As if you hadn't heard, the Redskins acquired QB Donovan McNabb, the quarterback who led the despised Philadelphia Eagles to unprecedented heights for many seasons, on Sunday night for a 2nd round pick this year and a conditional 3rd or 4th rounder next season. The reaction from many fans I've talked to has been split. Some believe the Redskins pulled a Sonny Jurgensen-esque move by getting another franchise QB from the Eagles. Some believe the Redskins just threw away 2 draft picks for an aging player. But I'm here to argue that this was an absolutely amazing move for the franchise and makes them a better team immediately.
To start, a quotation from Brian Mitchell (from DC Sports Bog and the terrific Dan Steinberg):
"He's a proven winner," Mitchell said. "Looking at Mike Shanahan, he knows the success he had with John Elway in John's later years. His last two years, he wins two Super Bowls, and I think he's looking at that same possibility with Donovan McNabb. Although Donovan is not the guy that will run around as he did as a young kid, he's still very mobile. So I think instantly this offense gets credibility, they can go and try to bring some people in to help him, and the receiver corps he has here is probably better than what he's ever had [in Philadelphia] up until they got DeSean Jackson up there....
"I think it's a major steal and it's a great day for the Redskins....I think the Philadelphia Eagles made a major mistake by letting him get away.
"And you know, he may not be exactly like me," [Mitchell on McNabb] but I could hear he had a little revenge in that voice, too. And he wants to go to the Eagles and show them that they made a mistake."
The bottom line is this: the Redskins made a huge improvement by getting a 6 time Pro Bowler for a second round pick and a 3rd/4th next season at the most important position on the field.
I know Jason Campbell has a lot of sympathizers on this Web site, and frankly, I'm sad he'll never get his chance in Washington (unless this is all part of a grand plan that none of us could foresee). But if you had asked absolutely anyone on this Web site yesterday if Donovan McNabb was a better quarterback than Jason Campbell, we all would have said yes. And for that reason, this is a good move.
First, the negatives. Yes, McNabb isn't getting younger. No, he's not as mobile as he once was. And he played for the Eagles for a long time, which probably doesn't help his case in DC.
But Donovan McNabb is a franchise quarterback who has been to a Super Bowl and, what, 25 NFC championship games? He's been a proficient passer in the NFL with less-than-stellar receiving corps for many of those years. (James Thrash was the go-to receiver for more seasons than anyone remembers, trust me.) McNabb is a leader and a guy who throws the long ball as well as anyone in the league still. He isn't Michael Vick in terms of mobility, but he is more mobile than 2/3 of NFL QB's, if not more.
And not only that, but the Redskins just boldly showed that their front office believes they are a playoff contender this season. A team does not trade two draft picks for an aging quarterback unless they believe the future is now. And frankly, with a team that has as good of a defense as it did last year, they do have some foundations for a good team.
The Redskins now have the division's best quarterback with a gigantic chip on his shoulder, along with a top defense, a Hall of Fame Coach and the fourth pick in the draft, which will now almost definitely be used on Russell Okung, who will answer the team's biggest question mark (LT) immediately.
A few question marks remain on this team. They still need some certainty on the offensive line, but last year's injury situation could have been the result of old players, poor off-season conditioning and bad luck. Given the way Zorn ran things and what some players have said this offseason, I believe that. With the top LT in the draft and one more player on the right side, I feel okay about the line. We wonder if Clinton Portis is healthy, if the receivers are going to hit their potential, and if the 3-4 will work out on defense. But with this coaching staff and this good of a quarterback with as much respect as he has around the league, you have to feel better today than you did yesterday about the Redskins.
Every good team in this league is led by a brilliant quarterback. And Peyton Manning is older than McNabb is! (So is Brett Favre, and so was Kurt Warner.) In Washington, quarterback has been the biggest question mark on the roster since 1999, despite an ungodly amount of draft picks used on the position since the Shuler years.
That question is answered. The Skins now have a top-10, at the very worst top-12 quarterback in the NFL. Add that to a great defense and a great coach, the best rookie lineman (hopefully) and you have to think the team is moving in the right direction.
I know that draft picks are vital to a franchise's success. But you don't ever pass up the opportunity to move a 2nd rounder and a 3rd/4th rounder for a franchise QB when you don't have one. Especially in your own division. Draft picks are very important, but let's not overvalue them here. If you thought the Redskins could have gotten a franchise quarterback with either of those picks, good for you. But I certainly don't. And clearly, two guys who know a lot more about Jason Campbell's abilities than we do (Shanahan and Bruce Allen), don't believe he is going to be a franchise quarterback for the Redskins anytime soon.
The Redskins just upgraded at the most important position on the field by a good measure. And for that, we have reason to celebrate. Now, I'm sure many people completely disagree with how I feel about this move. But for now, let's enjoy the best quarterback the Skins have had on their roster in decades. I mean, this guy is a future Hall of Famer, don't you think? And while this is a sad day for Jason Campbell, a player many of us believe has promise, we can move forward. My guess is we'll try to move Campbell to either Buffalo, Oakland, Cleveland or St. Louis for a 2nd or 3rd rounder. (Somewhere outside of the division, right Eagles?) He should have the chance to start there. We do have a backup in Rex Grossman, who knows the offense just as well as anyone and has been okay in the past. Maybe we should just sign Brian Westbrook now, too... On that one, I'm only half-kidding.
This is a good day. Let's enjoy having McNabb. Let the feeling of disgust and uncertainty from the last few years depart. We have a front office with a plan and a coach on a mission to start succeeding this season. The 'Skins wouldn't have made this move if the team didn't believe McNabb could take us to new heights.
Oh yeah, and you may as well carve out at least one Monday night and Sunday night for 'Skins vs Eagles. I know who is going to circle those dates on his calendar... Hail Skins!
PS -- Adam Schefter tweeted this right as I was about to post this. We're happy he made that choice!
Bottom line: Donovan McNabb preferred not to go Raiders and handpicked Redskins, Andy Reid said Eagles wanted to make McNabb happy.