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Free At Last

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 30, 2011 – 8:25 am

AP Image

Last year, did you know that there are actually other Redskins on the roster besides Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth?

I often had to check twice to make sure.

In all seriousness, the Redskins finally got the opportunity to cut the cord on two of the biggest distractions in team history, and they did so.  Better than that, they got value in return for both players, which was more than many football experts were predicting.

Head Coach Mike Shanahan said he made dealing Haynesworth a priority before camp bagan.  “I think after being with someone for a year, you figure out where they fit in your scheme, or they don’t fit.  We would have released him if we hadn’t traded him.”

So basically the Redskins picked up draft picks for free.  And better yet, they’re finally free of the McNabb, Haynesworth saga.

Let me be very careful to not present these two players as cut from the same stone, because they are not.  Haynesworth was brought in on a historically large contract and never reached his potential.  Questionable work ethic and insubordination, followed by offseason legal troubles made Haynesworth expendable regardless of his abilities.

McNabb was a far more sympathetic character, one who just didn’t fit the system in Washington.  He was a consummate professional: good to the fans, good to the media, and never let his frustrations come out in public.  Even as his results deteriorated, he stayed steady.  That’s commendable for anyone, and it likely earned him future opportunities in this league.

There are several reasons why everyone should like these trades: Read more »

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Donovan McNabb, Revisited

Posted by Brian Tinsman on July 29, 2011 – 7:27 pm

I guess the good news for football fans is that Brett Favre won’t be returning to Minnesota for another year (sorry ESPN).

For the first time tonight, the organization confirmed and announced what many of you already knew: that Donovan McNabb is headed out of town.  It has been a hot topic to sit on, and one that we can finally provide some information about.

At tonight’s press conference with head coach Mike Shanahan, he discussed the process that it took to deal McNabb after only one season.

“I thought he did fit within our system and did the right things that he could be a top notch player for us,” he said.  “At the end of the day, it just didn’t work out quite the way we wanted it to.  We would have had  to make a commitment of three or four years and I was not wanting to do that with the year that I spent.”

Essentially this confirms what pundits had predicted all along: McNabb didn’t fit the system and the money that he was going to be receiving made it a deal breaker.  Shanahan then went on to explain how much of a good guy he thought Donovan was.

“Doesn’t mean that Donovan can’t still play at a very high level,” he said.  “I think the world of him. He really handled himself in a class manner. In the best interest of this organization in evaluating everything I thought it was better to go on.”

That’s pretty high praise for a guy that the organization traded for a pair of sixth round picks.  This calls for a trip down memory lane to establish where it all went wrong.

Background- Welcome to town:

Donovan McNabb’s tenure with the Washington Redskins was a brief one, but it covered the full emotional spectrum.  He was brought here to be a savior and provide the team with an opportunity to win now.  Throw in the fact that he was the former franchise quarterback of a division rival, it was a dream scenario in the district.

Nine months later, those dreams had turned to nightmares, as the team finished at 6-10 and McNabb was benched for the last three games.

On the season, McNabb had a 58.3 percent completion rating for 3,377 yards and 14 touchdowns with 15 interceptions in 13 games.

Maybe the the pieces around him weren’t up to snuff.  The running game was sputtered and struggled to stay healthy, forcing the offense to become one-dimensional.  The receiver corps also struggled with injury and and a bad combination of youth and age.  The offensive line took time to develop in the zone-blocking scheme and McNabb had no time to look downfield.

At the end of the day, for many reasons, it simply didn’t work on the field.  Complicating matters off the field, was the fact that McNabb was due a large contract as part of his extension, an albatross under the new salary cap.

Why the trade makes sense: Read more »

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John Beck Talks About His Time In Miami

Posted by Matt Terl on May 17, 2011 – 12:44 pm

John Beck‘s appearance on Sirius XM Radio with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon has already spawned blog posts from WaPo’s Dan Steinberg, CSNWashington’s Rich Tandler, and non-CSNWashington Rich Tandler. That’s a lot of words (or, as Ted Leonsis would say, “pixels”). Fortunately, Beck talked for more than fifteen minutes, so there’s still more content left to mine.

Also, yes, this picture is very similar to the one I used in my last John Beck post, albeit from eighteen weeks later, all of which seems to have gone into mullet growth. I apologize for the repetition, but we are getting closer and closer to the day that I run out of John Beck Redskins photos entirely.

There are currently two quarterbacks on the Redskins roster: John Beck and Donovan McNabb. By sheer coincidence, the younger — Beck — made his pro debut as a rookie with the Dolphins against the veteran McNabb, leading the Eagles. It was November 18, 2007, a cold day at Lincoln Financial Field.

One of the quarterbacks put up the dreadful line of 3-for-11 for 34 yards and 2 interceptions before leaving the game with an ankle injury. The other one was John Beck.

Beck didn’t have a great game — 9-of-22 for 109 yards — but didn’t turn the ball over. He also didn’t lead his team to a win. (A.J. Feeley came off the bench for the Eagles and rallied them to victory, prompting a whole new round of speculation that McNabb might be traded out of Philly. What a ridiculous thought! Ha ha ha!) In fact, Beck wouldn’t lead the Dolphins to a single win in that disastrous 1-15 season, meaning that he has never quarterbacked a pro team to a victory.

