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Was McNabb Overrated?

McNabb's Greatness Fact or Fiction

By Lance Epstein

For 11 years quarterback Donovan McNabb took the Philadelphia Eagles to heights that the organization has never seen. Before he was showered by the boo-birds at 1999 NFL Draft, Philadelphia struggled with Koy Detmer, Ty Detmer, Rodney Peete and Bobby Hoying to even be respectable.

Obviously, none of them amounted to a whole lot with the Eagles (well Peete did marry actress Holly Robinson) and Owner Jeffrey Lurie knew his club needed a jolt of energy. That electricity was McNabb coming into the fold. Once, he stepped onto the field the Eagles soared to a place they have never been before in their franchise history.

He made a franchise struggling to be at .500 or get to the second round of the playoffs for 20 years into a top three organization over the 2000s. Only the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts have won more games over the past decade than Philly.

So why has former Eagle and NFL Network/Fox analysts Brian Baldinger say the fans should be happy about the trade to the Redskins? Well Baldinger says the fans should be 'ecstatic' about trading the overrated McNabb because too many flaws in his game that were exposed last year against Dallas.

"The Eagles should be ecstatic," Baldinger wrote. "I view McNabb as a flawed player, and it was never more apparent than in the back-to-back losses to the Cowboys last season.

"His flaws will never go away. Now, the Eagles get at least two chances to expose the same flaws they've been covering up for 11 years. It works against the Redskins that McNabb is still in the division. Andy Reid can finally stop covering up for one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the history of the game. The Eagles will go to the playoffs. The Redskins will be watching from the golf course."

Certainly, McNabb has flaws in his game, mainly with accuracy (fans call them wormburners), but calling him overrated is a colossal mistake. In his career, McNabb has won more games then any other quarterback in franchise history with 92 wins. Also he set a franchise post-season record with nine playoff victories.

Additionally, he led the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Championship game appearances and a fifth against the Arizona Cardinals after being benched midway through the season. On top of that, he is only one of two quarterbacks to ever get the Eagles to a Super Bowl.

More so, the six-time Pro-Bowl has set every single major statistical record in the Eagles recorded books. He has thrown for 216-touchdown passes, 32,873 yards, 2,801 completions and a career quarterback rating at 86.5. Furthermore, if McNabb did not lose 17 games due to injuries, his numbers would have been even more spectacular.

Besides setting some of the franchise's records, he is top three all-time in the history of the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio at 2.16:1. Also, he is one of only a handful of quarterbacks to throw for over 30,000 yards and run for over 3,000 yards as well. Ultimately, his numbers might be good enough to earn him a place in Canton, Ohio’s Pro-Football Hall of Fame.

As for the comment by Baldinger that head coach Andy Reid does not have to cover up for his overrated player anymore, it might actually be the other way around. McNabb strived with pedestrian wide receivers such as James trash, Todd Pinkston, Freddie Mitchell, Charles Johnson and Torrance Smalls.

In his entire 11-year career, McNabb has played with a Pro-Bowl caliber wide receiver for three seasons. The one-year he played with a potential Hall of Famer at wide out in Terrell Owens, he set the Eagles single-season touchdown record with 31-touchdown passes.

Needless to say, he made above average offensive into a great line. While Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas were good tackles, the guard position and center position were a revolving door under Reid. Most of the players that started at those positions were undrafted free agents such as Hank Fraley, Bubba Miller and Artis Hicks. He managed to avoid more sacks with his legs and athleticism over his career than almost any other quarterback during his era. If it was not for his ability to avoid pass rushers, then his career might have gone down the drain like Tim Couch.

Another reason Mcnabb should not be considered overrated was because he won consistently under more scrutiny than any other quarterback over the last quarter century. First, the fans of Philadelphia blamed him for everything. Fans called him a "choker", when the entire team lost games that they should've won.

Yesterday, former Eagles Brian Dawkins said it best, when he discussed the fans relationship with McNabb.

"This city can be hard on a quarterback," Dawkins said. "Donovan won a lot of games here and was still disliked, for whatever reason. I never understood that."

"We lost those games, myself included. For him to get so much of the blunt end of it - it's one of the things that goes with being a quarterback, I think, unfairly."

Along with the fans, the media did not help. Every year, there was a new rumor about McNabb's eventual departure, which took its toll on him, regardless if he wants to admit it.

