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Kyle Shanahan Responds To Fletcher Smith's Statement

Posted by Matt Terl on December 24, 2010 – 1:53 pm

Yesterday afternoon, head coach Mike Shanahan issued a statement responding to an earlier statement from Donovan McNabb‘s agent Fletcher Smith. Despite the fact that Smith’s statement was lengthy and highly critical, Mike Shanahan’s response was terse and fairly general.

Speaking to Comcast SportsNet’s Kelli Johnson after practice today, though, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan rebutted a good deal of the Smith statement very specifically, and in no uncertain terms.

“When I heard that last night, it definitely was a little disturbing,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Anytime you work with someone every day like I do with Donovan — we’ve been together for about seven months at least, we’re around each other all the time — and never once have a confrontation; you eat together every day, nothing ever’s been bad … to hear stuff like I heard, that was a little surprising. So of course it bothered me.”

Upon hearing about the statement, Kyle Shanahan called McNabb to ensure that the two could sit down and discuss things in person. And what the player told his coordinator was just a little bit different from what the player’s agent said publicly.

“When I talked to Donovan,” Shanahan said, “and he says that he didn’t say any of that, I’m like, ‘Well, yeah, your agent did, which to me is you.’ And he said he didn’t agree with any of that; those words didn’t come out of his mouth; he didn’t tell his agent that stuff. So … all I can go off is what Donovan tells me. We’ve never had a confrontation all year. Never had an argument. Everything’s been good. So it is kinda … really a different situation to hear that stuff, but when I clear it up with him, I’ve gotta go with the reality of what the two guys it’s between talk about.”

Just for fun, here are a few excerpts from Smith’s statement, contrasted with Kyle Shanahan’s comments to CSN:


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Mike Shanahan's Response To Donovan McNabb's Agent

Posted by Matt Terl on December 23, 2010 – 7:23 pm

Donovan McNabb‘s agent Fletcher Smith released a statement today, ostensibly to “clarify some misinterpretations”. For purposes of this statement, clarifying misinterpretations seemed to be pretty much synonymous with “expressing his frustration with Mike and especially Kyle Shanahan”. If that paraphrase doesn’t sum everything up to your satisfaction, you can read the entire statement over at CSNWashington.com.

This evening, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan issued this response:

“As I stated earlier, when I traded for Donovan McNabb I had hoped that he would lead us to the playoffs. 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 we’ll have plenty more about this tomorrow. Ah, Christmas Eve at Redskins Park.

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Player Reaction To The Donovan McNabb Benching: 'It Is What It Is,' Mostly

Posted by Matt Terl on December 17, 2010 – 3:20 pm

It’s a saying that I used to only hear in the world of professional athletics but that has since spread far wider, and it’s a phrase that annoys almost everyone on Earth who hears it: It is what it is.

On the surface, it’s a completely nonsensical phrase, possibly a tautology, almost certainly meaningless, and completely one hundred percent obvious. But in the context of an NFL locker room, I think it’s a phrase that actually has a place.

If you’re a player on an NFL team, you will at some point find yourself in a situation where it is simply impossible to give an answer without completely alienating someone. If your head coach (to whom you have to answer) benches one of your teammates (whom you’ve been battling next to for most of the season) in favor of another guy (who you’ll be playing with this week), and the media (with whom you like to keep a good relationship) asks for a comment … well, anything you say is going to necessarily disappoint SOMEONE in that chain of events.

So “It is what it is” becomes the necessary mantra of the NFL player in that situation. As was well demonstrated in today’s open locker room, as players were asked about the benching of Donovan McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman. Read more »

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Rex Grossman To Start This Week In Dallas

Posted by Matt Terl on December 17, 2010 – 12:55 pm

Well, Mike Shanahan has confirmed the widely rumored news that Rex Grossman will be getting the start this week in Dallas, meaning that Donovan McNabb has been benched. Reaction on the internet to this move has been largely disapproving, and exceedingly loud in that disapproval.

My reaction is less loud, and much less disapproving. In fact, my reaction can be summed up in four words: what’s the big deal?

