by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
The non-offseason has been weird enough on its own, but the saga of Donovan McNabb keeps things as weird as they could possibly be. He recently got ripped to shreds by Bernard Hopkins in an interview for no apparent reason. McNabb now is the subject of some bizarre report about whether or not he would wear a wrist-band with the plays on it last season. Regardless of how you feel about McNabb, the guy is the victim of more strange attacks than any star player I can remember. Leonard Little didn’t have to deal with this much insanity and he killed 2 people. McNabb is a guy who doesn’t get in trouble off the field and up to 2010 had been a good player and winner on the field. For some reason, he brings out the crazy side in his critics.
We all know that McNabb will be an ex-Redskin soon enough. The question is whether he’s dealt or simply cut loose. McNabb’s future? Now that is a mystery. This time last year people were wondering if McNabb might flourish in D.C. under the tutelage of Mike Shanahan. The offense would be more balanced. With the aid of a running game, could McNabb get back to being an elite QB? Things didn’t go so well, to put it mildly. That’s sorta like saying Keith Moon could be a tad over the top when he drank. I don’t think any football fan, pundit, coach, or player ever envisioned a scenario where McNabb would be pulled late in the game for Rex Grossman, while the game was still winnable. That happened in Detroit and essentially ended McNabb’s time as the Skins’ QB.
Donovan will be on the market at some point. I thought he would be an ideal fit for the Vikings, but it sounds like new coach Leslie Frazier has little to no interest. The Cardinals had no interest in McNabb last year. I doubt that changes. I don’t know if Miami or Cincinnati would be interested. How the mighty have fallen.
McNabb is still mobile. He still has a great arm. He still commands the respect of his teammates. I can’t recall one Skins player coming out and ripping on McNabb openly. Several guys, on offense and defense, have questioned why Shanahan treated McNabb the way he did. Donovan is still thought of as a good QB by the players around him.
So what’s not to like? Coachability. McNabb played for one coach in college and one with the Eagles. That was a 15-year span. He became very set in his ways. And that became an issue last year. Shanahan is a bit of a control freak (like many coaches). He wanted things done his way. McNabb was set in his own ways. He had trouble buying in to the way Shanahan wanted things done. You can see how this didn’t go so well, especially when complicated by the fact that Shanahan’s son Kyle was the offensive coordinator.
Donovan needs to go to a team that won’t treat him as employee #655321. He needs a coach that will meet him halfway. Shanahan was intent on doing things his way in Washington and wasn’t about to compromise. This isn’t a criticism of him. That’s his way of doing things. If it works for him, so be it. McNabb hadn’t been coached like that during his time with the Eagles and he didn’t respond well. It really was just a bad marriage.
The one team that makes the most sense to me is Seattle. Pete Carroll is the kind of coach who will embrace players and work with them to get the best results. Pete isn’t a hard nosed guy who will say “My way or the highway”. He would figure out how best to use McNabb and then adapt accordingly.
The problem for Donovan is that Seattle might not feel he’s worth taking a risk on. Donovan has now been let go in successive seasons by a pair of the best QB gurus in the NFL. That isn’t the kind of stigma a player wants hanging around him. I hope Donovan realizes that he’s part of the problem in the situation and that he must change his ways in order to extend his career.
McNabb is a proud man, as well he should be. He’s had a terrific NFL career. He still needs a strong closing act if he wants to make it into the Hall of Fame. He’s not good enough right now. McNabb needs a 3-year stint somewhere to do something similar to Kurt Warner and what he accomplished in Arizona. The first order of business for McNabb is admitting some culpability in the D.C. disaster and letting people know that he is committed to being a good player for his new team and that he’ll make whatever changes are necessary.
This situation can go one of two ways. McNabb can think he’s still “Donovan McNabb, Superstar” and act accordingly. If so, he’s in for more humble pie and a sad end to a good career. Or, McNabb can put his ego in his back pocket and embrace his new opportunity and work at rebuilding his reputation. Heck, it might do him some good to go somewhere and have to fight for a job. That might get the competitive juices flowing and bring out the best in McNabb. Like so many star players, he built up a sense of entitlement over the years. That’s hurting him now, but he can change that if he’ll just embrace reality and deal with the present circumstances.
Things rarely end in a pretty way for QBs, even successful starters. I hope McNabb is able to find a team that fits him so we can find out if he can still be a good player. I think he’s still got the talent to be a good QB, but we have to find out if he’s got the ability to change his ways. What’s past is prologue. Time to start dealing with the present and future.