NFL Nation: Fletcher Smith

Shanahans should concede P.R. loss

December, 24, 2010
In case you missed it, Donovan McNabb's agent fired another shot at the Washington Redskins on Thursday. The veteran quarterback said earlier this week that he'd like to remain in Washington in 2011, but we all know that won't happen. McNabb's representative, Fletcher Smith, is making some more specific allegations regarding coach Mike Shanahan and his son/offensive coordinator Kyle.



"I believe there is tension between Donovan and Kyle that's rooted in the fact that Donovan has suggested modifications to Kyle's offense based on intricacies Donovan has learned in his NFL career," Smith wrote. "For example, Donovan has asked all year that the team run more screen passes to help manage the pass rush more effectively. Ironically, Kyle decided to employ Donovan's suggestions after he unceremoniously benched him on Sunday."

You have to love Smith's statement. He's basically claiming that McNabb's recommendations played a large role in the Redskins' comeback against the Dallas Cowboys. That's probably a bit of an overstatement, but I don't begrudge Smith one bit for strongly defending his client.

The Shanahans have nothing to gain by providing further explanations for their decision to bench McNabb, but they couldn't help themselves Thursday evening. Mike Shanahan issued the following statement in response to Smith's latest open letter:

"As I stated earlier, when I traded for Donovan McNabb I had hoped that he would lead us to the playoffs," said Shanahan. "No one wanted him to be more successful than me. When the team was 5-8 and mathematically out of the playoffs, I made the decision to evaluate our other two quarterbacks.

"This was not personal, but strictly professional. The decision was made in the best interest of the Washington Redskins and I stand by my decision. I will attempt to talk to Fletcher Smith directly to clear up every one of his misconceptions."

I'm sure Shanahan will get right on that conversation with Smith. I'm not a public relations expert, as my editors will attest, but I don't think Shanahan & Son need to deliver a statement every time an agent or player takes a poke at them in public. It's not like Redskins fans are going to read Shanahan's statement and say, "You know, Shanny has a point there."

The Shanahans need to hit restart on their time in Washington. They were supposed to put an end to all the nonsense that we used to blame on Dan Snyder. But they're providing just as much chaos as ever. This has basically been another lost season for the franchise. They should spend more time worrying about this roster, not trying to win a P.R. battle against McNabb.

Here comes the Redskins' apology

November, 14, 2010
The Washington Redskins know that coach Mike Shanahan butchered the Donovan McNabb benching. Shanahan himself told ESPN's "Monday Night Football" crew that his handling of the situation was "clumsy."

So here comes the apology. McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, will fly to Washington on Monday to resume talks on a contract extension for the quarterback, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. This will be the fourth face-to-face meeting, but keep in mind those first three occurred before McNabb was benched and then further embarrassed by Mike and Kyle Shanahan's confusing explanations.

McNabb hasn't said much of anything in the aftermath of the benching, and that's smart. He's been accurately portrayed as the victim in this ongoing saga, so the Redskins owe him a huge apology. That apology could come in the form of a long-term extension, and more importantly, a large chunk of guaranteed money.

Redskins general manager Bruce Allen has to know how foolish Shanahan's decision made the organization look. After crowing for months about how they landed a franchise quarterback for a second-round draft pick, the Redskins embarrassed McNabb in front of the nation. The easiest way to make this go away is to demonstrate true commitment to the quarterback.

Maybe that will inspire McNabb to work on his "cardiovascular endurance." I'll be in Washington on Monday for the game against the Eagles and will keep you posted if there are further developments. It's hard to believe now, but the benching two weeks ago probably gave McNabb more leverage than he could've imagined after such a poor start to the season.


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