Donovan McNabb benching: Mike Shanahan wears two hats and should add a third - dunce cap

The "Washington Post Live" team breaks down Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan's decision to start Rex Grossman for the rest of the season over Donovan McNabb.
By Thomas Boswell
Saturday, December 18, 2010; 12:53 AM

This should be entertaining. Rex Grossman for Donovan McNabb. Get the popcorn ready Sunday. Christmas comes early.

Now we'll see how smoothly the journeyman Grossman employs the brilliant Mike Shanahan offense with his luminous offspring Kyle calling the plays. On Sunday in Dallas, we should finally get clear evidence of just how big a bum McNabb really is.

The next week in Jacksonville, Grossman will no doubt provide further proof - if he is still vertical and conscious - of the genius of the Shanahans and the worthlessness of the Donovan.

Now we see the Redskins' core problem this season. It's the fault of the dunce who makes the big personnel decisions. The real culprit is the bozo who traded for McNabb in the first place. He had 11 years to evaluate McNabb in Philly, but he still traded draft picks to a division rival for a quarterback that, after just 13 weeks, has been judged a failure by the smartest coach who ever lived.

Unfortunately, the personnel guy who dealt for McNabb just eight months ago and the X's-and-O's guru of a coach who can't get rid of him fast enough now are the same person: Mike Shanahan.

One of you two guys should fire the other one because, in a sane NFL franchise, somebody's head would roll for this screw-up.

It's one thing to disrespect Albert Haynesworth. He disrespects himself. It's another case completely when you trash McNabb's reputation. There are lots of free agents available this offseason. The chances that the best of them will come to Washington just got cut in half. If Albertross didn't chill you, the McNabb debacle will.

Andy Reid makes sandpaper look smooth. But he and McNabb coexisted, and often flourished, as they went to five NFC championship games together. McNabb hasn't just been to the Pro Bowl six times; he went last year with a quarterback rating of 92.9. Then he came to camp this season in visibly better shape.

Now we're supposed to believe that McNabb is a lousy quarterback? We're supposed to buy into the idea that a great coach couldn't teach McNabb a new offense given a full season?

"I almost don't even know where to begin, but it really started with Detroit and it was just wrong the way Donovan was treated," said McNabb's agent Fletcher Smith, referring to the benching of McNabb for the final minutes of the Lions game on Oct 31. "Just the way Mike handled the whole situation in Detroit, and in almost every instance since that time, and this is, I guess, the culmination of that. I think it's . . . again, it's beyond disrespectful."

Outside Washington, the rest of the NFL views the Redskins as a tired sitcom rerun that, year after year, offers a different cast but the same plot: variations on dysfunction. That's where the Redskins have fallen now; they're in high-budget farce with a low-budget writing staff: name actors, trash scripts.

This time, they didn't deactivate Haynesworth just before kickoff, throwing the locker room into turmoil. They didn't suspend Haynesworth three days later, paying him $35 million for two years of malingering. This time, they didn't lose, 17-16, on a botched extra point with nine seconds to play, then fire veteran punter-holder Hunter Smith as a ritual scapegoat on Wednesday.

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