So it’s understandable that people hearing that Beck may be given the chance to compete for a starting position in D.C. are a little bit skeptical, given the way his tenure in Miami went.

By even further coincidence, an ex-Redskins quarterback who hadn’t seen much success until later in his career was in the booth calling that Dolphins/Eagles tilt: Rich Gannon. Who, by even FURTHER staggering coincidence, had the occasion to interview Beck on Sirius Radio, and who brought up those rough days in Miami.

“You look at your career,” Gannon says, “Think about what you’ve been through. You go to a football team that was right in the midst of so much turmoil and transition — they fire the coach. You’re there in Miami two years, you go to Baltimore, you’re there a year, you go to Washington … I mean, it’s been a crazy four years for you already. What have you learned, and what would you have done differently if you could go back to 2007 and start all over?” Read more »

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Donovan McNabb Visits South Bend

Posted by Matt Terl on May 12, 2011 – 9:47 am

It’s been kind of a weird week in Donovan McNabb. Technically, McNabb is one of two quarterbacks on the Redskins roster at the moment, but every 2011 preview seems to include a phrase like “but no one expects him to be back.” Half the Redskins fans on Twitter are engaged in some kind of weird, repetitive debate cycle about Vince Young, while the other half — which includes me — are writing about the possibilities offered by John Beck — a guy who has started no football games for three teams in the last three years. Yesterday, boxer Bernard Hopkins ripped into McNabb with a racially charged rant, seemingly without any real provocation. As recently as this morning, the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan were going over rumors of behind-the-scenes frustration with McNabb from last season.

And what was McNabb doing yesterday?

Read more »

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Donovan McNabb: Basketball Analyst, And Other Links

Posted by Matt Terl on March 18, 2011 – 10:34 am

As previously mentioned, quarterback Donovan McNabb made his debut as a basketball analyst on Comcast SportsNet yesterday, and acquitted himself pretty well at the basketball part of things.

He also fielded a ton of Redskins questions, where by “fielded” I mean “gave polite non-answers to.” Thankfully, Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog has already done the thankless work of transcribing those answers. Here’s one example:

“Only thing I can do at this particular point is just continue to stay focused on what my goal is, and my goal is to help a team win a Super Bowl. I said that was gonna work on my craft and continue to go back to the fundamentals of trying to be a better quarterback, and that’s something that I plan on doing. At this particular point, I’m working with my trainer, who I’ve worked with over the years, who I’ve had great seasons with, and just enjoying my time in this lockout of just trying to be better at what I do.”

If you’d like to read a few more answers like that, you can check ’em out here.

And here are a few other Redskins-related links that are worth checking out. Read more »

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Redskins And Basketball, And Other Links

Posted by Matt Terl on March 16, 2011 – 5:12 pm

It’s unquestionably basketball’s time of year, so here are a couple of seasonally appropriate notes (along with a bunch of other random links). First up, above, is Redskins Pro Bowl middle linebacker London Fletcher playing roundball back in high school. It’s frankly remarkable. (H/T to Cindy Boren.)

Then there’s Donovan McNabb, who’s providing analysis of the NCAA tournament for Comcast SportsNet. McNabb isn’t just a basketball tourist; he was a walk-on on the Syracuse basketball team for a couple years in college, he played basketball on Pros Vs. Joes, and he even did a pretty solid NBA preview on his radio show last season.

In advance of this new gig, McNabb broke down this year’s bracket with CSNWashington’s Ryan O’Halloran. “It’s a wide open field,” McNabb told O’Halloran. “A lot of people are giving Ohio State and Kansas the edge. Kansas, I can see. But Ohio State, the Big Ten hasn’t been very successful since Michigan State had its run with Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson. And the brackets this year aren’t as equal. Duke has an easier bracket. Ohio State has a tougher bracket.”

Plenty more from McNabb in the link. Some other pieces worth reading….
Read more »

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Mike Shanahan Says That He Had 'A Great Conversation' With Fletcher Smith

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2011 – 8:51 pm

I had a chance to hear a bit more of the interview Larry Michael conducted with Mike Shanahan at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis; it’s long and wide-ranging, and there’s a lot of good stuff there. You’ll be able to see more of it on Redskins.com on Friday — here’s part 1 — and Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet next week, and I’ll have a a few more excerpts as well, but here’s one thing that jumped out at me right away: Shanahan confirmed that he had finally had that long-awaited meeting with Donovan McNabb’s agent Fletcher Smith.

Shanahan didn’t reveal much beyond that. “I did talk to Fletcher Smith yesterday,” he said, after Michael asked him about the latest developments in the McNabb situation. “Had a great conversation with him. And, you know, I can’t go through the details, but it’s been talked about, and we’ll let the process take care of itself.”

This marks another bit of progress in the Continuing Saga Of Donovan McNabb — the last time we heard from McNabb himself, he said, “I think for Fletcher Smith as well as Bruce [Allen] and Mike, they’ll get a chance to sit down and iron some things out and after the evaluation — they’ve been evaluating the last couple of weeks — we’ll hear what their answer is of what we’re doing next and then we’ll go from there.”

