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Ron Jaworski on Donovan McNabb: "It's a head-scratcher"

By Barry Svrluga

There may be no member of the football media who can speak about Donovan McNabb's career with more authority than ESPN's Ron Jaworski, who played quarterback in Philadelphia for 10 seasons and has a reputation for his ability to break down film and intelligently discuss players' and teams' strengths and weaknesses.

With that in mind, Jaworski participated in a conference call with Philly and Washington reporters on Thursday, and we used just a couple of his comments in the Thursday morning story on McNabb and the two-minute offense.

But Jaworski had more to say. The thrust: He couldn't quite figure out the reasoning behind Coach Mike Shanahan's decision to pull McNabb in the final 1 minute, 50 seconds of the Oct. 31 loss at Detroit.

"It's a head-scratcher," Jaworski said. "I'm sitting here right now in the third quarter of that Detroit-Washington game for the second time and I'm still trying to find something that would have hinted a change was going to be made, and quite honestly, I still can't find anything....

"Certainly I thought Donovan was doing all he could have done in the situation and during the game and under the duress he was under. The offensive line wasn't blocking well and they weren't running consistently, and the receivers weren't catching the ball. That's why it's a head-scratcher. You're 4-3 and have a chance to go to 5-3 and you would choose that time to bench a quarterback? I can't find any rhyme or reason why they made that decision."

Jaworski clearly came off as a pro-McNabb force during the more than 35-minute discussion (which also covered lots of Michael Vick). He even believes - and this could make some sense - that some of the reports that leaked out last week that Shanahan and his offensive coordinator/son Kyle had limited the playbook for McNabb is just, as he said, "normal operating procedure."

He said when he went to Miami after his decade with the Eagles, there were two game plans each week: One for Dan Marino, the starter and star, and one for Jaworski, who was learning a new system as the backup.

"I wasn't familiar with that offense," Jaworski said. "I didn't have the whole game plan at my disposal. It takes years to learn the nuances of an offense. The fact that it's scaled down doesn't surprise me at all. That's what an astute coach would do. You have to get a feel for how he's learning it and add as things go on. I'm surprised those comments made it in a negative manner. I look at that in a positive manner. Let's spoon feed this guy the system."

Jaworski also chose to look at McNabb's struggles - his 76.0 passer rating is his lowest since his rookie year, and he has seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions - within the context of the Redskins' entire offense, which has numerous deficiencies. McNabb has been sacked 22 times; only Chicago's Jay Cutler has been sacked more.

"I said this early in the year, I thought his game against Houston was the best game I saw him play in his career," Jaworski said. "That's how well he played in that game. There have been uneven games, but you have to look at the whole body of this offense right now. They have some issues.

"Obviously the quarterback gets too much credit when it goes well and two much blame when it goes poorly. The offensive line has really struggled. There is too much quick pressure on the quarterback. When he has the time in the pocket, and they have [maximum] protection, he's been able to execute those plays almost flawlessly. Too many times there is quick pressure. Too many times receivers are dropping balls and there are too many known situations for the defense when they can get after the quarterback. When the protection is there, he has operated this offense well. When there's pressure, that's when mistakes have been made."

The inevitable conclusion of all the McNabb discussion over the last two weeks has been: Will he be a Redskin in 2011? Jaworski initially used the old I-don't-have-a-crystal-ball approach in fending off that question, but he eventually gave the assessment so many people have since the benching - there are now serious questions about a return.

"They thought they had their quarterback; I thought they had their quarterback," Jaworski said. "I thought Donovan was a perfect fit for the style of offense they wanted to run, but it looks like what has transpired in recent times -- his contract is still in the final year and it doesn't appear anything has happened on that front. He was yanked from the game in the two-minute vs. Detroit. None of those are positive. My feeling is, although there's a dearth of quarterbacks in the NFL right now, my gut tells me Donovan might be somewhere else right now."

Isn't that a risk for the Redskins?

"It's a tremendous risk," Jaworski said. When you have a quarterback that has performed at a high level for 12 years and you decide he's no longer your guy, as Bill Parcells used to say, you can't dial up 1-800 quarterback. They're just not out there. I'm not sure there's a dozen guys in this league that give you consistent play over the course of the season. And when you look behind Donovan, you have two journeymen guys in Rex Grossman and John Beck. If you go through the draft process, now you're looking two or three years down the road. A lot of teams don't want to go through that rebuilding process. My instincts say, 'Let's make peace and move this thing forward.' Donovan is still a talented player."

By Barry Svrluga  | November 12, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Donovan McNabb, Mike Shanahan, Rex Grossman, quarterbacks  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Can Redskins defense contain Jackson and Maclin again?
Next: Andy Reid recalls his 2008 benching of McNabb: "I don't think it's quite like this one."

