Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Truth on McNabb and Trading Fat Albert - Can't Have it Both Ways

I thought the Redskins were going to give us a relatively quiet offseason by merely hiring a new coaching staff to go with a new GM, cutting some big-name tenured veterans, and then almost doing something crazy like reaching for a QB with the #4 overall pick - run of the mill around here. Silly me! We opted instead to make the biggest move of the offseason by trading for the longtime starting QB of an arch-rival and are now actively shopping the most expensive and arguably best defensive player in the NFL. It has taken me a few days to digest everything, but I knew right away that I am not a fan of the McNabb deal for the following reasons:
  • Check the stats and metrics, he only gives us a modest upgrade over JC. I think people underrate JC, and overrate McNabb.
  • JC is getting a year older in a good way, and McNabb a year older in a bad way.
  • McNabb comes from a team with a superior offensive line and better weapons to achieve those better stats.
  • McNabb has never had to learn a new offense, so those slightly superior stats come from a comfortable offense. Given that JC has been in a new offense almost every year of his career, we actually have some idea of how he will perform, McNabb has not been in this situation since his rookie year. This is just one more reason to think that next year's JC and McNabb on the Redskins will not be all that different.
  • We are a rebuilding team that needs all of its picks/young players and does not need older players who will not be here very long.

Everything seems just dandy right now though

But McNabb can give us the 1-2 more wins we need to make the playoffs you say? A minor improvement is all you need in some games to get a win, this is true, but that assumes our defense will be at least as good as it was last year. Bare in mind that our mediocre defense is undergoing a dramatic change to a 3-4 formation, and we really have no idea what to expect.

I hated Greg Blache because I think his scheme was too conservative for a team that has playmakers, particularly for a team with an offense that needed every advantage it could get. I really thought a new coordinator could unlock the potential of our defense, but I certainly don't think that will happen right away in a 3-4 scheme. Our defensive line was our strength personnel-wise, with Haynesworth, Gholston, Griffin, and Montgomery in the middle, and Carter and Rack outside. In a 3-4? Rack will be a terror, but Carter is out of position, Griffin has already been cut, Gholston is an undersized nose tackle and so-so DE, and Haynesworth's talents are wasted in a 3-4 front. I think Anthony Montgomery could be a great nose tackle, but, on the whole, this scheme does not play to the strengths of our personnel.

Fat Albert must have skipped lunch, because he looks hungry!

Which brings me to the idea of trading Fat Albert, who I think is still absolutely dominant as a 4-3 DT. In a 3-4 defense, I think he will be excellent as a NT or DE, but his playmaking ability will be severely limited. As a 4-3 DT, I think he is worth the money he is being paid as the most expensive defensive player in the league, but in a 3-4, he likely will not be worth that money due to circumstances beyond his control. This leaves the Redskins with an overpaid, polarizing personality who has plenty of trade value. That said, we have already paid him the bulk of his contract, and actually have an underpriced asset who could be the key to this 3-4 defense working immediately.

My take is that the Skins already missed the boat on getting rid of his massive contract when we gave him that $21 million bonus a week ago, so the reason for wanting to get rid of him now is that the new regime wants a fresh start with players who are all 'on board'. Haynesworth is already at odds with Shanahan, and it appears to be Shanahan's way or the highway. I usually wouldn't mind moving Haynesworth, despite that fact that I still think he is the best defensive player in football, because of the 3-4 switch and the fact that we are rebuilding and want good team chemistry. But doesn't trading Haynesworth directly conflict with the McNabb trade? The reasons for trading Haynesworth are similar to the reasons for not trading for McNabb. Either you rebuild, or your try to win now, you can't have it both ways. The Skins have already traded away picks for a 32 year old quarterback, which means that we want to win now, and if we want to win now, we are better off with Fat Albert, ego, fake injuries, contract, and all, than draft picks.

(Images courtesy of and


  1. But, are we better off with Haynesworth playing 50% of downs in a system he doesn't not approve of holding the gaps? It seems like he is being under utilized in this schematic. Although, if he was pushed to the same side as Orakpo we might have a defense that only has to cover one side of the field (1/2 of the time). But, that is also a big chance.

    What is his market value at such a reasonable price? 1st rounder? 2nd rounder? 1st and 3rd? McNabb may be 33, but Favre is 40 and in the right system he thrived last year. If we can turn Haynesworth into multiple draft picks, can't we shore up the 0-line? I know we had a 2nd round pick and this doesn't seem much different, but seriously you have no desire and neither does any other Redskins team to watch either of the following for the 6th or 7th year: a defense which is good to very good, but does not force turnovers which is why an aggressive 3-4 would be nice or (and this is the kicker) an offense that you know CANNOT score points. We need to do something dramatic on offense and that might just be take a proven quarterback that can inspire confidence, then maybe trade our QB for a low rounder and our biggest asset for a few higher picks.

