Donovan McNabb was the toy Kyle Shanahan never wanted

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 Mike Wise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 19, 2010; 12:54 AM

Whether you've behaved like an apostle of the coach or an apologist for the quarterback the past four months, we can all agree on one thing: Mike Shanahan's most substantial personnel decision has become a colossal mistake, costing the Washington Redskins draft picks and a botched, wasted experiment of a season.

Yet as they limp into Dallas on Sunday, I am beginning to seriously debate what that egregious mistake was for Shanahan: Was it trading for Donovan McNabb or hiring his 30-year-old son, Kyle, as offensive coordinator? Was it not doing due diligence on McNabb or just flat-out nepotism?

One fact is certain. Dad bought the wrong toy for young, headstrong Kyle.

That's why Rex Grossman is starting Sunday, why a locker room is divided and McNabb will soon be insultingly demoted to third string.

It all went bad in Ashburn because a father forgot to take his gifted child by the storefront window when he did some post-holiday shopping for a quarterback earlier this year.

If Mike Shanahan had, he would have found out it's doubtful Kyle Shanahan ever wanted a player like McNabb in the first place, that the moment he and Bruce Allen, the general manager, acquired McNabb without input from the new offensive coordinator, a shotgun marriage bound for divorce had been arranged.

From Kyle's days as a coach in Houston, he always thought of McNabb as a guy who telegraphed his throws, never reading coverage well enough to settle on the third, fourth or fifth receiver. When McNabb wasn't nimble enough to freelance like he had earlier in his career - and Kyle was too stubborn to just run bootleg and play-action plays for an improvisational, six-time Pro Bowler - all of the Redskins' offensive coordinator's fears had been realized.

Donovan wasn't his prototype QB. Not even close.

Actually, many of those fears came to fruition in training camp. And his father was doing his best to shield his son from criticism early, saying all the right things while having to simplify schemes as early as the second game of the season against Kyle's old team, the Texans.

I was told by a team official during the bye week that Grossman might actually start against Philadelphia, that that's what Rex was telling his former teammates in Houston.

That they waited this long only seems to have deepened the crevice between both sides.

The result: Instead of resuscitating the Redskins in the first year of Shanahan's tenure, instead of bolstering his own Hall of Fame candidacy and paving the way for his progeny to take the reins in a few years, My-Way Mike has to re-gift a disrespected Donovan and all but admit his error in judgment.

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