Mike Shanahan to Media: You Can’t Handle The Truth About Quarterbacks


I have a deal for Mike Shanahan. I give him a dollar and he gives me a quarter back.

With apologies to John Beck, I just don’t buy it that he will be the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback in December 2011. That man isn’t on the roster yet.

All of us are learning how to read Mike Shanahan’s inscrutable mind. (Shanahan to Redskins media in 2010: “We know how this works. You ask the questions and I don’t answer them.”)

Shanahan gives nothing away. Nor should he. But Beck, a refugee from two NFL teams whose best quality is self-confidence? Really, coach?

Most free agent quarterbacks have age or performance issues that make them less attractive than Donovan McNabb, or John Beck, to lead the Redskins offense. Matt Hasselbeck, Kyle Orton, Carson Palmer or any free agent must go through the same learning curve on the Shanahan offense that McNabb, Beck and Rex Grossman have already done. Signing any of them would be a step back with no purpose.

There is one exception: Vince Young.

I poo-pooed the idea of Young in a Redskins roster when Miami-based sports writer Omar Kelly suggested the thought last May. But Jason Braddock penned a story on thexlog.com that made me think. Here’s are excerpts from Braddock’s story Will Vince young Be Mike Shanahan’s new Jake Plummer?

“Shanahan’s playbook is heavily loaded with bootlegs. The trend of quarterbacks he’s used since Elway have also had the gunslinger mentality. The last guy Shanahan had in Denver was Jay Cutler but before him was a guy they called the Snake.”

Braddock compares Plummer’s performance with the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos under Shanahan. Says Braddock:

“Before Shanahan, Plummer only had one season with more touchdown passes than interceptions. He also never had a season with a 60% completion percentage in Arizona and only one season with less than three fumbles lost. In Denver, Jake passed over 4000 yards in a season and almost average a 60% completion percentage. He also only had one season with more interceptions than touchdowns and that was his last one, when Shanahan had given up on him and wanted to turn the team over to rookie, Jay Cutler.”

Braddock makes the case that Young is the mobile quarterback that Shanahan favors. Young is still pliable in ways that McNabb is not and Young is in dire need for a coach who wants him. One suspects that Beck is more tough-minded than Young. But this idea is plausible because Young is worth a look as a free agent and because it is so hard to wrap our minds around the thought of Beck as a starter.  

Last May, I turned to Andrew Strickert, my Bloguin colleague who covers the Tennessee Titans for his Total Titans site, for a scouting report on Mr. Young. Andrew takes the same thoughtful analysis approach to football that we do here at Redskins Hog Heaven. Here’s what he had to say: 

“Strengths: Vince Young is a winner. In the last five years, the Titans’ record was 30-17 with VY as a starter, compared to 15-17 with Kerry Collins starting. Vince is extremelyVince Young athletic for a QB and is most dangerous when he runs. VY also throws a very nice deep ball. Vince’s passing stats have improved and 2010 was his best passing season statistically.

“Weaknesses: Does not have a strong work ethic or good leadership skills. Does not handle adversity or criticism well. Quits on his team. Has difficulty calling plays, even after five years in the league. Too often will refuse to run, even when he has plenty of room to run for a first down, preferring to risk a pass instead, sometimes forcing the pass. Does not throw screen passes or touch passes well.

“Other: Before leaving the Titans, Jeff Fisher convinced owner Bud Adams, who loved Vince, that it was time to part ways with him. It’s very unusual for Fisher to bench a veteran, yet that’s what he did with Vince several times. One of the biggest criticisms of Fisher by Titans fans was his excessive loyalty to his veteran starters, as he was very slow to replace them with younger, more deserving players. Fisher’s multiple benchings of VY says a lot. Fisher also has a reputation for being a players’ coach, so someone who can’t play for Fish will have an even harder time playing for someone else.

“Outlook: Vince is due an $8.5M base salary and a $4.25M roster bonus for the 2011 season, so it’s extremely doubtful if any team would trade for him and his prohibitive contract. It’s far more likely that he’ll sign on with some team as a free agent. Besides Washington, other potential landing spots for VY include Arizona, Miami and Seattle. Somehow, I just don’t see Vince ending up with the Redskins. Fisher and Mike Shanahan are close friends and if Shanahan asks, you can expect Fisher to give him the lowdown on Vince. Frankly, I doubt if Shanahan will want VY after that.”

Vince Young’s top ten games. http://totaltitans.com/2011-articles/january/vince-youngs-top-ten-titans-games.html

Mike Shanahan hasn’t revealed anything about his real quarterback plans. Vince Young is as credible as John Beck. That’s the truth of it.

Point after: Here’s the link to Jayson Braddock’s full story – http://thexlog.com/201107192232/xtra-point-football/nfl/will-vince-young-be-mike-shanahans-new-jake-plummer/

The Arizona Cardinals were a crappy team when Plummer played for them. The Broncos were playoff-ready when Plummer joined them. His performance in Denver wasn’t his own doing, nor was it solely due to Shanahan. Young cannot single-handedly reverse the fortunes of the Redskins, who are more like the ’90s Cardinals than the ’00s Broncos. Players bring talent to a new team. Past performance does not necessarily follow. (Looking at you, Albert Haynesworth, um, Donovan McNabb, Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd….)

Plummer was so disgusted by his Denver-Shanahan experience that he quit football. 

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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