Coach Meyer: Shanahan?s Gamble Made Sense

With Two-Time AFC Coach of the Year RON MEYER


There's been a lot of talk the past few days about Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's "benching" of Donovan McNabb for the two-minute drill this past Sunday in a loss to the Detroit Lions.

I'd say "debate," instead of talk...but there really wasn't much debate. Most everyone agreed that he made a big mistake, one that could hurt his team for the rest of the season.

I don't see it that way. And, frankly, I'm not sure what pundits are thinking right now because it just doesn't make any sense.

The Redskins and McNabb have been HORRIBLE this year on the offensive side of the ball outside of Week Two vs. Houston. Did everyone forget that all of a sudden?

  • The pundits scolded McNabb and the Skins when they couldn't score an offensive TD in the season opener vs. Dallas.
  • The pundits talked about how bad McNabb and the Skins looked in a loss two weeks later at St. Louis.
  • The pundits talked about how poorly McNabb played in his return to Philadelphia, even though the Redskins managed to win a close one.
  • The pundits talked about how bad McNabb and the Skins looked in a low scoring overtime win over Green Bay.
  • The pundits talked about how McNabb and Washington vs. Cutler and Chicago was one of the worst NFL games ever played.


The pundits probably weren't watching much of Washington/Detroit on TV early Sunday because it wasn't a marquee game. They apparently didn't know that McNabb and Washington were STILL playing very badly on offense (with a kickoff return TD helping to pad their scoring). Couldn't they have assumed that when McNabb was benched?

You'd have think Joe Montana in his prime was benched late in a 300-yard game by head coach Matt Millen the way the media reacted.

Here are the facts you should know:

  • A 2-minute drill involves driving systematically down the field to try and get the winning score.
  • Washington is the second WORST offense at third down conversions in the NFL this year, meaning they're AWFUL when it comes to driving the field systematically under McNabb.
  • Washington is even worse ON THE ROAD in this area than they are normally.
  • Philadelphia graded out poorly in this regard last year with McNabb, which is one reason they weren't afraid to let him go to a divisional rival.
  • As little as you probably think of Rex Grossman...there's just not much of a drop-off (if any) between the lack of production under McNabb, and what was likely to happen under Grossman.

It wasn't a bad gamble. It could have worked (though Grossman's fumble sure blew up in everyone's face). And, at the very least, it sent a message to the team that their head coach had run out of patience watching six straight weeks of lousy offense. McNabb seemed satisfied with poor play because the team was finding a way to win low scoring games anyway.

Shanahan knows Washington isn't going to make the playoffs by losing to the likes of St. Louis and Detroit on the road, and hoping to win coin flips vs. anyone better than that. Two games against the first place Giants are still ahead. The Redskins have to lift their game significantly to stay in the race.

This is Mike Shanahan's team, not Donovan McNabb's team. That's how a good head coach is going to see it anyway. As a former college and pro head coach myself, I know you can't let your guys get complacent just because you won a few close games. You have to demand the best. Losses to teams like St. Louis or Detroit are lost opportunities that you don't get back.

And, if more people had been paying attention to how badly McNabb has been playing the last month and a half, this move might have been universally applauded rather than almost universally derided.

As handicappers, you have to PAY ATTENTION to what's really happening on the field. Games are won with athletes, X's and O's, composure, and execution. They're not won by reputations. You don't get any points for what you could do five years ago. If you're making Las Vegas bets based on the repuations of players and coaches, you're probably going to lose. If you can put yourself on the field...on the the're much more likely to have a true understanding of what's happening right now.

That's why COACH RON MEYER is a handicapping winner. I know what it's like to be in the heat of battle. I know when a key player has lost a step too. We've been taking advantage of that all year in college and pro football. If you've been struggling with your own picks, SIGN UP WITH A WINNER!

Game day releases go up a few hours before kickoff here at the website. Great rates are available on my football seasonal package. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-877-540-8787. Be sure to ask about early season basketball when you call. As I showed you last year during MARCH MADNESS and the NBA PLAYOFFS, the fundamentals of coaching success are true in ALL SPORTS!

Time will tell if Shanahan is going to "lose" his team by benching the captain or a couple of minutes. Maybe this team just wasn't good enough anyway, and nothing was going to get them to the playoffs. What he did this past Sunday was a good gamble. You can become a better Vegas gambler yourself by putting A COACH IN YOUR CORNER!


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