More Thoughts On The McNabb Benching

Steve O Speak

I’ll write some more in depth posts on the overall Shanahan-McNabb-Redskins debacle later this week, but right now I wanted to touch on a few more points:

McNabb’s Former Pro Bowl Status Doesn’t Make Him an ‘Elite Quarterback’:

Even if you look at McNabb’s numbers last season, they were closer to the middle of the pack than the top of the league. And this is despite having Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy at running back, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at receiver and tight end Brent Celek. McNabb had also been in that same offense his entire 11 year career, and had a much better offensive line. Despite all that going for him, he was basically slightly above-average last season. What really made anyone believe (especially Mike Shanahan since it’s his job) that McNabb would come in here and be greater than or equal to his performance last year? The Redskins (sad to say) don’t come close to equaling the Eagles talent level, and he was learning a brand new offense (with a reputation of complacency and not being the hardest worker). Now I’m not really knocking him here, I’m just saying that these expectations that we (and by we I mean Skins fans, since I was never a fan of this move) had for him.

As bad as McNabb’s numbers are, he has played even worse. The Texans game was the only game this season that McNabb looked even really good (I’d shy away from using great, considering how he preformed at the end of the game/overtime). Other than that game, it was maybe one or two halves (for the season) with an extra drive or two sprinkled in that McNabb looked even above average. The Redskins 5 wins, have more to do with their defense/running game than anything in particular that McNabb did.

Why Are We So Afraid of Rex Grossman?: I know that on paper or for his career Rex Grossman can’t hold a candle to Donovan McNabb, but really can Grossman be any worse?? I mean this season we have seen the career of Micheal Vick resurrected coming off the bench, did anyone really see that coming? Not to mention we have seen three unheralded quarterbacks, Jon Kitna, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Colt McCoy (who is a rookie no less) come in and completely turn their teams around (Wade Phillips being fired probably had more to do with the Cowboys turnaround, but Kitna has been impressive nonetheless). At the beginning of the year no one would have considered Fitzpatrick or Kitna that much better than Grossman (though I’m sure they would have been picked ahead of him). All those players come from teams with pretty bad offenses as well.

Kitna has to deal with no offensive line (as well as not being the most mobile of quarterbacks). McCoy is not only learning a new playbook, but an entire new league, while dealing with a weak receiving corps and tight end unit (Peyton Hillis helps). Fitzpatrick might have the worst situation of everyone. He had to learn a new system under coach Chan Gailey, despite having a revolving running back unit (albeit more talented), no tight ends, only solid receivers (at best) and a worst offensive line than the Redskins (no joke Stephon Heyer might be their best offensive lineman). Now McNabb supporters will say that Kitna has good weapons, and McCoy and Fitzpatrick have better running games, but usually those are the same people who believe Ryan Torain is a featured back and Anthony Armstrong is a starting caliber WR. You can’t have it both ways, either those players are below average (which I feel is closer to the truth) or this is no debate about McNabb not having weapons. And really should it matter? Should these three back-up quarterbacks be vastly out preforming our ‘Franchise”, 6-time Pro Bowl Quarterback? Grossman might not be able to replicate these other quarterbacks instant success, but I also don’t think he will (or even can be) worse than McNabb. I’d personally rather pay Grossman $2 million to suck next year than McNabb $13 million.

Don’t Draft A Quarterback In the First Round: I realize the speculation is rampant that the Redskins will draft a quarterback in the first round right now, and that if Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett and Cam Newton all come out (which I think they will) there will be some options (Jake Locker is in the 1st round mix as well). I also realize that Mike Shanahan LOVES big name quarterbacks, but it would be a horrible mistake to take a signal caller in the first frame. The Redskins barring a Rex Grossman miracle will likely be picking in the top 10 next year, and very well could have a shot at either Mallett or Newton (and def. Locker), but it just simply isn’t worth taking a quarterback when you have so many needs to fill. The Redskins could have as many as 10 starting spots to fill, and that assumes Santana Moss, Carlos Rogers and Rocky McIntosh are all back next season. In addition to the new starters, the Redskins have questions at FB, RB, third WR, and a 3rd CB. That is way too many needs to fill in one offseason, and taking a shot on a quarterback isn’t a good use of resources when he will be set up to fail on this team. Not to mention you already used your 2nd round pick last year and 4th round pick this year on the quarterback position, can you really invest your top 10 pick as well? If McNabb couldn’t succeed with a weak team what makes us think a rookie will?

The Redskins need to trade back in the first round and stock pile 2nd, 3rd and 4th round picks (especially since they are without their own 3rd and 4th rounders). If they have some extra picks maybe you take a shot at Jake Locker if he falls to the 2nd round, or a Christian Ponder/Pat Devlin/Nathan Enderle in the 3rd or 4th rounds. No they might not have the upside of Luck/Mallet/Newton, but they could develop into good quarterbacks and you aren’t wasting your premium pick. Young quarterbacks are usually only successful when they have talent around them, and even then it isn’t a guarantee (see Mark Sanchez). If the Redskins play their cards right they can rebuild this roster with a couple smart free agent signings and a large draft class. They might not be contenders next season, but come 2012 they could be poised to be a longterm force in the NFC. Drafting a quarterback won’t do that, but building a complete team will.

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