Less than a year and look how much it has aged
Right now I am a depressed and confused Redskins fan, depressed because we are hurtling toward yet another postseason in which I watch lots of football yet none of it includes my beloved team and confused because I am getting lots of mixed signals about quarterback Donovan McNabb:
Donovan McNabb having his worst season since his rookie year in 1999? Donovan was a rookie out of Syracuse that year, coming from the college ranks where he made his living on his legs at least as much as his arm. In his rookie season he split time in Philadelphia with Doug Pederson, appearing in twelve games and starting only six. He finished the year with 948 yards passing and a 60.1 passer rating. The next season he assumed the starter role and had it every year barring injury for the next ten seasons.
Looking at Donovan's numbers over the years though, I do not see a guy that is dropping off the cliff, in fact if Donovan can pull his passer rating up seven tenths of one point, the whole story goes away and god forbid he could get it two and a half points up, with another game or two like the Tampa Bay game and a 100.7 rating, then not only is 2010 not his worst as a starter, it is not even next to worst. Plus I think the strict measure of a guy by his passer rating is lazy.
Let us walk some of the other stats. Games: Averaging 13.4 per season over career, if we remove the first season when he was part time then it is virtually unchanged at 13.5 games per season. Donovan has already played thirteen games this season, one more and he busts over his career average.
Completion percentage: A career average of 58.9 percent, 2010 number is 58.3 percent, still well within reach to bust over with three games left and if not is teetering right the average at sixth tenths of a point less. I count four seasons with a lower completion rate and one a virtual tie.
Attempts per game are nearly four per game over career average, not a surprise considering the Redskins have had an unsettled tailback position all season. He can still sling it and the coaches are not compensating for some perceived dropoff, they are telling him to GET THE HELL OUT THERE AND THROW IT.
Passing yards / passing yards per game: In terms of his per game average, Donovan is nearly 35 yards per game over his average and if the season ended now 2010 would be the third highest per game passing yards in his career. Looking at total passing yards, Donovan already has more total passing yards in 2010 than in four of the seven years he has played thirteen games or more.
It is not all rosy though, Donovan's touchdown passes are dangerously near a career low, he will need to throw two more to tie his non rookie career low, oddly enough those career lows came in one season where Donovan played only nine games and in another where he played all sixteen.
Interceptions are already at a career high by two, one of the great statistics on Donovan coming into Washington was that he was one of the least intercepted passers in league history, even though Donovan is having his worst INT year ever, check the big board for quarterbacks: seven guys, including two named Manning, have as many or more than Donovan.
Sacks are also dangerously near career highs, 2010 is already Donovan's second worst year for sacks, two more and he ties it. Of all the stats that we can apply other players' performance to, this is the one that I place the most on others, the crappy offensive line the Redskins have in 2010.
The last stat to look at is long passes, Donovan has thrilled Redskins fans with the ability to connect on long passes, Jason Campbell had the arm but not the time, chemistry or accuracy to make them like Donovan has this year, then you look at his stats and 2010 is just middling in his late year performance, since 2004 Donovan has tossed eleven or more passes of forty yards or more five time in seven years. The guy can still sling it.
So let us dial back the Donovan is having teh worst yaer of his lief bit, I am not buying it.
Donovan McNabb is on pace to set Redskins franchise and personal records for passing yards? Wait I thought he was having his worst year evar as a starter? Then how can that headline be true? Well let us look at the numbers: At his current pace, Donovan should throw for 4156 yards in 2010 if he plays all sixteen games. That would be more than he has ever tossed in his career, he has never been a 4000 yard passer ever.
This number would also place Donovan ahead of 1986 Jay Schroeder and 1999 Brad Johnson for the most passingest Redskin of all time, for a franchise that has been in continuous operation since 1932.
Worst year ever = best year ever.
Wait, Donovan McNabb might get benched down the stretch? The latest ginned up story, principally credited to FOX's Jay Glazer, is that backup quarterback slash fumbler Rex Grossman is being prepped possibly to start or replace Donovan. For his part, Donovan was dismissive (op. cit.), and head coach Mike Shanahan was as you might expect evasive in talking about it.
This is of course bloody ridiculous. You only sit a veteran like Donovan at the end of the season if he is hurt or if he may be gone the next season and you really need to see what you have on the bench. And we all know, Super Bowl and NFL credentials or otherwise, that Rex Grossman is not an unknown quantity. Hell he may be starting caliber for all I know any more, alls I am saying is that we know everything we need to know about Rex and John Beck is certainly no option when you have a healthy Donovan McNabb. There is your fast path to cascading boos right there.
Stay with him and play with him, whatever ails the Redskins in 2010 it is not Donovan McNabb.
Photo by me of my still new Donovan McNabb number five jersey, I have only had it since 27 September 2010 and the numbering is already coming off the nylon, compare to my Santana Moss number 89 jersey I have had since the 2005 postseason, I wore that jersey for every game until this season and washed it at least twice a year and the numbering on it still looks great. Is that some sort of metaphor? With apologies to Oscar Wilde for the title.