Donovan McNabb says Robert Griffin III won’t work in Redskins offense

Chris Chase

It's never good when you're on a panel with Skip Bayless and can legitimately be referred to as "the childish one." That's the position in which Donovan McNabb found himself on Thursday morning when he used an appearance on ESPN's "First Take" to self-servingly blast Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins for his ill-fated year in the burgundy and gold and to claim that Robert Griffin III won't work in the team's offensive system.

[NFL star Ray Lewis gives passionate pregame speech to Stanford]

"I was misused," McNabb said of his time in Washington. He feels Washington's likely draft pick, RGIII, will suffer the same fate. McNabb was asked whether he thinks the Baylor quarterback will be a good fit in Shanahan's offense:

"No, I say that because a lot of the time ego gets too involved with when you're playing in Washington. Here's a guy who's coming out who's very talented, mobile, strong arm, we've already heard he's a very intelligent football mind. Are you going to cater the offense around his talent and what he's able to do or are you going to bring the Houston offense with Matt Schaub over to him and have him be embedded in that whole thing."

A talented, mobile, intelligent quarterback with a strong arm who doesn't have his talents fully utilized by the Shana-clan? Part of me thinks Donovan isn't talking about RGIII here. I can't put my finger on who he's referring to. Perhaps he should have given more clues. "Here's a guy who grew up in Chicago and went to a school with an affinity for orange and played for a franchise without any Super Bowl titles and is speaking the sentence that are you listening to at this very moment." That would have clarified things a bit better. Oh, and McNabb blasting Shanahan for having too much ego? Don't walk barefoot amongst the ruins of your glass house, my friend.

"We're talking about Mike Shanahan and the things he was able to do in Denver. Well, I have a couple of names for you that Mike Shanahan -- quarterbacks he's coached -- and the lack of success that he's had. We had John Beck, who was 0-4. Rex Grossman, who was 6-11. Jay Cutler, who was prized possession, 17-20. [Skip Bayless, off camera: "Wow." The "wow" is what makes you know the point is salient.] Jake Plummer, a guy who had success -- led them to the AFC championship against Pittsburgh, as we know*, and then benched him the next year because he wouldn't do what you wanted him to do, pretty much. Brian Griese, who was supposed to be the heir apparent to John Elway and hasn't had a lot of success."

Huh, another name is conspicuously absent from McNabb's recollection of failed Shanahan quarterbacks. But who? WHO? Who. Could. It. Be. Hmm...

* He forgot to add "because we looked it up on Wikipedia this morning while we were preparing this measured rant" to the end of the phrase. Donovan didn't know the overtime rules. He surely doesn't know that Plummer lost in the AFC championship to the Steelers.

"What type of offense do you run with [RGIII]? Is it the spread offense that you try to continue to flourish that he's been successful in? Or are you going to have him in a foxhole with a makeshift offensive line and keep bringing in receivers, you have a solid tight end in Fred Davis that you need to feature, what are we going to see?"

The only thing missing from this segment was video of McNabb sharpening his axe. He's taking a Bunyanesque swing at his old coach but, judging by his recent play, he probably came up short and barely hit Shanahan's feet.

"I don't think it's a great fit. [...] If this doesn't work this year, we don't see a splash like a Cam Newton splash, this could be it."

Just to reiterate: McNabb thinks that if RGIII isn't an instant success and doesn't match one of the greatest rookie seasons in the history of football, then Mike Shanahan is out in Washington. Remember that. It will be useful later.

[Ravens coach John Harbaugh says loss to Pats will sting 'forever'

Bayless then asked McNabb whether he had an axe to grind because of the way he was treated in Washington.

"You know what, I do, but I don't. The whole deal about it is, you know, we hear so much about players who move on somewhere, how the next year would be a lot better, give them a chance to learn the offense and understand what we do. Give him a chance to kind of get his feet up under him and get adjusted to the guys -- I never got that chance."

If there's anything 11-year veterans acquired for multiple draft picks and paid millions of dollars need, it's a chance. McNabb was acquired in April. How was he supposed to learn the offense in only five months? It's unreasonable to think any professional athlete could get acclimated to a new system so quickly!

There's also a certain irony in McNabb whining about not getting enough time while advocating for Shanahan's firing after 16 games if RGIII doesn't produce. Surely a coach should get the same chance to "learn" and "understand" and "get his feet up under him" and "get adjusted to the guys" that a player does, right?

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