Comments

LOL...the Examiner had this YESTERDAY...and I reposted it on here about 6 hours ago. Way to keep up, WaPo...keep up the "good work"...

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 12, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I know I'm late on this...

I do think that it's absurd that the Redskins haven't practiced the two minute drill in 6 weeks. Considering how close all of our games have been, you would think being prepared for a two minute drill would be crucial. Even if they have to have Rexy running the drill in practice, it would still benefit the offense as a whole. I still would prefer to have McNabb running it in actual games. I think his experience would make up for his personal lack of practice in it, but to not work on it as a TEAM in practice is irresponsible.

Posted by: kaasmaster | November 12, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

espn ran this early this week... the examiner ran this exact same article weds or thurs...stealing articles from another washington publication... a new low...classic!!!

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | November 12, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The Redskins are a team with a few young core players to build with and perhaps 30 players that could easily be replaced with other average NFLers and see no drop off.

Orakpo, Landry, Hall, Trent Williams, Cooley, Banks.

Then you add in veterans like Fletcher, Haynesworth and Moss.

That's what the team has to build on - not counting for now on the free agent McNabb.

Not a lot compared to other teams in the NFL is it?

The OL other than Trent Williams is a complete wash.

The DL outside of Haynesworth and perhaps Adam Carriker is a wash as well.

You can't win with only 3 out of 8 Line slots performing at a solid level.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | November 12, 2010 10:40 AM |
########################################################################################################################################################

rak-- legit!!!

landry-- finally playing his "natural" postion... legit!!!

hall-- not very good just getting throw at a lot bc stone hands is doing an excellent job covering #1's this year... look at the film...

t. williams-- beast... will only get better...

cooley-- legit...

banks-- difference maker on teams but nothing much else... definitely a legit returner...

fletcher-- legit...

fat albert-- jury is still out... still just a paycheck player...

moss-- extremely steady and consistent...

j. brown-- very good, playing out of position and hurt... you don't make the pro bowl 2 out of 4 yrs not being any good... he's hurt this year...

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | November 12, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

espn ran this early this week... the examiner ran this exact same article weds or thurs...stealing articles from another washington publication... a new low...classic!!!

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | November 12, 2010 11:45 AM


To be fair, it's not a "new" low...it's been the staple of RI since JLC left...

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 12, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

RI reporters: The super slow cut-and-paste Kings!

Who says they don't read through the comments. I think they read through them to find the stuff that we have posted from other sources so that they can go to those sources to copy their stuff and regurgitate it. It's what they consider investigative journalism, and following a hot lead.

Posted by: kaasmaster | November 12, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to get back to the discussion of how god awful that broadcast last night was.

I'll always love Joey T. but the NFLN has got to make an adjustment on the fly here. Yes, Papa is fine but it's brutal having to listen to Millen and Joe butcher what turned into a fine game.

I had to switch over to 30 rock/office for a break after halftime.

From what I see this morning the reviews are almost universally horrific.

Anyone think they may switch horses midstream?

Posted by: WaitingGuilty | November 12, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | November 12, 2010 11:45 AM


To be fair, it's not a "new" low...it's been the staple of RI since JLC left...

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 12, 2010 11:51 AM
******************************************************************

well played, sir... well played!!!

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | November 12, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse


I'd like to get back to the discussion of how god awful that broadcast last night was.

Posted by: WaitingGuilty | November 12, 2010 11:53 AM |

cheesey, to say the least

Posted by: hessone | November 12, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Veteran wide receiver Kevin Curtis is ready to make a return to the NFL.

Adam Caplan of Fox Sports reports that Curtis has been cleared to work out for teams now after being treated for testicular cancer in September. His agent Ryan Tollner has started notifying teams that Curtis is ready to play.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

one of donovan's favorite targets ever... sign him!!!

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | November 12, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I do think that it's absurd that the Redskins haven't practiced the two minute drill in 6 weeks.

Posted by: kaasmaster | November 12, 2010 11:45 AM

Kinda absurd if they haven't even addressed it in practice...but I'm more worried about the offense in the OTHER 56 minutes at this point.

Posted by: PlayAction | November 12, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

McNabb's not coming back. Shanahan doesn't want him, why would D Mac stay? Thanks Shanahan, you nepotistic control freak! Oh well, at least he knows how to win, I think...oh boy

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | November 12, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

espn ran this early this week... the examiner ran this exact same article weds or thurs...stealing articles from another washington publication... a new low...classic!!!

Posted by: jimmy_the_crickett | November 12, 2010 11:45 AM


To be fair, it's not a "new" low...it's been the staple of RI since JLC left...

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 12, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse


beep

Posted by: hessone | November 12, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post...my computer (and the moveable type) is acting up...

Posted by: brownwood26 | November 12, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Shanahan is the coach - he had his reasons - it doesn't matter what everyone else wants to think or speculate about. This is a two week old story now...

