McNabb benching, NBA, Randy Moss, more -- The Chat House with Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, November 1, 2010; 2:00 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins-Lions game, the benching of Donovan McNabb, baseball postseason, college football, the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.


Dover, Delaware: Hi Michael,

Why would Shanahan bench McNabb yesterday? Makes no sense. Sure he threw a bad pick, late in the game, but played decently considering the lack of pass blocking all game. so they put in a cold QB who has 30 secs to warm up and has no mobility.

I hand it to McNabb; he is a class act the way he is dealing with this, but if I were him; I'd want to retire after this benching and considering how he was treated last year in Philly. The man is a Hall of Fame caliber QB who gives the Redskins the best chance to win!

Michael Wilbon: Hi everybody! Sorry I'm so late today but I've been traveling to cover the Miami Heat since last Wednesday, which has been pretty cool...but I've been all over the place...we'll jump right in, not with the Heat or basketball, but with the Redskins and Mike Shanahan's incredibly dumb move to bench Donovan McNabb,..Okay, look, Shanahan is a bright, bright man, a really smart coach, who did a dumb thing. We all do it. Smart people do dumb things occassionally, even smart football coaches, though you could live a thousand lives before you hear one admit it. I don't expect Shanahan to come out at 3 p.m today and say, "I blew it." But he blew it. Donovan hadn't been effective, but he hadn't been awful either. Rex Grossman doesn't EVER give you your best chance to win, even if he does know the 2-minute offensive from playing with Junior Shanahan last year in Houston. Knowing the offense and EXECUTING it are two different things. And Grossman, as any Bears fan knows, specializes in the pick-six and the fumble-six, which we saw about 30 seconds after he went into the game. There's that, and there's the signal the benching sends to McNabb and the team, that he doesn't have confidence in McNabb in the clutch. If he had a capable backup, or a Kid QB-in-waiting, like Kevin Kolb in Philly, then I could see it. But the Redskins don't have that...It's a dumb move, period. Doesn't mean Shanahan isn't a terrific coach, because he is and I expect he will continue to be. BUT, this is his second controversial handling of personnel...I want to see what happens next....


Troubled in Mt. Vernon VA: Michael

Was it just me or did the appearance and immediate sacking of Rex Grossman feel like a Zornian moment? I know Donovan McNabb was playing like Donovan Leitch, but the Grossman thing was just cringe-worthy. Like Zorn's fake field goal. Okay, not as bad, ... but really?

Michael Wilbon: You're being very wise and restrained and trying to NOT overstate that moment, but I'm leaning with you...I was thinking, "My goodness, what the hell is going on here?" It's become the Redskins way to just make the dumbest mistakes on the sideline (Schottenheimer, Spurrier, Zorn) and then just wander off into the wilderness. Shanahan is too good for that, right? Right? Hmmmm...


Washington DC: How much of McNabb's struggles are attributable to the Shanahans not putting him in a situation to succeed (e.g., system, inferior line, inferior RBs, inferior WRs, etc.) and how much of it is on McNabb (e.g. need for additional preparation, comfort with old system, thinking of greener pastures next season, etc.)?

Michael Wilbon: I'm with you on all your questions except "looking for greener pastures next year." Who overpays like Dan Snyder? Nobody. Donovan likes it here, likes where he lives, likes being in a region where he knows a ton of people. That much, I know with certainty. BUT, If you think a guy is screwing around with you and the team where you live (Arizona) is in desperate need of a veteran QB and the team in your hometown (Bears) is in desperate need of a competent QB then why would you want to stay where the guy is screwing around with you and doing dumb things like benching you for Rex Grossman? I wouldn't. I told Jason Campbell when he left that he'd be overjoyed by Thanksgiving. Think I got that one right? This has plenty of time to turn out well, but it had better start soon. The back nine of the season just began.


Detroit, Mich: Lost in all this McNabb-Grossman-Shanahan hub bub is the fact the Lions simply beat and outplayed the Redskins. For the first time in a long time, I'm really excited about our future. How about Matthew Stafford, who hasn't played since week 1, coming back and throwing 4 TDs and Suh, who is definitely a defensive ROY candidate.

Michael Wilbon: I picked the Lions to go 8-8 this year, no worse than 7-9, and even though they got HOSED by the NFL rules in that opener against the Bears, I'm not changing my tune now. The Lions have some studs, starting with Suh, who is just a beast. He could have a Reggie White like career if he stays healthy and is coachable...I'll take the Lions personnel over the Redskins' personnel (total roster, all 60-plus guys) every day of the week.


