BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) Former Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb wonders whether Washington coach Mike Shanahan will be able to get the most out of Robert Griffin III if, as expected, the team drafts the Heisman Trophy winner.
During an appearance Thursday on ESPN2's "First Take," McNabb was asked whether Shanahan is a good fit for the Baylor quarterback known as RG3.
"No," McNabb replied. "I say that because a lot of times ego gets too involved when it comes to being in Washington."
He played for Shanahan in Washington in 2010, when the Redskins went 6-10, the QB was benched twice, and there were testy exchanges involving McNabb's agent and the team.
"I was misused. Absolutely," McNabb said.
He said that Eagles coach Andy Reid adapted his offense to McNabb when he was drafted, but thinks Shanahan - and his son, Kyle, Washington's offensive coordinator - might not do that for Griffin.
"Are you going to cater the offense around his talent and what he's able to do? Or are you going to bring the Houston offense?" McNabb asked, a reference to the younger Shanahan's work with the Texans.
He also suggested Mike Shanahan could get fired if things don't go well next season. The head coach is 11-21 so far with the Redskins. The team pulled off a blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up to the No. 2 overall pick in next month's draft and is expected to get Griffin.
"If this doesn't work this year - we don't see the splash, like a Cam Newton splash - this could be it," McNabb said.
McNabb said other quarterbacks haven't been successful under Shanahan, including Rex Grossman and John Beck with the Redskins, and Brian Griese with the Broncos.
After the Redskins traded McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings, he went 1-5 as a starter last season before being waived. He played 11 seasons with the Eagles, taking them to one Super Bowl.
Donovan McNabb took shots at the Shanahans on ESPN this morning. His primary criticism was that the Shanahans aren't flexible enough to fit their "system" to the specific talent they have. That specific criticism, echoed by fans and radio hosts over the last two years, is a load of crap.
Do they have a "system"? Yes. And by the way, so does every other team in the NFL. Everyone has a system. Any offensive system is simply put, a philosophy with plays designed to fit that philosophy. The Redskins offensive philosophy under Mike and Kyle Shanahan is a balanced attack that features a strong running game and an ability to play-action bootleg and play-action throw-deep off the success of the running game. The plays designed by the Shanahans fit that philosophy.
The truth is, the Shanahan system was a perfect fit for McNabb. Run the ball, get him out on the edge off play-action....should have been perfect for his skill set. But in the Shanahan system that season, it became pretty clear early on that the o-line was subpar and running the ball consistently and hence pass protection was a problem. So what did the Shanahan's do? They tweeked their system. They started to throw more screens to slow down the pass rush. Donovan threw off shorter drops. In short, they adapted to the situation. Did it produce winning? No, but that was more a result of talent deficiency.
The notion that the Shanahans are incapable or even worse, unwilling to adapt to different types of talent is without basis in my view. As an aside, their system should be a perfect fit for the skills of RG3.
Team Shanahan will never admit it but Rex Grossman has been their guy all along. Why? They trust him.
Initially, they simply trusted that he could mentor Donovan McNabb in the ways of Kyle and Mike while simultaneously providing insurance in the event McNabb didn’t make it through 16 games. Eventually, they came to trust his ability to run their system the way they wanted it run.
Their trust in Rex began last summer. It was clear that McNabb didn’t want to be mentored in anything new. He liked his way. Rex liked theirs. Every time McNabb balked at the Shanahan system, Grossman was there to believe in it.
Two moments in particular cemented Team Shanahan’s trust in Rex. The first came during last year's training camp. According to at least one person in the know, Kyle was already beginning to sour on McNabb’s resistance-to-change approach early in camp. It didn’t help that McNabb got hurt early in the preseason and missed time. It was during that time specifically that Kyle began to view Rex as more than just a mentor and backup. He was easy to coach. The offense was humming in practice. With McNabb, it was like Shanahan Offense 101, real beginner stuff. Rex’s one year in the system and his willingness to be taught allowed for more advanced course work. Obviously, a healthy McNabb was going to start. But in the back of Kyle’s mind were the first thoughts that they might be better with Rex.
Moment two came in Rex's first start in Dallas in mid-December. After a rough start, Rex led an offensive explosion in the 2nd half rallying the Skins from a 20-point deficit into a 4th quarter tie. The offense moved up and down the field with Rex throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. This was the offense Mike and Kyle envisioned. They lit up watching it even though they lost the game. They became convinced on that day that if they could improve around Rex, they could win with Rex.
