Sunday, December 19, 2010

Into the Wilderness

Get ready for a long, cold, boring walk, Redskins fans.

Mike Shanahan, with the entire Shanahan family coaching future in the balance, decided to just say, "ahhh... never mind" about the whole McNabb Era we were all sold on last Easter morning.

If you are a Skins fans, you have a right to be bitter. This is not just having the rug pulled out from under you, it is like trading your TV and recliner for that rug, and having your wife one day just say: "Sorry. I just decided. It's ugly. Throw it out."

Like a TV show that will tease the audience along with multi-week plot lines, only to then suddenly, reveal that it was nothing more than a dream sequence.

It usually says the writers are just about out of ideas. Maybe the Shanny's have some killer ideas left.

I wouldn't hold your breath. This is going to be a long, brutal walk into the NFL woods looking for the next franchise quarterback here in DC.

It is something the Skins haven't had since Theismann.

No, really.

Theismann held the starting job for nearly 6 1/2 unbroken years back in the 1980s. Since then, nobody has come close. Even the Super Bowl winning QBs were just lucky spot, lucky time, veterans.

Theismann begat Schroeder, who begat Williams, Humphries, Rypien et. al. Heath Shuler was a stab at a franchise guy. We know how that worked out. Trent Green and Gus Frerotte were low risk flyers, who were either permitted to walk, or just fizzled.

Instability reigned after the Heath debacle, and no coaching regime since has ever really tried to get "the franchise" by drafting a guy high in the first round.

There have been decent veteran trades like Brad Johnson and coaches' pet favorites, like Mark Brunnell and Danny Wuerrfel. The owner has directly picked a few of them like Jeff George and Patrick Ramsey, each of them quickly despised by the coaches he paid to play them.

The team made an impulse purchase on one them, Jason Campbell. Shopping for a cornerback, they threw Campbell in the cart at the last minute, but then failed to play him, groom him, or develop an offense for him that played to his strengths.

The owner and his BFF/underling/radio host Vinny Cerrato made various runs at guys they suddenly got a crush on, like Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez.

Those failed.

Which, in retrospect, might have saved us a lot of headaches and draft picks.

In the five head coaches I have welcomed to town on the radio here in D.C. since Dan Snyder bought the team, I have noticed a distinct pattern.

The new coach, ends up hating the quarterback the old coach left behind, and that guy ends up on the curb like a gaudy purple couch that doesn't match the new decor.

Only this time, Shanahan was sworn in, and it didn't seem like anything crazy was going to happen. Bruce Allen, we thought, was going to hunker down to do the real heavy lifting of an NFL GM.

Then.... boom. McNabb.

Just like that. Out of nowhere. With nobody really clamoring for such a move, it made Redskins fans step back and sorta, well, think about it.

And we had to talk ourselves into why it made sense to trade two picks for a guy this late in his career.

But most of us bought the whole wonderful, soft focus argument of "think about what kind of leadership he'll bring." And we stretched our hopes to tarp over the skeptical voices in our head that kept saying McNabb must really be just about finished.

And we imagined a window of "3-4 good years" in which to make a ham sandwich of a football team around this guy that, at least, didn't taste like a shit sandwich.

Some poor saps, even took a genuine McNabb #5 jersey as the final bribe to purchase expensive club seats out there at the Ginormous Plastic Tarp Gallery known as FedEx Field.

Well, they're collectors items now, folks!

Turns out, this new, wise, patient, no-nonsense regime, had goofed a bit on McNabb. Bounced balls. Too much improvising. Reduced mobility.

Wow. Really? You don't say! Geez, why didn't you guys shoot me an email? I had notes on all of this stuff, and I don't even work in an NFL scouting department.


In other words, given 11 years of NFL tape on this guy, they still fucked it up.

Now, they'll set about finding a new guy, based on just a few years of college tape as a guide.

Count me as pessimistic.


In the meantime, Shanny and Son plan to "see what they have" in Rex Grossman and John Beck before the season is out.

If I may, let me play spoiler on this, Mike.

You've got nothing.

You've got a barely serviceable backup, and a 29 year old practice squad player.

This is not my opinion, either. It's the opinion of the entire league. So if you think you've got something, then it'll be a bigger find than when Vasco De Gama found a direct route from Europe to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope.

And please spare me how Grossman can be "lockout insurance" in case there's little or no training camp next summer in which to spool up a new quarterback who "knows the system."

For one, trying to predict the shape and scope of this labor battle, is hopeless. You might as well try to predict the weather for every NFL playoff game - right now.

For another, actually making roster plans on such a hypothetical circumstance, is idiotic. What exactly, would you be "insuring" by keeping Grossman? Actual insurance, is intended to protect something of "value."

Next year has no win-loss value for this team.

Next year is a rebuilding year. Period. You can go 8-8 with Grossman, or 4-12 with Brian St. Pierre, fresh off his couch.

Next year, DOES .. NOT... MATTER.

It would be like buying fire insurance for your garbage.