Herndon, Va.: Mr. Mike: Congratulations!! A 79 at Columbia? Will you be joining the senior tour soon? May I request a short "atta boy" for my Huskers against Mizzou, who, for one week at least, seemed to play up to (and maybe past) their potential?

Michael Wilbon: thanks...Tony outed me this morning, talking about my 79 at Columbia on Saturday. The company (Tony and Arch Campbell) were even better than the way I played...I'm still fixated (ungrateful dog that I am) on a triple on the par-3 no. 16...(Rolled a downhill putt for par OFF THE FREAKIN' GREEN) and made 6...Anyway, the Huskers played well, which I like because they're a Big Ten member-to-be, and since my dear friend Mike Gleeson went to Nebraska and is their No. 1 booster, I've rooted for the Huskers for quite a few years now. I never felt comfortable taking Penn State into the Big Ten, but I LOVE having Nebraska.

As long as we're on the topic of college football, I feel terribly for the Notre Dame football team, specificially the players and staff...The death of young Mr. Sullivan is so tragic and simply could have and should have been prevented...I can't imagine Notre Dame football being in a worse place than it is right now, to have turned into such an inconsequential program...It's unthinkable. They hire coach after coach and none of it works out...They seem cursed or someething...And while I often poke fun at Notre Dame, I'm not about to do that now. College football is healthier when Notre Dame is strong. It's too great a school and too important a program to just stumble around like mike Tyson crawling around the mat looking for his mouthpiece...Sad has now become tragic.


Oakland: How about JC yesterday and last week!!!! Raiders seem not to be so terrible this year.

Michael Wilbon: VERY happy for Jason Campbell...I believe I wrote in this space and in the column that he'd be MUCH better off once he got the Hell out of Dodge! The Raiders have just the kind of team that franchise wants. Power running (led by McFadden), a fierce defensive front and pass rush (led by Richard Seymour) and a passing game that goes DOWN the field. That's the Raiders, baby, and it's fun to see them in contention again. It's fun to see the Raiders and Chiefs good again. And I, for one, am just fine with that turning the tables (and the standings) on the Broncos and Chargers in the AFC West.


Arlington, Virginia: You said that you'd take the Lion's personnel over the Redskins personnel every day of the week. Go through the Skins' schedule. Whose personnel wouldn't you take over the Redskins personnel ? Is that the heart of the problem ?

Michael Wilbon: Wow, you're saying everybody? Not the Cowboys...Okay, I'd take Miles Austin and Ware...Oh yeah, and Dez Bryant...Okay, maybe the Cowboys, too. Eagles? Check! Giants? Check. Well, if you like great young draft picks as the foundation of your franchise, then no, you don't much want the Redskins. Besides Arakpo, it's tough to make the case. The Redskins haven't cared much about the draft, haven't used it well...And it might just kill them.


Boyds, MD: Tiger Woods lost his #1 ranking to Lee Westwood this week. Do you think Tiger cares at all or is 18 the only # he is worried about?

Michael Wilbon: He's worried, I suspect, about getting his game back...and if he's practicing as fanatically as he used to, he'll get his game back, his ranking back and to No. 18. I think he will. As pessimistic as I was about him getting it back last year (he wasn't practicing), I'm optimistic he'll be Tiger again by mid-summer...The greatest of the great many of them have Comeback Stories, right? I think we're going on that ride with Tiger over the next two, three years.


Chicago: Michael,

I love college football, but the BCS is ripping all the fun out of it for me. Another week goes by, and another team leapfrogs Boise State who has done nothing over the last ten years but win, even over the very teams that are now jumping them. I feel for those players and coaches, and what's being done to them is criminal. What can be done?

Michael Wilbon: People can express themselves like you are doing now. They can agitate...Public outcry does matter. Boxing would feel the sting of that all the time (back when professional prize fighting still mattered)...I'm like you; I hate the BCS and I scream bloody murder every chance I get...Constant opposition is the only way...There should be a playoff and anything less is unacceptable.


DC: Is there any coach who can do less with more like Brad Childress? Okay maybe Wade Phillips.

Michael Wilbon: Well, Childress did pretty darn well last year.


Brattleboro, Vt.: Perhaps he is trying to say to the team everyone must perform well in order to play. Don't you think it is incredibly difficult to change the culture of a team? I am a big McNabb fan by the way...and a Shanahan fan as well. And don't you think this is being made into a bigger deal than it really is?

