Keeping Tabs on Washington's Team

Benching the Redskins' Best Bet

Shanahan sits McNabb with 2 minutes left game

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb speak out on the QB's benching. redskins.com; nfl.com (Published Monday, Nov 1, 2010)

    Get ready for article after article about the Redskins implosion in Detroit. From the offensive line struggles to a final two minutes of football to forget, there is no doubt that this loss will dominate the conversation for the next two weeks while the team tries to enjoy its bye week.

    But the biggest question mark hanging over the entire Washington region is Mike Shanahan’s decision to bench starting quarterback Donovan McNabb with two minutes to go and the game on the line.

    “At the end of the game with Donovan, with a minute left and Rex knowing how to run the two-minute offense, I felt with the time and no timeouts, he gave us the best chance to win in that scenario,” Shanahan said during a postgame press conference. “Just knowing the terminology of what we’ve done, how we run it puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback that hasn’t been used to that terminology and I thought that was the best scenario for us to have a chance to win.”

    Allow us to point out just a few issues here that will no doubt lead to some fans scratching their heads. First, Shanahan is saying that Rex Grossman, McNabb’s backup who is also new to the team this year, is better equipped to run a two-minute offense even though he hasn’t taken a snap this year.

    Lindsay Czarniak Recaps Redskins-Lions Game

    [DC] Lindsay Czarniak Recaps Redskins-Lions Game
    Lindsay Czarniak looks back at the Redskins' loss to the Lions. (Published Monday, Nov 1, 2010)

    Some will argue that Grossman already had a year to learn offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense in Houston. But it's still a new team with new teammates who are on their first year of learning Shanahan’s West Coast offense. That doesn’t quite translate to naming your backup quarterback as your go-to guy when the game is on the line.

    But take it even one step further. Say Grossman really does know the two-minute playbook well and has shown in camp and in practice that he is proficient at running it. Why doesn’t McNabb know the two-minute offense? And why doesn’t Shanahan have confidence that his veteran starting quarterback can lead a team to a win when the game is on the line?

    Granted McNabb wasn’t playing a great game up to that point, but he was doing enough to put the Redskins in three lead with three minutes to go. And with a backup quarterback who isn’t exactly known to be fleet-footed, did Shanahan really think that Grossman would perform any better with a porous offensive line that had already allowed six sacks?

    “It had nothing to do with terminology, it looked like we couldn’t protect our quarterback. That’s the bottom line,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall told the Washington Post. “Rex got out there ... I don’t care if he knew the terminology or not. Sack, fumble, touchdown. I don’t care who’s back there; if we can’t protect them then we can’t win. We gotta get better. We gotta stop making mistakes.”

    Even the players recognize the move was an odd one. And Shanahan admits that the loss was a failure for the entire team, not just one player.

    “We played poorly. I think I made that pretty clear," Shanahan said. "Is it a step back? You can talk about that.”

    Don’t worry coach, we will.