Defending Shanahan. The Case for Grossman Over McNabb

OK, I’ve had the night to sleep on the Shanahan’s decision to pull Donovan McNabb in the last two minutes of the Lions game and can think of only two reasons why such an event would occur.

Either, Shanahan got a huge secret payoff from ESPN to hype the Monday Night Football Eagles-Redskins game on November 15.

Or, in the heat of battle, the Shanahans lost their nerve and had a gigantic brain fart.

Although this is Washington, I’m no conspiracy theorist. Shanahan is too above-board and professional to cut secret deals, but the guys at ESPN must be in ecstasy over the hype potential Shanahan created; you know, that whole Vick vs. McNabb Vs. Shanahan thing. What an audience tease!

T.O. is not involved in this thing. Get your popcorn ready anyway. It promises to be quite a show.

Shanahan did great damage to his assertion that he is trying to win now. He is being crushed everywhere, deservedly so, for pulling McNabb in that circumstance.

I’m going to defend the move, not the timing, but the move itself. Well, somebody has to.

The Jason Campbell example

Donovan McNabb’s stat line after eight games is…not very impressive. He has completed 57.4 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. His QB rating is 76.0. He is the 25th-ranked quarterback of 2010.

For comparison, Jason Campbell (Oakland) is the 21st-ranked quarterback who has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and four interceptions. His QB rating is 82.5.

Campbell was benched in the second game of the season and sat out the next two games. Yesterday, Campbell led the Raiders to a 33-3 beatdown of the Seattle Seahawks with a 2-touchdown, 310 yard performance for a 120.9 QB rating.

Campbell is struggling in Oakland for the same reasons that McNabb is here. He is playing in a new offense for a new coach behind a suspect line and questionable receivers.

It didn’t hurt Campbell to be benched. It helped that the Raiders made the switch to Bruce Gradkowski at half time of the St. Louis Rams game. That allowed time for Gradkowski to get in the flow of the game and have an impact.

Even with Jason’s recent heroics, the Raiders are week-to-week on his starting status.

McNabb can be replaced by anyone, given his performance to date.

The Todd Collins example

Todd Collins followed offensive coordinator to Al Saunders to Washington in 2006 hoping for a shot starting quarterback. The Redskins justified Collins’ roster spot on his familiarity with Saunders’ playbook, the very reason Grossman is here.

Joe Gibbs never gave Collins a shot at winning the starting job. He preferred Mark Brunell, the first player he signed when he returned to Washington.

Our first good look at the Saunders offense came when Collins stepped in for Campbell in the four game playoff run to close out the 2007 season. Collins performance (63.8 completion percent, five touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 106.4 QB rating) under tragic circumstances led many to over-estimate his talent.

With Saunders gone the next season, Collins’ performance reverted to his norm for a 71.6 QB rating.

One of my few criticisms of Gibbs II is his blunder of not valuing Collins’ familiarity with Saunders offense enough to see the potential to win games.

Mike Shanahan seems not to have considered Grossman’s familiarity with Kyle Shanahan’s playbook to give Grossman a serious shot at starting. Gibbs stuck with Brunell, and then started young Jason Campbell when the 2006 season spiraled to disaster.

Should Gibbs in ’06 have picked Collins for his play book knowledge over Campbell’s athleticism? Isn’t that where the Shanahans are now?

Make the call, coach

It’s not my intent to call for Grossman over McNabb. (I don’t.) The intent is to challenge conventional thinking. Maybe a quarterback change is warranted.

The Redskins are at the bye. If it makes sense to insert in a game-time panic Grossman for his knowledge of Kyle Shanahan’s playbook, it makes more sense to do it now, at the bye.

Shanahan would do better to make an executive decision now and have everybody prepared for the change, than to pull a stunt like yesterday’s at Ford Field. That was just silly.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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