sack ( and yes do have a good feel for pass rush)

No, I disagree. Ben and McNabb are hard to sack because of their strength. They both have pretty bad pocket presence. Virtually every Eagles fan and Steelers fan will complain to you that McNabb and Ben hold on to the ball too much, and "try to make something happen rather than throwing the ball away."

Campbell's got the exact same problem. You just don't see the "make something happen" because he's not anywhere near the athlete McNabb or Roethlisberger is. And because Washington's offensive line was so bad that when the play broke down, it was Campbell versus 4 rushers by himself.

A good example of what I mean is here. McNabb waits a crazy-long time in one fixed position as the pocket starts to move, and then quick rolls out, and on the run throws a TD to Jackson in the end zone.

Brady or Manning would've started shifting to their left as soon as the pocket started tilting, and wouldn't've had to quickly roll (which is good, because they're not that quick). Note, however, that the pocket had to hold pretty well because McNabb waited until the last second. And it did, because the Eagles line is pretty darned good. Now, to be fair, Brady or Manning would've likely tossed the ball away rather than let the play develop - or they would've scrambled for a few yards. That's McNabb's real advantage - being able to keep the play alive.

But contrast with a similar situation with Campbell. It's just like the McNabb sacks I posted, where the rusher comes free (on the edges, here) and Campbell doesn't adjust his drop or move until the rusher has a hand on him already. And he can't get away because there were too many free rushers.

where as Peyton Manning & Brady are difficult to sack because of excellent presnap reads.

Don't agree either. Brady's motion in the pocket, for instance, is way better than McNabb's. McNabb typically doesn't react until a rusher is coming free at him. Brady shifts before that even happens. Presnap reads help in dealing with blitzes, sure, but recognizing when and how the pocket is shifting has little to do with a presnap read.

You are basically arguing that Mcnabb isn't good at avoiding sacks.

McNabb is not good at avoiding and recognizing pressure. He avoids sacks like Roethlisberger avoids sacks - with strength and mobility. And once he's free, he keeps his eyes downfield and keeps the play alive.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 9:46am

When ever somebody talks about a scrambler or somebody that gets sacked a lot they always say and assume that he has no offensive line. Vick had no line, Mcnabb had no line, David Carr had no line, the sacks were ALL on the line and NOT on the QB. This is NFL dogma at its finest.

Your post is just insane crazy so here's some bullet points
- Sometimes you can't JUST shift your legs and avoid a sack.
- Big Ben/Mcnabb are hard to sack overall
- Big Ben/ Mcnabb are physically the hardest players to sack if an open rusher was coming at them.
- You argue that Mcnabb "doesn't see the rush", and moves at the last second... I take it that he "feels" the rush and moves when he has to. Why do I think that? Because it happens so often.

I say that I watch Eagles games, and as far as you can tell I don't. Yeah Pat, I just made that one up. Great job calling my bluff. It benefits me a lot in life to lie about watching Philladelphia Eagles football games.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 9:21pm

When ever somebody talks about a scrambler or somebody that gets sacked a lot they always say and assume that he has no offensive line

I have never heard people suggest that Philly's offensive line is bad. Bad WRs, sure of course. But a bad OL? Jeez... not since 2002.

Sometimes you can't JUST shift your legs and avoid a sack.

Who said anything about shifting your legs? You move. Pocket starts to move, you shift - stutter-step. As in, move without tucking the ball. McNabb very rarely does that. With Manning, Brady, Brees, etc. you see it all the time.

I take it that he "feels" the rush and moves when he has to. Why do I think that? Because it happens so often.

No, it doesn't. For God's sake, look at the video links I posted. More often than not, McNabb moves too late and gets sacked. Every Eagles fan would agree that McNabb holds onto the ball too long sometimes.

When people say 'he can feel the rush' they usually mean before someone actually hits the QB. McNabb usually doesn't start moving until someone's actually gotten a hand on him. It's not like the other QBs have ESP or a 'second sense' or anything - they're reacting to the movement of the rest of the offensive line, which tells them what the rush is doing.

We can feel free to disagree on the definition of "pocket presence," but ask any Eagles fan if they got frustrated watching McNabb stand there without moving while a rusher came free at him. It happened all the time.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 04/08/2010 - 12:53pm

I wonder how much of McNabb taking sacks can be chalked up to "pocket presence" issues and how much of it is him being incredibly careful not to force throws and avoiding INT's?

For one, I didn't get that frustrated with McNabb holding onto the ball with a free rusher for 2 reasons: his famous ability to extend plays and make something big happen, but also knowing that we wouldn't "feel the pressure" and step up to force a throw (the main culprit in most INT's) to avoid a sack.

My main problem with McNabb holding onto the ball was that he would waste time regardless of the clock and then throw freakin' checkdowns to the 2 yard line with zero timeouts. (Also, that's also when forcing a throw or throwing it away quickly to avoid a sack is reasonable...)

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 04/08/2010 - 5:03pm

"I wonder how much of McNabb taking sacks can be chalked up to "pocket presence" issues and how much of it is him being incredibly careful not to force throws and avoiding INT's? "

Great question and it's a good problem to have. You could question the same thing about my boy Aaron Rodgers too.

by C (not verified) :: Thu, 04/08/2010 - 5:01pm

I know you are an Eagles fan, but the average fan outside of your market hasn't said... Wow, Philly, they have a strong O-Line. I believe somebody in either this thread or the other Mcnabb said that Mcnabb didn't have an offensive line before you attacked him.

Mcnabb avoids sacks in a different way than Manning/Brady.

You posted a couple videos to prove your point, but how about all the other times Mcnabb shoulda woulda coulda got sacked but moved at the last second? As a Giants fan it drives me crazy. Other quarterbacks would have easily got sacked, but at the last second Mcnabb moves right out the way avoiding sack. You posted a couple of videos of him getting sacked... but EVERYBODY gets sacked sometimes as nobody is perfect. Everybody holds onto the ball too long sometimes just like everybody throws picks sometimes. You don't need to go show me a video of all of Tom Brady's interceptions to tell me that he makes bad reads/throws sometimes.

Some QB's can feel the rush and Mcnabb is hard to sack. We're not talking about Michael Vick here who had legs but couldn't feel the rush worth anything and would LOOK at rushers ( instead of downfield), and would run right into defenders as he did one of his backfield dances.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 04/08/2010 - 9:49pm

That's a really good point in terms of measuring McNabb's "pocket presence" and how he "feels the rush:"
there's no denying, especially in the last few years, that he's ALWAYS looking down the field, even when the pocket breaks down. I'm not sure how he could've had the success he had at extending plays and then launching deep throws if he wasn't able to scan the field and "feel" the rush around him...

Also, I watched the clips Pat linked to and I remain unconvinced: on both of them, the best case scenario would've been throwing it away quickly - maybe there was a hot-read that would've worked, maybe not, maybe the blitz was disguised, maybe the coverage wasn't right, you sure can't tell from those cropped camera angles. Those both looked like plays where any QB, save Peyton Manning, would've almost certainly taken a sack...

by DMcNabbInTown (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:07pm

Uh, the Washington line hasn't been horrendous but for ONE year. Many of Jason's fumbles occurred in other years. And the infamous Osi sack, FF and FR for TD was all on Jason. Jason was not getting hit because of a poor line (he actually usually held onto the ball when it was just a blown pass pro) it was him walking into defensive linemen, running TOO far up in the pocket (like a robot who cannot process subtlety) and going back too far and ruining his pocket and holding onto the ball.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:16pm

One year? Hardly. The tackles have been declining steadily for years, and then the interior line fell apart entirely last year, save for Rabach, who's only average anyway.

Do agree that Campbell's pocket presence is awful, but McNabb's isn't fantastic either. He just gets away with it because it's hard to get him down at first contact.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:37am


The Tackles had been declining but Samuels was declining from a pro bowl level! Yeah, Janson fell off and Heyer wasn't very good but that's only one spot on the O-Line. You can hardly say Jason Campbell had an unfair chance in life because his RT sucked. Even if you would have given him a B+ right tackle, it hardly would have signifigantly changed his game.

Pocket awareness is a big difference between Mcnabb and Campbell. Campbell's is awful and Mcnabb was once regarded as a "scrambler" that changed the game and his scrambling ability has evolved for the better.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 6:39pm

Samuels was a Pro Bowl run blocker. He wasn't a Pro Bowl pass protector. This isn't controversial, just go watch a game of Samuels in, say, 2005 versus 2008. On a seven step drop, the rusher's typically gotten around Samuels in 2008.

In 2008, both tackles were well below-average pass protectors. The interior was... okay. In 2009, the interior totally fell apart and you frequently had guards literally standing around blocking air before they realized they were supposed to block the guy going around them to the other side.

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 9:51am

He was a pro bowler, how bad are you saying he was as a pass protector? Are you seriously trying to argue that having a pro bowl LT protecting his blind side wasn't good enough? That he needed an Elite pro bowler or something? Samuels didn't make a career on just being a run blocker, the guy didn't give up sacks back in college and that was the big buzz on him. The guy didn't give up sacks in high school and the pros, and you could leave him on an Island blocking the best pass rushing DE's without help.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 8:53pm

No, I'm saying that Samuels was a below-average pass blocker and an elite run-blocker in the last two years.

And when you're a great run blocker on a team with a good RB that performs really well, you go to the Pro Bowl regardless of your pass blocking skills.

the guy didn't give up sacks back in college and that was the big buzz on him.