I'm convinced that this was Rex's job at the end of last year and it was his job coming into this year. I don't doubt that the Shanahans like John Beck. But they trust Rex Grossman. His loyalty, experience, and one half of spectacular play in Dallas made it his job to lose when the season ended last year.
One other thought. I think it's entirely possible that if not for Mike Shanahan's bungled press conference following the Detroit game last year that Grossman would have become the starter after that game. Remember the awful interception McNabb threw with 5 minutes left in Detroit? It led to a the go-ahead Lions' touchdown and it incensed the Shanahans. We all know that Rex came in two drives later to lead an ill-fated two minute offensive possession. But I believe that it's entirely possible that McNabb's pick at the end of the Detroit game coupled with his awful performance the week before in Chicago meant that Kyle was on the verge of getting what he wanted—a quarterback change during the bye week. He and his father had seen enough. McNabb just wasn't getting it and on top of that, he wasn't right physically. But Mike's clumsy handling of the McNabb end-of-game benching blew it. His postgame comments about terminology and conditioning were just too harsh. McNabb not only remained the starter, he got a contract extension. No doubt the Shanahans wish they never put Rex into that game. Nobody would have objected to a bye week quarterback change with a McNabb injury as the explanation.
A few quick thoughts on today's frenzy of transactions.
1. Haynesworth-- Simply put, the worst free agent signing in NFL history. Nothing is even close. I'm glad he's gone but even more glad that the Redskins got something for him. Scoff all you want at a 5th round pick but there are plenty of 5th round picks producing at high levels in the NFL. I don't care if he succeeds in New England. He was never going to succeed here. Bottom line, he never wanted to play. He got paid and refused to work for it. One more thing. To all of you that think the Haynesworth saga should have ended earlier I say this---easy for you to say...you weren't forced contractually to write him a $21 million check in April of 2010. Remember, the 4th rounder that was reportedly offered by Tennessee was contingent on Albert being paid the $21 million by the Redskins. Once they paid the money, they felt like they had to try and make it work. It didn't.
2. McNabb-- A class guy but a bad idea from the very beginning. Andy Reid snookered the Skins. The red flags were all over this deal from the beginning. I remember doing an ESPN interview the night of the trade and saying "why would Reid trade McNabb within in the division unless he thinks he's got nothing left?" We have a definitive answer on that now. Reid never feared losing him, even to a division rival. I'm glad the Skins got something back for him even if it was just 2 6th rounders. Something vs. nothing is always better when it comes to draft picks.
1. DE Stephen Bowen-- A natural defensive end in a 3-4. Young and entering his prime. He fills a major need at right defensive end. He proved himself to be a legit NFL starter when he replaced an injured Spears in Dallas. The Cowboys wanted him back. The Skins were in better cap-position and hence offered more money. The price was hefty. It was much less than Vinny would have offered but a healthy penny was paid for a guy the Skins believe is just entering his prime at 27 years old.
2. OL Chris Chester-- Another major need filled with a often-starter for the Ravens. He's versatile, young, and another guy the Skins are hoping is just entering his most productive years. He'll likely play right guard for the Skins, the spot where he started the majority of his games in Baltimore. He moves well and is a good fit for Shanahan's zone blocking scheme.
3. P Sav Rocca-- I'm surprised that they went Rocca instead of Brad Maynard. Haven't seen the money on this deal but I hope it wasn't much. He was 8th in the league last year net avg. He's huge at 6-5, 260+. Maybe they've got plans to play him on the o-line.
1. Casey Rabach-- A solid leader and citizen for years but he really struggled at times over the last two in particular handling bigger, faster D-tackles and nose tackles. Not a surprise.
2. Phillip Daniels-- When the Redskins made their runs in 2005 and 2007, Daniels played great. Knocked down passes, tough run-stopping ability, and great on short yardage. The Skins are going young. Daniels will be missed.
The overall strategy of adding multiple players who are young and fill needs at critical non-skill positions is a refreshing change from the past. The players they "didn't sign" may be as much an indicator of their new philosophy as the players they did sign. Santonio Holmes was too expensive. Cullen Jenkins the same. In years past, they would have signed both and had little left to spread around to other need-areas of the team.
