“I understand this game. I understand how it works.” The words of Redskins head coach, Mike Shanahan after Sunday’s losing but inspired effort against the Cowboys. If only he understood diplomacy and basic human decency as much as he understands football.
The much-maligned Rex Grossman threw four TD passes as he rallied the Redskins from a 20-point 3rd quarter deficit. He also threw two interceptions and fumbled but he did seem to validate the coach’s suspicions that Donovan McNabb was a square peg in a round hole. If you check your brain and instincts at the door and just follow Kyle Shanahan’s game plan- it seems to work. At least it did for one game.
So chalk one up for the system. Who the heck brought McNabb in here in the first place? Fire that guy. The guy who gave up precious draft picks for a player the head coach was forced to give up on. Oh- Mike Shanahan did that.
Couldn’t he have benched McNabb earlier in the week? Did he have to humiliate the guy who was introduced to us all as the second coming just a few months ago? Do we need all this damn drama all the damn time?
Now if he could just find 11 Rex Grossman’s who fit into the 3-4 defense…because the current squad doesn’t have a clue. And this crystallizes what is really going on here. The Shanahan’s have systems for both the offense and the defense. They are completely unwilling to change or alter their systems for the talent they have. It’s the only way to explain why they took a top-10 defense and turned it into the single worst defensive squad in the NFL. It’s the only way to explain why 6-time pro-bowler, Donovan McNabb turned out sub-par. They never let him be Donovan.
So how long before we reach the promised land? Well, we have a very stubborn Shanahan clan that does it their way. If their system works, we’ll only know with their guys, not the players from previous failed regimes. All they have to do is stock up the team with their 47 guys. At about 7 draft picks a year, this could be a lengthy process.
It seems to me that in a transitionary period, you implement what you can of your “systems” and compromise a little bit to maximize what you do have in your personnel. This is a foreign concept to Team Shanahan. The result- another lost season. And probably at least two more before this rebuilding process begins to show results.
And I still like Donovan McNabb. I like his intelligence and his style and his temperament. I think he could have worked here if the Shanahan’s had just let him be. If the next team he goes to gives him that latitude, he may well end up being one of the many, many cases of players let go by the Redskins who end up reborn and rededicated somewhere else. I’ll be rooting for him.
As for the “my way or the highway” Shanahan’s- good luck. I’ll root for you guys too. But the cheering would feel a lot better if you could exhibit a little class to go along with all the football smarts.