Yeah, I don't think Samuels's performance 8 years prior is really all that relevant. People do age, you know.

and you could leave him on an Island blocking the best pass rushing DE's without help.

Go back and look at Samuels on an island versus elite pass rushers in the past two years. It won't look the same as 5 years ago.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:34am

DMCNabblin Town

Exactly. I've also used the term "robotic" and "Mechanical" to describe Campbell. His fundamentals and pocket awareness are bad. His line sucked last year, but it's not nearly as bad as Pat makes it out to be. He had...

LT: Samuels a (low end) pro bowler
LG: Dockery a strong run blocker, decent pass blocker good enough to get bid away
C: Rauback a strong run blacker, average pass blocker, decent starting center
RG: Randy Thomas, a decent player who was pro bowl caliber at one point in time
RT: Jansen, Heyer etc, they were average at best

He also had Pete Kendall mixed in there at one time at LG. No he didn't have the 2009 NY Jets line but they were pretty freaking good. They were better at run blocking and good enough to have Portis leading the league in rushing well into the year 2 years ago, and he was pretty good before that in Washington. You couldn't look at the 2007 Redskins and say that Jason Campbell had an unfair chance because his Line sucked or were even average. He had 3 good guys, an above average center, and an average at best RT. That's above average and pretty good bra.

by dmb :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:47pm

The Redskins line was was just fine in 2007 and the first half of 2008, when the Samuels-Kendall-Rabach-Thomas-Jansen/Heyer line was in good shape. (Notice how this happens to correspond with Campbell playing pretty darn well.) But that really hasn't been their line for the past year and a half, mostly thanks to major injuries to Samuels and Thomas. So I think that Pat may be exaggerating the timeline of the line's awfulness a bit -- it's been bad for more than a year, but less than two -- but for the past year and a half, I'd say he's spot-on with his description of the intensity of suckitude for this unit.

Here's what their actual starting line has looked like, game-by-game, since the middle of last season; "(s)" denotes a player who was not intended to start at that position. Notice that the all-important LT position was manned by the likes of Stephon Heyer and Levi Jones much more than it was by Samuels. Also check out how Mike Williams, Edwin Williams, and Chad Rinehart all saw significant action. (And even though he didn't start, even something called "D'Anthony Baptiste" spent some game time at left tackle.) Basically, for the past 24 games, left guard and center have been okay, and everything else has been a complete mess. (For further evidence of this, consider the dismal OL Continuity Score this year's unit had.)

PIT: Samuels - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Jansen (s)
DAL: Samuels - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Jansen (s)
@SEA: Samuels - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Jansen (s)
NYG: Samuels - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Jansen (s)
@BAL: Samuels - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Jansen (s)
@CIN: Heyer (s) - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Fabini (s)
PHI: Heyer (s) - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Fabini (s)
@SF: Heyer (s) - Kendall - Rabach - Thomas - Jansen (s)

@NYG: Samuels - Dockery - Rabach - Thomas - Heyer
STL: Samuels - Dockery - Rabach - Thomas - Heyer
@DET: Samuels - Dockery - Rabach - Rinehart (s) - Heyer
TB: Samuels - Dockery - Rabach - Rinehart (s) - Heyer
@CAR: Samuels - Dockery - Rabach - M. Williams (s) - Heyer
KC: Heyer (s) - Dockery - Rabach - Montgomery (s) - M. Williams (s)
PHI: Heyer (s) - Dockery - Rabach - Montgomery (s) - M. Williams (s)
@ATL: Heyer (s) - Dockery - Rabach - Montgomery (s) - M. Williams (s)
DEN: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - Rinehart (s) - Heyer
@DAL: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - Rinehart (s) - Heyer
@PHI: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - E. Williams (s) - Heyer
NO: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - M. Williams (s) - Heyer
@OAK: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - M. Williams (s) - Heyer
NYG: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - M. Williams (s) - Heyer
DAL: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - M. Williams (s) - Heyer
@SD: Jones (s) - Dockery - Rabach - E. Williams (s) - Heyer

So as you stated, the line was pretty good in 2007 and the beginning of 2008. You say his line last year wasn't as bad as Pat made it out to be, but their two BEST players for the vast majority of the year were Derrick Dockery and Casey Rabach, who are about league-average. (You also seem to be very mistaken about who was actually taking the field for them last year.) Several players who saw significant game action might not even make the roster on many other teams. Like you said, their RT play has "sucked," but I would argue it's actually been the third-best position on the line over this time period. That means you've got a really, really bad line.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 2:52pm

Wow you put together a lot of work for that post.

I'd strongly disagree that Campbell played well in 2007. If you wanted to say Tood Collins played well in 2007 I'd be inclined to agree with you but not the Jason Campbell who was 6-7 while Collins was 3-0 with the same exact team beating the SB Giants, Minnesota,and Dallas. If Campbell was the full time starter maybe the team goes 6-10, if Collins started from day one maybe the team could have been 11-5. The argument back in the day from the Campbell apologists was that Todd Collins did out play Campbell statistically and in real life, but it was just "a small sample size" and he "knew Saunders offense" where as Campbell didn't.

Campbell gets credited with a strong 2008, but the line was playing really well enough so that Portis was leading the league rushing, and Campbell was playing game manager and was "lucky" with not having any turnovers. It seemed like all the hype he was getting at the time was " throwing no picks" and not any of his passing stats.

Yes the line sucked last year, but they did start to improve at the very very end particularly Levi Jones who was once an early to mid round 1st round pick.

"So I think that Pat may be exaggerating the timeline of the line's awfulness a bit"

by dmb :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 3:24pm

It was less work than it looks like, because that was actually something of a re-post. Halfway through the season you were making the same argument that their line was okay, based on their hypothetical lineup that included Samuels and Thomas ... even though those two weren't actually playing. I responded with essentially the same post I wrote here, minus the handful of 2009 games that hadn't yet been played. So a bunch of that was simply copied and pasted.

We will never agree in our assessments of Campbell's 2007, so I won't touch that. :)

I do agree that Campbell's absurdly low INT% in 2008 was a fluke that inflated his performance, but he still had some quality games. It's true that they had a strong running game at the time, which certainly helps, but Campbell made some excellent throws on his own.

As for Levi Jones ... well, improving a bit from "ghastly" still leaves you somewhere between "bad" and "mediocre." Where he was drafted nearly a decade ago has no relevance. There is no defending the performance of the Redskins' offensive line in 2009, and trying to do so is either delusional or dishonest.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 8:21pm

Yeah, our main point of disagreement is:

1) I don't think Jansen or Heyer ever looked good in 2008. Jansen wasn't expected to start at all - he only ended up starting after three games because, well, Heyer sucked more. The choice quote from that article: "or that Jon's ability to play the position has deteriorated so far that he, a former second round pick, cannot even beat out a guy no one called on draft day." What's funny is that at the beginning of 2008, I saw Heyer just really struggling, and thinking "WTF did I miss" - since I don't follow any team other than the Eagles during preseason. Then I found people saying Jansen was demoted in favor of a UDFA, and thinking "holy cow, the depth bug is really going to start murdering this offensive line." Little did I know.

I mean, we know Heyer's not a good tackle at this point. It should be fairly clear that Jansen was pretty bad from the Redskins viewpoint at the start of 2008, too.

2) I really don't like Dockery, although I'm not sure if it's Dockery who's at fault, or Rabach for poor coordination among the linemen. Either way, Dockery frequently ended up blocking air. He's still a good run blocker, though. But - c'mon, Dockery got cut by the Bills, who don't have a plethora of OL talent.

3) Kendall also started looking pretty bad as the season went on last year. Reports said he was struggling to get through the weeks due to his knee and late in the season he wasn't practicing during the week, and he definitely didn't look as mobile.

But the thing to note there is that the reason I said 2008 as the beginning of the disaster is that that's when you started to see age problems with Jansen, Kendall, and Samuels. The Redskins have had zero OL depth for years now. Everyone knows this. They had the biggest difference between starting OL pay and backup OL pay in the league for a while. And when those crazy-paid OL started to show age problems (which you knew *had* to happen soon)... yeah, it was "holy crap, that's a cliff" time.

(Also goes to show how good my prognostication skills are - I thought they'd have the depth problems on the defensive line first. Little did I know Carter would rebound so well.)

by C (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 10:00am

Dockery was cut from the bills because he signed a what, 90 million dollar deal? Not because of his play. Yes, he's a road grader. The skins ( with Gibbs) wanted to have a power run game behind Portis and run play action with a big strong armed QB named Campbell.

Jansen sucked in 2008 and I couldn't believe he'd ever play again. I saw him with Shawn Springs in the mall and I couldn't believe how small Jansen looked for a 300 pound O-Lineman and how big Springs looked for a cornerback. People were Hyping Heyer up as some undrafted free agent that was going to be a starter and contribute but it was only because of a lack of depth all along. People were saying he was going to be a decent ( average) player but I just didn't see that.

That's the chronic problem with the Redskins. Sign former stars, overpay for them, then you have fat, happy, paid guys that don't perform, and no depth ( except maybe flashy skilled positions) to show for it.

I think our main disagreement is that Campbells line was decent enough longer than you say ( although RT has been a longer term problem we both agree). We both agree the line was garbage last year.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 8:45pm

The skins ( with Gibbs) wanted to have a power run game behind Portis and run play action with a big strong armed QB named Campbell.

