Are Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb Headed For A Quick Divorce?

When Sunday’s game was on the line with zero timeouts and less than two minutes to go, Mike Shanahan inserted Rex Grossman into the game and benched Donovan McNabb because initially he felt Grossman had a better grasp of their 2-minute offense.  Then one day later, Shanahan changed his mind and stated the reason McNabb was benched was because his cardiovascular endurance wasn’t good enough to run the 2-minute offense and that Grossman gave them a better chance to win the game.  What is even more shocking is that he actually thought that a cold Grossman coming into the game and taking a snap behind a horrible offensive line was better than McNabb doing the same. Even Joe Montana wouldn’t be effective coming into a game having sat on the bench for fifty-nine minutes!

Even though McNabb wasn’t on his A-game, he still gives the Redskins the best chance to win the game because McNabb makes big plays when it matters.  There is a reason he has fifteen fourth quarter come-from-behind victories.  He is evasive, has mobility, and seems to persevere quite a bit. (Editor’s note:  I’m an Eagles fan and McNabb’s inability to run the two minute drill has been going on for years.) Not to mention that the organization went through all this trouble to get McNabb.  Shanahan got what was coming to him and now he has severed another relationship with one of his star players.  It’s amazing to think that a coach so obsessed with attention to detail could make such a cursory glance at the situation and wet the bed on this one. Mike Shanahan joined ESPN 980 in DC to talk about whether the decision to bring Rex Grossman into the game was based upon Donovan’s health or Rex having a better grasp of the 2-minute offense, how strenuous of a drill the 2-minute offense is run during practice that he can’t run it without the fear of getting McNabb hurt, and whether he should take some of the blame for Donovan McNabb not being as familiar with the offense as he should be.

What he said during his weekly Monday press conference:

“Well what I said at my press conference today is that I talked to Donovan earlier in the week on Tuesday.  He had strained a hamstring, obviously in the last game, and I had  talked to Donovan to make sure that he felt good enough to play in the next game against Detroit because I knew his right hamstring was bothering him the last few weeks, 3-4 weeks…but to pull a left hamstring Larry has felt that there was a question of whether he would be able to play so I called Donovan and I said, ‘If you can’t go I would rather not have you this week and be ready for the rest of the season than go out there to take a chance to pull a hamstring, pull a quad or something along those lines.  He felt good enough to go so we went with that.”

Whether the decision to bring Rex Grossman into the game was based more on Donovan’s health or Rex having a better grasp of the 2-minute offense:

“First of all I made a decision before the game that we were going to go in that direction if the situation warranted, where we had to go the distance with no timeouts.  One thing that you have to do in the 2-minute, you have to be able to move, you have to be able to run.  Not only does your cardiovascular endurance have to be there but you have two plays that you have to call in the huddle, you have to move up to the line very quickly to execute the 2-minute offense and I really didn’t feel Donovan, relative to not being able to get any cardiovascular endurance and run the 2-minute offense the last 4 or 5 weeks, that I would put him into a situation that would just injure him.  Since Rex worked the 2-minute offense, which was a no-huddle and then he ran as a scout team against Indy for the whole week, he did an excellent job and playing as Peyton Manning, and that role, he is very used to the terminology being with Kyle in Houston system for over a year and so with that background I decided to not take a chance to re-injure Donovan and I thought Rex would give us an excellent chance to win in that scenario.”

How strenuous of a drill the 2-minute offense is run during practice that he can’t run it without the fear of getting McNabb hurt:

“Well not that much in practice as it is during the game but in the 2-minute, if you are actually running the 2-minute and you have no timeouts, like the scenario we were in and you have got to score a touchdown, it is not only calling the plays but it is hustling to the line, it’ keeping your composure while you are trying to go over your reads and snap counts especially your silent snap count when you are on the road, but there are many things involved.  You just don’t run that especially on the road without being in good shape and not having run it in the last 5 weeks.”

Whether having a flash card exercise with Donovan McNabb would help in his progression within the 2-minute offense:

“Well first of all it all depends on what your scenario is, if it’s first, second, third down, fourth down, I just felt like with Rex running that system throughout the whole week, acting as Peyton Manning and having run it for over a year, that was the best scenario to give us a chance to win.  With his hamstring, which I think I just went over, I didn’t want to take a chance in putting him into a situation where he wouldn’t be with us for the second half of the season.”

Whether he should take some of the blame for Donovan McNabb not being as familiar with the offense as he should be:

“Yeah you are very familiar but like all quarterbacks in their first year, there is a growing curve.  It is like learning a new language.  Sometimes you will revert back to what you have done in the past and it’s not always automatic, but he has done a great job working at it.  He gets better each week and hopefully he will show results in the second half of the season.”

Whether Rex Grossman is better at the 2-minute offense than Donovan McNabb:

“I am not sure if he is better at the 2-minute.  What I said is that, Rex is in shape.  He works out every day and he has been running every day, he has been healthy.  He ran the 2-minute attack which Indy runs.  They ran a no-huddle offense, he played as Peyton Manning the whole week before and he did a great job executing that 2-minute attack against our defense, and knowing the terminology inside and out being a part of the system for a couple of years, knowing Donovan’s situation and I thought it gave us the best chance to win so that is why I went in that direction.”

So McNabb will be our quarterback for the next couple of years.

“I sure hope so. (Hope?) Yeah, we have a contract to work out .  He’s got a one year contract and obviously Bruce is taking to his agent.  Obviously there are a lot of negotiations that go into, but hopefully we can get something done.”

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