Interesting conversation this morning on “Mike and Mike” on ESPN. Mike Greenberg was saying that Donovan McNabb is definitely a Hall of Fame quarterback right now. Mike Golic said he is close, knocking on the door, but not quite there.
Michael Barkann asked me the same question Monday night on “Daily News Live.” What I said, boiled down, is this: I think McNabb is the best quarterback in the history of the franchise but that it’s really hard to get into the Hall of Fame without winning a Super Bowl, that you really need superior stats if you are going to get in without winning and that McNabb’s aren’t at that level.
(I also said that Phil Simms, who won a Super Bowl, says he wouldn’t put himself into the Hall of Fame and that McNabb is in a similar statistical boat. I was wrong there. They played in very different philosophical systems but McNabb’s stats are much better.)
Anyway, on “Mike and Mike,” they compared his stats to those of Troy Aikman and Steve Young. There are a million stats out there, and I have picked out a handful. They reflect my personal measures of what I think is important if you are going to make a stat argument. Anyway:
Aikman…3 SB wins…5 10-win seasons…81.6 QB rating…1.17 TD/Int.
Young…1 SB win…5 10-win seasons…96.8 QB rating…2.17 TD/Int.
McNabb…0 SB wins…4 10-win seasons…85.9 QB rating…2.16 TD/Int.
When you look at it, Aikman is in because of the Super Bowls and I would vote for him every time. If you compare Young and McNabb – who always have been an interesting stylistic match as well – they are very similar players. Young completed a higher percentage of his passes. Young also had a much higher yards-per-attempt – a very instructive stat, but some of which was because he played with great receivers for longer than McNabb did.
They are very, very similar. There are differences, yes, but the biggest difference is the Super Bowl, which is what I said on DNL. You can like it or hate it but that’s just the way the system works.
It’s really a fascinating topic. McNabb is a fascinating player. Because he is the best quarterback the Eagles have ever had, and he also is a guy who was terrible in the middle of this season and played badly enough to get benched (even if Kevin Kolb against the Ravens was not a better option). I don’t think those are inconsistent positions, either. I think they reflect the facts at hand.
In the post-season, the stats have been unremarkable but McNabb has really played well, just commanding the important moments of the game. That’s kind of a nebulous concept, not all that measurable, except by the final score.
And in the end, that is how NFL quarterbacks are measured: by the final score.