Donovan McNabb had to think he was leaving much of the QB controversy issues that dogged his career in Philadelphia far behind when the Eagles shipped him to the NFC East-rival Redskins on Easter Sunday.
Well, think again.
McNabb was pulled from last Sunday's eventual 37-25 loss to the Lions with 1:45 remaining and the Eagles training by six points in favor of -- of all people -- Rex Grossman.
Mike Shanahan initially explained the move by saying McNabb did not have the "cardiovascular endurance" to run the team's two-minute offense. And then he said it was because McNabb was nursing a hamstring injury.
Kyle Shanahan, the coach's son and the Redskins' offensive coordinator said that McNabb had been limited in practice in the week leading up to the game and that he was forewarned that he could be pulled if the coaches deemed the injury was hampering his play. McNabb said that issue was never discussed.
And, just to put a cherry on top of the bizarre affair, on Tuesday, the Redskins brought in -- of all people -- JaMarcus Russell for a workout.
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Our group of NFL experts tries to make sense of the situation in Washington, checks in on James Harrison and issues some midseason awards in this latest edition of the FanHouse Roundtable.
Anyone have a clue about what's going on in Washington?
Dan Graziano: This is so weird. Donovan McNabb must have bad breath or something. Why do his teams never seem to like him?
Pat McManamon: I'll say this ... way back in 1999 the Browns could have taken McNabb and took Tim Couch (nice choice). The reason they didn't take McNabb: There was word from Syracuse that McNabb had issues in big games and at the end of games. Now, that being said, it's really, really odd the way Shanahan went about this. Really odd.
Chris Harry: The explanations for benching McNabb that came out of the mouths of both Shanahans were so utterly ridiculous. But the fact that both thought Rex Grossman was a better option down six with two minutes left borders on certifiable insanity. The guy should be a No. 3 quarterback, at best.
Graziano: That's what's strange. What message is he sending to his team or to McNabb by going with Grossman, who everyone knows can't play?
Harry: And he excels at scoring TDs for the other team.
McManamon: This was a pure power play by Shanahan. He took on Haynesworth. Then McNabb. Next it's Joe Jacoby, then John Riggins.
Thomas George: There is a know-it-all air with McNabb that coaches have told me they can only take so much of. Fact is, he does know a lot about quarterbacking in the NFL. But sometimes, in executing what he is told, he gets in his own way and the way of his coaches. Some would tell you only Brett Favre and Peyton Manning can get away with that in the NFL.
Harry: Thomas, you know Shanahan. What about from his perspective?
George: I think he wants Donovan to run the offense.
Graziano: "Run the offense" means "execute the plays Shanahan calls"? Or "take charge of the offense on his own"?
Thomas George: Execute the plays called and do them the way they are practiced.
Harry: The receiver talent on that team is terrible. That said, I don't think the guy is a very good passer anymore. Plus, some of his decisions -- specifically, chucking balls 50-60 yards downfield on third- and fourth-downs in recent weeks -- are amateurish.
McManamon: His completion percentage and rating are his worst since his rookie year. But ... I'd still take him over Rex Grossman.
Harry: I'd take you over Rex Grossman.
McManamon: Rex Grossman went to a Super Bowl!
Harry: Threw a pick-6 in that one, too.
George: If the Redskins beat the Eagles, Donovan and the entire group will be fine. Winning is such a cure.
Graziano: The Redskins have a shot at the playoffs this year. I know that sounds nuts, but the fact is, given their schedule and record, they do. Doesn't Shanahan need to be more careful not to lose this particular group this year?
McManamon: How can this not be anything but Shanahan exerting his power over the team, telling the team, 'I'll bench McNabb, I'll bench anybody.'
Graziano: That's a fair point, Pat. But does he risk having McNabb turn against him?
McManamon: Of course he does. Except McNabb through his whole career has bypassed controversy. He never complains, goes with the flow. Like he did this week. Maybe Shanahan was trying to make McNabb angry to fire him up, to play better.
George: He is telling McNabb he risks being left behind.
Harry: For JaMarcus Russell?
Graziano: Yeah, I mean, if Donovan's not in shape to run the 2-minute drill, how is JaMarcus the answer?
George: I think he sees what happened with Michael Vick in Philly and the second chance and is wondering, "Hey, can it happen with this guy here?" Nothing lost by taking a look. There are reasons the guy was the No. 1 pick in the draft. He is better than many quarterbacks currently in the NFL. I believe that.
Any games to keep an eye on this week?
Graziano: The Giants have had issues in the past in Seattle. That's a potential trouble spot for them.
George: I think Dallas at Packers, to see if the Cowboys have ANY life or will left at all, will be interesting. And who is the farce, Kansas City or Oakland? It would be fun to see the Raiders rip a team for the third straight week.
McManamon: Kansas City's been winning with mirrors, to their credit. Not this weekend.
Graziano: Hey, I don't think the Chiefs are doing it with mirrors. Their running backs are both very good, and they play very solid, disciplined defense and special teams. If they get anything at all through the air, they're very good.