Exactly. Then they hired Zorn, tried half-assed to implement a West Coast offense with an OL that run blocks way better than it pass blocks. Hence the reason why picking up Dockery was bizarre - why are you getting a road-grading type blocker when you don't plan on running that kind of a scheme?

I think our main disagreement is that Campbells line was decent enough longer than you say

Before 2008, sure. But would you really argue that by the end of 2008 that was a decent pass-blocking line? Kendall's lateral movement was gone and both LT and RT were a total disaster.

I think really the only disagreement might be the beginning of 2008... but if that's the case, the Redskins were 6-2 over the first half of 2008, with wins over 3 playoff teams. Of course, you could point out that Campbell had only 2 300-yard passing games over that period, and it was primarily the running game, and I'd agree - except that just indicates that the strength of the line was run blocking.

by Kaveman :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 9:48pm

1: Downfield passing. Probably won't help Washington because they don't have the WR/OL combination for it, and they also don't have a coach with Andy's obsession at outsmarting the opposing guy.


I think Belichick has said numerous complimentary things about the offense of the Redskins coach and his ability to get the matchups he wants with the use of formations and shifts. That same coach outsmarted Andy Reid, the last time they collided: 49-21 I believe.

by Nathan :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:37pm

Shanahan is Belichick's kryptonite and he respects the hell out of him for it. Not disagreeing, just saying that their particular record against each other may be coloring BB's opinion. I mean, how has Norv Turner fared against Shanahan (too lazy to look it up)?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 6:46pm

Yeah, you're probably not an Eagles fan, so you didn't get the sarcasm. :)

Andy always seems to have an obsession with setting up a play that will entirely fool the opponent and leave a WR wide open. Like, flea-flickers, or bizarre trickenation with Vick, etc. So you get lots of bombs because that's what Andy seems to like - not because it's the best thing for the team. Even when they didn't necessarily have the WRs for it, Andy kept doing it.

The suggestion there was that Shanahan wouldn't do that because it's silly to not play to the strengths of your team. Which is why unless they think McNabb will still be playing in 4-5 years, I don't think it will help them - because Washington's not built for it.

by mrh :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:20pm

Not sure why you pick the last three years other than that's the number Aaron used; I looked at four because that's Campbell's whole career.

I also added up passing attempts, sacks, and rushing attempts to look at the total number of plays except hand-offs that McNabb and Campbell were involved in.

Stats from p-f-r

McNabb: 1803 pass att, 123 sacks, 158 rushes, 30 fumbles
Campbell: 1637 pass att, 109 sacks, 153 rushes, 34 fumbles

McNabb: fumbled once every 69.5 plays over the last 4 years
Campbell: fumbled once every 55.8 plays in that period

Which is obviously more frequently, but over a season with 600 or so plays by the QB (assuming they played 16 games, which I think is a stretch for McNabb), Campbell would have 10.7 fumbles and McNabb 8.6. If 50% of those are lost, that's one more turnover a year if you have McNabb for 16 games vs. Campbell. Yeah McNabb is better but the upgrade is not huge.

To put Campbell's fumbling in a more negative perspective, Grossman's last 4 years have seen a fumble every 57.9 plays - so Campbell fumbles more than Grossman. Ouch. Of course, Redskins fans are likely to see Rex play a couple of times this year.

by Damari :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 6:53am

This is a good report and a great statistical list but it seems that many have one or more issues with how it was done. I think that there is always going to be those who disagree or find some reason for this list to be what it is.

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by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:16pm

No I'm saying show us how those quarterbacks compared to the other quarterbacks at their time so we can see how McNabb might compare to qb's this year.ac

by mrh :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:13pm

I think you're right that if McNabb is producing equal numbers in 2008 to QBs who played in a tougher passing era then his numbers are also inflated.

I think the chart says "Jason Campbell 2008" but the numbers are from his 2009 season.

I took a stab at adjusting Campbell's 2009 numbers back to the average era of the 10 comparable QBs. I used the middle year of the three for each QB and counted 2000 and 2002 twice. I calculated the ypa, cmp pct, td%, and int% for that "era" for all NFL qbs who played that year and then adjusted Campbell 2009 to that "era". For example, the YPA of all QBs in 2009 was 7.0, Campbell was 7.1. The YPA for the comps era was 6.8. The adjusted Campbell YPA was therefore 7.1 divided by 7.0 times 6.8 = 6.9. Logically, Campbell 2009 was a little above the 2009 YPA so his adjusted YPA should be a little above the comps era YPA, that seems to check. There may be some erros in my data base and calculations, but I think the method is good enough.

Here's my adjusted Campbell's numbers (the stats for McNabb's comps):

Att 507 (487) - I kept the attempts constant
Comp 310 (296)
Yd 3498 (3411)
TD 19 (22)
INT 17 (14)
c% 61.2% (60.8%)
ypa 6.9 (7.0)

I'm not sure that's a big upgrade over the adjusted Campbell, but it's a little more than it was.

by jklps :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:39am

I'm not saying the trade makes the Redskins a playoff team or not, but just looking at the baseline of things, I'd take

Allen/Shannahan the Elder/Shannahan the Younger/McNabb


Vinny Cerrato/Zorn-Sherm Lewis-whomever was calling plays/Campbell

as an upgrade.

by cbirkemeier :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:08am

What does the stuff before McNabb and Campbell have to do with the trade? Shouldn't it be Allen/Shanahans/McNabb vs. Allen/Shanahans/Campbell?

by jklps :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:12am

The top is what the Redskins will be Week 1 2010, as opposed to Week 1 2009.

Jason Campbell looks okay when you look at his numbers here at FO, but when you watch him it seems he is missing something...but that's my personal opinion. I wish him the best.

by t.d. :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:05am

Are they switching to zone/cut blocking? Weren't the Texans and Broncos successful even without huge draft investment on the line?

by jklps :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:06am

Yes they are switching blocking schemes.

by dsouten :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:25pm

They are, but the OTs currently on the roster don't even have minimal NFL talent regardless of scheme. Interior line should do well, though.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:10pm

Rabach (C) will probably be fine, but he was fine before, too. But their guards are an awful fit for what that blocking scheme is known for; their best two guards are Derrick Dockery and Mike Williams, who are pretty much opposite of the smaller, quicker linemen that the scheme usually uses.

by dsouten :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:21pm

I would be shocked if Mike Williams starts. Chad Rinehart seems likely to be the starting RG to me, and he's no superstar but his strenght is quickly getting out to the second level and taking out LBs, so a zone scheme would seem to fit him well.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 7:07pm

I agree that Rinehart would be a better fit, but unfortunately, it seems that his ability to get to the second level quickly is due in part to his ability to miss blocks at the first level. Perhaps a new scheme will do him some good, but I'm not particularly optimistic about Rinehart based on what little we've seen of him so far.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:39am

Joe Bugel and some of the Washington insiders liked Rinehart a lot. In Zone blocking you have guys block 1/2 a guy for a little bit and then run to the second level. Not something an overweight Mike Williams would excel at.

by dmb :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:50pm

Right, like I said, I would hope Rinehart would be able to beat out Williams in the new system, since it definitely plays to the former's strengths and the latter's weaknesses. But considering that Rinehart was benched in favor of the likes of Williams and Will Montgomery, I don't think there's a lot of reason to be optimistic about him.

by dsouten :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 4:49pm

He wasn't benched - he got hurt.

by dmb :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 12:07am

He got hurt in the second Dallas game. He was perfectly healthy when the team decided it was going to try its luck with Mike Williams and Will Montgomery during the middle of the season. The Redskins then found out that Williams and Montgomery weren't worth much at RG either, and then tried Rinehart again, and it was during that second stint when he was injured.

Notice the absence of Rinehart on the injury report for week 5, the week he was replaced by Williams: http://www.nfl.com/injuries?week=5

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 3:33am

You know, I'm really wondering whether or not Rabach is actually a huge part of the problem. A lot of the guys on the OL - Williams, Heyer, Rinehart, and Dockery, most notably but not only them, stood out a bunch of times on a lot of Campbell's sacks as blocking air - as in, they double team one guy only to suddenly stop, look confused for a second, then turn and watch as another guy goes right by them.

Most Redskins fans give Rabach a pass, since he's a pretty good run blocker and can hold his own in pass protection. But if Rabach's the one making the line calls, I wonder if he's just really, really bad at it.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:05am

And if they manage to trade Campbell to either Oakland or Buffalo for a 2nd round pick, then they'll be giving up a modest amount for a modest upgrade. We'll know a lot more about the efficacy of this McNabb trade once all of the other offseason moves are complete. Right now this looks like typical Redskins idiocy, but done the smart way. If that makes any sense.

The real headscratcher is "fast" Willie. And "still whining" Larry.

by jklps :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:07am

I don't like old worn out running backs either- but the new coach will let the three guys(Portis, LJ, Willie "Not So Fast" Parker) practice and see who can play. I don't anticipate all three guys being there opening day. I think Parker signed because his agent sees a coach willing to let the best guy play.