That’s a bit extreme, I suppose. Anytime an NFL team benches their starting QB, it’s going to be something of a big deal. But if you strip out the names, because all the names in this thing — Shanahan, McNabb, Grossman, Redskins — are guaranteed barstool argument starters, and then look at what you’ve got here, maybe it’ll give a better idea of where I’m coming from:

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Mike Tirico And Ron Jaworski Explain How They Handle A Neverending Story

Posted by Matt Terl on November 15, 2010 – 6:01 pm

When I talked to Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski at ESPN’s MNF Chalk Talk today, the big story around Donovan McNabb was something that happened more than two weeks ago, when the QB was pulled from the last two minutes of a game in Detroit. Since then, of course, things have changed and the big story around McNabb is something that happened maybe two hours ago, when he signed a contract extension with the Redskins.

But for purposes of this blog post, let’s all throw our minds back to an earlier time, a time when “how do you balance how much you talk about the Donovan McNabb stuff” was actually a reasonable question to ask.

Because that’s what I wanted to ask the guys about. This has been a story that’s run the gamut over the last two weeks, drawing attention from every national NFL commenter, raising cries of racism, bringing at least one call for the firing of the new head coach just eight games into his tenure, and generally being run into the ground in every conceivable way.

Now Tirico, Jaworski, and boothmate Jon Gruden are going to be expected to talk about it some more, and that seemed like a ridiculously awkward thing to balance, especially if you plan to also call a football game.

Tirico, of course, sees it in a much more positive way. “The beauty is, we have the evidence,” he told me. “If there’s been fourteen and a half days of conversation since the Detroit game, that conversation was ‘What’s gonna happen the next time he plays?’ Well, we have the three-and-a-half hours that will set up the next six days of conversation.” Read more »

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Looking Back At A Monday Night Game To Forget

Posted by Matt Terl on November 15, 2010 – 9:17 am

On September 16, 2002, I was at graduate school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I didn’t have NFL Sunday Ticket yet, so it still felt like a pretty big deal to have the Redskins on national TV for the Monday Night Game. It was the beginning of the Steve Spurrier era — I’m not sure if two seasons constitutes an era, but that’s what we thought at the time — and the possibilities seemed limitless. We hosted some of my fellow grad students at our place for the game, and I mainly remember talking pregame trash with an Eagles fan by the unlikely name of Starlet.

If you didn’t know anything about the game and you were to look at the picture of Jacquez Green above, you might think that I was able to keep jawing throughout the game. That would not be precisely correct; Green’s second-quarter punt return touchdown represented the only Redskins points for the night.

By halftime, with the Redskins trailing 23-7, I wasn’t talking any more trash, and by the middle of the third quarter even Starlet had been overcome with pity; the whole gathering had fallen into a vaguely uncomfortable silence. The possibilities of the Steve Spurrier era no longer seemed so limitless, as SI.com’s Don Banks grimly recounted at the time:

“The most apparent realization produced by the Eagles’ blowout victory?” Banks wrote. “Offensive genius or not, Spurrier isn’t going to win many games with the likes of Matthews or Danny Wuerffel at quarterback. Not when there’s a Donovan McNabb in the other team’s pocket, and not when there’s a quality defense lined up against you.” And that wasn’t even the harshest criticism in Banks’ piece.

But the beatdown isn’t the main thing that folks remember about the game now. The only person who was on the Redskins roster in 2002 that’s still around to chat with is coaching intern Chris Samuels, and his primary memory of the game focuses on a moment in the fourth quarter when play was halted because, as the AP story explains, “police used pepper spray to break up a fight in the stands.”

“It wasn’t too long after the terrorist attacks on 9/11,” Samuels told me last week, “so it was pretty scary. I thought it was another attack or something like that. Everybody kinda panicked on the sideline.”

The gas got caught in the cooling fans on the Eagles’ sidelines and blown across their bench, causing several players and team staffers to become sick.

Samuels was the only then-Redskin who’s still around, but two current Redskins were on the Eagles sidelines at the time.

For Donovan McNabb, it’s not a game that stands out — just another win fairly early in his illustrious career — but he does remember the gas. Read more »

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Donovan McNabb's Future And Some Other Bye Week Wednesday Links

Posted by Matt Terl on November 3, 2010 – 11:36 am

During his regular Tuesday radio appearance on ESPN980, Donovan McNabb said something that should set some minds at ease around Redskins Nation: the QB puts the chances that he’s the starting quarterback in Washington next season at “a hundred percent.”

When I tweeted this excerpt from the radio show, more than a couple of people took exception, saying that McNabb qualified the statement immediately afterward (true) and that he was just joking (didn’t sound like it to me, but you could make the argument).

Since I’ve got more than the Twitter-mandated 140 characters here, though, I present the unedited transcript of that section of the show. (You can listen for yourself in the ESPN980 Audio Vault, if you’d like.)

