Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A New Level Of Discontent Part I: Shanahan vs McNabb

Head Coach Mike Shanahan has been with the Redskins for nearly a year, and he already has two major confrontations with two of the biggest players on the roster. During training camp, it was Albert Haynesworth because he skipped the optional and mandatory offseason workouts. Today, its quarterback Donovan McNabb because of his below average play at quarterback, and he's in the epicenter of the Redskins offensive woes.

With under 2:00 to go in the 4th quarter, and the Redskins trailing 30-25, Coach Shanahan decides to put his backup quarterback Rex Grossman into the game because he was frustrated with McNabb interception on the previous drive and his concerns about McNabb's hamstring injury. On the very first play, Grossman was sacked, fumbled the football, and the Lions recovered it for a touchdown and sealed their second victory of the season.

Like other Redskins fans, I nearly lost my mind when Grossman was on the field in that situation. I did thought that McNabb suffered an injury after he throw the interception. But it turned out to be a coaches decision by Shanahan because he was frustarted with McNabb on the last interception and he went with his gut feeling. The day after the loss, Shanahan gives a different reason.

"When you deal with a two-minute offense and you don't have any timeouts, and you haven't done it in five weeks, and you're calling sometimes two plays [simultaneously] - you've got to hustle to the line of scrimmage, and you're calling plays that you haven't called in the two-minute attack - and you're actually working on cardiovascular endurance at the same time [you're] working on the clock, it's really hard to do that when you haven't practiced it and you haven't really put yourself in any strenuous activities because of your hamstrings. So I thought it would be in our best interest to go in a different direction."

If Shanahan just said that he had an issue with McNabb's inaccuracy in pass attempts and his below average performance at quarterback,  then that's fine. Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid had the same problem with McNabb and the media wouldn't blow this story out of proportion as it is now. The media will then put most of the blame on McNabb. 

But Shanahan reasoning to bench McNabb was so stupid, the media give some sympathy to McNabb. Shanahan actually thought that McNabb wasn't conditionally fit to run a two minute offense?? That has to be the biggest lie I've ever heard from a NFL head coach. McNabb led the team in rushing with 45 yards. If he was healthy enough to play for 58 minutes, why not play him for two more minutes?

Another factor is that McNabb isn't the main problem of the Redskins offense in general. He hasn't had any good protection from the offensive line all season.McNabb is the second most-sacked quarterback in the league and with the poor protection, he's probably a huge hit away from being knocked out the rest of the season. Despite drafting tackle Trent Williams in the 1st round, the Redskins are still struggling in run and pass protection. It is hard to overhaul an offensive line in one offseason, and the Redskins are probably a couple of drafts away from having a solid offensive line.

I understand why Shanahan is frustrated with McNabb poor play this season. The statistics proves his point. But to questioned McNabb's intelligence is ridiculous. McNabb has been in the league for 11 seasons, has been to 5 NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearances. That alone speaks for itself.  However, McNabb has history of struggling with the two minute offense. Those struggles were evident in his four losses in the NFC title game and in Super Bowl XXXIX.

However, as bad as McNabb was last week, he still give the Redskins the best chance to win.Did Shanahan really thought that a rested and rusty Rex Grossman gives the Redskins a better chance to win in a two minute situation then McNabb?? The players on the roster believe that this is McNabb's team and they believe him every step of the way. The Redskins hasn't had that type of leader in the locker room in a long time. 

So what will happen during the second half of the season?? Shanahan said that McNabb is still the starter despite the benching, but does anyone believes what Shanahan said?? Shanahan has a long history of switching his starting quarterbacks in his NFL coaching career, and some of those moves backfired. So expect the unexpected if McNabb continues his below average performance.  More importantly, expect  McNabb to leave D.C. after this season when his contract expires unless they make a huge playoff run.

Coming up tomorrow, Part II will focus on the culture change in the organization.

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