What a novel idea around Redskins park - letting the best guy play.

by t.d. :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:17am

LJ at least didn't look washed up last season

by JasonK :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:58am

Really? He amassed -19.8% rushing DVOA (48th of 50 ranked players) behind the same OL that helped Cedrick Benson, of all people, get +3.7% (21st) in the same stat. If that's not "washed up," what is?

by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:03pm

because individual dvoa is so consistent from year to year

by JasonK :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:15pm

Then look back further to get a larger sample size:
2008: -12.7% DVOA (45th)
2007: -14.0% DVOA (43rd)

by Lou :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 3:29pm

cedric benson

2008: -12.6 (44th)
2007: -17.0 (45th)

maybe a change of scenery will do Johnson good too.

by JasonK :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 3:49pm

Larry J got the very same change of scenery that Benson did: going from a lousy OL (Chiefs for LJ; Bears and '08 Bengals for CB) to a comparatively solid '09 Bengals OL. Benson's productivity jumped up. Johnson's got worse.

Based on the historical patterns of NFL RB careers, the most logical explaination for this difference is simple: Johnson is 3 years older than Benson and has almost 500 more career carries than Benson does. In other words, age and physical strain have ended his time as an above-replacement NFL running back.

by hubcap (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:18pm

Football Outsiders might trade a 2nd round pick for Jason Campbell, but no actual football team would.

Seriously, Philly only got a 2nd and 4th for Donovan McNabb. How would Campbell merit a 2nd rounder in that world? The Redskins have dangled Campbell before and nobody ever wanted to give up even a 3rd rounder for him. Why would that change now?

And it's not like they Redskins have a lot of leverage, either - one of these QBs is going to get cut, and I doubt it will be McNabb or Sexy Rexy. I bet they'd take a 5th or 6th round pick and would be happy to get it.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:21pm

I highly highly doubt the Raiders or Bills or anybody else would give up a 2nd round pick for Campbell. Not only is he not a 2nd round talent but he only has one year left on his dea.

Redskins current QB's
Donovan Mcnabb
Rex Grossman ( just brought in, so must like in some regard)
Colt Brennan
Do they keep a 4th? A developemental draft pick, Todd Collins, Campbell for 1 yr?

Maybe they keep Campbell, maybe they just cut him outright with 1 year left on his contract. I doubt they get a 2nd round pick for him. What team wants to build a future with him? Maybe some team trades a 5th rounder for him to be backup or stop gap.... Mayyyybe some team trades a 4th rounder but I doubt they go that high.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:38pm

I think Colt Brennan probably has more trade value than Campbell at this point. Brennan has to be as good as Charlie Whitehurst, right? We know Campbell is awful. Brennan might not be that awful?

I think Grossman is going to start. They just brought McNabb in to mentor him, because McNabb has such a good record of avoiding INTs...

Campbell's gone on draft day.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:00pm

Campbell isn't awful. He's a backup QB, nothing more, nothing less.

Colt Brennan is untested. He's younger and could grow to be decent starter or he could be a complete bust.

At this point, I wouldn't expect any team to throw anything more than a 5th rounder for either one. Campbell as a steady backup, Brennan with more upside and also more downside.

by Joe T. :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:05pm

I don't see Brennan having much trade value. He is a developmental QB with no pro experience and an injury history. The draft is deep on project QBs. Campbell should have more trade value in all honesty, simply because he has starter experience and could function as a back-up, where Brennan still needs to be coached up.

Campbell will without a doubt be leaving, whether he is dealt or cut remains to be seen. They don't need to keep 3 QBs with starting experience on the bench, and Rex & Campbell make too much money to be #3 QBs.

Brennan will either hang around another year, or get the axe if they draft another late-round project QB.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:37pm

Right, so you let Campbell and Rex duel it out during preseason, and the victor sticks and the loser goes. Seriously, given a choice between Grossman and Campbell... jeez, that's easy.

by Joe T. :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:53pm

Grossman has no trade value. Campbell does now. Its a waste of time, effort, and potentially the limited trade value of Campbell to have them compete to be #2.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 8:24pm

Given a choice between 2-4 games of Rex Grossman at QB and a 5th round pick... are you kidding me? Seriously, the trade value of Campbell isn't worth actually having an average-level backup QB.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 10:54am

Right. Well, file my previous post under "Redskins fan grasping at straws for a silver lining to a dumb trade." It's something we do every year. It is so, so, so painful to watch your favorite team shoot itself in the foot year after year by continually using a personnel strategy which simply does not work in the modern era. I mean, it works from a business perspective, but it's not good football. Dan Snyder "will do anything it takes to win" 6 to 8 games a year with a never-ending series of deeply flawed teams that are not fun to watch except for in Eastern Motors commercials and wacky press conferences.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:51am

This is a significant upgrade for Washington and makes the team a legitimate playoff contender if they can get their blocking house in order. Obviously that's a big if. Russell Okung looks like a no brainer, and he would probably be an upgrade on Chris Samuels at this point.

McNabb instantly becomes the best Washington quarterback since the early 1990's; that's not nothing. And he'll be in an offense that isn't afriad to throw the ball around, which he needs to be successful. McNabb isn't a system quarterback; honestly the WCO wasn't a perfect fit for him without Terrell Owens or a comparable receiver (and 2009 Philadelphia sure didn't -look- like a WCO).

I wish him the best.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:24pm

Chris Samuels retired several weeks ago due to the neck injury that ended his season, so Russell Okung is definitively an upgrade over him "at this point." :)

Of course, whether Okung will turn out to be an NFL-caliber left tackle is a different question entirely...

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 6:12pm

Okay, smart ass... I meant relative to last year. :)

Good point, I should be more careful.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 7:08pm

Fair enough, the first part of my comment was a bit unwarranted, though I honestly thought you didn't know Samuels had retired. In any case, my main point was that bringing in a rookie is in no way a guarantee that a position has been "fixed."

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 2:09am

I know. The smiley face was meant to let you know I was just talking. Good points all round.

by panthersnbraves :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:58am

"That's a good collection of Hall of Famers, Pro Bowlers, and Jake Delhomme."


I wonder if Jake had played in a bigger market, would he have gotten more respect. But, after his injuries, I don't think Jake can ever reach more than "OK" status.

by Dean :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:07pm

Even with McNabb, the Redskins are still cover-your-eyes awful. Put McNabb on Oakland, and the Raiders might make the playoffs. Put him in Washington and the team still stinks.

Members Of The Redskins Offense Who Could Start For The Rams:


That is all.

by Joey Gibbs (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:10pm

Several points that stats do not bring out:
1. DM is a winner. He knows how to win big games in the final minutes. JC does not.
2. DM can find the open receiver. JC often locks in on 1 receiver.
3. DM gets rid of the ball to avoid sacks, JC has struggled with this.
4. DM understands and excels at the position of QB. JC has never grasped this.

I think DM will have a stellar year if he can stay healthy. My prediction is 4000 yards, 33 TDs and 10 INTs.
He will get the ball to Moss, the young WRs and the TEs as well as the classic Philly offensive play - the RB curl route.
Donovan will light it up!

Hail Skins!

by JasonK :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:18pm

He knows how to win big games in the final minutes.


by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:33pm

Joe Gibbs is right.

There have been a half dozen close games in the past two years that the Redskins coulda woulda shoulda won but were about 0-6 in them because of Campbell. Late game picks, fumbles, failure to run a successful 2 minutue drill, the stuffing at the goal line agains the 2007 Giants that changed their season, the late game picks vs Dallas, Tampa Bay, failure to run the 2 min drill in Philly, failure to run a 2 min drive vs the Saints in OT last year. The team has been gawd awful against decent defenses, didn't lunch on bad defenses, had severe trouble scoring more than 20 points in a game for a couple years, and went UNDER the Vegas total for the better part of 2 years. That means they were worse than expectations on offense.

People argued that Peyton Manning was a "lock" to score if you gave him the ball back in the infamous 4th and 2 Patriots game, how confident would you be for Jason Campbell to run a 2 min drill with the game on the line in a tight 4th quarter game? He cracks under pressure. Show me some examples of his late game heroics. The games the Redskins have won weren't in doubt in 4th quarters, and all the close games they lose. He's the NFL version of a garbage closer that gets blown up in the bottom of the 9th all the time.

The thing is that value is attached at the margin. Donovan getting the ball from the 20 late in the 4th Q of a close game has a good chance to march his team down for the game winner, you can't say the same thing about Campbell. He's also easier to game plan against DURING the normal portion of the game. Run blitz the skins early and put him into 3rd and longs then take away the short underneath crap that he loves throwing so much. Take him out of his comfort zone.

Jason Campbell might not have "lost" so many games for his team with horrible 3-4 pick stinkers, but how often can you honestly say that he "won" a game for his team with an exception effort? That's the definition of a backup QB. A guy that won't kill you when he's in there, but obviously not good enough to be a long term starter.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:53pm

Woah woah woah woah woah. Let's actually take a look a couple of these losses you're pinning on Campbell...

2007 loss to Giants: First down from the Giants' 1: Campbell spikes the ball (Gibbs wanted him to). Second down: Sellers drops a Campbell pass. Third and fourth downs: Ladell Betts gets stuffed on running plays. How is that sequence, in any conceivable way, a failure by Campbell?

2009 loss to Saints: First of all, you're conveniently omitting the infamous missed 23-yard field goal that would've given the Redskins a 10-point lead with less than 2 minutes left. Campbell did then throw a bad INT toward the end of regulation, but that pick didn't lead to any further scoring by the Saints. The Redskins got the ball first in OT, and gave it away on a (questionable) Mike Sellers fumble -- again, not Campbell's fault. Yes, Campbell did make a late-game mistake, but considering that it was a rare mistake in an otherwise fantastic performance (30-42, 367 yards, 3 TD, and the one pick) and that other players made mistakes that were more consequential (Suisham; LaRon Landry; Mike Sellers ... not to mention Kareem Moore handing Meachem that fluke TD in the first half), blaming that loss on Campbell borders on insanity.

