Scapegoated for Washington’s failure last season, McNabb was eager to put distance between himself and the Redskins’ father-son coaching duo. The six-time Pro Bowler got what he wanted in Wednesday’s trade to the Minnesota Vikings, escaping a situation in which he could not succeed.
In permitting McNabb to join the top team on his wish list, Coach Mike Shanahan finally supported the proven winner. Perhaps things would have been less toxic during their only season together if Shanahan had occasionally backed McNabb in his ugly feud with the Redskins’ offensive coordinator.
But Kyle mostly gets what Kyle wants.
One of the worst trades in franchise history is on Shanahan’s ledger, and now McNabb will try to undo the damage from his Redskins experience. It definitely won’t be easy.
A target of backstabbing by the men with whom he worked and their mouthpieces, McNabb must prove he’s not lazy and stupid. He has to regain the fourth-quarter confidence teammates once had in him. The guy who led the Philadelphia Eagles to five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance must essentially show people he’s still capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.
At 34, McNabb is starting over again because he wasn’t Kyle’s first, second, or third choice for the District’s second-most high-profile gig. In the twilight of his career, McNabb is trying rebuild it after learning a painful lesson about what sometimes happens to strong-willed players who question the Shanahan Way.
When you’re benched in favor of journeyman Rex Grossman and demoted to third string behind John Beck — whose NFL resume consists of five games, none since 2007 — that’s not only a questionable football decision. That’s clearly punishment.
McNabb’s crime? He simply had his own ideas. For his first 11 years in the NFL, McNabb prepared and played in a manner that best suited him. During that time, he was one of the league’s most successful quarterbacks, so shame on him for not wanting to change.
The Shanahans expected McNabb to work on his footwork before practice. They wanted to alter his mechanics. They sought a total McNabb makeover.
People in the organization say McNabb deserves much of the blame for his disastrous partnership with the Shanahans.
They say Mike Shanahan felt betrayed by McNabb. He believed McNabb would embrace new ideas, and work harder, after being dumped by the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s why Shanahan ignored his son’s strong objections and traded second- and fourth-round draft picks for McNabb.
They say once McNabb arrived, Shanahan quickly determined his son was right. McNabb moved too slowly during practice and in games to operate their offense.
Then there was the whole wristband thing. Shanahan supporters say McNabb needed help with playcalling and a wristband with the plays on it would have helped. McNabb declined to wear one, so that’s on him, they say.