I found out that the Washington Redskins had traded for Donovan McNabb while overseas, away from internet access, from an Eagles fan. He came out with a big smile on his face and told me. "For TWO picks!" he said.
I laughed. "Next time you pull my leg, make it more believable."
"No, seriously, it's true. ESPN.com alert."
He showed me.
Only I didn't say "Fudge."
Fast forward to today, Dallas, to McNabb on the bench, and to a future with a quarterback position completely in doubt. And I couldn't be happier.
Maybe I'm alone in this. It's possible no one else found the outcome of today's game in Dallas pleasing. But I think it's fantastic. Rex Grossman played a better offensive half than any McNabb has had all season, and ran the offense surprisingly well for a guy who hasn't started since 2008. Did he play any worse than McNabb? Certainly not, and he's a heckuva lot cheaper. And with the loss, that first round pick keeps looking better.
Had Grossman sucked up the joint, the excuses for McNabb would keep on flying. I've heard them all from idiot radio hosts and callers over the past few weeks -- he's got no talent around him, they say, a terrible offensive line, an idiot nepotism-based offensive coordinator, blah blah blah. Whatever. The truth is that anyone with eyes in their head can see that McNabb is no longer what he once was.
McNabb has been one of my least-favorite football players for as long as I've been a fan. I dislike his up and down style, his tendency to choke in key moments, his lackadaisical demeanor, and his guaranteed percentage of balls thrown straight into the dirt or lofted past wide open receivers (a percentage which seems all the higher this year). I laughed as I collected my winnings for betting against him in playoff games. And honestly, there's never been a game against the Redskins over the past several years where I said "I wish we had Donovan McNabb." He has the posture of a winner without winning anything, instead of the hunger of a player who just wants to improve and is focused on success. He's the exact opposite of what I want, and what I think fans should want, in a quarterback.
I hated the deal. It was overpaying for McNabb to win now. But despite the age of the overall roster (which gets dramatically younger without Joey Galloway and McNabb), the Redskins actually aren't a "win now" team. They've got a core of young players -- Brian Orakpo, LaRon Landry, Lorenzo Alexander, DeAngelo Hall, Trent Williams, Chris Cooley, Anthony Armstrong, and Ryan Torain are all under 30 -- who are just getting to know this system together (sidenote: the discoveries of Armstrong and Torain have been criminally underrated; Armstrong is the best 2nd WR statistically that Moss has had in his career here, and Torain is a starting-quality guy if he can stay healthy).
In any case, if you're going to show longterm commitment to a consistent approach to football (which I think Snyder has with the Allen-Shanahan show), you shouldn't fill the quarterback position with a guy who's only ever been in one system, and will naturally be unwilling to change his approach. That's why the McNabb move never made sense to me.
Grossman's success as a rusty backup with known issues against a red-hot Dallas team (which under Jason Garrett is far better than their record - tonight on Sunday Night Football, the hosts agreed they're the best sub-.500 team in the NFL) sends the message that the problem really is/was McNabb, not the Shanahans, and not the O-line.
I'm not surprised. I lived in Houston and watched Rex Grossman light things up in the preseason Colt Brennan-style under Kyle Shanahan's tutelage. Read this and remember it: Shanahan-the-Younger came to DC having spent last season coordinating the best passing offense in the league (Kubiak called the run game, Shanahan the passing game). His offensive scheme turned Matt Schaub (who's just above average in skillset) into the league's leading passer. But McNabb clearly rejected his system, missing open receivers, making bizarre reads, all on the way to his worst statistical season as a pro.
After Allen and the front office made the decision to get McNabb re-signed to a deal that had a clear end of year "thank you and goodbye" clause, something which ought to light a fire under any competitive-minded player, McNabb has not improved his play at all. In fact, it might be worse. The Giants game was one of the worst I've ever seen him play.
Allen still has to answer for giving two draft picks to the Eagles for this guy. But now the Shanahan-Allen team has to decide what comes next. Do they use that ever-climbing 1st rounder to draft a QB? Do they jump into a pretty amazing free agent class and try to wheel and deal? Doubtful. The method Bruce Allen used in Tampa Bay was a bunch of retread veteran QBs, guys like Brian Griese and Jeff Garcia (he got to the playoffs with Garcia and with a combo of Griese and 3rd rounder Chris Simms, where the 11-5 Bucs lost to the Redskins). Josh Freeman was the first Tampa Bay pick AFTER Allen was fired - he doesn't take QBs high. Sexy Rexy isn't a longterm answer. But he can be a temporary one. He's cheaper, he knows the system, he's competitive, and he can keep the seat warm while a project learns the scheme.
The likeliest scenario here is that Sexy Rexy will comeback in a "management QB" role for a season (assuming there is a season) while a mid-round "hope of the future" rookie holds a clipboard. And that's a good thing. We've seen it work elsewhere. And it can work here.
Oh, and a lot of those people in the locker room reportedly disgruntled about benching McNabb? What have they done this season that they have the right to be disgruntled? I expect a lot of them to be gone, too. Shanahan's "trust me, I know football" remarks tonight illustrate that.
Now if only the same idiots who've been defending McNabb's indefensibly awful play all season had the same result awaiting them.