Pro Football Focus Weighs in on Redskins' Donovan McNabb Trade; Stats Don't Lie

TDs

INT

TDS

RTG

Sacked

Hit

McNabb

22

10

3,553

92.9

38

67

Campbell

20

15

3,618

86.4

46

97

The offensive production for the two QBs seem pretty close. I found it equally surprising based on the NFL.com offensive line stats that the Eagles had the 21st worst OLine in the league (in regards to sacks allowed), but chatting with ProFootballFocus.com, they painted a much different picture in that it's not nearly that simple (I guess it never is).

Sacks are only a minor subset of pressure. [In 2008], across the league, they accounted for only 16% of all pressure when hits and pressure on the QB are included. A "hit" is when a QB is knocked down but not sacked and a pressure is when a QB is forced to move in the pocket in some other way than simply stepping up into it to throw.

So what does pressure do to a QB? Well, when pressured or hit, a players QB rating is reduced by an average of 37 points. That's the equivalent of turning Peyton Manning into Brad Johnson on every single play where you get pressure. Interestingly, whilst it's great for the team, sacking a QB doesn't alter the opposing Quarterbacks' rating.

So if pressure not sacks is the key stat how does this affect our view of the NFL and where have we been "misled"?

It's much more to do with understanding the defense, pocket presence and quick release. You only need to watch a handful of games to see Manning, Drew Brees or Jay Cutler reading the situation and delivering the ball in such a way as to avoid the sack. In the 1980's Dan Marino took very few sacks despite pressure because of the player he was. [PFF]

How many times did we see Campbell stand in the pocket and get absolutely creamed? He never had that McNabb/Manning ability shuffle out of the way. If The Redskins are able to get a 3rd round pick for McNabb, this trade is looking very good (especially since you'd much rather groom a new QB under McNabb then Colt, Rex, and Campbell).

I pinged Pro Football Focus on their thoughts of the trade:

PFF: I don't think there's any doubt that McNabb is an upgrade but I think that will come in two areas:

a.       His actual ability to throw the football

b.      The fact he will be trusted far more to run a complete offense

Whilst his passing skills only rank about mid-table of NFL QBs these days, that's good enough to win consistently when both the defense and the running game are functioning and it's certainly better than Campbell. He still has some problems with accuracy and whilst its fair to say his completion percentage numbers are skewed a bit by his love of going deep to DeSean Jackson (Jackson was targeted 112 times but could only come up with 56% of these) I think you'll spend at least a few plays this season scratching your heads and saying "who was that for?" as a ball sails into the benches and Donovan shakes his head and puts his hands on his hips.

The crucial bit for me though is that they'll let him run the full offense. I always got the impression watching the Campbell that he was reigned in a lot and looking at these passing charts (McNabb & Campbell) the numbers back this up; Campbell threw over 10 yards only 23% of the time whereas McNabb's numbers were 37% of the time over 10 yards. He'll certainly want to stretch the field more and I think a lot of teams will have to play the skins differently as a result.

My biggest concern for Washington is how do you keep him upright? The line is awful and adding in a few rookies (unless they play like Joe Thomas or Jake Long) will probably not bear fruit for a few years. Plugging in Artis Hicks may or may not help; don't forget this is a guy who couldn't beat out Anthony Herrera but given the way the Vikes manage their line is like an episode of the "Twighlight Zone" it may be OK.

As bad as the Redskins oline was, Jason Peters did not have a good year at LT for the Eagles. I don't recall McNabb ever getting scraped off the ground like Campbell consistently was, but you have to imagine the Danaplan has more tricks for Redskins fans. Perhaps some package deals involving current players to get back into the 2nd round. 

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