On top of that, he had people like former ESPN analyst Rush Limbaugh saying that people only want to see him succeed due to the fact he was black. Even the NAACP criticized him for not running the ball cause they claimed he did not want to be stereotyped as a typical black running quarterback.

If that was not bad enough, he conducted himself like a professional when teammate Terrell Owens threw him under the bus. Despite all of those distractions, McNabb came back stronger, better and won more games.

However, the biggest argument against McNabb being overrated is the jab that McNabb took at his former team today at his introductory press conference with the Redskins.

“A lot of you in Philly probably don’t know much about the run game, but we will run the ball here [Washington],” McNabb said.

Ah yes, the balance attack that the Eagles have lacked since Duce Staley was the tailback for the Eagles. During the 11-year ride with the Eagles, the club only had four seasons with a 1,000-yard back. On of those seasons came in his rookie season, where he only started seven games. Another season was when Jeff Garcia guided the Eagles into the playoffs after he tore his ACL. Only after Garcia took over the reigns did Reid finally use the running game.

From his stats and legacy, McNabb might have been covering up for Reid being an overrated coach. Reid has been out-coached in five of the biggest games in his career with McNabb at the helm.

His defense has created two turnovers in the five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. That means in 24 quarters, Reid's game planning has resulted in only two turnovers.

Of course, McNabb has struggled in those games as well throwing nine interceptions, but he had to be Superman in three of the five NFC Championship games (2002-2004).

In the two most recent Championship Games and Super Bowl XXXIX, where he has had talent, he put up impressive numbers. With adequate weapons, McNabb had 912 yards passing (average of 304 yards a game), eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

While Baldinger perhaps is right about the Eagles going to the playoffs and the Redskins will be watching from the golf course, it won't be due to the lack of talent or effort from McNabb. Washington's less than ideal offensive line will be the cause of their demise.

As for the Eagles, if they manage to rebuild the defense with their plethora of draft picks and fill the holes along the offensive line, then they have a chance to compete for a wild-card spot. Still, calling McNabb overrated is simply foolish, especially since he has set a new standard of excellence for Eagles football.

Go ahead and call him overrated, but new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb has huge shoes to fill by following one of the greatest quarterbacks the franchise and fans have ever witnessed.


  1. Sorry Mr. Baldinger, you just can't win that many games in the NFL for that period of time with a "over rated QB' it just can't happen in the NFL. I am sure that McNabb could care less about Baldinger, heck people have even called Favre over rated which was another funny joke. I agree with you that if anything McNabb might have covered some of Reid's flaws as a coach, there is no way Reid would still be coach without McNabb.

  2. Baldinger is 100% correct. McNabb was protected by the National Media for what he represented and by Reid for his QB flaws.

  3. Defense helped the Eagles win more then their offense. Numbers don't Lie!!!

  4. Even McNabb's minions admit his accuracy is an issue-wats more important for a QB than accuracy? And DeSean Jackson/Kevin Curtis both had 4.3 speed and made big plays for him on a reg basis the last few seasons. Donovan is very good but not great...

  5. Like McNabb but don't love him. Not knowing that games can end in a tie is either a dumb LIE or just plain dumb. Either way its no good when peewee players know that basic nonsense.

  6. Let's see, Washington has a good defense. Albert Haynesworth will dominate if he suits up. Opposing QB's better beware. The Eagles still have a small front seven and their defensive scheme was exposed last year. On top of that they traded Sheldon Brown. Their defense has not improved up to this point. I'll go on and say that the Skins D will be better than the Eagles D. As for offense, the Skins are counting on their O-line to play well. The Eagles are counting on Kolb to play lights out football. The chances the Skins line meets the required level of play is higher than Kolb playing lights out. I say this because you can look at O-lines in the past that have improved their play greatly from one season to the next. Additionally, the Skins had injuries on the line.
    I think Eagles fans and media believe that Kolb can play the way he played against the Chiefs in all games. Sorry, but that ain't true. Every QB just about played great against the Chiefs weak pass defense. Eagles fans will also believe that Matt Hasselbeck could have done better in the offense than McNabb. It's insane to believe that the Eagles offense will be better in 2010 because of Kolb. Maybe in 2 years, but this year, it is highly unlikely. You know the NFL network had a series on snakebitten franchises and the Eagles were one of them. Well, you heard it hear first, McNabb will do very well in DC, while the Eagles go 6-10 at the best.