The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

If you can't trust your QB, who can you trust?

I love football games that come down to the last drive.

The trailing team's fate is in the hands of its quarterback. If he can find a way to score, his team wins. Any mistakes the team made earlier in the game are erased.

Sunday's game between the Washington Redskins and the Detroit Lions set up exactly that situation.

The Redskins were down six points with one minute and 50 seconds left in the game. I waited for veteran quarterback Donavan McNabb to calmly trot onto the field and redeem himself for his below average performance to that point, but I never got the chance.

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan opted to put in his backup quarterback, Rex Grossman, to lead the offense.

McNabb stood on the sidelines with a blank expression and his arms crossed while the announcers and fans wondered what was wrong.

McNabb must have been hurt, they thought. But the look on McNabb's face told a different story.

He had been passed over for Grossman because Shanahan said after the game that Grossman was more comfortable with the team's two-minute offense.

On Monday, Shanahan switched his reason for benching the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

He said nagging hamstring injuries had kept McNabb from practicing at full speed, which created doubts as to whether he had the "cardiovascular endurance" to run a two-minute drill with no timeouts.

I don't care how comfortable Grossman is with the two-minute offense. Sitting on the sideline for 58 minutes and 15 seconds is no way to prepare for the most pressure-packed situation in football. I trust a winded quarterback much more than Grossman, who had not played a single down this season.

Grossman performed exactly how I expected him to. He was sacked on the first play and fumbled the ball to a Detroit defender who then returned the fumble for a touchdown. The camera again returned to McNabb, who stood frozen with the same look of disbelief.

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Even as upset as McNabb must have been, he took the high road. He refused to criticize Shanahan's decision.

"You have to be a professional," McNabb said. "There's a long season ahead of us."

Even though Shanahan announced that McNabb was still the starter for the team, the relationship between the player and coach would never be the same. Shanahan's move was a low blow to McNabb, who has shown nothing but class during his career.

This situation is even more disappointing when you consider the amount of excitement Washington fans had when the team acquired McNabb from the Eagles this offseason.

Shanahan may have thought he was stirring up competition between his quarterbacks. He may have even legitimately thought Grossman gave him the best chance to win -- but both thoughts were wrong.

McNabb said: "When you get benched, you get benched. Just have to learn from it and move on."

But Shanahan's decision clearly shows that the Redskins are unimpressed with McNabb, and they probably won't continue with him as quarterback beyond this year. He has only one year left on his contract, and I promise that Washington won't be the team to re-sign him.

Washington, 4-4, still has a good chance of making the playoffs this year. If they don't, Shanahan's decision to bench McNabb may be the reason why. If you can't trust your quarterback, coach, then who can you trust?

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