<
>

Mike Shanahan's misdirection play

With a night to sleep on his decision to bench starting quarterback Donovan McNabb in the waning minutes of a close game in Detroit, Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan delivered a pretty flimsy explanation Monday. On Sunday after the game, he said that backup Rex Grossman gave his team the best chance to win with 1:50 left on the clock and the Skins trailing, 31-25.

McNabbMcNabbBut earlier today, Shanahan insisted that from a "cardiovascular standpoint," McNabb wasn't ready to run the two-minute offense. He talked about how McNabb has battled various injuries -- hamstring issues and a shin contusion -- and said there had even been discussion about the quarterback not playing against the Lions.

Sorry, but I'm not buying this explanation. First of all, I've seen video of McNabb racing 36 yards to set up a touchdown in the first half. He certainly didn't look like a cardiovascular-challenged quarterback to me. If a quarterback can make it through 58 minutes, something tells me he's capable of playing the final two on adrenaline alone. And if Shanahan were worried about McNabb's condition, why didn't he offer this explanation following Sunday's 37-25 loss?

Instead, he let McNabb basically twist in the wind for 24 hours. I'm sure Shanahan's explanation doesn't hold a lot of water with McNabb either. The coach is simply trying to clean up a mess of his own making. His comments about a potential long-term deal for McNabb were borderline laughable in light of Sunday's decision.

"We all know Donovan is a franchise quarterback. ... Obviously there's negotiations that go on with both sides," said Shanahan. "Time will tell, as it does with all our players."

I've never seen a "franchise quarterback" benched with two minutes left in a game that's still hanging in the balance. Shanahan, who played quarterback at Eastern Illinois, is scrambling at this point. Because of his impulsive decision Sunday, he's now looking to make amends with his star quarterback and the rest of his players.

In my mind, Shanahan hasn't said anything to make this controversy go away. And this will continue to dominate the headlines as the Redskins embark on their bye week. He's made some really wise decisions early in his tenure with the Skins, but this isn't one of them.