To evaluate Donovan McNabb’s value to the Washington Redskins, AccuScore ran multiple simulations of the 2009 NFL season.
While the real Redskins went 4-12, the re-simulated ‘Skins did better, averaging six wins (though still last in the NFC East). They even made the playoffs in 5.4 percent of simulations.
After adding McNabb and running backs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson, the Redskins improved by an average of 8.7 percentage points per game, which translates to 7.4 wins and a 14.1 percent occurrence of making the playoffs.
|w/ McNabb at QB
The Redskins have even more reason to believe they can outperform this already optimistic forecast because young receivers Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and tight end Fred Davis could all show significant improvement if they develop good chemistry with McNabb.
Also, the defense was in the top 10 in rushing yards per attempt and pass yards allowed. Tackle Albert Haynesworth and middle linebacker London Fletcher are fine run stoppers, and they can pressure the QB with Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter, who both had 11 sacks last season. If Washington can add playmakers in the secondary and improve on their 11 interceptions in 2009 to 16 or more, it can improve on its No. 18 rank in points allowed. Forcing more turnovers the Redskins should be at least 8-8.
We also re-simulated the Eagles’ 2009 season to see how they would have done without McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook, who missed a lot of time due to injury.
In real life, QB Kevin Kolb and running back LeSean McCoy had good moments in 2009. Kolb averaged more than 350 passing yards per start and completed more than 65 precent of his passes. Don’t be overly impressed by the passing yardage, however; a majority of QBs average more passing yards in losses than in wins because they are playing from behind and passing the ball 75 percent or more in the fourth quarter, if not the entire second half. Kolb had four TD passes in his two starts but he also threw three interceptions.
In the re-simulations, the Eagles slipped by an average of 0.7 wins per season simulation, just half as much as the improvement by Washington. Given those numbers, the deal seems to make sense for the Eagles. Philadelphia needs to establish Kolb as its starter for the next five-plus years, and the re-simulations indicate it could do so without a huge drop-off in wins.
Still, one could question how wise it is to improve a division rival, and per the re-simulations Philadelphia’s playoff chances dropped by 15 percentage points because of the Redskins’ improvement. If the Eagles had traded McNabb outside the NFC East, they likely would have seen a drop of just seven or eight percentage points.
One factor that could cause the Eagles to underperform vs. this forecast is the pressure Kolb will have in replacing McNabb. If the Eagles’ schedule is front-loaded with tough opponents, Philly could get off to a rocky start, which could affect Kolb’s confidence. Eagles fans should hope for two early games against sub-par opponents to allow Kolb to build that confidence and gain their full support.
Even if Kolb handles the pressure well, he may end up having a season similar to Aaron Rodgers’ first as the Packers’ starter. Rodgers had tremendous stats but Green Bay finished just 6-10.
The specific impact of the trade may be more or less than what we report here, because this analysis is based on a re-simulation of the 2009 season which not only includes the McNabb trade, but all the other offseason trades and free-agent signings. The actual 2010 forecast will not be ready until well after the draft, training camp and the preseason.
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