Commentary

The McNabb switch: what to expect

Analysis of similar QBs in context shows it's a good move but not a stellar one

Updated: April 5, 2010, 11:10 AM ET
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Donovan McNabb Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesDan Snyder got his franchise QB, but how much is it going to matter?

Did the Philadelphia Eagles strengthen a division rival when they traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins on Sunday? Or is McNabb an aging quarterback in decline, who might no longer be as good as his heir apparent, Kevin Kolb? Actually, both of those statements might be true.

To guess what the future holds for McNabb in Washington, I looked at the most similar players using Football Outsiders' similarity scores system. (Here's a full explanation.) The most similar single seasons to McNabb in 2009 belonged to Warren Moon in 1989, Joe Theismann in 1983 and Ken Anderson in 1981. The 10 most similar three-year spans to McNabb in 2007 through 2009 included Brett Favre from 1999 to 2001 with the Green Bay Packers, Archie Manning from 1978 to 1980 with the New Orleans Saints, Dan Marino from 1990 to 1992 with the Miami Dolphins, Phil Simms from 1985 to 1987 with the New York Giants and Jim Kelly from 1991 to 1993 with the Buffalo Bills.

That's a good collection of Canton guys and Pro Bowlers. Even though they were in their early 30s, the players on this list generally still had a few good years left. But when you look at their numbers, you wonder whether McNabb will give the Redskins that much more than they got from Jason Campbell.