The League

Doug Farrar

Doug Farrar

A staff writer

The numbers don't lie


When exploring the efficiency of different quarterbacks, it's important to do two things -- adjust for opponent, and consider what the quarterback had to work with. In the case of Donovan McNabb, we can start by looking at Football Outsiders' DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) metric, which adjusts for opponent and situation. In 2009, McNabb's DYAR, which in effect translates overall efficiency into an easily understandable yards above/below average number, was 619. This ranked 16th among all starting NFL quarterbacks. Not his best season -- that would be 2004, the year the Eagles went to the Super Bowl -- but it's hardly worthy of exit music.

Looking at McNabb's targets bring his productivity into sharper focus. He didn't have three receivers in the top 20 in DYAR like Ben Roethlisberger did; his highest-ranked receiver was DeSean Jackson, who finished 20th in DYAR with a just-above-average figure of 198. Jackson caught just 53 percent of the balls thrown to him; a distressing number even for a deep receiver. Second on the list was Jason Avant, who ranked 29th in DYAR, but was at least able to catch 74 percent of his targeted passes. Jeremy Maclin finished 31st with a DYAR of 153, and ... well, you get the idea.

One of the most undersold aspects of McNabb's career in Philly is that he's never had elite receivers -- at least, not ones he could tolerate, and T.O. wasn't his fault. In addition, running back Brian Westbrook -- his best target in some seasons -- was released when his injuries caught up to him.

What can McNabb provide to the Redskins? It really depends on what kind of Redskins team he'll be playing for. Most likely, the trade puts the new front office on the clock to select the best offensive lineman available with the fourth overall pick, which will certainly help that horrible offensive line. It gives Mike Shanahan a quarterback he's comfortable with, and the quarterbacks Shanahan's been comfortable with have all sworn by his methods. It doesn't improve the teams league-average receivers, or wash away all the question marks about the Cavalcade of Mediocrity in the backfield, but it does set a very interesting pre-draft process in motion.

By Doug Farrar  |  April 2, 2010; 12:43 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Donovan McNabb , Doug Farrar , NFL , Oakland Raiders , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Jackson only caught 53 per cent of the balls "thrown to him" because of McNabb's inaccuracy. DeSean has good hands and had very few drops. McNabb has good days and bad. On a good day he is very good but this only happens against mediocre opponents. You'll see plenty of overthrown balls, passes behind receivers and short passes thrown in the dirt at the receivers' feet. Philly fans are glad to get rid of him. McNabb has come up small in too many big games and will never win a super bowl. Kolb may or may not be able to get the job done and the Eagles may very well take a step back this year but here in Philly we're ready for change.

Posted by: williamregan | April 5, 2010 10:19 AM

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