Look, you're very good at assessing QB mechanics, and I agree with you that Campbell generally hasn't been good in late-game situations, but you really need to end this habit of overgeneralizing. This is not the first time you've gotten these sorts of details completely wrong.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 2:36pm

Campbell did probably play the best game of the season vs the Saints but that's not what I'm talking about. I was talking about his lack of "clutch".

Campbell isn't very good in the Red Zone, and he isn't very good in the 2 min drill, but of which are of heightened importance in late game situations and can be the difference between winning and losing. Throwing that late pick in the Saints game is exactly what I'm talking about as it was a crutial mistake ( in as you pointed out his best game). The Giants game was mismanaged at the end. It isn't even about the last 4 plays, it's about the entire late game... No he didn't throw a pick, but I expect a leader to do what it takes to get the job done. I have no idea what the 5th to last play of the game was, but I knew that if the Giants were playing say Peyton Manning that game and he got the ball back they would have lost.

There were about 6 real close games in the past two or so years and the Skins lost all of them and Campbell showed me nothing in the 4th Quarter. Please show me some games where his late game heroics won them some games. Please tell me that you feel confident when the Skins will win when they get the ball on their own 20 with 2 minutues left in the game. How about the 2 picks vs Dallas, the Picks vs Tampa? Care to defend those games?

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:03pm

Blaming Campbell for the Redskins' loss to the Saints this year is very much like blaming a pitcher who throws a complete game and gives up only two runs but loses 2-1.

As for the Giants game, what exactly would Manning or some other "leader" who "does what it takes to get the job done" have been able to do differently? Run after his own pass so that he could catch it after it hit Sellers' hands? Lead block for Betts so that he would make it in?

As for late-game heroics, how about the Saints game in 2008? A 67-yard bomb to put them ahead with under four minutes to go, and an eight-yard completion on fourth and two to ice it.

He was also the quarterback for a game-winning OT drive against the Jets in 2007, though I wouldn't really call that "late-game heroics" since most of the work was done by the running game. But if Campbell was responsible for the failure of the line and Betts to get into the end zone against the Giants, then I guess you would give him credit for the running game doing well against the Jets, right? :)

Look, I'm not saying he's been great in late-game situations; he clearly hasn't been. (The Tampa game in 2007 was particularly egregious; the pick against the Cowboys was bad, but Campbell was also a big reason why they were even in the game at the end in the first place.) What I am saying is that you ought to present the evidence honestly, rather than cherry-picking and ignoring evidence to try to prove a point.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:48am


I agree that blaming Campbell for the Saints loss is like blaming a pitcher who threw for a 2-1 loss. My point is that he played bad in the "clutch". It would be like that same pitcher throwing a shutout for 8 innings but then giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th and saying that he wasn't clutch.

I was honestly asking for examples of him playing well in the clutch. Him outdueling Kellen Clements in overtime was a good example, and beating that weak Saints defense from a few years ago is certainly another. So he's what, about 2-6 or 2-7 in clutch situations and I without looking it up I believe he got the ball in OT and Clements didn't.

The Giants game was more about the drive leading up to the Sellers drop and not the final 3 plays.

I wasn't trying to cherry pick examples, I was trying to provide examples that supported my case. You agree that Campbell hasn't done well in 2 min and late game situations and that's my point. I'm just so used to seeing the Skins lose close games they coulda woulda shoulda won and Campbell hasn't exactly been helping the cause with late game picks/fumbles/turnover on downs.

by dmb :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 1:04pm

What I would add to this baseball analogy is that one of the runs given up in the 9th was unearned -- the OT fumble by Sellers. I would argue that a player in that situation didn't prove anything positive, but I wouldn't really call it a "choke," either.

As I stated before, I actually wouldn't count the OT win over the Jets as a "clutch" performance, since most of the work was done by the running game. But it appears we evaluate these things differently.

As for the Giants game, do you mean drives before the one that essentially ended the game? Because the drive that led up to the Sellers drop saw Campbell get the Redskins to the Giants 1 with enough time on the clock to run all three plays. Check out this sequence that happened during the drive:

# 3-11-NYG 36 (2:00) (Shotgun) 17-J.Campbell pass deep middle to 82-A.Randle El to NYG 11 for 25 yards (28-G.Wilson). PENALTY on WAS-61-C.Rabach, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at NYG 36 - No Play.
# 3-21-NYG 46 (1:53) (Shotgun) 17-J.Campbell pass deep middle to 89-S.Moss to NYG 28 for 18 yards (37-J.Butler).
# Timeout #3 by WAS at 01:45.
# 4-3-NYG 28 (1:45) (Pass formation) PENALTY on WAS-61-C.Rabach, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at NYG 28 - No Play.
# 4-8-NYG 33 (1:45) (Shotgun) 17-J.Campbell pass short middle to 89-S.Moss to NYG 18 for 15 yards (28-G.Wilson).
# 1-10-NYG 18 (1:22) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 17-J.Campbell FUMBLES (Aborted) at NYG 18, and recovers at NYG 21. 17-J.Campbell to NYG 21 for no gain (91-J.Tuck).
# 2-13-NYG 21 (1:15) 17-J.Campbell spiked the ball to stop the clock.
# 3-13-NYG 21 (1:07) (Shotgun) 17-J.Campbell pass deep middle to 82-A.Randle El to NYG 1 for 20 yards (37-J.Butler, 31-A.Ross).
# 1-1-NYG 1 (:58) 17-J.Campbell spiked the ball to stop the clock.

I don't understand how that is in any way a failure. On the other hand, if you're referring to and want to include previous drives, then it ought to be done with other games, and Campbell has led important fourth-quarter scoring drives in at least a few other games.

So yes, I agree with your general point, but I guess what I was trying to say was that I don't think some of the examples you picked out really did support that point very well. In contrast, the games against TB and Dallas in 2007 certainly do.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 1:19pm

I'm sorry, but I think you're failing to take into account that McNabb's presence will not automatically transform Mike Williams, Stephon Heyer, Devin Thomas, or Malcolm Kelly into acceptable NFL starters, nor does it make any progress toward finding a left tackle worthy of even having a roster spot. This will also be McNabb's first year in a new offense.

I do think he's an upgrade over Campbell, but I also think that a player moving from a very good supporting cast to a fairly bad one is very unlikely to be setting career highs in touchdowns and yardage, as you've predicted. (Though I suppose playing from behind might help pad his yardage totals...)

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:13pm

The Mcnabb "compareables" also played in an ERA with harder rules on the passing game. I think it's safe to say that Mcnabb can do better than the "compareables" that with lax rules in the passing game versus guys playing in 1992 with downfield contact of receivers that is now illegal.

Also Jason Campbell's stats don't tell the whole picture. Running up stats when your team is losing is a lot easier than the alternative. He has done particuarlly bad in the "clutch", and has a bad winning percentage in close 4th Quarter games. Throwing a 2 yard checkdown in 3rd and 8 is a pretty safe play compared to the 9 yard throw that might go sour. At some point you HAVE to take risks or else you will die a death of 1,000 cuts throwing 2 yard checkdowns on 3rd and 8. Yes, sometimes those 9 yard throws on 3rd and 8 won't work out but football is a game of probability. Brett Favre is the leader in career TD passes but also in career interceptions.

Your entire analysis is based around the idea that " Mcnabb's stats aren't that much better than Campbells", but Campbell is Byron Lefwichesque in that he isn't really as good as his stats. Campbell is a player with bad fundamentals, holds onto the ball too long where he taps the ball when he should be throwing, and a coddled game plan with too many screens and no read throws. He's the opposite of a gun slinger in that he's the most risk averse QB in the NFL as he's not throwing downfield and defenses don't have to honor the passing game.

Kevin Kobb having a higher DVOA in 2 starts is irrelevant and borderline shouldn't be brought up, small sample size and all. Kolb threw yards in garbage vs the Saints and beat the Chiefs, it would be too easy to confuse " Kolb had a higher DVOA" with, "Kolb outplayed Mcnabb last year".

The fact that Avant & Maclin outperformed Kelly and Devin Thomas is at least partically BECAUSE of Mcnabb. It's double counting the WR's. If Thomas and Kelly were Eagles I'm sure they would have done statistically better than Avant & Maclin as Redskins. Sort of like how playing with Peyton Manning is better than playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

"As for the Redskins, there's no question this makes them an improved offense for 2010. But McNabb isn't as much of an upgrade as people may think".

Donovan Mcnabb is a top 5-10 QB. Jason Campbell is not even an average starting QB. The Broncos traded Cutler away for Kyle Orton at least partically because they liked Orton better and a lot of people didn't really like Orton before last year.

Further, it was rare for the Eagles to play a team where the other teams QB was obviously better than Mcnabb and for the Redskins it was rare for the Redskins to play a team where Jason Campbell was obviously better than the other teams QB. That's a HUGE advantage/disadvantage when you look at it that way.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:33pm

"Further, it was rare for the Eagles to play a team where the other teams QB was obviously better than Mcnabb and for the Redskins it was rare for the Redskins to play a team where Jason Campbell was obviously better than the other teams QB. That's a HUGE advantage/disadvantage when you look at it that way."

