During Wednesday’s truly riveting edition of “Redskins Press Conferences” (Episode title: “The One Where RGIII Gets Benched”), Mike Shanahan was asked how often he consults his possibly-estranged boss before making a decision.
“I do ask it about a quarterback, because we’re going to have a circus atmosphere any time you make a decision like that,” he replied.
Shanahan would know all about that circus, since he’s basically the ringmaster. He’s spent a greater percentage of his time with the Redskins naming and benching starters than Dan Snyder has spent of his ownership hiring and firing head coaches.
Here’s a look at what Shanahan has said about all of his Redskins quarterbacks, as he’s named them the starters and then as he’s benched them. As you’ll see, Shanahan likes to go with his gut, which changes its mind a whole bunch.
“Donovan is an accomplished quarterback who has been a proven winner in the National Football League. I have long admired his competitiveness and feel he will be an outstanding addition to the Redskins and our community. He knows our division and the roadmap to success in the NFC East.”
“When you deal with a two-minute offense and you don’t have any timeouts, and you haven’t done it in five weeks, and you’re calling sometimes two plays [simultaneously] – you’ve got to hustle to the line of scrimmage, and you’re calling plays that you haven’t called in the two-minute attack – and you’re actually working on cardiovascular endurance at the same time [you're] working on the clock, it’s really hard to do that when you haven’t practiced it and you haven’t really put yourself in any strenuous activities because of your hamstrings. So I thought it would be in our best interest to go in a different direction.”
“You’ve got to make those decisions that you think give you the best chance to win. It’s not always very popular, but one that I felt is right. As I shared with the team, sometimes you don’t always make the right decision, but you make a decision based on your gut feeling during the week – how did somebody practice, how a game’s going – and you go with it.”
“I told [McNabb] once we were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, that I made a decision that I was going to start Rex Grossman. I want to get a feel on how Rex can run our offense over the next few weeks. …
“I also told him that I could not guarantee him that he would be back next year. I said, ‘I can’t guarantee you that.’ But what I can guarantee ya [is] that I’ll be honest with ya. I’ll evaluate the situation.”
“As you’re evaluating everything on a day-to-day basis, you kind of get a gut. If someone you think makes a little jump, you go in that direction. I said from Day 1, any time you got confidence in two quarterbacks, that’s pretty good in the National Football League. That’s what I have right now.”
“I’ve been impressed with Rex since Day 1. The way he’s been handling our practices, the way he’s been running our offense.”
“He’s familiar with the system. I thought he was pretty automatic with a lot of his reads.”
“I said, ‘Hey, to keep that position, quarterback in the NFL, you have to eliminate those mistakes.’ You can’t constantly turn the football over. If you do, you’re going to lose your opportunity to lead the football team.”
“I like the way [Beck] has been practicing the last few weeks. He’s done a good job in practice and I think he deserves the opportunity for us to see what he can do.”
“Well, I think right now that he’s more comfortable with the system. He was out for that week [in training camp] . Like I said, I like the way he’s practiced. Rex didn’t quite have the same practices as he did earlier – as I spoke to Rex. It’s a constant evaluation and you have to go with your gut.”
“I like John’s talent. I like what we have in John, but I’m always going to do what I think is in the best interest of the team to win.”
“You go with more of an experienced guy that has dealt with these situations. I didn’t want to put John in a situation where we had a number of guys down, and with his experience, especially over the last two weeks, I didn’t think that was the right thing to do.”
“Rex is going to be our quarterback. When you go with a veteran quarterback, it’s pretty easy — because usually that situation stays pretty much status quo. Unless there’s an injury during the week, Rex would be the quarterback. But crazy things could happen. He could go down during the week.”
“He’s the starter. Period.”
“Any time you pick a player with the second pick of the draft and you give up another two No. 1’s and No. 2 and you move up four spots, you’ve got a game plan in mind. We’re going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with, and we’ll watch him grow, and we’ll do what we feel like he does the best. . . . One thing the NFL is not used to his someone with his type of speed and his throwing ability, and I think that we can do some things that people haven’t done.”
“It was in the back of my mind, really, any time you’re out of the playoffs. I look at all the different positions. But the one thing I thought was most important to this organization—and that’s one of the reasons why I talked about it with Dan, because I thought it was very important to include him—that, ‘Hey, this is your guy of the future. What do you want to do? What’s important for us making the right decision?’ … And it’s easy to say after somebody gets hurt, ‘We should have took him out.’ And I didn’t want to put our organization in that type of situation.”
“We’ve got three games left. We’re going to play those games hard. Do I take a risk of putting him in there to gain some more experience — he just had 13 games — and have a chance of setting him [back] that third year? I didn’t think it was worth the risk. I didn’t think it was.”
“Anytime you’re hit as many times as he’s been hit, I thought it was in his best interest, the organization’s, to talk about if we should continue playing Robert if he’s hit as many times as he’s been hit.”
“I do believe that Kirk Cousins will come in and play well. He is a proven quarterback, I believe, at least from what we’ve seen when he’s played.”
…Probably not to be continued.
In case you want to re-live all the fun, here’s a timeline of the Redskins quarterback position under Shanahan: