Flashback to Donovan McNabb: Good But Never Great

Remember the fingerpointing? The overthrows? The pain?

Donovan McNabb fans have accused me for years of being a Donovan McNabb hater. Usually, I just chuckle at that conclusion.

I think I have been eminently fair and very succinct in my assessment of McNabb as a quarterback: He was good, but never great. And will go down in NFL history as simply that.

If McNabb makes it to the Hall of Fame, it will be because of longevity, and nothing more. At the end of the day, he will have played long enough to accumulate enough statistics to wow the people who vote on such matters. And part of the reason they will put him into the Hall is because there is this ridiculous perception that he was underappreciated in Philadelphia, where he played 11 years of his career. Ironic, isn’t it? It’ll be poor Donovan all over again, an image he played to the hilt as a player here and ultimately an image that will help him get to the Hall of Fame.[SIGNUP]

We have seen the best of Donovan McNabb as a quarterback. The notion that he would go to Washington and show people that it was the coaching staff, or the fans, or the play calling, or the hot dog vendor who held him back in Philadelphia, is ridiculous. He’s not going to make the Redskins win squat. And by the time he signs with a team decent enough to win, he’s going to be too old to win anyway.

So if he gets in the Hall of Fame, he will go in as the quarterback with the least amount of winning per the statistics he put up.

The closest comparison would be Jim Kelly. McNabb has thrown right now for about 33,000 yards and will add a few more thousand before he retires. Kelly threw for 35,000 yards. Kelly is in the Hall of Fame. Kelly lost four Super Bowls. But Kelly also was 4-0 in AFC championship games. McNabb is 1-4. And in every one of those losses, you can make the case that the quarterback underachieved. McNabb also lost as the favorite three times in those games — Tampa Bay, Carolina, Arizona. Now, if his weapons were so God awful, as many McNabb supporters regurgitate constantly, how in the world were the Eagles the favorite in those games? I guess the Eagles weapons were not horrible enough to prevent the team from getting to the NFC title game, but once they got there, that’s when they decided to stink?

Take the Arizona loss … please. I cringe every time I think of it. I cringe when I see the Eagles with a first down at the Cardinals’ 49-yard line, two minutes on the clock, with a chance to score the winning touchdown. I cringe because I see a quarterback, who many think should go to the Hall of Fame, throw a ball 10 feet over the head of a running back in the flat, and then three feet behind a crossing wide receiver, and poor passes that forced the Eagles into a desperate fourth down which Kevin Curtis dropped. Okay, kill Curtis, but forget about the previous plays the quarterback completely muffed in a chance to create greatness. And now think about whether any other great quarterback would have stayed at the 49-yard line that day. Elway? Montana? Aikman? Young? Please.

Donovan McNabb was a good player. An exciting player. But never great. Great players win some kind of championship. (I’ll give him credit for getting the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004. They lost to a better team that year. But McNabb threw three interceptions in a chance to pull off the upset.) And great players also take the full impact of the bullet, which number 5 NEVER did. He blamed the defense for allowing the Arizona Cardinals to re-take the lead on the Birds that day. Never mind the fact that McNabb sucked in the first half of that game, when it was really important to set a tone. Never mind that great quarterbacks are sometimes called upon to lead their team to TWO game winning drives, if the situation calls for it. McNabb has the ball in his hands LAST with a chance to win the game! He’s gonna blame the defense for giving up the lead previously? The quarterback takes the bullet, whether he’s really to blame or not. That’s the responsibility of the position. That’s what’s called leadership.

And don’t get me started on his comments last year that “we showed our youth today,” throwing young players like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin under the bus. Those comments fueled Jackson and Maclin’s overwhelming support toward Kevin Kolb taking over the team, when Jackson and Maclin probably had no idea whether Kolb could actually play.

Hey, I don’t hate Donovan McNabb. I’m just saying good riddance Bro. Have fun in Washington. I’ll look forward to a few overthrows on Sunday.