Going off of my gut definition of 'clearly', the Eagles were at a clear QB disadvantage 7 (Brees, Eli, Eli, Rivers, Romo, Romo, Romo) times in 17 games, and the Redskins 8 (Brees, Eli, Eli, McNabb, McNabb, Rivers, Romo, Romo) times in 16 games. Not a huge difference : in fact, the difference is entirely accounted for in their games against each other. This would be assuming McNabb started every game, which wasn't the case.

I'd say the Eagles also had a 'clear' advantage 7 times, while the Redskins had one 6 times. Again, not a huge difference and still decided by the head to head.

I suppose you could dispute Peyton's Kid Brother being 'clearly' better than McNabb.

Manning, Brady, Brees, Rivers, Favre, Romo, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Warner, (hypothetical healthy) Palmer, Schaub, Ryan, Flacco

I'm not seeing top 10. Certainly not last year; you could argue Warner has retired and Favre will fall off from age, but won't NcNabb do the same thing? And isn't it likely that one or two of the younger QBs (Kolb, Ryan, Flacco, Cutler) will pass him up?

5 years ago McNabb was an elite QB. Now he's just another solid starter.

I did like the rest of your post.

by C (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:57pm

"Further, it was rare for the Eagles to play a team where the other teams QB was obviously better than Mcnabb and for the Redskins it was rare for the Redskins to play a team where Jason Campbell was obviously better than the other teams QB. That's a HUGE advantage/disadvantage when you look at it that way.".

Are Eli, Eli, Romo, Romo clearly better than Mcnabb? I don't think so. They MIGHT be better, but the advantage is not a big gaping one. The only time the Eagles were clearly outmatched at QB was playing Drew Brees... and in this particular year against Phillip Rivers. In all 14 other games the Eagles either had a pretty equal or better QB. That's a good formula for success.

Now how about the Redskins? Jason Campbell was obviously better than Josh Johnson in his first start, at this point in his career he's better than rookie Matt Stafford ( although Stafford played well and beat him), and he is better than Jamarcus Russell/Gradkowski who both played in the Raider game. That means in 16 games with a last place schedule the Redskins had the clearly better QB in only 3 contests. That's NOT a good forumula for success.

To compare them as pretty equal looks ridiculous when you break it down on a matchup per matchup basis like above. The Redskins had the clearly better QB only 3 games last year, lost one of them to a winless Lions team, and pulled off "upsets" in 2 of 13 other games. The Eagles had an Equal or better QB in 14 games, went 11-3 in those games, and lost to both QB's Mcnabb was clearly not as good as. When you LOOK at it this way it makes Schatz's statements look more crazy.

Redskins better than 3 QB's
2-1 Record
Redskins equal or worse than 13 QB's
2-11 Record

Eagles better than or Equal to 14 QB's
11-3 Record
Eagles worse than 2 QB's
0-2 Record

It's a quarterback league, and Donovan Mcnabb is much better than Jason Campbell.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:08pm

Eli is debatable, I suppose, but Romo is clearly much better than McNabb at this point.

I agree McNabb is much better than Campbell, I just disagreed (and continue to do so) with the assertion that it was rare for Philly to be at a QB disadvantage, or Washington to have a QB advantage.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:55am

If you disagree that it was rare for the Redskins to have a QB advantage, who do you think Campbell was better than? I provided 3 examples and if Byron Leftwich the Bucs opening day starter was starting instead of Josh Johnson then you could even argue that Campbell wasn't a clear cut advantage over Byron.

I'm not trying to attack you, I just wondering which opposing QB's you think Campbell was clearly better than?

by JIPanick :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:33pm

The names I had in mind:

Zombie Marc Bulger
Matt Stafford
Josh Johnson (who did start the Redskins game)
Jake Delhomme, 2009 version
JaMarcus Fryekowski or whoever was starting for the Raiders wk 14
Matt Cassel
Kyle Orton

looking at the list now, however, there are only four guys I'm sure I would start Campbell over if I had both on my team. It's hard to seperate QB's from their teammates, of course.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 2:40pm

You listed 7 guys and said that you'd start Campbell over 4 of them, I said that he's start over 3 of them ( and JJ wasn't even the opening day starter).

If we are sitting here saying he's better than a rookie, the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf, and a guy that in his first start coming from a DIII college playing teams you've never heard of...

If you are going to say that Campbell was better than 4 guys then fine. Rodney Harrison, Josh Mcdaniels, Mike Shannahan and many others inside the NFL apparently don't think very highly of Jason Campbell.

by Key19 :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 12:38pm

I don't always agree with you, but I do agree with you on this. I guarantee if you polled NFL coaches, none of them would say "yeah, I think McNabb and Campbell are about a toss up." And if they did, it might be the last thing they said as an NFL coach, because you'd REALLY have to question their scouting ability at that point.

I know numbers this numbers that, but seriously, would you feel scared with Jason Campbell coming to town? I had nightmares for days leading up to every Eagles game because I knew McNabb could pull some *what I would view as* bullshit that would result in our utter demolition. I LOOKED FORWARD to Redskin games, because I knew we stopped the run well and that's all we pretty much had to do.

Jason Campbell put up a whopping SIX POINTS IN TWO GAMES against us. Donovan McNabb beat us 44-6 just the season before. I think you're crazy if you think the two of them are even remotely comparable.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:15pm

I LOOKED FORWARD to Redskin games, because I knew we stopped the run well and that's all we pretty much had to do.

Right, because the Redskins couldn't pass because they couldn't pass protect. That won't change, and guess what? Instead of a young QB who's been pretty healthy his career, you get a 33-year old QB who's likely going to have to improvise and move around a lot more than he did last year.

Keep this in mind: since 2005, the Eagles have had extremely good backup QBs every year. They've needed those backup QBs in 3 out of the 4 years. The backup QB situation in Washington isn't even on the same planet as the one the Eagles have had.

by Key19 :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:02pm

If you were telling this to someone who wasn't on the bad end of the "longest pass play in NFL history," I might agree with you. But visions of McNabb running around for 14 seconds or whatever it was and then throwing a 50+ yard bomb still run through my head.

I'm not saying the Redskins are Playoff-bound or anything, but they sure have a better shot of being an NFC-East spoiler than before.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:25pm

"But visions of McNabb running around for 14 seconds or whatever it was and then throwing a 50+ yard bomb still run through my head."

If you could stomach going back and watching that play again, it'd be worth it. Note how *well* the OL actually protects McNabb. The center can't keep his block, but McNabb has plenty of time to see him and avoid him. Then he scrambles to his right, where again, only one rusher to avoid. Then he scrambles back to his left, where his OL basically picks off all of his rushers, and he's got a nice clear lane to run and throw deep to.

A *lot* of that play was solid protection by the OL. The way to beat the Redskins is still just as easy as it was before - send speed at the tackles and bunch the middle. Game over.

"I'm not saying the Redskins are Playoff-bound or anything, but they sure have a better shot of being an NFC-East spoiler than before."

If you mean they won't be as awful next year, I agree. But long-term this is a bad decision for the Redskins - it's going to delay their ability to rebuild significantly, and burn years off of the average-or-better young players (Haynesworth, Orakpo, Cooley, Landry).

by Key19 :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:33pm

True. I guess I mistakenly have always just associated that play with poor line play masked by McNabb's savvy. But still, I don't see Jason Campbell making that kind of play even if he was in the exact same situation. He would've surely either just given up and taken the sack or somehow checked it down/thrown it away.

Honestly, as much as this little debate that's going on in this commentary thread has been enjoyable, the only real solution is to see what actually happens this season. Then once we see what happens, those who seem to be wrong on the surface will find a bunch of excuses to show why they weren't wrong. :)

by Nathan :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:40pm

McNabb has made several plays in the last 2-3 years (basically since the ACL injury) that have surprised me and left me thinking "damn he still kind of has it". That particular play may have been well blocked but McNabb still breaks a lot of ankle tackles, rolls out and gets to the edge quick, freezes a dude, and either throws downfield or gets the yards and gets out of bounds. He's no slouch on the run, even at 33.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:00pm

The Redskins O-Line sucks.

So they bring in a coach that likes smaller, faster lineman that are easier and cheaper to acquire. He runs a QB friendly scheme that historically produces very productive offenses and aquires a HOF QB to run it. It actually sounds like a pretty good plan.

The rest of the league might not have interest in the 280 pound "fast" guard, but Shanny will. With less teams bidding for these unique players services they can acquire them cheaper whether it be with dollars, trade, or picks.

Shanny's offense utilizes more rollouts and moving the pocket. Not only does this change the launch point for defenders, it can slow them down some on regular pass rush situations.

The Redskins O-Line sucks NOW, but the only way to go is up. I think you underestimate the rebuilding that a good coach and good QB can do. You said it would take the Redskins what, 3-4 years to be able to compete? Granted that was Pre-Mcnabb but still. It's possible to do much better.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 3:40am

Who have the Redskins acquired, then? Artis Hicks. A veteran guard/tackle who has started exactly zero 16 game seasons in his career. And he's probably one of the 5 best OL on the team.

The rest of the league might not have interest in the 280 pound "fast" guard,

This isn't 2003. Several other teams using quick pulling guards now, too.

by DC_31 (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 2:47pm

Good summary Key19.

I don't understand the hub-bub here. McNabb is better than Campbell and we can now finally move on from the incessent "I like Jason Campbell personally, but..." talk.

McNabb only needs to give the Skins 2-3 years of average to better than average play, and give the Skin's some time to find either via the draft or free agency someone better. The quarterback position is, for the short term, "solved" and we can move on to focus on other things.