Posted by: AsstGM | November 12, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I can see the smoke coming out of Snyder's ears. It's almost time to call Vinny.

Posted by: richs91 | November 12, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the Post has to finish writing their stories on Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell before they get around to stealing articles about what's going on today. After all, wasn't the election...almost 2 weeks ago? Can;t sell newspapers unless you have lots of articles about pretty Republicans!

Posted by: cbtole2 | November 12, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the Post has to finish writing their stories on Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell before they get around to stealing articles about what's going on today. After all, wasn't the election...almost 2 weeks ago? Can;t sell newspapers unless you have lots of articles about pretty Republicans!

Posted by: cbtole2 | November 12, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the Post has to finish writing their stories on Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell before they get around to stealing articles about what's going on today. After all, wasn't the election...almost 2 weeks ago? Can;t sell newspapers unless you have lots of articles about pretty Republicans!

Posted by: cbtole2 | November 12, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

That's 'cause he hasn't watched all the previous games and watched McLovin' do EXACTLY the same wrong thing in the EXACT same situation EVERY TIME.

It's obvious why he was benched.

Posted by: DikShuttle | November 12, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

There is one explanation for the benching of McNabb that makes sense to me.

If McNabb was suffering from problems with his leg, his line was doing a poor job blocking, and the other team knew you had to pass in the last 2 minutes, you might want to take your star out so he will live to play another day.

In fact, the line did not block for the replacement and they unloaded on him. Good idea to keep McNabb out under the situation.

The problem is that neither the coach nor the QB can say that was the reason because you would be throwing the line under the bus. So, because you can't say the real reason why you took him out, the media speculates about all sorts of crazy things and it looks bad.

Joe Gibbs would have handled it better, but there are few like him. He would have said he made a mistake and the loss was on him. That would have been the end of it. Shanahan does not have that type of personality. That's why Gibbs beat him in the Super Bowl.

Posted by: joyster8 | November 12, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the Post has to finish writing their stories on Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell before they get around to stealing articles about what's going on today. After all, wasn't the election...almost 2 weeks ago? Can;t sell newspapers unless you have lots of articles about pretty Republicans!

Posted by: cbtole2 | November 12, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I hope everyone comes down on Shanny/Allen if the McNabb thing does not work out past this year. If Cerrato had traded away two high/mid picks for one year of play from McNabb, everyone would go ballistic. He hand picked this guy to be his QB. If he had any reservations, which it seems he did by not extending him, then he should not have made the trade.
Who will QB this team next year? Grossman?
The Bills will have the 1st pick and you know they will take Andrew Luck No.1. They need a QB.
We have an average team at best. Throwing away draft picks has been and will only continue to cripple this team. If the Patriots can always end up with about a half dozen picks in the first two rounds every year, there is no reason why we can't operate that way. They keep their picks, coach them, and then trade away vets when they get to be about 30yrs old to make room for the young guys, and acquire more picks along the way. It's not complicated or mysterious.

Posted by: renhoekk2 | November 12, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

That's 'cause he hasn't watched all the previous games and watched McLovin' do EXACTLY the same wrong thing in the EXACT same situation EVERY TIME.

It's obvious why he was benched.

Posted by: DikShuttle


exactly
I don't need JAWS to tell me why our QB shouldn't have been benched unless he's sat down and watched EVERY play this year.

And besides, if he thought Donnie was executing plays flawlessly when he had time...jesus h christ. Was he executing them flawlessly off that 1st play from scrimmage where he tripped and fell? Or the fumbled handoff? Or when he bounced the ball into the ground when he had little to no pressure on him?

All this is is more posturing because Donnieboy is a popular well-liked player. This has more to do with Donovan being a charismatic figure over the years and his past performances than it has to do with his current on-field (terrible) play.

But the Shanahans deserve it. They brought him here.

Posted by: cstanton1 | November 12, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

REALITY CHECK!!

McNABB has been horrible most of the season!!

He should have been benched SOONER!

If Houston was the best game of his career, as Jaws states, than why did we LOSE?

Why couldn't we put up ANY points in the 4th qtr?

How can it be his BEST GAME when he only showed up for 3 QTRS?!!.......and what does that say about McNabb's career if that was the BEST GAME OF HIS CAREER?

Posted by: filmchis | November 12, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Mike Shanahan should fire the offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan so that the Redskins may move on to win more games and in that way be measured as a successful NFL franchise.

Posted by: moralcompass1 | November 12, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"There may be no member of the football media who can speak about Donovan McNabb's career with more authority than ESPN's Ron Jaworski..."

Sonny Jurgensen?

Posted by: WorstSeat | November 12, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

NO quarterback can be fairly judged if the line is inept and only one proven wideout is present. McNabb has endured a brutal pass rush, and has lately had his receivers drop a number of passes. His running game not only does not perform, but is as likely to lose 4 or 5 yards as gain any. Maybe Shanahan thinks the line is adequate and that is why he hasn't called them out.

