Today, DC Pro Sports Report begins a series looking at how the Washington Redskins and their NFC East rivals stack up against each other position by position. We will review each position from best to worst in the division and pick the best player at that position in the NFC East. Remember, though I am a Redskins fan and DC Pro Sports Report makes no bones about its rooting preferences, we analyze all sports questions at arms-length, so expect no home team boosterism here.
We begin with the quarterback position, ranking each division team in order, from best to worst.
1. Philadelphia Eagles - Donovan McNabb was benched last season but came back roaring and led his team all the way to the conference championship game. McNabb almost never turns the ball over and has very few negative plays. He's a smart quarterback who can still elude the rush, even if he isn't nearly the runner he once was. McNabb's winning percentage is fantastic and he's a great regular season quarterback, though his playoff record is mixed. Backing up McNabb is Kevin Kolb, a promising youngster the team likes and Michael Vick, a controversial new signing who is a very mediocre passer, but the best runner ever at the position and one of the most exciting playmakers in the NFL. A.J. Feely is one of the better third quarterbacks in the NFL, though you don't want him playing too much. The Eagles are very deep and talented at this position. It's not clear who would play if McNabb got injured, but my hunch is that Vick would get the nod, provided the injury didn't happen too early in the season. Vick has led Falcons teams to the playoffs that had less talent than this Eagles team.
2. Dallas Cowboys - The QB position destroyed the Cowboys last year when starter Tony Romo went down with an injury and the team had to rely on Brad Johnson, who was well past his prime. The losses cost Dallas a playoff spot. Determined to avoid that again this year, the Cowboys got Jon Kitna, who instantly gives the team one of the best backup passers in the NFL. The key test of a backup quarterback is how well he would play if he had to go for several weeks and Kitna would almost certainly keep the Cowboys in playoff contention. Romo tends to fade badly in the playoffs, but his regular season stats are sparkling. He commits too many mental errors, but he also makes more big passing plays than anyone else in the division. Romo can make all the throws he needs to make and is terrific at running around, eluding the pass rush and making big plays on the run. He's a dangerous player who is more dangerous out of the pocket. Romo needs to get a playoff win to steady the nerves of Cowboys fans.
3. New York Giants - You can make a case that McNabb or Romo is the best quarterback in the division, but you can also make a good case that Eli Manning is the best of the East. After all, he's the only quarterback in the division with a Super Bowl championship. Manning showed real improvement last year, cutting down drastically on interceptions while making more big plays and increasing his completion percentage. The 2008 season showed Manning becoming a real star in the NFL -- until WR Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg and out of the NFL. Manning's stats, productivity and winning percentage immediately declined, rather alarmingly in some cases. The Giants, favored to repeat as NFC champions, bowed out meekly in the playoffs to the Eagles, with Manning throwing 2 interceptions and no TD in the 23-11 loss at home. For now, Manning, owner of a gigantic new contract, needs to prove that he's a top quarterback without Plaxico Burress. New York's wide receiving corps is largely unproven so if Manning plays well this year he can silence the critics. His main backup is David Carr, who is terrible. The fact that he has started a lot of NFL games is irrelevant -- he's never played well. If Manning is injured, the Giants will instantly sink like a stone.
4. Washington Redskins - Jason Campbell has this team for one more year since owner Dan Snyder failed in his ill-starred quest to replace Campbell with a spoiled brat [Jay Cutler] or an unproven college quarterback [Matt Sanchez]. Campbell had the highest completion percentage of any starter in the division, but also made fewer big plays than his competition. Campbell is big with a strong arm and is very mobile, though he doesn't look to run first. Campbell has as much raw talent as the others, but he's had poor offensive lines and a weak receiving corps to deal with. However, critics point to the fact that Campbell has a mediocre winning percentage and has never taken his team to the playoffs. It's hard to argue, though, that the Redskins have had as much offensive talent as the rest of the NFC East, particularly with so many poor decisions made by the front office. Campbell needs a signature win and he needs to get this team into January. If not, he'll be playing somewhere else in 2010. Backup Todd Collins led the team to the playoffs in December 2007, but that was in an offense he'd played in for 10 years. It's unknown how Collins would play in the West Coast scheme, but the results so far haven't been encouraging. The other backups are completely inexperienced and may never be real NFL quarterbacks.
Rating the Quarterback position for each NFC East team:
1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Dallas Cowboys
3. New York Giants
4. Washington Redskins
terback in the NFC East: Donovan McNabb
When healthy, Donovan McNabb is the best quarterback in the NFC East, though it is a close race with Tony Romo and Eli Manning. McNabb has never won a Super Bowl, but he has won a ton of games and he proved last year that there is still plenty of gasoline left in his tank. McNabb is the best in NFL history at avoiding interceptions and he has put up great numbers for a decade, most of it without a marquee wide receiver. His receiving corps should be better this year -- indeed it is probably the best in the division now. Romo and Manning have both had very good careers so far, and Manning has won a Super Bowl. However, when healthy, Donovan McNabb is the best quarterback in the NFC East.
Next up in the Battle of the NFC East: Running backs.