Michael Wilbon: No, every football guy I've talked to or listened to in the last 12 hours says it's a HUGE deal, including Tony Dungy, who knows a thing or two about supporting a veteran QB and what a benching can do to a locker room...I'm told by one buddy who plays for an NFC team that this is simply the dumbest thing imaginable...And I believe that.


Anonymous: Michael, if Shanahan has performance issues with McNabb he could have waited until the bye week to address them. The benching just seems like a way to try and pin a probable loss to a supposedly bad team on the QB.

Michael Wilbon: Yep, I'm with you.


Annapolis: Mike, which NFL team in your opinion has the best overall ownership/management?

Michael Wilbon: Steelers, Colts, Patriots, whatever order you want to place them. Cowboys (despite this year's record) are obviously on any short list...The NFL isn't much on instability, so most of the teams have strong ownership. I'm sure people are going to counter now and say, "What about so-and-so?" But that's it off the top of my head...


DC: Will Wade Phillips make it through to the end of the season?

Michael Wilbon: I would think no. But jerry keeps saying yes, Wade is staying. My question is "Why?" That team, as presently constituted, is going nowhere. No place, no how. He's not going to be there next why keep him? I don't get it.


Randy Moss: Did you hear Randy's speech after yesterday's game? He sounded like he regrets having left the only team with both a HOF coach and quarterback. Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence with this guy or what?

Michael Wilbon: He didn't demand a trade. He wanted to get paid and they traded him. Boom! Of course, he didn't want to leave Brady and Belichick. But they weren't going to give him franchise player money at 33 years old. no chance.


Washington, DC: Thoughts from the first week of the NBA season?

Michael Wilbon: The Miami Heat can be really, really good...but LeBron james and Chris Bosh are going to have to change the way they've played the last few years, but each guy knows that. Bosh talked extensively about the concessions he'll have to make after that orlando game the other night in Miami that I covered. And LeBron is doing that with each game...dialing back on the scoring, becoming more of a point guard than a playmaking forward. Bosh is going to have to post-up and defend and rebound and score less and he says he's okay with that. Miami isn't big, but there are so many other attributes. Oklahoma is as good as advertised. Chris Paul is back. Derrick Rose looks ready to become a first-team All-Star, though point guard is a stacked position in the NBA right now. Steve Blake is a HELLUVA pickup for the Lakers...Dwight Howard is an immensely improved offensive player, and the time he spent with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer is the primary reason why...The Celtics have the best man-for-man lineup in the East but the question still is whether they can be healthy going into the playoffs...Rondo has turned into a Bob Cousy like player for the Cs...I could go on, but I'll stop there...Oh, one future Hall of Famer said to me last wee, "You can't have as many knuckleheads as the Wizards have on that team and be any good. You can carry one guy, but not three...And its going to send the wrong message to John Wall, that its okay to be disruptive and unprofessional..." And that's what so many people around the NBA think of the Wizards...The player didn't mention the names of the 3 players in question, but we all know who he was talking about, don't we?


herndon, va: Mr. Mike: I'm surprised you think the Cowboys's management is up there with the best. Maybe I read too much Randy Galloway, but Jerry Jones hasn't been able to do much for a long time with the Boys, especially since Bill Parcells went bye-bye.

Michael Wilbon: Maybe I should reconsider...But I don't want the last couple of years to completely define the entire Jerry Jones tenure...Not fair.


SF, CA: Mike, have you been following baseball this postseason, or have football and the NBA put that on the backburner? It's been a nice run for the Giants

Michael Wilbon: I've watched the NLCS/ALCS and World Series like a casual fan, mostly because I've got the assignment of being up-to-date on EVERYTHING Miami Heat-related...It's too late for baseball. It should be off the stage by Oct. 20 at the latest. It's NOVEMBER, people. Go home. They need to go to 154 games and then the playoffs...or have double-headers, which the union will never approve.


DC: Please don't tell me the Heat putting a beat down on the Magic wasn't a statement game. Yes it's a long season, but any time you can put doubts into your opponents minds it means something.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, you believe what Kornheiser believes about that. You could be right. I know this: the Miami players, starting with LeBron who said so, are sick and tired already of Orlando taking shots...And that beat down DID mean something to Miami's players. I was a little surprised LeBron came right out and said it late that night after the game...It's a rivalry that's going to be worth watching along the way, right up there with Boston-Miami...This is the most excited I've ever been about November basketball...Found myself switching over to Lakers-Warriors last night for a few check-ins...I'm losing my mind...

Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI...See you guys next week, same time and station on Monday...Thanks for chatting. have a great week...MW


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