Which, speaking of dumpster fires, let's gaze a moment at this defense. Stripped of the ongoing Haynesworth sideshow, you are left with a unit that's dead last in just about everything.

On Sunday, while everyone was playing "How's Rexy Lookin'", the defense was as accommodating as a Ritz Carlton butler.

Facing a journeyman backup under center, the Redskins allowed 434 total yards, 134 of them on the ground. The journeyman lit up the secondary, posting a 110.8 passer rating, while tight end Jason Witten went nuts.

Oh yeah, all this without starting wideouts Dez Bryant and Roy Williams.

The Cowboys didn't punt until deep into the 3rd quarter.

But I digress. Shanny's genius is on offense. And defensive shortcomings will be pinned to whatever sap coordinator lines up for the job. Jim Haslett, call your agent. Because it's not going to be him, it'll be you.

So the Redskins will be taking a QB with their first round pick this coming April.

That's a lock.

The three QB's worthy of that 6-9 range first rounder, are Luck, Newton, and Locker.

Only Luck seems to be a consensus pocket-passing stud. Newton holds the promise of a more accurate, less emotionally fragile Vince Young. Locker's accuracy took a nose dive this year.

I bet one of those three is sitting there at the Redskins natural pick. I hope it's the one they really, really, love.

Otherwise, they'll pay a brutal ransom of picks and players to just move up a few spots. And I bet it's a ransom they will surely pay.

If you throw away a 2nd and a 4th for a guy apparently nobody in the coaching department really liked anyway, imagine what slice of the future you'll push out the door for somebody who gives you the warm, coaching, squishies inside?

Yes, McNabb was treated shabbily.
Yes, the $3.5 million mid-season bonus was a waste of money.
Yes, he had a lousy season by his own standards.
Yes, the team's marketing department had no shame.

Yes, yes, yes, to all of that stuff.

It doesn't really matter now.

Shanny is leading a long walk into the woods. Keep your eyes open for that franchise QB, dress warmly, and pack a lunch.


  1. man, that defensive performance had to make shanny's face red(der?).

  2. If you are going to mention the Cowboys free ride up and down the field today "without Dez Bryant and Roy Williams", you might also want to mention the absence of Laron Landry. I pin the entire defensive failure this season on Jim Haslett and his Frankenstein-ish "scheme" that doesnt seem to follow any rhyme or reason. Yes, it's not the "3-4" that everyone claims it is, but it's a hybrid mess of random shifts, substitutions, and formations with one common denominator - horrid ineffectiveness. Offensively, how I am supposed to believe that Grossman can't be effective when the likes of Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman are leading their teams to the cusp of the playoffs? This team needs to continue building the offensive line, commit to Ryan Torain as its bonafide starter (and hope he stays healthy), and - for God's Sake - go get a stud wide receiver in the draft or elsewhere.

  3. Nice article. Like you said, we are in trouble and continue to be dysfunctional. I would hope they pick up more O-lineman and a nice LB in the draft before a QB. Those draft picks for McNabb sure look good now. Maybe they trade McNabb to an AFC team (not Minny or AZ unless they give a lot) and recoup some picks. One way or the other we need more than our 6 draft picks.

  4. The Redskins have had similar issues to the Miami Dolphins after Marino retired at the end of 1999. Since 1999, Dolphin fans have been treated to the following stellar QBs: Jay Fiedler (2000-2004), A.J. Feeley (2004), Gus Frerotte (2005), Daunte Culpepper/Joey Harrington (2006), Trent Green/John Beck (2007), Chad Pennington/Chad Henne 2008, Chad Henne 2009-2010

    You will have some competitive seasons (10-6, 11-5), but will never be a legit Super Bowl contender. You will endure many years of mediocrity or just abysmal records (9-7, 7-9, 6-10, 4-12, 1-15). BUT this outcome is its own special hell.

    Good luck, Redskins fans will need it.


  5. I think the skins need to give Flynn a call.... seeing as how Green Bay continues to be a quarterback making machine.

  6. One thing about going back to Theismann....If you recall, he was DONE! It seemed to happen suddenly but, the team was foundering and, pretty much, all because of HIM! We were facing the prospect of benching a legend...Sounds familiar...Sadly, no one came along to snap McNabb's leg.


  7. You forgot to mention one of the biggest "Wha Wha What?" moments: McNabb benched, but still sent out for the coin toss. Since when is a guy who is not only is not playing/starting, but was just sat down, sent out for the coin toss. Unreal!

  8. Love your show, and your comments most of the time but you are so relentlessly negative on Shanny that it gets boring, he must do something right once in a blue moon, no? -- Shanny is the cause of all ills, the future is dark, bleak, gloomy etc, etc.

    You said on the radio show today the the Redskins are still the oldest team in the league, its not true, and am surprised you missed the WP article on it, there are 3 teams now older than them.

    And no its not Shanny's history and general modus operandi to trade draft picks, in Denver in the last 10 years he's averaged 8.2 picks per year. He was on a Kelly Johnson interview this summer where he flat out said that the McNabb trade is an anomaly in terms of how he does business and not to expect more trades for picks.