Posted by: puttforever | November 12, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

NO ONE CARES!!!!

Play some football and put the stable of Post sports writer on traffic reports on slow weeks, because the horse is dead and your beating it well beyond what is needed...

Posted by: DaveLopan | November 12, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

What's so hard to figure out here Jaworski? The coach obviously thought his team had a better chance to win with a QB change. He is in the business of winning football games and making those kinds of decisions. You're in the business of analyzing those decisions and picking them apart.

McNabb: wanna know how to keep from being benched? Play better. Play so well the coach wouldn't think of pulling you.

It's not rocket science here people.

Who cares if some other publication ran the story back in 1956 or Thursday or whatever? If you don't like the way WaPo does things go to those publications. Maybe you'll spend more time there and less time here bellyaching.

I think I've alienated enough people for one post.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | November 12, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

D Mc has been having problems, and O-line is one of them, and obvious he's not in sync yet. Also obvious he was best choice to win that game. He has history w/2 minute offence and is comfortable. I hope he stays - he's our best chance to win for a long time, and he's good enough to "get it". Shan and he need to be on same page for the good of the Skins. Go Burgundy and Gold!

Posted by: wscuburch | November 12, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

To repeat, if the Shanahans REALLY thought they had a better chance to win with Rex Grossman, then by definition, they are unfit to coach in the NFL. If the Shanahans had doubts about McNabb, then why did they trade Campbell? (Who, BTW, seems to be a winner, now that he's behind a genuine pro football line.) Time for everyone to get behind Leonsis, John wall and the new Andre Blatche, and forget football this year.

Posted by: kauf5413 | November 12, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

filmchris wrote
REALITY CHECK!!

McNABB has been horrible most of the season!!

He should have been benched SOONER!
============================
hahahahahahahahahaha they got no backup you buffoon......especially behind an O line that allows a jail break almost every passing down....that immobile stiff Grossman is what he was....when they put him in the game....... DEAD MEAT !!!

Posted by: GRIMReaper55 | November 12, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"To repeat, if the Shanahans REALLY thought they had a better chance to win with Rex Grossman, then by definition, they are unfit to coach in the NFL. "

If the Shanahans REALLY thought Rex Grossman was a better QB he'd be the starter. Sometimes a new QB will a) cause a team to rally and play better b) change the course of a game. They took a gamble and lost, but the bottom line is they were trying to do something to spark the team and win a game. The Shanahans look like pretty good coaches to me.

Why does it seem so many people are defending McNabb? He has a QB rating of 76.0 and is ranked 25th. He has played well (the Houston game) and he has played poorly. He's made nice throws and reads, he's made bad throws and has thrown into triple coverage. He's played unevenly. It is what it is.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | November 12, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

You know, if Ron Jaworski is giving a press conference, and there are a lot of reporters there, you guys do realize that the quotes are going to be the same for everyone, right?

Posted by: nuzuw | November 12, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

shamm-o-KLAN has not called out the weakist part of the o-line lg and center because they are so-called white just like him and son all of them inept,bigoted and liars. the DIC-tater has made the team in many ways just as bad as the one last year and it took years of work to do that.

Posted by: wathu19 | November 12, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Every person that has followed the Redskins should know the recipe for football success.... Joe Gibbs taught us that in the glory years of the 80's and early 90's...

The offensive line sets the tone of the team, NOT the QB. Gibbs won 3 superbowls with 3 different QB's. The only consistent factor in all three SB's was the offensive line. You protect the QB and the open holes for the RB, the team wins. You don't, then you get what you get like the Detroit game...

McNabb has been inconsistent, but let's be clear as to where the skins need to improve... The O-line is one of the worst in the league, if not THE worst. They are old and patched together with duct tape.

Secondly, get McNabb some legit receivers... Tana's prime has passed and he is always good for a few drops during the game. Utilize the TE's more with Cooley and Davis. The skins do not throw screen passes to slow down the rush and they don't run enough, effectively, for anyone to respect them.

It all starts with the Offensive Line Folks!!!

Posted by: sd-bones | November 12, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps we've ended up with Mike Shanahan from the Oakland Raiders as opposed to the Denver Broncos.

It would be just in line with our luck.

Posted by: Redskinrex | November 12, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Our problem is the O line. Has been, and still is. If you have a great O line, any NFL QB will be fine. The running game will work great with any NFL back. Those guys are all talented. QB's need protection.....we have none. Running backs need holes.....we have none. The O line is the heart of the offense. Give McNabb Tom Brady's O line and he'll be awesome. And Torain, or Portis, or Williams will run for 1000.....

Posted by: Riggo2 | November 13, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

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