Now we know that the sit-down has taken place. We know that it was “a great conversation”. Hopefully soon we’ll get to the parts where hear what the answer is, what we’re doing next, and where we’re going from there. But it’s good to know that these early steps have taken place.

For more of Larry Michael’s interview with Mike Shanahan, see Redskins.com on Friday (here’s part 1), Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet next week, and here as well, for more exciting transcription. Read more »

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Donovan McNabb And Joe Gibbs Read The Declaration Of Independence

Posted by Matt Terl on February 7, 2011 – 9:57 am

Well, if I thought that a practice squad offensive tackle reading one of Lincoln’s speeches was a big deal, this is probably worthy of a mention as well: Redskins icon Joe Gibbs and quarterback Donovan McNabb help a bunch of other NFL Stars read the Declaration of Independence in an NFL ad that aired before yesterday’s Super Bowl.

In other McNabb news, OK! Magazine named the QB one of the “hot quarterbacks of the NFL” — and, yes, I’m pretty sure they mean that as in “attractive,” not “experiencing a remarkable streak of statistical success”. The big tip-off is the blurb before the slideshow, which asks:

“What better way to celebrate football than to ogle some of its hottest quarterbacks? Even if your team isn’t in the big game, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate!”

Which … well, whatever. But congrats to McNabb for both of these remarkable honors, I suppose.

(Declaration Of Independence video via DC Sports Bog who got it via SBNation DC.) Read more »

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Donovan McNabb Explains What He Can Improve This Offseason

Posted by Matt Terl on February 1, 2011 – 4:07 pm

Donovan McNabb is serving as part of ESPN’s Super Bowl coverage in Dallas this week, so it’s safe to assume that he’ll be talking a lot. (He’d be a pretty lousy TV personality if he didn’t.) And if Donovan McNabb is talking, there’s a decent chance that it’ll be something of interest to Redskins fans. Frankly, I expect to be transcribing a fair bit of Donovan McNabb for the next few days, especially if the alternative is hearing EVEN MORE about Maurkice Pouncey’s ankle.

But today was especially notable, as McNabb sat down with Mike Tirico to get the slightly awkward prelimnaries out of the way. Read more »

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Tuesday Roundup Of Radiophonic Redskins

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2010 – 3:06 pm

If it’s Tuesday — and it is! — then it must be time to see what the various Redskins with paid radio gigs have to say about the team and their situations. It’s rare that the main attraction on Tuesday is the appearance on ESPN 980 of Donovan McNabb, who is notoriously cagey and inclined to give the political answer whenever he can; usually Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley are more closely followed.

But today marked McNabb’s first comment since his agent, Fletcher Smith, sent out a statement criticizing head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and since each Shanahan responded to that statement. So today, for once, McNabb gets top billing (even though what he said really didn’t amount to much, and didn’t really change the narrative on that particular plotline of the ongoing 2010 Redskins soap opera).

McNabb took a somewhat peculiar position with regard to Smith’s statement. It would seem to be fairly clear-cut: either the agent speaks for McNabb, or the agent is out of line. McNabb says that things aren’t that simple. “Let’s put it this way,” McNabb said. “I support my agent. I support my agent in all calls…. I discuss with my agent if he asks a question about what’s going on, or things of that nature. That’s something that we talk about. And, I guess, as you read in the article, he put his thoughts into the whole deal. Not Donovan’s thoughts.”

In fact, McNabb said, what upset him most about the entire incident was “the reaction to the whole deal,” to which he later added, “when I read the whole thing, I didn’t see nothing wrong with it.”

McNabb said that he wasn’t aware that the statement was being released before it came out, but reiterated his support for his agent after the fact.

In the end, this whole line of questioning just continues the he-said-he-said thing that this situation is becoming, now with the addition of the agent as another, apparently autonomous, he-said.

But there were a few other tidbits of note in McNabb’s appearance.

  • McNabb confirmed Kyle Shanahan’s account of a meeting between the two following the release of Smith’s statement. “We sat down and we discussed a lot of different things,” McNabb said. “Those are ones I’ll keep between Kyle and I. And I thought we got things out there on the table and we were able to move on.”
  • McNabb denied an ESPN report that he would ask for his release at the end of the season — “No, that’s false,” he said. He also specified that he hadn’t discussed the situation with owner Daniel Snyder or general manager Bruce Allen.
  • And he reiterated that he didn’t regret the trade that brought him here, didn’t regret teh contract extension, and again said that he’d like to be the QB in D.C. in 2011 — but this time he made clearer some of the things that would need to happen to make that possible. “Things would obviously have to change,” McNabb said. “You know, relationships have to better, conversations have to be better. But that’s something that you do over time. And it progresses over time. When we first started the season, we talked about it. It’s a progression, you know, how you’re building a relationship with each other. You bring in new guys and you’re building a relationship with the guys, and good things happen out on the field.”

So … yeah. Make of that what you will, I suppose.

Meanwhile, the news was a little brighter over in Clinton Portis Land. Read more »

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