Any time we write about Donovan McNabb here at MTC, it usually results in the comments section being flooded with insults, name-calling and personal attacks.
But we're going ahead with this post anyway.
Matt Bowen of the National Football Post writes about a topic that Eagles fans have argued about in this city for years: Is McNabb a franchise quarterback?
Here is Bowen's definition of the term:
In my definition, a franchise quarterback can walk into any huddle in the NFL, pick up a football and have immediate success. By saying that, these guys aren't defined by the system they play in because you don't have to build a system around them to make them effective. They do it because they can make any throw, run any offense and succeed with any coach and with any type of offensive personnel around them.
Bowen lists five guys he considers franchise quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers.
So where does McNabb rank? In the next group of guys "on the fence" behind Ben Roethlisberger. Here's Bowen's justification:
McNabb is great because he plays in the west coast system in Philly. However, I don't see him having the success — or the ability to make all the throws — in another offensive system. His accuracy is always a concern, and I question if he could thrive in a vertical attack.
Other guys in the 'On the Fence' group: Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck and Jay Cutler.
I would argue that McNabb belongs among the franchise quarterbacks. Before I get to the reasoning, let's take a look at the other guys on Bowen's list.
There's no question that Tom Brady and P. Manning belong in a class of their own. Any team in the league would swap QBs with the Patriots or Colts and immediately improve. That's just a fact.
I'm a big Brees guy, and he certainly has an edge over McNabb when it comes to accuracy. But Brees also throws a lot more interceptions. He and McNabb belong in the same category.
I don't think Palmer has a place among the upper tier at this point in his career. He played in four games last season and threw 20 interceptions the year before. While Bowen excludes winning from his criteria, it's tough to ignore the fact that Palmer has never won a playoff game. Maybe the 2005-06 version of Palmer would be up there, but not the 2009 version.
There are a lot of things to like about Rivers. He takes care of the football. He makes plays without a great receiver (although he has good weapons at RB and TE). And he had a monster 2008 season. But if you put him on the Eagles right now, would you confidently say they'd have a better chance to win in 2009 than they do now? I'm not so sure. And that's what Bowen's definition of a franchise quarterback would indicate.
As for his evaluation of McNabb, I think we can all agree that he'll never be among the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. Bowen argues that McNabb might struggle in a vertical attack, which I disagree with. The Eagles ask McNabb to make plays down the field every week. He completed 52 passes of 20 yards or more last season. That was the third-best mark in the league. McNabb has success stretching the field, when he has the weapons. It's the short slants and screens that give him problems.
The first part of Bowen's definition says the QB should be able to walk into any NFL huddle and have immediate success. I think you could say that about McNabb, which is why the rumors of him playing elsewhere seem to emerge every offseason. If the Birds decided to cut ties with him, several other teams would be interested.