The final days of the NFL lockout are upon us. With free agency drawing near, the rumors are beginning to circulate every which direction. As always, plenty of that speculation involves the Miami Dolphins, who are usually one of the league’s more attractable destinations.
To get a full recap of the rumor mill, check out Daniel’s post from earlier this morning. But I want to zero in on one rumor, or should I say one man’s opinion, that surfaced last night when Peter King said he expects Donovan McNabb to end up in Miami.
We’ve talked about many quarterbacks this offseason, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton, and Vince Young to name a few. But one name that hasn’t been discussed much until now is McNabb. It was thrown out there as a possibility when it was made known that the Redskins would likely release him when the lockout is over, but many quickly dismissed the Dolphins as his landing spot because Miami won’t be running a West Coast offense under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
But would a transition to more of a run-oriented scheme really be that difficult for McNabb to overcome? It’s not like he’s a college quarterback who’s coming to the league after playing four years in a spread offense where he never took snaps under center or rarely was forced to go through progressions.
For those of you who don’t know, the West Coast offense is a pass first scheme that attempts to utilize more of a horizontal passing game. Maybe at his age, McNabb would benefit from relying on his running game more often. Now, Brian Daboll is thought be installing more of a vertical passing game this season, but McNabb is certainly capable of throwing the ball down field. And it’s not like the Dolphins wouldn’t tailor their offense to whoever the starting quarterback is.
To make a long story short, I don’t believe McNabb has to sign with a team that employs the West Coast offense. But that is far from the only concern that would come with signing the 34-year-old veteran.
McNabb obviously isn’t the same player that took the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004. He threw for more interceptions than touchdown passes for the first time in his career a year ago and was subsequently benched for the Redskins’ final three games. But it doesn’t take a football expert to see that Mike Shanahan didn’t give McNabb a fair shake. Benching him for the final drive of a winnable game against the Lions in October in favor of Rex Grossman, of all people, was an excellent example of that.
Maybe the tanks on empty, but part of me feels that McNabb, who has always been a class act despite being underappreciated for the majority of his career, is entering this season with a gigantic chip on his shoulder and will bounce back for a final stand.
Dolphin fans know firsthand what can happen when you give a veteran quarterback who has been unrightfully kicked to the curb a fresh slate. I’m referring, of course, to Chad Pennington, who gave this franchise their best season of the millennium. Pennington had many reasons to seek redemption. McNabb has even more.
Despite being the most successful quarterback in franchise history, fans were often calling for McNabb’s head in Philly. And have we ever seen a quarterback treated with more disrespect than what he had to go through in Washington a year ago?
I’m not saying McNabb is a great fit in Miami. He’s not. His prime is miles in the rear view mirror. He would be nothing more than a short-term fix. Even if he does come to Miami and has a respectable season, the Dolphins are going to be in the same boat they’ve been in since Marino retired, still in desperate search for a franchise quarterback.
Trading for Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton, or maybe, just maybe signing Vince Young, could put the Dolphins over the top and into the discussion of legitimate contenders for years to come. But let’s be honest, a trade probably isn’t going to happen. The Bengals refuse to trade Palmer and we aren’t even sure if the Broncos are ready to move on from Orton.
Vince Young, on the other hand, could easily be had in free agency. And he still should be the Dolphins’ number one priority at the position assuming they can’t work out a trade. He’s young, has a great starting record, and is coming off of his best statistical season. But maybe the Dolphins are scared off by his attitude. He's a ticking time bomb when things don’t go his way, after all.
So if Jeff Ireland can’t land Palmer or Orton in a trade and is too concerned about VY’s behavior problems to roll the dice, what quarterback makes more sense than Donovan McNabb? The answer is pretty clear to me, and it’s no one.
Marc Bulger has been thrown out there as a possibility. Yes, the guy who didn’t throw a pass in 2010 and hasn’t tossed more touchdown passes than interceptions since 2006.
Maybe it’s time to face the facts. The Dolphins likely aren’t going to find a franchise quarterback this offseason. That’s what the draft is for. And since they didn’t draft a quarterback, settling for a veteran who can put up a fight in an open competition with Chad Henne and can be a fill-in band aid if needed, will have to suffice. McNabb would fit the bill.