Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Evaluating McNabb Trade a Year Later

How much should Philly fans miss #5?
We all remember the shocking move the Eagles made on Easter, trading away 11 year starter and face of the franchise Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins for a 2nd round pick. Most Eagles fans do not seem to have missed him much, as the breathtaking play of Michael Vick did not to distract us.

Yet, with a season that had Super Bowl aspirations to end once again in the 1st round, it had me thinking. Was trading McNabb truly the right decision?

From a short-term perspective, the answer seems to be "no." The Eagles played the Packers, Lions, Jaguars, Redskins, 49ers, Falcons, Titans, Colts, Redskins, Giants, Bears, Texans, Cowboys, Giants, Vikings, and Cowboys. The Eagles went 10-6 with Vick under center, and Kolb under center for a few games. Yet, how many would they have won with McNabb?
While he may have been less exciting, it's hard to imagine McNabb would have been unable to win at least 10 games this season.
With McNabb, Green Bay would have been a victory. Few play Green Bay as well as he does (see 4th and 26). Both Redskins games would have been victories. Sure, I don't see McNabb scoring 59 points, but he would have won nonetheless. The Eagles likely would have lost to the Giants the second time, as at this point in his career, McNabb is not the 4th quarter comeback player he once was. But with the way Dallas has played this year, it's hard to imagine he would have lost to Dallas twice. And perhaps he would have found a way to defeat Minnesota.

Additionally, in the Titans game, the Eagles failed to put up major points because Kolb's deep ball was inaccurate. And who throws a better deep ball than Donovan McNabb? Perhaps the Titans game would have been a victory as well.

Of course, this is all operating under the assumption that McNabb had stayed healthy a whole year, a huge assumption. But if he had, the Eagles could have won as many as 13 games, perhaps more reasonably 11 games (considering he and Reid's tendency to lose winnable games) and certainly at least 10.
As great as Vick has played, he needs to win playoff games before h can be compared to McNabb, especially with McNabb's track record (4th and 26) against Green Bay.
And with McNabb's postseason experience, and success against Green Bay and the Giants (who may have slipped into playoffs with McNabb's defeat of Green Bay and loss to the Giants) the Eagles may very well have won the first round, defeated Chicago (who McNabb also has a strong record against) and made it to the conference championship once more (although that may be where the season stops yet again).

Of course, this is all speculation, but it may be fair to say that the Donovan McNabb trade, from a short-term perspective, accomplished little. The Eagles are exactly where thy were when McNabb played his final game, a first round playoff exit and a disappointing finish.

However, the more important question may be whether or not the Eagles are well set for the future. Yet honestly that also does not have a clear answer. Will Vick return? If so, will he be franchised? Could a long-term deal be struck? Can he keep up a high level of play past this season?

A few weeks ago, the Donovan McNabb trade looked like a genius move. Now, things are not quite as clear as they once were.

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