Donovan McNabb's agent says quarterback undermined by Redskins' Kyle Shanahan

The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga, Rick Maese, Dan Steinberg and Jonathan Forsythe debate and discuss the moment of the season when things began to unravel for Mike Shanahan and the Redskins.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 24, 2010; 12:59 AM

Donovan McNabb's agent blasted Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in a formal statement Thursday, contending that the coach had undermined McNabb throughout the season.

"I believe there is tension between Donovan and Kyle that's rooted in the fact that Donovan has suggested modifications to Kyle's offense based on intricacies Donovan has learned in his NFL career," McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith III, wrote in the statement to Redskins beat reporters and national NFL writers. "For example, Donovan has asked all year that the team run more screen passes to help manage the pass rush more effectively. Ironically, Kyle decided to employ Donovan's suggestions after he unceremoniously benched him on Sunday."

Smith, longtime representative for the demoted Pro Bowl quarterback, said he was issuing the release because some within the Redskins' organization have criticized his client anonymously and because he wanted to "clarify some misinterpretations" of comments McNabb made earlier this week.

In response to Smith's comments, Coach Mike Shanahan issued a statement of his own Thursday evening, saying he stands by his decision to bench the veteran quarterback for the team's final three games.

"As I stated earlier, when I traded for Donovan McNabb, I had hoped that he would lead us to the playoffs. No one wanted him to be more successful than me," Shanahan said in the statement. "When the team was 5-8 and mathematically out of the playoffs, I made the decision to evaluate our other two quarterbacks. This was not personal, but strictly professional. The decision was made in the best interest of the Washington Redskins and I stand by my decision."

Shanahan did not address the specific points or accusations, nor did he defend Kyle Shanahan.

"I will attempt to talk to Fletcher Smith directly to clear up every one of his misconceptions," Mike Shanahan said in the release.

Kyle Shanahan, according to Smith's statement, has refused to modify the Redskins' offense to maximize McNabb's strengths. Smith suggested that Shanahan has been among the people who have leaked reports "of Donovan not being in shape and not being able to grasp Kyle's offense." He made clear that while Redskins fans have supported McNabb, Washington's coaches - Coach Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle, in particular - have created an uncomfortable working environment for McNabb.

"While Donovan's feelings about Washington remain the same, the Shanahans - both Mike and more specifically Kyle - have made this an extremely difficult relationship to maintain," Smith wrote. "Their comments have been beyond disrespectful and unprecedented for a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback such as Donovan."

Benched late last week in favor of former backup Rex Grossman, McNabb has declined requests to address the situation. His only comments came Tuesday during his weekly radio appearance on ESPN 980.

Grossman received high marks from coaches for his 322-yard, four-touchdown performance in last week's 33-30 loss to Dallas. It was the eight-year veteran's first start since the 2008 season.

After the Cowboys took a 20-point lead in the third quarter, Grossman directed three consecutive touchdown drives (which covered 71, 78 and 56 yards) and capped the final two with two-point conversion passes. The second two-pointer tied the score at 30. The belief among some in the organization is that if Grossman plays well in the final two games, he could begin the 2011 season as the starter - if there is a 2011 season.

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