For the first time in years I don't feel that the Skin's aren't going to be absolutley painfully inept on offense. I think that it is possible that the deep scars I bear from having to watch Mark Brunnel complete an NFL-record 22 consecutive passes without any of them traveling in the air more than 35 inches might start to heal. Finally, I feel like we are going to have a "normal" team, and by "normal" I mean "we might only win five games but I bet that we can score 20+ in alot of those losses".

And I bet we won't be lining up in the swinging gate at awkward moments anymore. That's all I want. Just to loose in a normal way. Is that too much to ask?

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 3:42pm

"Finally, I feel like we are going to have a "normal" team, and by "normal" I mean "we might only win five games but I bet that we can score 20+ in alot of those losses"."

So you're happy the Redskins gave up 2 draft picks and will give up a *ton* of money for a QB so you can be less embarrassed as a fan?

Seriously, if you admit that the Redskins need massive rebuilding (and it sounds like you do) - why would you be happy about them burning draft picks to acquire a short-term solution?

The Redskins needed to take the Titans approach from 2005-2006: detonate the team, suck massively for a year or so, and shuffle through your draft picks and castoffs until you find guys that don't suck.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:06pm


by capt anonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:39pm

Two draft picks for a proven veteran qb. As a skins fan I don't have a problem with that move. As long as they don't start trading other picks in the same fashion. The Skins are at least league average everywhere except offensive line. Lets stop pretending that the cupboard is bare. They need alot of help on the offensive line. I'm not ecstatic but IMO they are on their way to putting together at least an average club that isn't a couple injuries away from being a 4 win team.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 6:42pm

Lets stop pretending that the cupboard is bare

There isn't a single player on the Redskins offense who would start on the Eagles offense.

This is not an exaggeration. And Cooley's the only one who could even put up a fight.

by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:28pm

This is true. The Eagles are better than Redskins. I'm not arguing that. I'm arguing that the Redskins are only below average on the offensive line. This of course is my opinion.

by Key19 :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:35pm

Once they draft Okung (and assuming he turns out to be relatively what he's projected to be), I'd much rather have him than Jason Peters. But aside from there, you're right.

Well, and Washington's QB would probably start ahead of Philadelphia's. :)

by Dean :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 8:53am

Peters only made the pro bowl because it was a weak year for OTs.

Having said that, I'd still take him over a rookie who's never played a snap in the NFL. Yes, Okung might be the next Orlando Pace. Or, he could be the next Robert Gallery or worse, the next Tony Mandarich.

I'll take the proven player over the prospect any day.

by chemical burn :: Thu, 04/08/2010 - 12:59pm

You are wildly over-rating LeSean McCoy - I think all three Washington RB's are at least on his level. Wash-up, injury-plagued shells of their former selves, they are still as good (and with Portis, almost certainly better) than McCoy. Maybe you has more upside and should start because he's younger, but even then he's not a slam-dunk starter over Parker, Johnson or Portis...

by chemical burn :: Thu, 04/08/2010 - 1:02pm

Although, looking at it, Washington's 3 RB's FO numbers are uniformly putrid. Washington has an amazingly crappy offense...

by Kaveman :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 9:21pm

The Redskins needed to take the Titans approach from 2005-2006: detonate the team, suck massively for a year or so, and shuffle through your draft picks and castoffs until you find guys that don't suck.

You don't have to do it that way. The guy running the Redskins now? Between 2006 and 2008, he drafted 9 starters on offense, including 4 offensive linemen. Yes, that's the current Broncos starting OL. He also drafted 2 centers (Kory Lichtensteiger belongs to the Redskins now incidentally). The OL may not be a strength this year, but it certainly won't be the weakness it has been.

WRs now, I don't know.

Edit: I should add that of those linemen, only Ryan Clady was picked above the 4th round.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 4:40am

It's not just the starters they need to replace. The entire Redskins roster is just littered with castoffs. I mean, when a team says "hey, we should keep this 36-year old DE on speed dial" there's a serious problem. The reason you suck massively for a year is because of the sheer quantity of replacement players you need, and the only realistic way to do that and allow for long-term success is via the draft. They need to upgrade about half the roster just to get to "league-average" level - and I mean 'league average backup' level for backups.

I completely believe that Shanahan could do it. The worry that I have is that Snyder won't let him. It just seems like the team's complete disdain for draft picks and love of 30+ vets is continuing - which means more years of a geriatric team (seriously, people are suggesting Flozell Adams? a 35 year old tackle?) collapsing as the year goes on.

by DC_31 (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 2:51pm

Long before Joe Wilson stood up in the congressional chamber and yelled "YOU LIE" I did the same thing to my radio when I heard Joe Gibbs tell us Skin's fans that his charts showed that Mark Brunnell threw deep as much as other NFL teams.

I mean, I remember when Santana Moss caught five 80-yard touchdowns agains the Cowboys in the last 52 seconds of that Monday-nigher, but outside of that it's just been painful, painful, painful.

Did I mention that I carry some deep scars?

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:19pm

Actually, Gibbs was closer to the truth than you are. Taking a look at all passers during the Brunell "era":

2004: Your perception is correct, as the Redskins ranked last in completions of 20+ yards, and 22nd in completions of 40+ yards.

2005: The Redskins got significantly more vertical all year long; they tied for 19th in completions of 20+ yards, but were tied for 4th for completions going 40 yards or longer.

2006: The Redskins were 17th in completions of 20+ yards, and tied for 6th in completions of 40 or more yards.

Basically, the Redskins weren't able to go deep during 2004, and people continued to assume that was the case for the following two years.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 9:36am

It's OK to yell "you lie" at Joe Gibbs, but please don't turn your tailgate into a tea party.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 10:54am

Warning: Getting close to breaking the no politics rule here. Let's cut off this part of the thread, okay? Thanks.

by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 04/12/2010 - 3:06pm

What politics? I just don't like tea.

by John Markson (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:16pm

Why not simply average the percent change in numbers for the comparable quarterbacks and apply that to mcnabb's 2009 numbers as a prediction for his 2010 numbers.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:05pm

Actually, I almost did it that way. That produces this line:

G Comp Att PaYd TD INT C% Yd/At Runs RuYd RuTD
Y-Y Change of Similar QBs
applied to McNabb stats
16 299 495 3848 25 14 60.4% 7.77 31 127 2
Average of Similar QBs in Y+1 16 296 487 3411 22 14 60.8% 7.00 33 132 1

That certainly looks better. But again, the main reason for the high yards per attempt figure is that the new projection is based on the 2008 season, and DeSean Jackson had a pretty amazing year. That's going to be hard for him to duplicate, let alone for one of the Washington receivers to duplicate.

Eight of the ten similar quarterbacks dropped in yards per attempt the following season; the exceptions are Trent Green in 2004 and Dan Marino in 1993 (in five games). The four most similar quarterbacks (McNair, Favre, Theismann, Manning) all saw their performance the next season drop by at least 0.98 yards per attempt.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 10:05am


by DC_31 (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 4:52pm


I know what I saw with my own eyes though--and Brunell was vertically challenged--despite what the numbers might say on the surface.

My suspicion is that Brunell was up there as a top beneficiary in yards after the catch in those heady 2005-06 days, and his average 20+ yard completion was in the air for a shorter distance that most everyone else. Or most everybody else.

I am not talking about bombs. I am talking about they "2nd and 6 from our own 42 and we are throwing a bullet 22 yards down the field to see if we can losen things up and play some damn football" type throws. It just never seemed to happen.

2006 figures get balanced out by Campbell's time at the helm, I bet. Just looking at Brunell alone I bet it was bad.

Maybe you are right though--I would like to parse the data a bit though rather than just use a blanket macro stat.

by dmb :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:25pm

I think what's going on here is that what you call "deep," Gibbs and I were calling "intermediate." What Gibbs and I were calling "deep," you would call a "bomb."

In every one of those years, the Redskins had a higher ranking in the 40+ yard completions than they did the 20+ yard completions, and the difference was pretty substantial in 2005 in 2006. That suggests that a higher-than-normal portion of long completions were what you would call "bombs," or what I thought you were originally referring to when you said "deep" throws. This leaves a smaller-than-normal portion in that 20-to-40 yard range, which would support your observations, and would also fit my theory that we were just using different definitions. :)

by DC_31 (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 5:06pm

And after this I will stop ranting about a topic (Brunell) that I can't imagine anyone else cares about. But again, I know what I saw with my eyes, and I am a sabrmetic junkie for 10 years now--so I look to make sure I don't fall an easy victim to "per perceptions".

Don't you think that if you Winsorized the data a bit you could probably tease out an observation or two along the lines of:

1.) Lots of Brunell's "deep" passes (not bombs) in the 2005-06 run came during losses when they were forced to play catch-up? A 15-17 record in that span isn't terrible, but they played from behind a fair amount and would have played against a fair amount of prevents compared to a team that went, say 20-12 or so.

2.) More of Brunell's "deep" passes (not bombs) in the 2005-6 run came off of play action where the element of surprise created open receivers 20+ yards down the field, and there were relatively few traditional "zips" down the field on "normal" plays.

Who knows, maybe I am flat out wrong. But I haven't missed a Skin's game in over a decade, and I noticed a palpable difference over that 2004-2006 span under Brunell that seems to have lingered a bit since then. Though I think I am sniffing general ineptitute over the last two years more than dink and dunkings.

Finally, do the Redskins line up in swinging gate formation more than other teams? Or is this just my imagination too?