Shanahan and Allen did a great job last year positioning the organization for this year's truly unique free agency opportunity. This isn't "same old, same old". An unprecedented number of free agents are available, many of whom are entering the primes of their careers. It's a true buyers market and the Skins have needs. If not for the exceptional work done last year by the team to clear cap space, they wouldn't have been able to take advantage. Obviously, time will tell if they picked the right players. But the strategy of steering clear of 1 to 2 overpaid skill-position guys in favor of multiple players who are younger and fill needs along the o-line and d-line makes good sense.
Thursday July 28, 2011 is a day the Redskins changed forever. However, is it a day that will live in infamy or is it another huge step in a new Redskins tradition?
The jury obviously will be out on that question for a while, but the moves have come fast and furious -- at a dizzying pace.
Albert Haynesworth; gone. Donovan McNabb; gone. Casey Rabach; Thanks but goodbye. Phillip Daniels; Thanks for the memories. Ma'ake Kemoeatu; we hardly knew you.
Chad Simpson, Andre Brown, Sam Paulescu. See ya, Adios, thanks but no thanks.
It's the cruel world of the NFL, but sometimes painful decisions have to be made. Likely joining the list any day now is Carlos Rogers, Rocky McIntosh and perhaps Jammal Brown, HB Blades, and others.
In turn, the Redskins have agreed to terms with DL Stephen Bowen, OL- Chris Chester, Barry Cofield (Wednesday), CB Josh Wilson (Wednesday) over the last 24 hours; while inking most of their 2011 draft class.
First-round pick Ryan Kerrigan is not signed yet, but has been at the facility the last two days -- and has told ESPN 980 it will happen shortly. 2nd round pick, Jarvis Jenkins is not signed, nor is 7th round pick -- Maurice Hurt from Florida.
As ESPN 980 first reported, RB Roy Helu Jr. and CB Brandyn Thompson have both signed their deals with Washington. Niles Paul, the 5th round WR out of Nebraska has confirmed to ESPN 980 that he is officially signed, as did NT-Chris Neild.
ESPN 980 and Washington Times Redskins Insider Rich Campbell was first to report that D.J. Gomes and Evan Royster had come to terms, while other outlets reported the other draft picks coming to terms.
The Redskins started the day off with a bang, by trading Albert Haynesworth for a 5th round pick in 2013. Haynesworth, will not be missed for ONE day.
Good riddance, don't let the door hit you in the behind. A complete, unmitigated disaster.
Donovan McNabb, was a classy human being all the way to the end -- who just didn't mesh well with Mike and Kyle Shanahan's scheme and everything else that went with it.
He was everything Haynesworth wasn't. Pure and total class.
Donoovan's leadership will be missed, Haynesworth was a sour piece of candy that gave you bitter beer taste on your face.
1. Santana Moss deal---love it. Good value deal. Let's hope he can play primarily in the slot.
2. McNabb trade--the deal with the Eagles is officially a bust. Andy Reid fleeced Shanahan/Allen on the deal. Why did he deal him within the division? Because he knew McNabb had little left. As far as the deal with Vikings....good job salvaging something from a bad situation. To those that advocated releasing McNabb 6 months ago because you were convinced it was the "right" thing to do, you were wrong. The right thing was to wait until you could get something, anything in return. Personally, I would have waited a bit longer and rooted for serious QB injuries on other teams in preseason to create more demand for Donovan. But they were ready to take two 6ths and move on, fine.
3. Barry Cofield--another productive/durable young player added to the mix. Question for me is whether or not at 305 he's big enough for full-time nose. I wonder if the plan is for him to play both NT and DE. He was nose in college at Northwestern, DT in a 4-3 in NY.
4. Kellen Clemons/Donte Stallworth/Jabar Gaffney-- put all three of these additions in the low risk/high reward category. Unlike their predecessor Cerrato, the Skins want to see before they spend. Roster limits are up to 90 for preseason. The Skins need bodies to compete with their other bodies. No guarantee any of these three make the final roster. Jeremy Jarmon is gone in the Gaffney deal, he was a tough fit for the 3-4.