    Right now the Skins have 7 picks heading into this draft (got a pick back for J. Brown and one for Tyron). If they get picks for big Al and McNabb, they will have 9 picks. They have already added an extra pick for 2012.

    14 years of coaching, only 2 losing seasons, 7 playoff appearances, top 5 offenses for a good chunk of that time. I don't get the whole Shanny is a boob routine.

    Yeah the dude isn't easy going, he's intense, and doesn't care about using tact with star players, or seem concerned about media backlash -- and yeah agree he's far from perfect -- but when I listen to you I get the vibe that he's the dumbest coach in America.

    Yes, he made a mistake on McNabb. Joe Gibbs in comparison was flawless with his Duckett deals, and Lloyd, and Brunnel, giving up picks for Campbell, making Archuelta the highest paid safety in the NFL, letting Clark and Pierce go, trading a 5th rounder for a special teams player, throwing in a bonus 2nd rounder for Portis.

    I am not going to fry him and write off the future for one mistake. Gibbs made 10 bad deals like this one. We can survive one. And unlike Gibbs he's already going about adding picks. And look i love Gibbs so don't mean to pick on him but I think it brings some perspective here.

    Who was the dude that fleeced Vinny and Gibbs in the Portis and the three way Duckett deal -- yep its that dumb dumb dude Mike Shanahan.

  9. Best article here is by mike skapla. Not you czabe. You know what the worst thing in DC is right now? Not a single sports radio to tune into. I go to the other show at your time and they are a bunch of idiots. so i tune into yours, since you are "elite" and you presumably know your stuff. Today for example, your rant about us having to lose picks to get Andrew luck. Let me recap. You wanted us to pick Brady Quinn. Remmeber? even if we can trade picks.

    Dude. Let me say this. You know dick about football and shanny knows enough.

    Typical republican. Turn into a hater to get ratings. thats what you are.

  10. A couple of comments on your monologue.

    1) "You've got a barely serviceable backup, and a 29 year old practice squad player.”

    Assume for the moment that you are right, then ask yourself the question: If a mediocre QB can move the team for four touchdowns and 2 two-points conversions with relative ease on a team that supposedly was divided, what does that say about McNabb inability to perform on a team that fully supported him?

    2)This is not just having the rug pulled out from under you, it is like trading your TV and recliner for that rug, and having your wife one day just say: "Sorry. I just decided. It's ugly. Throw it out.”

    A better analogy will be a grocer saying: This is a rotten egg, I need to replace it before everyone gets sick. Of course, there are always idiots who will think replacing the bad egg is a bad idea.

    3) Shopping for a cornerback, they threw Campbell in the cart at the last minute, but then failed to play him, groom him, or develop an offense for him that played to his strengths.

    Five years as starting QB is a failure to play him? Some of the so-called “Best OC” came and went, they tried to make this guy a professional QB but failed, and yet he is still blameless. Contrast Gibbs mishandle of the trade that brought Campbell with the one that Shanahan used to bring McNabb. Both were failures, but one of the coaches saw it on time to nip on the bud instead of prolonging the agony - and yet, he is the one who gets maligned. Masochists is the word that comes to mind for some of the Skins fans, they derive pleasure from pain and humiliation, for others is just a matter of race, or like Dexter Manley said on the Riggins show with a warm laugh: “I don’t get this thing about McNabb, must be brotherly love” - how refreshing.

    4) I admit I didn’t read the entire monologue, it got tiresome and repetitive, it seems that everyone has read the memo and aping the comments all over town. By the way, why no mention of the mayor-elect Gray disparaging remarks at Grossman? Is it because the insulter was black and the insulted was white? Why do you guys misuse the word “disrespect” so much?

  11. Czabe,

    You should respond to both MikeSkapla and Zemo and me on twitter for that matter danfromdc. You do a really good job on the radio but you were really wrong about this McNabb situation and missed the point of all the vitriol aimed at Rex and Shanahan. Wilbon, Bmitch, Feinstein, Wise- know nothings who love to cry's insulting and you should have called them on it and more to the point seen how ignorant they were. With the Mayor disparaging Rex like that- it's clear that in DC Metro you can say anything you want about a white guy but have to walk on eggshells around blacks for fear of "disrespecting" them ....whatever that term means nowadays.

    A lot of us knew Rex was better than McNabb- I wanted the change at the Green Bay game. Accountability on your part would be nice.

  12. Now this is a race issue? I know people here hate blacks. But Grossman vs McNabb? So that is the comparision? I wonder who else took that angle about Rex Grossman being targeted because he is a White Quaterback? Isnt that the Republican QB Rush Limbaugh?

    I was watching the replay yesterday of the Giants Eagles game and kept thinking, how many times Vick got hit late and never got called. Please do remember one thing. In this league QB is defined and graded by color. But not the color you guys talk about. And i am not even black.

    BTW, I am a staunch supporter of Shanahan. And i do believe McNabb was treated as much as any white QB by Shanny. No problem there. But please dont make this a Black vs White QB discussion. That sucks because Black QB's are treated like shit in this country.