NFL Trade Rumors: 5 Minnesota Vikings Who Donovan McNabb Would Improve
Now, the only question is whether McNabb can agree to compensation with Minnesota, which is no small hurdle to climb, but one that might be climbed by the time you read this.
So, would this be a good move for the Vikings?
Honestly, I have not been a huge fan of McNabb at any point in his career. I never considered him a true leader, a clutch player, or at times a very accurate passer. He has physical skills for sure, although he clearly doesn't run or isn't as willing to run as he used to.
With all that being said, trading for McNabb and signing him to a new contract would be good for Minnesota, because he will improve several players on the Vikings offense to varying degrees.
The following slides list these players with an explanation of why McNabb would instantly improve their fortunes.
1. Percy Harvin, WR
If there is one thing that I can't argue about McNabb is that he seems to work well with talented receivers, especially young ones.
Never mind that Santana Moss caught 93 passes in 2010, or that Terrell Owens, for all the famous acrimony between the two still managed to catch 121 passes for 1,963 yards and 20 touchdowns in just 21 regular season games over two seasons with the Eagles and McNabb.
He was good for DeSean Jackson in Philadelphia, Anthony Armstrong in Washington (44 catches for 871 yards, a 19.8 yard per catch in his first year as a starter in 2010), and he'll fit very well with a young developing player such as Percy Harvin.
Harvin is a hybrid running back/receiver, an explosive slot player who can actually do a lot of the same things in the short passing game that running back Bryan Westbrook used to do with McNabb in Philadelphia.
Harvin caught 71 passes for 868 yards last season despite battling problems with Migraine headaches and suffering through the Brett Favre, Tavaris Jackson and finally Joe Webb quarterback carousel. Giving Harvin a steady presence at quarterback will serve the ex- Florida product much better than going to a marginal starter in Webb or a rookie in Christian Ponder, although having a former Gator catch passes from a Seminole strikes me as humorous.
2. Christian Ponder, QB
I interviewed Christian Ponder right before the 2011 NFL draft for Bleacher Report. You can read that interview here. I came away with the impression that despite questionable arm strength, Ponder had the maturity and confidence given the right situation to survive and maybe even eventually thrive as a starting quarterback in this league, perhaps as early as year two in the league.
Then, the Minnesota Vikings drafted him with the 12th overall pick.
That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Ponder to make a difference quickly. Adding McNabb takes that pressure right off, at least initially. Don't get me wrong, I don't view McNabb as the ultimate quarterback mentor. It's debatable at best what he did for Kevin Kolb in Philly or John Beck in Washington. McNabb starting simply gives Ponder more time to develop.
Oh, and to anticipate the Joe Webb support, I think that Webb has a unique skill set but not one that translates to the quarterback position on a regular basis. That's why Ponder was selected so early in the draft and is clearly the priority in 2012 and beyond.
3. Adrian Peterson, RB
Again, go back to how well McNabb used Brian Westbrook in his prime. Peterson is not the receiver out of the backfield that Westbrook was, but he isn't a slouch either.
Far more importantly, McNabb does much better with a potent running game which he did not have in Washington last season, and Peterson is a better back just like anyone else in the league when he doesn't have to continue to smash into eight, nine and 10-man fronts.
McNabb may not throw the short to intermediate routes as accurately as he used to, and even in his prime he was suspect, but he has always thrown a good deep ball. That's the pass that Joe Webb and Christian Ponder can't throw and the one that will take extra defenders out of the box to stop Peterson.
4. Visanthe Shiancoe, TE
Remember that the Vikings also drafted arguably the best tight end in the entire 2011 draft in Kyle Rudolph. Shiancoe and Rudolph would benefit greatly from McNabb joining the fold. McNabb has always liked to both spread the ball out to different receivers and also look for his tightend down the seam of the field.
Translation: Figure on Shiancoe's 11.3 yards per catch average from 2010 to go up and for Rudolph to have some big play opportunities
One additional factor is that Shiancoe is entering the last year of his contract and will be motivated to put up big numbers to cash in.
5. Donovan McNabb
This is not a misprint. The Vikings player that Donovan McNabb would help the most would be Donovan McNabb.
Look, the trade to Washington obviously was a disaster and its hard to think that there was a worse fit for McNabb than the Redskins. He clearly clashed with the demanding personality of the Shanahan's, something that is much less likely to happen with the even-keel, mild-mannered demeanor of Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier.
McNabb and the other Redskins quarterbacks were sacked a total of 46 times to rank 28th in the NFL in 2010. The Vikings surrendered 36 sacks (tied for 17th in the league) and will scrap the zone-blocking scheme that seemed to be at the root of some of their problems.
Also, despite the fact that Mike Shanahan runs a version of the West Coast Offense, he has always relied on the running game first to set up the pass.
If you know anything about McNabb's years in Philly, you know that head coach Andy Reid has always preferred a passing first attack.
Minnesota's version of the West Coast Offense figures to be closer to what McNabb prefers even with Peterson being a focal point of the offense. When Favre had his magnificent season for the Vikings in 2009, he threw the ball 531 times. McNabb will be more than happy if he even approaches that number.
Any way you cut it, McNabb should be more comfortable and perform better in Minnesota.