5. No Santonio Holmes--I'm thrilled they didn't overspend for him. He's not worth it.
6. What's next? a) Another DE/maybe Cullen Jenkins although he's a durability risk and he's older b) cornerback/are they really going with Barnes and/or Buchananon on the other side of Hall? c) punter/look for Brad Maynard to be here soon. d) OL/some of the additions here may come after the official Thurs/4pm waiver wire is activated. Jamall Brown is a priority. They need him here. Tons of possibilities and I expect no less than 3 O-linemen to be added by end of week.
ESPN NFL Insider, Adam Schefter, talks about the probable deal in which Donovan McNabb will head to the Vikings in exchange for a couple of 6th round draft picks.
On a side note of interest is the fact that the Redskins and Vikings meet this year in the regular season on December 24th, 2011 @ FedExField. Should there be any playoff implications to this game for either team, this game would certainly provide some interesting drama for the fanfare.
Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen has more time on his hands then he knows what to do with.
At this time of the year, normally, Allen would be overseeing daily OTA's (organized team activities) and perhaps scouring the free agent pool for some low cost depth.
Not this year, instead he is on the move from golf tournament to field dedication ceremony from the far reaches of Maryland -- to south of Richmond.
Allen joined ESPN 980 on Friday at the 7th annual Mickey Steele Memorial Golf Outing to benefit both Mark Rypien's foundation and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.
While Allen said a whole lot of stuff that resembled a lot of nothing -- he did give you an indication of some very important beliefs that most of us have known for a long time.
The old Redskins are dead. The days of spending a fortune in free agency -- to get the biggest names at the highest dollar are over. That doesn't mean they won't aggressively pursue the best talent -- but that talent better be versatile and/or of high character.
The Washington Redskins will largely be built and re-built through the draft and by bringing in young players with a 'sudden chip' on their shoulder for the bulk of the roster.
"One of the reasons we wanted to have the type of draft we did -- was to infuse a new attitude, a new sense of urgency from some young players, Allen said on ESPN 980. "We got 12 guys who we think will compete at every position."
Now the draft is one thing , free agency is another and clearly the Redskins, thanks to some creative cap maneuvering by Allen and VP Erik Schaffer, have money to spend.
That doesn't mean they will spend it, despite Bruce Allen saying earlier in the day on Friday -- that the Redskins will be "as aggressive as any team" to reporters at the event.
Allen even back tracked on that -- Saturday -- at a field dedication ceremony in Petersburg, VA, according to Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com & Real Redskins.
"The question was, were we capable of it. And, yes, we are capable of it. We’ve identified what we want to do in free agency an as soon as they get a collective bargaining agreement, we’ll proceed with our plan."
I can see the Redskins making one blue-chip acquisition to add to the defense for Jim Haslett, either Abrayo Franklin or Nnamdi Asomugha -- but they will not go on a wild spending spree. It just won't happen.
Could they add a veteran quarterback? Yes, it's possible -- but I can't believe it would be with the thought that guy would be the starter in 2011. Because of that -- they are much more likely to sign Vince Young then Matthew Hasselbeck or Marc Bulger.
Of course, they could always use help on the offensive line and depending on what system they are under -- might be able to bring in younger players like Ryan Harris or Davin Joseph or Doug Free. Perhaps, they go for a more veteran addition at guard in Robert Gallery.
No matter who they target, Allen is convinced of one thing -- nobody is safe.
"As soon as we can get a collective bargaining agreement - we're going to let people compete for not only the quarterback position, but every position on this team," said Allen to Andy Pollin and Thom Loverro. "I know you are going to give me crap for trying to say, I'm trying to hedge it, but the truth is EVERY JOB IS OPEN on the Washington Redskins."
Obviously -- it goes without saying that competition is a charmed key to a good existence, but so is talent and the right fit. Clearly, Donovan McNabb was a costly example of a bad fit, and expect Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen to be very cautious in bringing in a veteran who has been in one system for a long time.
Still, contrary to the belief of some - the Redskins are not hell-bent on destroying McNabb's reputation despite how many problems the marriage presented; and Allen, did his best to protect the "Donovan Disaster" of last year.
"Donovan's been a pro his entire career. We just didn't perform. We're not going to get in to a he said - she said type of thing," when the Sports Reporters asked Allen about "wrist-gate."
As for both Rex Grossman and John Beck making public claims that they expect to be the starting quarterback of the Redskins in 2011, Allen couldn't have said it any better or smarter.
"At the quarterback position -- I want quarterbacks to think that they are the starter. No one wants someone who thinks that they are the backup. For John Beck and Rex and Donovan, I expect starters and backups to always think that way," Allen said on ESPN 980.
