One of the questions surrounding the trade of Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins was how well Donovan would be able to play, and how far he would go with that much less explosive offense. Turns out that, at least through three games, McNabb is hindered slightly by his supporting cast — but overall is the same player we've seen in midnight green for the last few seasons.
I've spent as much time as anyone plotting McNabb's career arc. And, I came to the conclusion that McNabb's career had fallen off to a plateau of about "average" with the Eagles, as demonstrated in this graph:
If you believe, as I do, that McNabb has been basically an average or slightly-above average quarterback over the last three seasons, then the next question was: how long can he sustain that production?
We know that McNabb, at almost 34 years of age, has plenty of wear on his tires. Was it possible that in the next year or two he could sustain a drastic drop in performance? Or would his experience continue to hide his slowing body?
So far, at least, McNabb's shown that he's capable of producing in the same way. Admittedly, it's a small sample size, but his per game numbers are similar or better than last year in almost every catagory.
Take a look at Donovan's numbers from last year compared to this year as shown on the right. In virtually every category McNabb has stayed the same or improved slightly with the move to the Redskins. So there certainly wasn't any kind of immediate performance drop off.
The longer-term worry for McNabb, though, is that while he may be playing as efficiently as he has in years, the supporting cast is simply not good enough to help him put up big numbers. Thus, McNabb is only on pace for 11 touchdowns, which would be his lowest number since his rookie season.
Without a credible running game or more than one talented wide receiver (Santana Moss has really benefited from having a legitimate NFL quaterback), like he had in Philadelphia in recent years, McNabb will struggle to put up gaudy statistics or beat good teams. Yet the peripheral numbers show that he's the same quarterback as before — at least for now.