Dungy: Shanahan doesn't believe in McNabb
If you're already tired of hearing about Mike Shanahan's decision to bench Donovan McNabb inside the final two minutes of Sunday's loss to the Lions, I recommend you shut off your Internet for the next two weeks, because this puppy's just getting started. NBC's Football Night in America crew took two cracks at that pinata on Sunday night, and both times, they focused on the well-tanned head coach.
"Obviously Donovan McNabb's contract is up at the end of this year, and now the Washington Redskins have to be asking themselves...do we want to pay Dononavn McNabb $15 million a year going forward if we don't know if he should be in the game at the two-minute warning?" Peter King began. "And does Donovan McNabb want to play in Washington?"
"If I'm Donovan McNabb, I'm hot," Tony Dungy replied. "I'm your starting quarterback. As a coach, I can't take you out of a game we have a chance to win if I believe in you. This tells me they don't believe in him."
"He's already been through this in Philadelphia," Dan Patrick added. "Now it's Rex Grossman?"
"What does it tell you about the coaching staff if they had the entire summer, spring and two months within the season to prepare [McNabb]?" Rodney Harrison asked. "This guy's a veteran quarterback. He's not a rookie quarterback. Never pull him out, especially for Rex Grossman. Are you kidding me?"
Later in the broadcast, with King now off the set, the subject was raised again, and the criticism was even more pointed. (And later still, Harrison said he "wouldn't put Rex Grossman in a two minute offense in a high school game.")
"I think it was an awful decision by Mike Shanahan," Harrison said, repeating some his previous points. "What type of statement are you making to to your team, saying that I'm pulling my best player and sitting him on the bench in the most critical situation of the game?"
"What you're saying is I don't believe in my quarterback," Dungy answered. "And to me, you cannot do that unless you're planning on making a quarterback change....We've got a bye coming up. Does Rex Grossman come in the lineup for Donovan?"
"And Donovan, he grows bitter at this point," Harrison speculated. "You have two weeks to marinate on this, and he's sitting there saying it happened to him in the past, that situation didn't work out, why would you replace me with Rex Grossman?"
Now, I don't know about all that, and I would be stupefied if Grossman starts against the Eagles on Monday Night Football after the bye. But here's the part that gets me. With "Rex knowing how to run that two-minute offense," as Shanahan put it, and with Shanahan making it clear that he prioritizes competence over name or salary, why has McNabb handled every previous two-minute attempt? Why has Grossman never gotten these chances in the past?
Just in the past four weeks, McNabb:
* Got the ball at his own 20 with 3:49 left in the first half against the Packers, and led the Redskins to a field goal.
* Got the ball at his own 20 with 3:58 left in the game against the Packers and drove the Redskins to a game-tying field goal.
* Got the ball at his own 38 with 1:52 left in the first half against the Colts and drove the Redskins to a 48-yard field-goal attempt.
* Got the ball at his own 38 with 2:13 left in the game against the Colts, down by 3, and failed horribly. (But again, if Grossman knows the two-minute offense better this week, he surely did two weeks ago as well. Why didn't he enter there?)
* Got the ball near midfield with just 16 seconds left in the first half against the Lions, and completed two quick passes leading to a field goal.
So Shanahan let McNabb go out there five times with less than 4 minutes left in the half or the game over the past month. Four of those times, McNabb got the Redskins in position for a field-goal attempt of less than 50 yards.
And now, getting the ball at his own 25, with 1:30 left, Shanahan decided that putting McNabb out there "puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback that hasn't been used to that terminology."
If you're benching him because he stunk, just say that. But this two-minute terminology stuff was pretty weird.
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