Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan eliminated the potential for two very big distractions this week by trading away both quarterback Donovan McNabb and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth just before the start of training camp.
But the coach said he never worried that he or his players would have to deal with either issue because of the plan he contrived at the beginning of the offseason.
“We gave Donovan the option – his agent, to talk to any football team they wanted to to make sure that the team we sent him to best suited him,” Shanahan explained. “We knew we were going to go in that direction after being with him throughout the year and we’re hoping it will turn out well for Donovan and we’re moving forward.”
Of Haynesworth, Shanahan said: “Either way, Albert wasn’t going to be here. If we traded him [or not], he wasn’t coming to our camp. I knew that we were going to go on after this year. Thankfully, we did get a trade and it worked out for Albert. … If we hadn’t traded him, we would’ve released him.”
Shanahan inherited Haynesworth a year after Washington signed him to a contract that included $41 million guaranteed. He tried to fit him into the 3-4 defense, but Haynesworth was unwilling, and thus began a season-long tug-of-war between the two.
McNabb, meanwhile, was Shanahan’s first major personnel move as Redskins coach. He traded a second- and fourth-round pick to Philadelphia last year in exchange for the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Shanahan let on that when studying McNabb’s game, he saw problem areas. But he said he believed that they could be corrected.
“We were hoping he would fit into our system,” Shanahan said. “And I told Donovan when he came in here, ‘There are the reasons why I think Philly didn’t sign you and they were going to go with [Kevin] Kolb, and this is what you are going to have to do to stay on our football team for a number of years, and if you do that, I think you have the chance to go to the Pro Bowl and do the number of things that you’ve done throughout your career.’ And, it didn’t work out, and we go on.”
Shanahan didn’t disclose what “reasons” he saw, but the issues Redskins coaches had with McNabb last season had to do with work ethic, tempo and accuracy.
When asked what made McNabb a bad fit, Shanahan said: “I’m not going to go into detail. He’s with Minnesota now. Bill Musgrave is a heck of an offensive coordinator. Some times these situations take time. Donovan will probably go in there, be ready to play and do what they want him to do. Hopefully it works out.”