So here's what we learned: Allen and Shanahan are more convinced then ever (and it a proven recipe) that you win and get much better in the NFL by sustaining yourself through the annual draft and supplementing yourself with "smart" free-agent acquisitions and trades - in other words - just the opposite of what the Redskins have done for years, and certainly were still guilty of in year-one of Shanahan & Allen's leadership.
Nothing is guaranteed. NOTHING.
Still though, Bruce does a great job as usual being polite, smart, sophisticated and political. He gives you a little nugget, but smartly pulls back just in time for you to have to read in between the lines.
Now you see why it's not so easy to get information for our listeners and readers from anybody that works inside Redskins Park.
The one thing I realized after spending a season co-hosting The Donovan McNabb Radio Show is this--Donovan was taught that the high-road is always the best route. And that may be why he rarely if ever responds to criticism.
McNabb has been shot at more often in recent months than ducks in an arcade and he refuses to shoot back. Jemele Hill from ESPN.com wrote yesterday that it's time to shoot back.
More specifically she wrote, "there's nothing wrong with taking the high road. But there's a fine line between taking the high road and establishing a pattern that sends the message that disrespect is acceptable. It has reached the point to which McNabb is doing himself a disservice by not addressing those who publicly attack his character." I disagree.
Didn't we learn a long time ago to turn the other cheek? Haven't most of us been taught that there is class in letting actions speak more than words? McNabb learned those lessons well and there's no shame in the way he's employed them. Especially given his stature. How many great quarterbacks get into wars of words. It's part of the job. The quarterback takes the heat. Black quarterbacks probably take more. Some of his decisions to stay silent can be explained easily. Bernard Hopkins saying in essence that McNabb is a black sellout was just stupid. No need in responding to a dope just like there was no reason a few years back to respond to T.O. Stories about refusing to wear a wristband need no response whether true or untrue. The media isn't owed a response.
Unless his family is threatened or his career is threatened by talk, no talk-back is necessary.
McNabb's career accomplisments don't justify the criticism he's taken from so many places over the years. Chalk some of it up to being in insensitive Philadelphia. Chalk some of it up to the lack of a Super Bowl title. Chalk some of it up to being black. But for the most part, a lot of the personal criticism has been cheap. For his part, he's been consistent. Every time a bomb drops, he goes high-road. He believes and rightly so that keeping quiet diffuses rather than fuels. Here's hoping that he sticks to his silent guns no matter how heavy the incoming fire gets. I can wait for the book.
They must love John Beck. That's the obvious answer to the Skins' decision to pass on a quarterback in the draft. However, deep breath....I'm not jumping completely to that conclusion quite yet. Shanahan had glowing remarks yesterday when asked about Beck. "Highest rated quarterback on my board in 2007. I've got a lot of confidence in John Beck." He also said that they have a quarterback plan that he won't discuss but all options are open including free agency and undrafted rookie free agency. Shanahan is a tough read so let's consider the facts we know to be true and then speculate on the rest of it.
Fact...they traded for Beck and gave him a longer-term deal than the one he had. Fact...Shanahan said he was the highest rated QB on his Denver board in 2007. Fact...Shanahan emphasised that he has all the things you look for including "loves football" and "first guy in, last to leave" and "gives you something with his 4.65 speed that others don't". Fact...he's the only QB on the roster that is likely to be here next year that is currently under contract. Fact....they didn't draft a quarterback with 12 opportunites to do so!
Speculation...their plan all along was to sign someone in free agency, maybe Marc Bulger. Speculation....their plan all along was to take Locker or Ponder at #10 or further back after trading down but they didn't have the chance to do it when Tennessee took Locker and Minnesota shocked everyone by taking Ponder at #12. Speculation....their plan all along was to take Dalton or Kapernick in the 2nd round at #41 or trade up if they had to but no trades were available. Speculation....Grossman is their guy. Speculation....McNabb is coming back (no chance). Speculation....they didn't like any of the quarterbacks in this draft, they don't like any free agents so they'll go with Grossman or Beck in 2011 and select a QB next year when the draft is expected be QB-rich with Luck, Barkley, Landry, etc.
It's wait and see time. Next up, free agency whenever it happens and the conclusion to the McNabb saga. We'll know much more by then.