By Mike Wise
Monday, April 5, 2010; 12:36 AM
Look, nothing personal against Donovan McNabb. Six Pro Bowls, five NFC championship games, every passing record that matters in Philadelphia. He is certainly an upgrade to the position. Even a scorned and prideful Jason Campbell could admit that.
But before everyone congratulates the new brain trust for essentially doing what the old brain trust did -- procure some other town's star instead of developing your own -- answer two questions as thoughtfully and honestly as possible:
Does anyone believe the Washington Redskins are poised to win the Super Bowl next season? What about 2012?
No and no.
If you agree with that assessment and do not live in denial or Ashburn, any well-argued case for acquiring McNabb just went out the window.
Offseason champions again? Offseason champions again.
Daniel Snyder can bring in a new regime. The owner can say he's ceding authority in football decisions to Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen like never before. But the delusion ultimately continues.
They still are in the business of selling hope more than harsh truth, hyperbole more than reality.
The Redskins still want their gullible congregation to believe they're one player away from NFL nirvana, and a 33-year-old, 11-year veteran given up by a team in their own division is that player.
Talk about a chip off the old block. Bruce Allen can't just jettison the future with draft picks, go out and acquire an old QB quarterback and genuinely believe it will work; his Dad already did that.
"The Over The Hill Gang," George Allen called them, and they were led by Billy Kilmer and assorted geezers. The difference almost 40 years later is the Redskins were 4-12 a year ago, not even close to the precipice. Their quarterback was sacked more times than all but two other quarterbacks in the league. Jason Campbell didn't need a capable offensive lineman at the end of last season; he needed a personal-injury lawyer.
You know where I stand on Campbell. He never had a legitimate shot with a healthy line. Between musical-chair coaches and systems and a mighty-mite receiving corps -- before Fred Davis and Devin Thomas grew up late last year -- Campbell's head was on a swivel.
Last offseason, at the very moment the Redskins could have instilled confidence in the first quarterback since Brad Johnson to start and finish a 16-game season in Washington, they treated Campbell as if he was on the practice squad and he smelled bad. At least his job went to a player of real merit; oh, the indignity if the Redskins' dalliances with Jay Cutler or Mark Sanchez went anywhere last season. (Okay, Sanchez would not have been bad.)
So for all the misguided people who blamed Campbell for the team's misfortunes -- as if McNabb or, hey Joe Montana or John Elway would have taken you to the NFC playoffs behind D'Anthony Batiste and Edwin Williams, take heart: I finally agree with you today:
I'm happy Jason will soon be gone too, if for different reasons.
It means Campbell gets out of NFL purgatory, where at least two things never change:
1) It doesn't matter how much you give to this organization, if you're already on the roster and have carried water for the franchise you'll always be less valuable than the exotic candidate from abroad.
And 2) losing you will be bemoaned within a few years (see Brad Johnson, Ryan Clark and Antonio Pierce). Oh, and Campbell will probably be upright longer wherever he goes.
Also, does anyone have a major problem with making a trade inside your own division, basically asking Redskins fans to suddenly fall in love with a guy they found comfort in loathing? This isn't a lineman or a role player; this is the most important position on the field.
And don't start with, "Remember when Sonny came over from the Eagles in '64? How'd that work out?" Sonny Jurgensen came to Washington after just seven years in Philadelphia. His best years were ahead of him. Unless he's channeling Brett Favre, McNabb probably has three quality seasons of signal-calling left. As beloved as he is in parts of Philly, he's also a player who has polarized Eagles fans, who always remind you of his 1-4 mark in NFC championship games.
Sure, he can step right into Shanahan's West Coast offense. Of course this makes it a no-brainer to draft Russell Okung to be the next Chris Samuels at left tackle for 10 years.
Having a future Hall-of-Famer like McNabb is good for the turnstile. He will make people watch, spend money on No. 5 jerseys -- provided Colt Brennan goes back to his No. 15 college number worn by the since-departed Todd Collins -- and he will give people the same hope that is usually taken away by November.
But it seems this is more about not being able to say the word "Rebuild" than anything. They can't let themselves not say, "Reload." Eleven years running, Snyder is still addicted to the idea the Redskins are just an extra point away from the Lombardi Trophy, and now McNabb becomes the answer.
He said nice things about Shanahan in his statement after the trade, but is that what he would have said if Minnesota or Arizona dealt for him? McNabb can say this is what he wants as much as he wants but he could have been on the doorstep with at least two franchises, and the Redskins weren't one of them.
And if that high second-round pick becomes a running back needed to replace current aging vets in the backfield, this trade hurts them even more.
Bottom line, instead of forward-thinking, instead of drafting and developing a player who could be the Redskins' quarterback the next 10 years -- Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen -- the Redskins traded for a player who is past his prime and will turn 34 in November.
The spin: No-brainer. How many times can you acquire a Pro Bowler without giving up a first-round pick, for a guy that already knows your division?
The truth: Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles know Donovan McNabb better than anyone. And they were inexplicably okay with moving him to another team in their own division.
Think about that while you're rushing to the team store for your new jersey.