George: I think the Chiefs will fizzle.
Graziano: The Raiders have 92 points in their past two games. Maybe Shanahan is just mad he didn't stick with Campbell!
Harry: If the Chiefs win this week at Oakland, they will have served notice they're in it to stay ... I think.
McManamon: Come on, man. A last-play field goal when the other team misses a field goal on second try after timeout ... two special teams returns in a game ... stuff like that. The Chiefs are very disciplined and improved, and they find ways to win. But that doesn't usually last.
Graziano: Sure, but in that division, this year, it could! Chargers look terrible, and Raiders are just as likely to turn out to be a fraud.
Another week, another fine for James Harrison. What's his problem?
Harry: He's a kill-shot guy.
Graziano: And a crybaby, apparently. Harrison's beef appears to be that the league will no longer allow him to break its rules. To this, I say, "Feh."
George: He's tough as nails. But stubborn as a bull.
Harry: And apparently injury prone, too.
Graziano: Yeah, well, nails and bulls need to play by the same rules as everybody else, I believe.
McManamon: He got to be the Defensive Player of the Year -- and there are some of us here who probably voted for him -- by playing a certain way. No?
Harry: The rules have changed overnight.
Graziano: Sins of the past are no excuse. Be they sins of the players, voters or both. The key point here is that no rules have changed in the past two weeks. Only the punishments have changed because the existing punishments for rules already in place were not functioning as deterrents. The rules have not changed. Period.
McManamon: My point is it might not be as simple as we all think to adjust the way he plays in a week or two. The rules are appropriate. He needs to adjust.
George: He won't.
Graziano: Yes. The NFL is within its rights to tell anyone with any resume that he has to play by the rules or can feel free to quit.
McManamon: The Steelers will still love him, even if he doesn't.
Graziano: If Harrison doesn't think he can play in the league according to its rules, I'm sure he'll find work somewhere.
George: I'm not so sure.
Graziano: I have no sympathy for this guy. At all. The guy is a whiner and a baby. He needs to stop crying and play the game by the rules. Who does he think he is that he should get to break them?
McManamon: Most players I heard from did not think the Harrison hits vs. Browns were that terrible.
Graziano: Players! If it were up to the players, there'd be no rules on how to hit.
George: I agree with Dan. I think, with Harrison, you are working with a really tough case. His "imbalance'' is what helps make him such a great player. But his head is as thick as concrete.
Let's hit some midseason awards ... Offensive MVP?
McManamon: Tom Brady. Not even close.
Harry: Peyton Manning.
McManamon: Come on, man, Brady is throwing to Danny Woodhead and four other guys we never heard of.
Graziano: Peyton. Manning. Not even close. And he's throwing to Jacob Tamme.
Harry: I'm OK with Brady, but Manning is probably the coach and offensive coordinator of that team now -- and the best QB in the league.
McManamon: It's called "valuable." Not the best. Though Brady might win that too.
Graziano: No one has more responsibility for the offense than Manning has for his. I would say there's value in that.
Harry: Pat, you're in the distinct minority ... like the Dems.
The defensive MVP?
Graziano: Clay Matthews?
Harry: Matthews has to be in the conversation.
George: Ndamukong Suh.
Harry: Suh is the runaway rookie of the year, for sure. But don't sleep on Aqib Talib, either.
OK, so Suh as the defensive rookie. What about offensive rookie?
George: Sam Bradford.
Harry: Bradford is the offensive rookie of the year.
Who's the coach of the year so far?
George: Raheem Morris.
Harry: Agreed, Thomas. Morris.
McManamon: 1: Belichick. 2: Haley.
Graziano: Yeah. Belichick at 6-1 with that roster is hard to ignore.
Harry: Morris won three games last year and has a second-year QB, two rookie receivers, rookie RB and no-name defense (after Barber). If they finish 8-8, with the youngest team in the NFL, he needs to win it. Belichick has Brady.
Graziano: Wait. If he finishes 8-8 and the Pats go 13-3, you'd really still give Morris this award?
McManamon: Morris deserves consideration. Belichick with a far less-talented team than usual, jettisons Moss at right time, handles Brady and prepares the team every week. Guy gets overlooked for this award because his teams are always good. But he's excellent.
Graziano: I understand the award goes to the guy who exceeds expectations, but actual accomplishment has to come into it too. If Morris wins 10 or 11, sure. But 8-8?
Harry: 8-8 would be an accomplishment for this team: five 4th-quarter comebacks, including three on the road.
Let's finish with this: Who's the league's most disappointing player thus far?
McManamon: Ochocinco. Or Favre.
Harry: Yes, Favre's been disappointing.
Graziano: How can most disappointing not be Moss? He's been kicked off of two teams!
Harry: When you're 41 and coming off surgery, you have a built-in excuse. Everyone just assumed the Vikings would be great because they were last year. The Cowboys have no excuses.
Graziano: I'm still going with the guy who got kicked off two teams by November.
Video: Sights and sounds from Week 8 of the NFL season