Redskins' 2010 and 2011 Seasons Undermined by the Donovan McNabb Trade

Scott FitzGeraldCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 19:  Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5  of the Washington Redskins on the sidelines against play against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As many of you may have read today, Donovan McNabb went on ESPN's First Take this morning and claimed that RGIII is not going to be a good fit for Mike Shanahan's offense. To admit that he didn't fit in here in Washington is an understatement. It seems as though McNabb still doesn't understand what he did to the Washington Redskins' 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Two years later, McNabb now claims that he was misused and that the offense wasn't catered to his strengths. Let's look past how absurd his statements are for the moment and take a look at what his infamous trade did to the course of the franchise.

While McNabb's acquisition was not he sole reason for the team's mediocrity the past two seasons, it played a significant role.    

On Easter weekend 2010, McNabb was traded within the division to the Redskins for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft. At the time, the Redskins had Jason Campbell and Rex Grossman under contract.  

Grossman was brought in from the Houston Texans to be the offensive system evangelist for Kyle Shanahan. Once McNabb came to DC, Campbell was sent to Oakland for a fourth-round pick in this year's draft. The future was now, and the team thought they had found their franchise quarterback.

The trade left Washington with only six picks in the 2010 draft and a desperate need for a left tackle to step in right away to protect their new starting quarterback. The acquisition of McNabb forced the team into a win-now mentality in Shanahan's first year with the team and was followed by a number of free-agent signings and trades thought to help the team contend immediately (i.e. Joey Galloway, Jammal Brown). The team also retained an aging and ailing Clinton Portis.    


But whatever happened to the second-rounder that the 'Skins gave up for McNabb? The Eagles drafted safety Nate Allen with the pick, and only five picks later, the New England Patriots selected Rob Gronkowski. Trent Williams and Perry Riley are the only selections from the draft to have made significant contributions (Eric Cook saw playing time last season in the wake of Kory Lichtensteiger's injury).

During training camp and the preseason, McNabb's lack of tempo at practice and inability to quickly pick up the playbook became apparent. Throughout the season, he struggled with short to intermediate routes, but connected on long bombs, which skewed the passing numbers for the team.

Once McNabb's inability to grasp the system surfaced and he was pulled in favor of Rex Grossman, the writing was on the wall for McNabb's career in DC. Conversely, it also propelled Grossman into the starting role and laid the foundation for the great Beck vs. Grossman battle that was last offseason.  

Grossman played well enough, and Beck looked smart enough to fool Shanahan into not searching for another quarterback. While last year's draft can certainly be considered a successful one for the 'Skins (not trading away all of their picks and actually making 12), the team still avoided drafting their QB of the future in a draft that featured significant quarterback depth.

And then there was last season. The 2011 season should go down as the great 2010 purge. Band-aids were placed all over the defense during its first year transitioning to the 3-4. If McNabb was good enough on offense, we could win with a defense in flux, right?   


I tend to look at last year's record as a direct result of the numerous missteps from the prior year. While Albert Haynesworth may have cost the team more money and more drama, he actually served as the scapegoat for the team's season. As unintentional as it may have been, Haynesworth's failed physical, poor play and suspension distracted everyone from the implications of the McNabb disaster.  

If Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan could have said no to the McNabb trade, this year's blockbuster trade with St. Louis could have taken place in 2010 with the Redskins moving up to draft Sam Bradford. Instead, we're left with a team that finally has the right personnel to play the 3-4 and still has holes on the offensive line.   

Now that the organization is back on course and bringing in the franchise quarterback it has been missing for years, McNabb is trying to rain on DC's parade. We get it, Donovan; you're trying to make the transition into a TV career after football.  

But for a 35-year-old quarterback whose hometown team just signed the man he chased out of DC as their backup, Jason Campbell, and whose offseason hometown team doesn't need an aging third-stringer under center in Arizona, bitterness is unbecoming.  

This franchise has moved on and stepped out from the under shadow that was the McNabb debacle. I'd recommend the out of work QB do the same.


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