Virtually unanimous disapproval for the McNabb benching

With so many “analysts” from the bevvy of media outlets covering professional football, you’ll often find various viewpoints and differing opinions about the events which take place every Sunday afternoon in the fall.

Yet, this definitely doesn’t appear to be the case in regards to Mike Shanahan’s decision to bench quarterback Donovan McNabb yesterday in favor of backup Rex Grossman, when the Redskins down by less than 7 points with about two minutes remaining in the game.

Here’s a (large) sampling of what many writers and post-game show analysts had to say about the move:

Via John Clayton’sLast Call

For Mike Shanahan to bench a healthy Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter with the Washington Redskins down by only six was amazing. McNabb has 25 fourth-quarter comebacks in his career and his presence in the fourth quarter has been one of the reasons the Redskins already have won as many games as they did last year. Rex Grossman entered and immediately fumbled, giving the Detroit Lions an easy touchdown in a 37-25 win.

“I thought Grossman gave us the best chance to win,” Shanahan said. If that’s the case, why did the Redskins make the trade for McNabb? According to Shanahan, Grossman is more comfortable with the team’s two-minute offense.

Here’s a selection of quotes from NBC’s “Football Night in America” broadcast, as compiled by Redskins Insider:

Tony Dungy: “If I’m Donovan McNabb, I’m hot. I’m your starting quarterback. As a coach, I can’t take you out of the game when we have a chance to win if I believe in you. This tells me they don’t believe in him.”

Rodney Harrison: “What does it tell you about the coaching staff if they had the entire summer, spring, and two months within the season to prepare yourself? This guy is a veteran quarterback. He’s not a rookie quarterback. Never pull him out, especially for Rex Grossman, are you kidding me?”

Harrison: “It was an awful decision by Mike Shanahan. Donovan McNabb is not a rookie quarterback. He’s a veteran guy. What type of statement are you making to your team saying that I am pulling my best player and sitting him on the bench in the most critical situation of the game.”

Dungy: “What you’re saying is ‘I don’t believe in my quarterback.’ And to me, you cannot do that unless you plan on making a quarterback change.”

Harrison: “Donovan grows bitter at this point. He has two weeks to marinate on this and he’s sitting there saying, ‘This happened to me in the past. That situation didn’t work out. Why would you replace me with Rex Grossman?'”

And some DC-based Analysts, courtesy of Dan Steinberg’s Sports Bog:

Antonio Freeman: “You don’t wait until there’s a minute left in a game and you sub in a guy who’s been sitting cold for 59 minutes and expect him to come in and be effective. I don’t care whether he knows the system or not. Donovan McNabb is the quarterback for this football team and he should have been in the football game late in the game today.”

Trevor Matich: “This makes no sense at all….I don’t get it, and it doesn’t apply to my experience in the NFL. After all this time in the game, McNabb does know what the pass rush is doing. He knows when it’s coming. He’s got a feel for when he needs to move up in the pocket and side to side….The timing with the receivers deep down the field, I think that trumps anything to do with terminology. At that point anyway, you’re in the two-minute drill with chaos happening around you because of the blitzing, you’re not gonna be throwing on-time based on classroom situations. You’re going to be throwing based on your intuition and your talent based on what you’ve accrued over the course of that entire game, and taking him out in favor of an academic benefit to me makes no sense whatsoever. And I really would love to hear a better explanation.”

Brian Mitchell: “Mike Shanahan’s saying that Grossman knew the offense better? Does Mike Shanahan really know this offense? Are they really running the offense that Mike Shanahan ran in Denver, or are they running more of an offense that Kyle ran, because this doesn’t seem like what I saw in Denver. This seems like more of a pass-first, pass-happy offense. You basically made your quarterback look like a scapegoat. You made your quarterback look like he was the guy that caused all the problems today, and that is definitely a problem.”

John Riggins: “I think everybody needs to get realistic at this point in the season and forget about all the marketing that we saw going into the season: R You In and all the bravado, get your club seats, what you do to sell a team with McNabb and the fact that you’re bringing him down here, Bruce Allen crowing early in the season that for our second-round pick we got Donovan McNabb and acting like boy you really got a steal there. Realistically, you have to look at this and start to wonder, boyyy is it just more of the same?…And truly, the one thing that you do know is that Mike Shanahan is in charge. But now you see him going to Grossman and you’ve got two weeks before you play again. This is gonna be interesting.”

And finally, Peter King of Sports Illustrated has this to say in his latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback:

But the move tells me three things:

1. Mike Shanahancan’t be happy withthe work ethic or the performance in the clutch, or both, of McNab

b. To say you’re more comfortable with Rex Grossman than Donovan McNabb with the game on the line is something that should strike McNabb to the core. There’s no way after a full offseason in an offense, particularly withan offense as quarterback-friendly as the one run by Shanahanfather and son, that an experienced quarterback with pelts on the wall wouldn’t know it very well. If he doesn’t, the inference is clear: McNabb hasn’t worked hard enough to master it.

2. Shanahan is simply going by what he’s seeing. I went back and looked at the first eight games of the Redskins’ season. McNabb has had the ball four times inside the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter. Once, against Green Bay, he led Washington on a seven-play, 53-yard drive that ended in a game-tying field goal that forced overtime. On the other three drives, he threw one interception and couldn’t get a first down on two others. Four two-minute drives at the end of games, three points. But that’s not unlike McNabb’s overall production. As of this morning, at the season’s midpoint, he’s the NFL’s 25th-rated quarterback … and he’s also in the lower 20s in fourth-quarter passer rating. Don’t show Washington owner Dan Snyder the quarterback rankings, by the way. McNabb’s three spots behind Jason Campbell.

3. McNabb turns 34 this month. His contract is up at the end of the year. All along, we viewed the long-term deal of McNabbin Washington as a formality, to provide the fitting coronation to the Easter-night trade from the Eagles to the Redskins. Not so fast. Are the Redskins going to want to pay a flawed player — and how else would you look at McNabb after Sunday’s yanking — $15 million a year to be their quarterback for the next four years? And is McNabbgoing to want to play in Washington after getting blindsided with the game on the line in Detroit?

I tend to think McNabbshould be the more worried party after Sunday. Is he really that desirable a quarterback? The Eagles dangled him for two months last spring, and the only team to give a market offer for him was Washington. If the Eagles didn’t want him with three or four prime years left, and if the Redskins no longer want him, what are teams around the league to say? Well, Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan — those are two guys who sure don’t know quarterbacks! I’ll take McNabb! Doubtful. Very doubtful.

Maybe McNabb needs to have a heart-to-heart with Mike Shanahan in this bye week. Maybe he needs to tell him he won’t spend so much time in Phoenix in the offseason; rather, he’ll stay in Washington through the offseason to work daily with Kyle Shanahan on the mechanics and footwork of the position the way the Shanahans want him to play it. If I were McNabb, and I still wanted that one big contract, and I wanted to play with a team that has a chance to be good in the next three or four years, that’s what I’d do.


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