    Plus, you seem to be forgetting one thing. You care about metrics and many people including staff, players and scouts recognize the legitimacy of what you're saying, but the Redskins don't win with Campbell at the helm. When you're not winning, it's the end of the game and you need a game winning drive, players don't go, "Yay, Jason's back there, his metrics are mediocre." He hasn't proven anything. No one will deny you or Gladwell that he has not been placed in ideal or even a decent situation as a QB. But, his confidence and the players around him's confidence in him, cannot be that high. That has to count for something. And yes, I am aware that McNabb's number one most memorable drive is his Super Bowl loss which might be the worst managed drive in the history of football. But, remember two things about that. One, it was a SUPER BOWL loss, which means they were there in the last 19 years. He also has 4 NFC Championship losses, which means they were there in the last 19 years. That's real hope, something that we as Skins fans have not truly had since, '92 or '93. I was fucking 9 years old. Two, McNabb doesn't like to wait just wait until the end of the game to show up. He takes chances early and can make plays all game long. The Eagles have regularly blown out teams this past decade. Which means McNabb likes to score points.

    As for superior talent. I'll give you last year, we were ass. But, Westbrook has been perpetually hurt his career and wasn't Todd Pinkston a #1 for them at some point? Didn't James Thrash lead them in receptions at some point? T.O. for a year and the great DeSean Jackson (who only caught 5 balls a game last year, but made everyone count) are the only receiver they have had. But, McNabb made everyone of those guys have their best seasons possible.

    I am not saying this is a surefire thing, but we've got to build our offense and a 33 year old QB is not necessarily over the hill. a great D, just isn't that much fun to watch. I'd rather be a Houston fan than a Skins fan right now in terms of excitement. We might be headed there.

  2. Awesome comment and great points. For McNabb, the point is that his job is to help the offense move the ball - this is how stats and metrics get validity, points and wins come from moving the ball. He is not much better than JC at moving the ball, even though the eyeball test says otherwise. Say all you want about his winning past with terrible receivers, the fact is that his that McNabb's best years are behind him, and going into next season, there is likely little separating McNabb and JC.

    I think your point that he is better than JC is valid, and that 'a little better' combined with leadership could be enough to win a couple more games in a league where almost every game is close. That said, we were 4-12 last year, so 2 wins doesn't help us much.

    On Fat Albert, I definitely agree because I still pretty torn on that one. If we draft Okung #4, we will still have gaping have holes at RT, OLB, and maybe DT/DE with Albert leaving. Word is teams are offering 2nd rounders and maybe one more pick for Fat Albert, which might only 'fill' the 1 hole we create by trading him. Whoever we get with that pick won't be enough to offset his loss next year. Usually, that would be fine, because we should be looking 2-3 yrs down the road, but McNabb has about 3 years left, so wasting one year makes little sense. The flip side is to forget the McNabb trade and assume we will be playing the 3-4 for a few years, and that we should rebuild in spite of that trade.

  3. I am just confused as to why McNabb at 33 has only 3 years left. Favre is 40 and going strong. Tom Brady (32) is only one year younger. Peyton Manning is 34 and I hear nothing about him being over the hill or getting there anytime soon. Warner just retired near 40, but he was still playing incredible football. Yes, these are all likely hall of fame quarterbacks, so a down year for them is still potentially Pro Bowl worthy, but McNabb is still consistently very good.

    Plus, excluding McNabb's 2004 year where he was incredible, last season was his best that he has had where he has played more than 10 games. Yes, Campbell's numbers are on the rise four years in a row, but McNabb's have been on the rise for 3 in a row. Plus, his worst season of the past 6 is equivalent to Campbell's best season. I also don't know if this has helped or hurt him in terms of QB rating, but he has had to throw the ball a lot more because of the offense he is in. Teams expected him to pass the ball, so they have defended that, but he's also had more opportunity. The biggest concern of McNabb should be injuries.

    But, I don't even want to think about who is at QB or on our 2005 Pro Bowl Running Backs (a position where being old actually makes you suck ass), because it doesn't matter. None of them will be successful if we don't get a good, young offensive line. How do we do that? Where is the NFL trade machine when I need one? So.... Fuck.

    Just like you, I wish the Redskins just built through the draft. Pick Okung in Round #1, hope McCoy (who I agree just because he can get guys the football will be excellent) is there in Round 2, but if not... take another lineman. But, it wouldn't have worked that way. The Redskins want Clausen, so they would have taken him at #3 and then maybe, just maybe, taken the best lineman available in the second round. But, more than likely, there would have been no one they "loved" at that spot and traded down for more picks, grabbing a few guys that other teams don't like. Leaving us with zero offensive linemen for the future. At least, with McNabb on board, we are almost guaranteeing we take a tackle. So, even if McNabb sucks, that's not too bad.

    As for Head Stomper, it seems simple. If you can't trade him for more than one pick or player that can play right away, DON'T. He doesn't cost us much anymore either. But, I'd still give up ANYONE on D, except Orakpo, to land an offense.

  4. "At least, with McNabb on board, we are almost guaranteeing we take a tackle. So, even if McNabb sucks, that's not too bad."

    I hate that this has become the "silver lining" of the trade. We are totally incompetent, so one bad move will prevent us from making another! Is it too much to ask for Skins management to make smart moves on a consistent basis? It appears so.


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