As a diehard Redskins fan, I had to give my two pennies on this here big pile of doo-doo that we’re facing.
Yesterday, while trailing 31-25 with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter, the Redskins began what they hoped was a touchdown drive from their own 30 yard line to win the game. As the offense lined up, I noticed a number 8 jersey standing on the field behind the center. “Wait, that’s where the quarterback usually stands. And Donovan McNabb, the starting quarterback, is number 5, not 8. So who is….oh God. NOOOOOO!!” But it was too late. It took about 3 seconds after the ball was snapped for my all my fears to come true. Pressure. Fumble. Touchdown. Lions. Game. Not the kind of touchdown drive I was hoping for.
Twitter was overrun with cries of outrage. Facebook news feeds drenched with profanity and insults. The Redskins message board nearly imploded on itself. The rivers ran red with blood.
It was an awful decision by a two-time Super Bowl Champion coach. Taking your franchise quarterback out of the game with less than two minutes to go when the game is still in reach in favor of your backup quarterback who hasn’t played a down all season. Not to mention the fact that you’re going to be putting him behind an offensive line that couldn’t block Lindsay Lohan if they tried. Not to mention the fact that your backup quarterback is Rex Grossman. It’s pretty impossible to support this decision no matter how you look at it.
I knew the media was gonna make a huge deal out of this and they have every right to. But there isn’t a quarterback controversy. Mike Shanahan hasn’t lost the team. The DC sports media lives for something negative to say. And to be honest, the Redskins make that EXTREMELY easy. But come on! I think the biggest mistake that people can make is to think that this one decision nullifies Shanahan’s abilities as a coach. Today, Shanahan spoke about the fact that McNabb was not at 100% before the game. Injuries that were sustained in weeks past, including sore hamstrings and a shin contusion, weren’t completely healed. Add in the fact that the offensive line came dressed as turnstiles while McNabb got sacked 6 times, including a couple of times when Casey Rabach tripped McNabb himself (#jesusbeanoffensiveline). So Shanahan felt Rex Grossman, being 100% healthy & not hobbling around, gave us a better shot. It smells like BS, I know. And yes, it was STILL a dumb decision on his part & one that I wouldn’t have made, but how much of that is hindsight? If Rex Grossman had somehow gotten a drive together and won the game, we’d be talking about Shanahan the Genius. He took a risk & it didn’t pay off. It happens.
McNabb had been wildly inaccurate before that & was getting beat up pretty bad. To be honest, I didn’t have any confidence in him getting something together with the offense at that point. Granted, I don’t believe McNabb gives you a worse chance to win ANY game than Rex Grossman, but it’s not my team. Shanahan is the coach. The only problem I really have with the whole thing is Shanahan not admitting that it was a mistake to take McNabb out. At the same time, I respect him for sticking to his guns and not backing down from the decision he made. He supports it and won’t second-guess himself. As a coach, you make a decision and have the confidence that it’s the right one. The funny thing is, if McNabb had stayed in and gone 3-and-out (like he had been doing all game long), or worse, fumbled or thrown a pick (like he did earlier), then I can almost guarantee people would’ve been calling for Grossman to see what he could’ve done sighting McNabb’s inability to do anything for most of the game (and the game against Chicago). That’s the world we live in. Hindsight coaches.
The real question isn’t why Shanahan benched McNabb, cause what’s done is done, but how they’ll get past it. How will the team react to this through the rest of the season? That will be the real test. How does Shanahan get his team motivated and hungry after a devastating loss like that? After benching his franchise quarterback? After all the vitriol and pessimism is released into the air, how will this team react? If we keep winning games, keep fighting, keep improving, and McNabb (for some reason) signs an extension, no one will even remember this happened. The DC sports media will go back to speculating about Albert Haynesworth giving Mike Shanahan the finger when he’s not looking or something. But if we keep losing, and losing ugly, may God be with Mike Shanahan.