Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Is McNair Hall of Fame worthy?

This is probably as good a question for last year as it is now, but his death obviously will get people talking about it. So let's discuss here.

McNair was a consistenly very good QB, and one of the toughest to play the game at least in the past 20 years. Steve Young was about as tough, I think; but I can't particularly think of any that might qualify as being tougher than McNair was. Constantly injured, the guy pushed through and played great football, up until his final season, with one "hiccup" year in 2004.

But was he really a Hall of Fame QB? In the 11 seasons after being named the primary starter for his teams, he averaged around 2,700 yards passing, 15 TDs, and 10 INTs. He threw for under 7 YPA, his QB rating was under 83 and he had three seasons of double digit fumbles while amassing 99 in total. He never threw for more than 24 TDs in a single season. He only had an 85+ QB rating in two of his 11 seasons after being named the starter. And he never topped 230 avg yards per game.

Let's look in comparison to another very good QB, who's been a starter for 8 seasons:
Avg 2,900 yards, 18 TDs, 12 INTs, 7 YPA, less than 40 total fumbles, avg QB rating of 84.5. Max TDs thrown of 28, four starting seasons with a > 85 QB rating, and three seasons with over 240 avg YPG.
Is Matt Hasselbeck a Hall of Fame QB? I'd argue clearly not.

But there are more arguments than just the passing numbers that indicate McNair could be more worthy than Hasselbeck. For one, he seemed to me to be the prototype for the rushing QB (save maybe Steve Young). He was great at it, but he didn't do it so often that it hurt him in the passing game. Over 3,500 rushing yards and 37 rushing TDs, it actually lifts his per game avg to almost 220 yards and a bit over 18 TDs. For six straight years he rushed for over 300 yards, and in five of those he rushed for over 400.

He was named to 3 Pro Bowls, and won a league MVP in one year. He never came really close to repeating his 2003 production, but that season truly was a great one for him. He amassed a 91-62 record (.595 winning percentage), and was one yard from winning a Superbowl.

Then again, his post-season numbers weren't all that great. Rushing he was solid as usual. But he had nearly a 2:1 INT:TD ratio, completed under 60% of his throws, and had a QB rating under 70.

Add it all up and I think McNair belongs in the Hall of Very Good. But I don't think he's Hall of Fame worthy.

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