More Football train wrecks

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: December 20, 2010

IOWA CITY (BASN) — I grew up a D.C. professional football fan and watching the Daniel Snyder era has been like watching a series of car wrecks year in and year out.

This year was no difference.

Through the first seven games, Washington was 4-3 with some nice victories and it looked like the Shanahan era was beginning to turn things around. Now they are 5-9 and looking forward next year.

But like past D.C. teams in the Snyder’s era, they have only a few draft picks to build for the future. I have admired Donovan McNabb for years and glad that he joined the Redskins but McNabb at 34 was on the downside of his career.

McNabb being benched was hardly a bad decision for the Redskins, who was out of the playoffs and unsure what next year will bring, so it made sense to find out what they had in Rex Grossman.

However, Shanahan handled the McNabb decision with a lack of professionalism. Benching in the Detroit game was a PR disaster and the recent demotion was more surreal than reasonable.

Having McNabb play with the first team most of the week and then saying, McNabb, “You are not my starter,” was not only unfair to McNabb but to Rex Grossman who found himself starting even though he had not practice with the first team.

A case can be made for McNabb benching but the case was never truly made. When he was benched in Detroit earlier, Shanahan should have simply said, McNabb was playing badly and he wanted to give Grossman a shot.

One could have disagreed with that but when Shanahan stated that McNabb did not know the playbook or didn’t have the conditioning was not only false but stupid. The truth should have the first option.

Truth would not have been less painful for a Superstar like McNabb but it would have been better for the team if Shanahan simply stated the truth, McNabb was not playing well.

Shanahan may turn the Skins around but for the moment, his defensive scheme has not worked well and his offense didn’t finally come together until the Skins played the Cowboys when they scored 30 points. (But then defense gave up 33 points to lose the game.)

A defense, ranked in the top ten last year, is now close to the bottom nor did it help the defense that Shanahan battled with Albert Haynesworth. McNabb have always been one of the class acts of the NFL and next year, he will be playing elsewhere where he might recapture his former glory.


Speaking of bad decisions, the Vikings placed their fate in the arm of a 41-year-old quarterback. Interesting enough, the Vikings had a chance to draft a young quarterback at the end of the first round and even in the second round as both Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy were still available.

While at the beginning of the season, the Vikings bringing back Farve made sense since he nearly took the team to the Super Bowl, it became obvious that he was an old quarterback as the season progressed.

When he cracked his ankle early in the season, the Vikings did not think twice about playing him instead of Tarvaris Jackson, the young second string quarterback and the starter before Farve joined the Vikings.

The reality is that the Vikings did not believe in Jackson or they would not have hesitated to play him when Farve was injured.(It didn’t help that Farve had his famous streak going and Brad Childress was not ready to end it for the good of the team.)

It should be added that Farve was not playing very well and his stats were some of his worst. Like McNabb this year, the Farve magic was gone and the Vikings imploded as the season wore on and the Vikings are now on their second head coach.

The franchise is in trouble with a team designed to win this year.

In the end, two franchises gambled on older experience quarterbacks and lost those gambles. In the case of the Vikings, the gamble cost a coach his job but Redskins. Shanahan still have his shot to put his imprint on the Skins since the franchise is not in position hire yet another coach.