Donovan McNabb's benching reveals Mike Shanahan's lack of trust in his QB

Donovan McNabb is pulled from the fourth quarter, and Detroit defeats Washington 37-25.
By Mike Wise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 31, 2010; 11:13 PM


Here's the dirty little secret the Redskins have been concealing as well as they can, until the fed-up Shanahan clan just couldn't take it anymore Sunday afternoon:

They don't yet trust Donovan McNabb to run this offense. In the aftermath of Washington's annual Motown meltdown, they may never.

Neither My-Way Mike nor Quality-Control Kyle (the heir apparent to the coaching throne in, oh, three years) have complete confidence the future Hall-of-Famer they traded for in the offseason is the Redskins' man for the job in the long haul, let alone two weeks.

The coach and his son can't say that after Washington ruined a tremendous opportunity to enter the bye week at 5-3. And for the sake of 2010 team unity, they probably need to steer as clear from that notion as possible.

But with the surprise benching of McNabb with less than two minutes left and the Redskins down to the Lions by a mere six points - in essence, sitting a proven late-game playmaker at the exact moment he was acquired for last spring - the evidence keeps building toward an undeniable reality:

Halfway into a 4-4 season, the quarterback and his immediate supervisors don't see eye to eye.

Mike Shanahan made that clear the moment he pulled McNabb for Rex Grossman, whom he explained understood the two-minute offense "terminology" better than McNabb - as if McNabb had never converted fourth and 26 once in January against Brett Favre and Green Bay to save another Philadelphia season.

Kyle Shanahan and McNabb separately admitted they're on different pages, too; Kyle saying in the postgame locker room that he called most of the plays at the end of the game; McNabb revealing in his news conference that "the majority of the time, you call your own plays, but Kyle had major input today."

Like any quarterback, McNabb added, he was bothered by the fact he didn't have the opportunity to "hopefully sustain a drive and win the game."

The kid's old man tried to nip the benching in the bud by saying McNabb will still be his starter two weeks from Monday against McNabb's former Eagles at FedEx Field, My-Way Mike implying this was just a situational substitution with no long-term effect.

But it's pretty clear for the first time since Todd Collins helped guide the Redskins to the playoffs after Jason Campbell was injured in 2007, Washington has a quarterback controversy.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company