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:06pm

DC 31

I think all of your arguments used against Brunell can also be used against Campbell. I seem to remember a game maybe vs the Texans where Brunell threw a little pass into the flat that got taken for a 70 yard run. Now was that 70 yard TD pass a deep throw over nearly a running play with the pass catcher making a nice play?

They also benefited a lot from play action ( catching the defense off guard). It's not like dropping back on 3rd and 12 and throwing a 14 yard pass in traffic because of a nice read/nice timing... It's throwing a 14 yard pass on play action on 3rd and 2, or play action on 1st and 10. I watchted those Redskins teams and your not crazy, your complains are totally legit and I've argued your premise over and over again.

Brunell's stats were boosted due to YAC and so were Campbells.

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 8:13pm

This thread is a great example of how stat obsessed, minute number crunching and small picture oriented thinking pollutes the minds of football fans everywhere. We're comparing a guy who has been to 5 NFC Chammpionship games and a Super Bowl (which was a great game against a dynasty team at its peak) to a guy who is 20-32 as a starter, had a colossal meltdown last year when his team was primedfor a playoff run, and was replaced by Todd Collins in 07 who led the team to a playoff run. Are you kidding me? If you can be replaced by Todd Collins, you can definitely be replaced by Donovan McNabb. The Redskins have been hailed as "paper champions" for sometime now. Now they have a proven winner at qb, and Campbell and his paper stats are gone. If this is a small upgrade, I am completely lost here. As far as the window of good years, I could have sworn I saw a 40 year old, a 38 year old, and a 33 year old at his peak in the playoffs last year, so this 2 year stuff may be a bit pessimistic. I guess its just another example of McNabb not getting his due.

by mrh :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:22pm

1. If it were as simple as Campbell vs McNabb at the same age with comparable supporting casts, then the answer is obvious who is better. But McNabb is older and had a better team around him in 2009. We all have opinions in 2010, but even if Shanahan upgrades the Redskins, I don't think they will be as good as the players McNabb had around him in 2009. That narrows the disparity considerably. I think most fans and talking heads think the gap is wider than this article and some of the commenters because the former are ignoring age and context.

2. I don't think those three are good "comps" for McNabb. Every one of those three QBs was better at their peak than McNabb. There's something like a half dozen MVPs among those three and none in McNabb's trophy case. Every one of those three had better stats at their peak than McNabb - one example - Manning's career completion pct is higher than McNabb's best season, which was a complete outlier. If you prefer winners, that's a SB win to each vs. none for McNabb. Two of those three as sure-fire HoF selections and Warner is probably going to make it. McNabb has been an excellent, perhaps great player but he's not going to the Hall based on his career to date. Favre and Manning essentially have never missed a game, it's certainly no stretch to predict that more durable QBs with better skills to begin with will have longer careers than McNabb. Warner's rebound from an injury plagued mid-career is a plus for projecting McNabb's future but Warner had less wear-and-tear early than McNabb.

3. I looked at a variety of ways of comparing McNabb to 33-year-old QBs to project how many more games he's likely to play. I come up with 29 to 46 games left in his career. I hope it's more because I think he has not, as you say, gotten his due. But I don't expect it.

by Nathan :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 11:46pm

Regarding rings, and to a lesser extent MVPs, I wouldn't go so far as to say Marino, but if Jim Kelly is a HOF QB, I think McNabb is too. Can you write the history of the league without mentioning Jim Kelly several times? No. Can you write it without mentioning McNabb several times? Don't think so. Can you write it without mentioning Phil Simms (SB MVP, won another MVP I think)? I think you can.

by R. Carney (not verified) :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 12:34pm

y point wasn't to say that McNabb belongs in the same conversation as Favre, Warner, or Manning. Simply to point out that their skills haven't really diminsihed as they aged, so there shouldn't be reason to assume that McNabb should.

by Dean :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 8:55am

He'll make the redskins better. But he can't do it alone. And the rest of the offense is so cover-your-eyes awful that it's more likely to drag Donovan down than he is to elevate them. Not a slight to Don. More an observation that Washingtons offense is a talent-void right now.

by t.d. :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 10:19am

Didn't they just draft a slew of receivers? Isn't one of the advantages of zone blocking that fewer teams run it, so the players who are skilled at it are more easily acquired? I'm not sure they'll be good, but I think people are discounting this move more readily because Cutler flopped. Shannahan is a little better than Ron Turner at utilizing talent.

by Joe T. :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:25am

Yes, they have a squad full of mostly younger, largely untested receivers.
Santana Moss
Chris Cooley
Devin Thomas
Malcolm Kelly
Marko Mitchel
Fred Davis

There is no urgent need to acquire a pass-catcher in the draft, but there is a need to develop what is already on the roster. With the zone-blocking scheme, veteran backs, and Shanahan's ability to pluck adequate rushing talent off the street, running back will not be a requirement (they've already invited Ryan Torain to camp in fact).

The primary offensive needs that can be addressed via the draft are blue-chip tackle (rd 1) and assorted linemen. Median pick for offensive linemen last year was pick 132 (Rd 4). Theoretically, linemen ideal for zone-blocking will be even more readily available. It is conceivable that they can address their need for linemen (minus LT) with solely post-3rd round selections. Looking at the current Broncos line which Shanny compiled, it contains 1 1st-round pick (LT), 1 3rd-round pick (RT) and everyone else is 5th round or later.

by Dean :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 11:44am

Yes, those guys are young, except Moss. But are they really any good? The woods are full of high draft picks that don't pan out, and from the outside looking in, that's what this crop looks like to me.

Aside from Cooley, of course. His bona-fides have clearly been established.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:16pm

- Fred Davis played well last year
- Kelly & Thomas are young and didn't have a QB LY, I'd bet they will have better production nex tyear.

The thing is the Redskins need an improved line, and they bring in a real good coach with a strong record of producing good offenses, and used unique lineman ( which should be easier to acquire. That and he has a HOF QB.

That sounds like a pretty good plan for me in which you have a team that needs an overhaul on their line. Bring in a guy that can bring in lineman nobody else wants ( cheap) and build a good offense with a good QB.

by C (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:11pm

People seem to forget that Todd Collins... AKA Career backup was I believe 4 or 5-0 in that regular season ( even defeating the Champion Giants), while Jason Campbell was what, 4 or 5 and 9? They were playing with the same exact team! Campbell was healthy enough come playoff time but Gibbs and Saunders stayed with Collins.

Collins was hiting timing routes and was throwing the ball deeper downfield instead of the same old smoke screens and checkdowns. I know this is over simplified but he had a better winning percentage ( with the same team) played harder teams too, and better stats ( with the same team).

Not only is Mcnabb a better player, he's also a better fit for the Shanny offense.

by t.d. :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:21pm

I thought it was a great move when the Ravens acquired Steve McNair, but I like the move for the Redskins

by Jeff Fogle :: Mon, 04/05/2010 - 10:45pm

Only thing I can think to add is that the perceived "eyeball" difference between McNabb and Campbell may show up best in Jim Armstrong's drive stats. Philadelphia was 9th in the league last year at 2.05 points per drive, Washington 23rd at 1.59. Obviously more than just the QB involved...but I've found drive stuff tends to correlate with QB quality.

Might be fun to do a "wisdom of the crowds" thing for McNabb's TD/INT ratio this year.

Last three seasons in Philly pro-rates to an average of 23-10 per year if you make it 16 games per season. Aaron's look at similarity scores yielded 22-14. Aaron's Y-Y with the percentage changes yielded 25-14. Can't imagine a graph of the standard QB arc would show much outside that range given McNabb's age and what he did the last three years. QB's tend to plateau in that age range unless there are rules changes.

What's the case for McNabb being outside 20-25 TD's and 10-14 INT's?

by JIPanick :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 12:09am

The Redskins magically discover an excellent goal-line back and all McNabb's 1 yard TDs turn into 1 yd runs. Meanwhile, poor luck and rushed throws lead to a couple extra picks. He finishes with 19/15.

Alternately, he breaks a leg in the opener and finishes 0/0.

In all seriousness, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see his TD total drop quite a bit (into the mid to high teens) because that's very heavily dependent on team. I doubt his interception total will drift above the mid teens but picks are heavily dependent on luck. In could be higher or lower pretty easy and I wouldn't be shocked.

by Xeynon (not verified) :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 4:17am

McNabb's TD numbers are likely to drop. He's not going to have DeSean Jackson outrunning everyone on the defense on half a dozen plays this year, he's not going to have running backs and an o-line that excel at turning screens and dump-offs into long-gainers, and he is going to have offensive play-calling that utilizes the running game more heavily inside the red zone. I'd say, assuming he's healthy all year, that he'll end up with 16-18 TDs. I don't expect him to throw much more than 10 or so INTs even if he is forced to make a lot of desperate throws, because he's always been a guy who would prefer to throw it into the ground on third-and-ten rather than risk an interception with a throw into coverage that might result in a first down if it connects. In short, he'll be Jason Campbell with more mobility and a more impressive resume.

On the other side of the ledger, I expect Kolb will throw more interceptions than McNabb ever did, but also have a higher completion percentage, better third-down and red zone conversion rates and better RAC numbers.

by Theo :: Tue, 04/06/2010 - 10:27am

How about quarterbacks that play against their old team?
(5 or more years previously on the old team)

by taxistan :: Wed, 04/07/2010 - 6:20am


Dump north face and ban him from the site!!!!!!