McNabb could thrive indoors in Minnesota

July, 28, 2011
7/28/11
10:32
AM ET
With Donovan McNabb headed to the Minnesota Vikings, the hope is that he can bring stability to a position until first-round pick Christian Ponder is ready to take over as the team's starting quarterback of the future.
Donovan McNabb
McNabb

The Vikings used three starters in 2010: Brett Favre (5-8), Joe Webb (1-1) and Tarvaris Jackson (0-1). Inconsistency at quarterback is why Minnesota's 67.7 passer rating in 2010 ranked 30th in the NFL. Only the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers had lower passer ratings than the Vikings.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, few teams in recent history had a larger decline in production from the quarterback position than the Vikings from 2009 to 2010. Minnesota's passer rating went from 107.3 in 2009 to 67.7 last season. That decrease of 39.6 points was the largest for any team since the 1974 Atlanta Falcons, who had a drop of 47.7 points from the previous season.

McNabb saw his completion percentage, passer rating and yards per attempt drop against added pass rush last season, but that might not be as much of an issue in Minnesota. Excluding the Vikings, NFC North defenses rushed 5+ defenders on only 28.0 percent of dropbacks, well below the league average of 33.4 percent.

McNabb's move to Minnesota can't be any worse than last year's lost season in Washington. In fact, McNabb has shown during his career that he's put up better numbers indoors than outdoors. He has a 96.3 passer rating in games played in domes, which ranks fourth among active quarterbacks who have attempted at least 400 passes indoors. What's more, the Vikings play 10 of their 16 games this season indoors: eight at home plus road games against Detroit and Atlanta.

McNabb also will have the luxury of having one of the top running backs in the game to hand the ball to in Adrian Peterson, who has rushed for at least 1,200 yards in each of his first four seasons. Since McNabb became an everyday starter in 2000, he's had a running back rush for at least 1,000 yards only three times: Duce Staley in 2002 and Brian Westbrook in 2006-07.

One more from the Elias Sports Bureau: if McNabb starts Week 1 for Minnesota at San Diego, then it will be the third different team in the last three seasons that he's started for on opening weekend. The only other quarterbacks who have done that since the merger in 1970 are Jim Harbaugh (1997 Colts, 1998 Ravens, 1999 Chargers), Kurt Warner (2003 Rams, 2004 Giants, 2005 Cardinals) and Favre (2007 Packers, 2008 Jets, 2009 Vikings).

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