December 18, 2010

The McNabb Files: Dead Man Walking

The 2010 season hasn't been a kind one for the Redskins. It got much, much worse with the news breaking yesterday that Mike Shanahan would be benching quarterback Donovan McNabb for the rest of the season to evaluate the talent behind him for next season.

Needless to say, the move has further soured fans on Shanahan and his dealings with what might be the most credible signalcaller the Redskins have had in years. Albert Haynesworth is one thing. I wasn't a fan of Shanahan stirring up the pot, constantly making his battle with the mercurial Haynesworth the lead story out of Redskins Park, but his treatment of McNabb is what has really turned me off to his egotistical demeanor.

McNabb oozes class. Now that isn't a reason to keep him as your starting quarterback, but let's be clear: The Redskins have no better option under center in 2011. McNabb has the track record, the talent, and the leadership abilities no other available quarterback possesses and is in the very least the most capable player to bridge the gap between now and the future (which is whenever the Redskins draft their next QB).

What other quarterback would you want to mentor a rookie quarterback? McNabb has talent and experience, he's overcome adversity, and is still a top 10 QB when he's given a decent supporting cast. However, Shanahan has insisted upon doing everything possible to alienate the best QB on his roster in favor of Rex Grossman and John Beck.

Mike, not everyone is John Elway and Beck and Grossman are far from your next savior. So do yourself a favor and stick with McNabb instead of feeding your quarterback obsession.

The Redskins are in no position to contend for anything next season. They have gaping holes all over their roster, and yet Shanahan seems to believe there's some sort of quick fix. He doesn't want to acknowledge the defense can't stop the run or tackle while the offensive playcalling has under-utilized the little talent it has. Instead, he has placed the blame for a disappointing 5-8 season squarely upon the shoulders of McNabb.

McNabb hasn't been good this year. He threw at least one interception in 10 straight games until last week against Tampa Bay and has struggled with his accuracy. He wasn't the quarterback Washington was hoping for when they gave up a pair of draft picks to the Eagles in exchange for his services this past offseason. Despite the shortcomings, McNabb was coming off perhaps his best game where he threw what should have been the game-tying touchdown but for a botched point after that led to a one point loss.

The embattled quarterback has every right to feel ill-used and his agent has said he isn't happy. The odds of McNabb coming back at this point are damn near close to non-existent and you have to wonder how much longer the locker room will remain in Shanahan's corner.

Assuming the Redskins part ways with McNabb, it would mean they admit they didn't acquire the right QB and gave up two draft picks for a disappointing rental player. If you remember we had a guy who could have filled that role last year in Jason Campbell, but the Shanahans didn't want him, they wanted McNabb.

Which leads me to wonder, what on earth is the goal of this coaching staff? They must have fooled themselves into thinking McNabb would be a quick fix to years of offensive ineptitude. That hasn't worked, but why give up on him when there isn't another viable option? What's the mentality behind the insanity of benching McNabb for a proven non-asset in Grossman?

At some point, I believe the Redskins will draft a quarterback in the first round. Both Shanahans certainly crave a quarterback who fits their prototype and apparently they don't have the patience to stick with McNabb whom they feel can't do what they want him to do. That is the only way to explain their determined effort to move on so quickly.

However, I don't comprehend the treatment of this issue. McNabb is the best choice to keep the starting job warm for the next legitimate successor, but the team is settling for Grossman while using McNabb as the fall guy for a season gone wrong. If they don't want McNabb, then why don't they just say so rather than put him through this humiliation. I don't believe for one second anyone buys the "we want to evaluate the talent behind Donovan" route. If that was all the 'Skins were doing here, then I don't think McNabb would be as upset about this. Ultimately, he's a dead man walking.

The 'Skins have all but burned their bridge with McNabb, and now the question is what happens when the Grosssman/Beck experiment goes wrong? Alex Smith? Matt Moore? Tavaris Jackson will be available. None of those guys represent an upgrade over McNabb.

Again I expect you will see the Redskins make a play for a first-round quarterback in the draft this year, which is fine. The selection of a QB in the draft is an indication that the future isn't now. The youngster will develop under the Shanahans tutelage and likely become the quarterback Mike has sought since Elway retired. Unfortunately, a year and two draft picks have been wasted in a futile effort that might not never have happened if the Shanahans simply avoided a quarterback whose talents they've questioned since day one.

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