The buzz around the Sport Gab network these past few days, at least on the NFC East related sites – is that the Donovan McNabb trade has been a surprising yet somewhat expected move… insofar as most analysts thought McNabb would be traded this offseason but no one thought Washington would be McNabb’s new home. But why not? We covered this issue just last week before the story broke, D.C. was an ideal situation for the rival QB to come in an make a huge splash while upgrading the offense at the same time. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing more on what Donny brings to the table in terms of his actual game play — but this is certainly a move that doesn’t simply effect the Redskins who happen to be in the NFC East. For one thing, this transition may directly impact the Eagles’ ability to finish at the top of the division and shift the order of dominance in the East for years to come.
Check out what Mike Burke over at Eagles Gab had to say on the matter:
It seems that the Eagles are hellbound on getting younger and this move just solidifies that position. With Donovan McNabb gone, things are obviously going to be different. Despite that, I think the Eagles are filling their “pass first” offensive system with a player who can truly throw the ball. I don’t think anyone can say they’ve never been frustrated by McNabb throwing the ball into a guys feet. The Eagles offense is stacked with young players at the skill positions and McNabb was the only one left who wasn’t a part of the “new blood.” This is a big change and it’s going to take some time to set in. However, this type of thing was inevitable and it’s time to move forward.
The emphasis was my addition, because I want to try and unpack what that means for the Redskins, Cowboys, and Giants. No doubt the team will be younger without McNabb, but perhaps what’s being sacrificed here is not just McNabb’s big arm — it’s experience in leading the team to the playoffs by any means necessary. Yes Donovan was inconsistent at the helm, but he led his team to the post season extremely consistently… often directly due to his vision and exectution on the field. Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick can not be expected to just rotate in and have the same kind of success as McNabb had with 1) the deep ball, 2) the finesse screen game, and 3) avoiding the sacks and turning big losses into big gains. The fact is Michael Vick is not 100% yet — and there’s no guarantee he can regain the skills that once set him apart in the league. And Kevin Kolb, while he has a steady arm does not have McNabb’s massive deep-ball slinging cannon, and Kolb has still shown he telegraphs where the ball is going.
Against New Orleans for example (video here), yeah he had 391 yards and two touchdowns but he had 3 interceptions. If you watch him filling in for the much more charismatic McNabb, Kolb looks like he’s blindly following the game plan robotically… there’s no subtlety, no deception, no vision… and he telegraphs 3 or 4 passes that you could clearly tell could have been picked off, especially the one at the end of the half where the corner jumped the route but didn’t come up with the ball — still I’ve seen much better passes that went the other way to the house to end the half. McNabb knows the veteran tricks that keeps everyone deceived. Like a Brett Farve, he’ll masterfully look off the corner or safety and with a slight hesitation — keeping everyone on defense in the dark while he pump fakes a time or two to really sell the fake, then go back to the sideline receiver. If you watch Kolb, there is none of that. No subtlety, no deception, no leading a more complete offense into scoring position…. and later in the game that lack of experience gets him two interceptions and a pick six that sealed the deal for the Saints. As Redskins followers and Jason Campbell observers — we know the drill here ALL TOO WELL. Game plans are great and executing to the plan is essential to win, but when you follow them so tightly like a Scorsese script and start telegraphing your moves, it get’s you killed in the end.
Speaking of getting killed — the boys over at Cowboys Gab have said nothing on the subject. Maybe they’re not fazed because they dominated the Eagles to end the regular season at home and then really drove the dagger in the playoffs with another blow out win. McNabb or not, the Cowboys had the Eagles’ number last year.
And while the base over at Giant Gab seems to be excited about the news — thinking this trade make the Eagles easier to beat now, a bit of extra focus needs to now be applied to the Redskins. Here’s a quote from site editor Jeremy Fuchs who believes the Cowboys and Giants respectively are now the teams to beat in the East:
I don’t like this trade for the Eagles. Give up a great quarterback, to a division rival. You don’t know what you get with Kevin Kolb. I also thinks this means that the Eagles really think highly of Mike Vick. He has to be ready to step in at a moment’s notice if Kolb falters. For the Redskins, it makes them instantly better. McNabb and Shanahan go together very well. Obviously, there are still missing pieces, but they are a better team.
I could easily see the Eagles finishing last in the division. I think they took a huge step backwards.Of course, this helps the Redskins. McNabb is such an upgrade over Campbell. But, there are still issues. I don’t like the run game. Maybe in 2006, but not now. Their offensive line is very shaky (you can bet the house that they will draft an offensive lineman, probably Russell Okung, in the first round). Their defense is not bad, but they need help in the secondary. McNabb helps them, a lot. Playoffs? Close, but I don’t think they will make it. They’ll finish 7-9, 8-8, just miss the playoffs. It’s a big move.
The real impact of this trade will be towards the Giants and Cowboys. Because, theoretically, they will be fighting it out for the NFC East title. The loser probably is a wild card team. The Cowboys, at least right now, are the best team in the division. They were better than the Giants last year (even though we beat them twice). The Giants were too inconsistent, as we know. I think the Giants could finish first. I do. But, they will have to beat the Cowboys to do it.
As many of you know, I also contribute to Giants Gab regularly — and I love Jeremy and agree with him about the damn Eagles but he’s missing the point on the Redskins. They WILL draft Okung and he’ll be a major upgrade to the OLine. They WILL acquire more help in the secondary, whether that means drafting another free safety and returning Landry to strong safety, or via free angency (Sharper still available). The Skins running game is poised to be explosive now that Portis, Johnson, and Parker are the 3 headed monster. And McNabb adds instant complete offense leadership and execution….
So why shouldn’t the Redskins make the playoffs this year? I think the Eagles have more growing to do now than the Redskins — and so long as the defense continues to play at a high level I don’t see any reason why the Redskins couldn’t atleast be that Wild Card team.
If anything, this one trade makes the NFC East a whole lot more confusing as to who you can pick to win the division, but mark my words — the Redskins now have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs this year even before the 2010 draft has begun. This time around seems different for Washington, yes they are up to their same old “free agency for veterans” initiative… but so far they’ve built some incredible offensive weaponry depth.
In the end, if you’re anyone but a fan of the Eagles, you have to LOVE this move. And you have no idea how happy that makes me to say that!