Host Kevin Sheehan: “Because when people saw you get pulled from the game and it wasn’t injury related, I think everybody thought, wow, what a crazy move, first of all, and what appeared to be sort of a dumb football decision to those of us who don’t know nearly as much as you guys know, obviously. But we also started to think, well, that’s it for Donovan. He’s not gonna be here next here. I mean, that was sort of a submarine move by the head coach. Percent chances right now that you’re in Washington as the starting quarterback next year.”

Donovan McNabb: “A hundred percent.”

Host Thom Loverro: “Wow. That’s–“

DM: “You asked ME.”

TL: “No, that’s as bold a statement as you can make about that. I would think that most Redskins fans that’d be great news, a hundred percent.”

DM: “Well, again, if I woulda said 75%, or 60%, then it woulda been another big story. A hundred percent.”

KS: “So you’re saying 100% to avoid it becoming a big story?”

DM: “I’ve got more than enough big stories going on right now.”

KS: “Are we close to a contract extension?”

DM: “That would be something we’ll definitely see.”

(Let me interject a clarification here — he’s not saying we’ll definitely see a contract extension; if you listen to the audio, he seems to be saying “we’ll see” with a stray “definitely” in it.)

KS: [paraphrase, because my audio had a glitch in it] Are the Redskins the hold-up on this contract extension?

DM: “Well, both parties are communicating. It’s not too much different from what’s going on in Indianapolis right now. Peyton has put it on hold, pretty much — they were trying to talk, they were going back and forth, and they decided to just put it on hold. Not to say that we’ve put it officially on hold, but there’s been communication, there’s been talk.”

KS: “But Peyton Manning’s gonna be a Colt next year. That’s almost a hundred percent.”

DM: “I said I’m a hundred percent, though.”

Of course, this isn’t actually news. As Dan Steinberg points out, McNabb has been consistently on-message as far as this goes; you can read eleven similar quotes since McNabb’s arrival over at Steinberg’s DC Sports Bog. Still: imagine the uproar if McNabb had actually come out and said, “Oh, about ten percent. Maybe twelve.” Eeesh.

Other things to read today, as Benchgate Detroit (hopefully) finally subsides: Read more »

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Kyle Shanahan Clarifies Things

Posted by Matt Terl on November 2, 2010 – 4:30 pm

After his press conference today, Kyle Shanahan took a few minutes to clarify his head coach’s (and father’s) comments from yesterday regarding the benching of Donovan McNabb. Much of this clarification is similar to my interpretation of the elder Shanahan’s comments from yesterday, which makes me feel clever, but it’s still very much worth posting these as well.
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It's 2010 Team Picture Day

Posted by Matt Terl on November 2, 2010 – 11:17 am

Because, you know, there’s not enough else going on, the 2010 team picture was taken this morning. I’ll have plenty more later today about the ongoing (but hopefully resolved!) Donovan McNabb benching saga, but let’s start the posting day with something a little lighter: some snaps from the team photo shoot.

(Click pictures to enlarge.)

A few things worth noting:

First, the gold pants are being immortalized. I suppose this makes them The Official Pants of the 2010 Redskins, in case they weren’t already.

Second, notice Clinton Portis‘ cap in the bottom left of the picture above. Sadly, he was forced to remove it for the actual photo.

Third, this event provided a chance to see a lot of practice squad guys and a couple of preseason stars in the gold pants, which was kind of neat. For example, here’s your first look at RB James Davis in a Redskins gameday uniform.

Or Malcolm Kelly in the gold pants:

Ditto for preseason standout Terrence Austin:

Also, it was just a gorgeous (if brisk) morning, so burgundy and gold and green grass and blue sky just looked terrific.

And then there was this sequence of photos I took with my phone, which really captures the tension between McNabb and Rex Grossman.

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Mike Shanahan Explains Why Rex Grossman Was In, Among Other Things

Posted by Matt Terl on November 1, 2010 – 6:29 pm

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan’s press conference tend to be fairly dry, straightforward affairs. The number of anecdotes and tangents has fallen off precipitously since 2009. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be interesting, and today’s press conference was definitely in the “interesting” category.

Shanahan talked for just over fifteen minutes and addressed multiple questions about the decision to bench Donovan McNabb for the two-minute drill, as well as plenty of other issues coming out of a disheartening loss to the Lions.

Here are some of the crucial points: Read more »

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