Donovan McNabb Can Rewrite “Running Quarterback’s” History Book
Donovan McNabb‘s move to the Washington Redskins isn’t only about a shrewd move on Washington’s part. Donovan said himself that he wants to write a “new chapter” in the story of Donovan. That chapter could include the reformation of the running Quarterback.
He couldn’t do both in Philadelphia. He couldn’t fight the fans who always hated him–they even booed him the minute he was drafted. He couldn’t satisfy them with relative success. He couldn’t relish his own evolution as a player.
T-Oh Go Away!
The franchise never made a “full-bodied” commitment to him. Never once did they give him a top-flight receiver. The only option he ever had was a loud-mouthed Terrell Owens.
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and even Rich Gannon have had “shut-up guys” to throw the ball at: Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Tim Brown, even Randy Moss.
Donovan had a locker-room “cancer” in T.O., and over-inflated ego in Freddie Mitchell, and no time with his only good receiver in DeSean Jackson. Consequently, Jackson actually dropped the ball before the goal while he was celebrating. None of these people are befitting a Hall of Fame QB.
Donovan never had support in the backfield either. Correll Buckhalter and Brian Westbrook were simply “release valves” in Philly’s “pass-happy” offense.
In the comparison between John Elway and McNabb, John Elway had Terrell Davis–McNabb has a receivers with low numbers on their backs.
What Do The Redskins Bring To The Table?
The Redskins offer Donovan a chance to get out from under the unfair stereotype of the “black/running Quarterback”. Honestly, this is about the “run-around guy” versus the “drop back guy”, but black QB’s tend to be pushed into the “run-around” mode too quickly.
Think of all the guys who were used for their athletic ability and then panned–even by people like me–for not being very good passers. Michael Vick fits that mold. Tim Tebow fits that mold.
So, it’s even deeper than the “racial thing”. It goes to the core of “athleticism vs. passing”.
The Redskins bring solid runners to the table. They have Larry Johnson and Willie Parker on the roster. It doesn’t matter how old they are–they can run in Shanahan’s system.
Donovan finally has something greater than the “release valve” he had in Philadelphia.
Other Guys Have Been “Release Valves” Too
In Atlanta, Mike Vick was release valve in Atlanta over Warrick Dunn. Tim Tebow was the release valve at Florida. Steve Young even had to play “release valve” at times in San Francisco–and I feel lucky to have his one Super Bowl win.
In Washington Donovan can have anybody he wants. Dan Snyder is not afraid to spend money and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. If Donovan says he wants help then Snyder will say, “Let it be so”.
The Redskins offer a place where few “run around” guys have lived. A place that has release valves–and lots of them.
What Does Mike Shanahan Have To Offer?
Mike Shanahan offers unconditional love. Shanahan knows exactly the problem with the “run around” stereotype. John Elway didn’t catch a ton of heat in Denver for losing 3 Super Bowls.
However, Mike Shanahan knew how hard it was for Elway to stand alone as the “release valve”. He–essentially–developed an offense tailor-made for the “run-around guy”.
Zone blocking is unconditional love for a guy who would love nothing more than to rest occasionally and hand off the ball. The effective use of slot receivers is unconditional love for the guy who needs to dump the ball instead of run for his life.
Shanahan And McNabb Were Made For Each Other
Moreover, Mike Shanahan’s offense was made for any QB who was made into the “run around guy” and not allowed a “release valve”.
Sure, Terrell Davis was the beginning, but anybody can run for 1000 yards in Shanahan’s scheme. Brian Westbrook–for all his accolades–only had two 1000-yard running seasons. That’s not consistency. The “run-around guy” can’t develop without consistency in the backfield.
Mike Shanahan’s unconditional love/zone blocking/consistent running game will allow Donovan to be fresher than he’s ever been. Donovan will see the field more clearly. Donovan won’t get hurt. Donovan won’t feel the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Mike Shanahan will save Donovan McNabb’s life. It’s too bad he couldn’t save Michael Vick, Akili Smith, Eric Crouch, and the hundreds of other “busts” at the QB position.
The Redskins Are Over The Moon
I can’t imagine a franchise being much happier–besides winning a Super Bowl. The Redskins had a Hall of Fame caliber Quarterback fall in their laps. Mike Shanahan gushed over Donovan’s credentials in his introductory press conference:
“When I went to Denver, as Donovan had mentioned, John Elway was entering his 13th year. When I was in San Francisco, when Steve Young won the Super Bowl, he was in his 11th year. And when you do have a quarterback that has won, a quarterback who that knows how to lead, a quarterback that knows how to set the standard, it sets the tempo for the rest of the team. It doesn’t happen very often when you have players like that, yet in the situation that we were in I felt very, very fortunate for this to come about.”
You can’t sing his praises much higher than to compare McNabb to Steve Young and John Elway. Carlos Rogers even appreciates Donovan’s impact on both sides of the ball:
“[He’s a] real good quarterback, you know? Can make all the throws, he can still scramble, he can run, he’s just a leader and [can] take command of the offense. He’s just an outstanding leader, and when you got that guy at your quarterback position, everybody just follows him and good things can happen.”
The Redskins know they hit the jackpot, but…
Does This Equal A Super Bowl Win?
Any team that puts a proven “release valve/run-around guy” in a “run first” situation is instantly better for it. The reverse is also true.
If we look again at the Eagles we see that they have Mike Vick on the roster. He could go in Kevin Kolb tomorrow and have no running game to support him. He’ll fail because he’ll be–once again–the release valve.
Kevin Kolb will not be expected to win games by himself and he may thrive slinging the ball around because he won’t be the “release valve”. Kolb could improve the Eagles because of the situation–not because of Donovan’s previous “lack of ability”.
If Tim Tebow goes to a team that does not go to a team that wants him as a “project” he’ll fail. He will be expected to win games he can’t win and he’ll be Donovan McNabb 2.0. As nice as he is–fans in his town will hate him because he “can’t get it done”.
Conversely, someone like Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy “needs” a solid running game and they’ll get it. They’ll be beloved because they’re “working so hard” when, in fact, they aren’t working as hard as a McNabb or Vick or Tebow in “release valve” mode.
Does this new balance in his playing equal a championship for Donovan? I think it does. Maybe not this year, but before he retires he’ll win one.
He will feel like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. It will be as if he’s sitting in a lawnchair in the backfield and letting the game come to him.
Isn’t That How “Drop Back” Guys Play?
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees all have “release valves” in their offenses. Brees has Thomas, Bush, Colston, Meachem, and Shockey.
Manning has Wayne, Gonzalez, Addai, Clark, Collie, and Garcon. Brady has Welker, Moss, Mauroney, and Edelman. All McNabb ever had were Buckhalter, Mitchell, and Westbrook–and we know the story on them.
But he didn’t need help! Nobody in Philly thought so and they booed him relentlessly for it. In Philly McNabb was an island. In Washington he’ll be a peninsula–a natural out-growth of the offense.
You can’t say someone has insane ability and expect him to win a team game by himself. We don’t expect Brady, Manning, Brees, Montana, Bradshaw, or Staubach to do it. Why would we ask McNabb to do it?
All this boils down to one thing: Mismanagement of the Eagles. They drafted their dream guy and did more than anyone every should–or could–with next-to-nothing. Afterwards they threw him out for not “getting it done”.
Donovan will “get it done” in Washington, but he’ll do it with a release valve, unconditional love from his coach, and proper management. That’s my take and I’m riding it to the finish!