Let me first go on record by saying that I do not think Mike Shanahan should be fired. One major reason is the Washington Redskins need to give a program time to develop for once. However, the advocates for his firing are gaining the ammunition to build a pretty strong case.
For all the good the Shanahan administration has done—weeding out most of the negative influences, stockpiling draft picks, putting the team in a good salary cap situation—Mike Shanahan's handling of the quarterback situation is ultimately undermining what he is trying to accomplish.
However you felt about Jason Campbell, he was certainly the perfect seat-warmer to have during the rebuilding process until the Skins had their franchise quarterback in place. Prematurely deciding that Campbell wouldn't be a good fit was mistake, number one. That decision has set off a domino effect that has the Redskins in their current disastrous quarterback situation.
Mistake No. 2: the Donovan McNabb debacle.
The trade for Donovan McNabb remains one of the world's great mysteries, right along with the Bermuda Triangle and Stonehenge. How could Mike Shanahan think a team with a bad and aging roster was just a quarterback away from making a playoff run? That's the only reason a team would trade away second- and fourth-round picks (which the Redskins desperately needed) for a declining 34-year-old quarterback, right?
So, in essence, McNabb was their Brett Favre.
The difference is (and it's a huge one) that the Minnesota Vikings had a very talented roster that was ready to make a serious run. The move turned out to be a bad one, as Mike and (offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan grew frustrated by McNabb's inconsistency, inaccuracy and failure to grasp the offense. They decided to move on from McNabb.
I've wrestled with this in my own mind for a long time, and all I can come up with is this. Maybe Mike Shanahan figured, because of the impending lockout, the uncapped season and the lack of available free agents, that 2010 was a stand-alone season. Maybe he decided to go for it in this one season while trying to squeeze one more great year out of guys like McNabb, Clinton Portis and Albert Haynesworth, figuring that he'd have to overhaul the roster anyway going into the 2011 season. That's all I can come up with—I tried. At any rate, it blew up in Mike Shanahan's face.
Mistake No. 3: Did he really go into the 2011 season with Rex Grossman and John Beck as his quarterbacks?
I must admit that I bought into the legitimacy of Rex Grossman as a viable quarterback option.
People like my brother warned me that "Sexy Rexy" is so bad that Mike Shanahan wouldn't be able to evaluate his offense and that Grossman's play would demoralize the team. I didn't listen. As it turns out, the nay-sayers were right. What makes the situation even more egregious is that not only do the Redskins have one quarterback like that on their roster—they have two.
John Beck is just plain awful and in no way resembles an NFL quarterback. He gives the Redskins no chance to be successful on offense, and he has demoralized the team. Beck has been so bad that people are now clamoring for Rex Grossman to get back under center. Do you know how bad you have to be for that to happen?
So Mike Shanahan has left the organization without a quarterback who can even help the younger players get better, let alone win games. Inexcusable. If "Shanny" wasn't going to draft a quarterback this year or bring in a competent veteran, then he should have put his ego aside in order to make things work with Donovan McNabb. Clearly McNabb is just about done, but he at least provides some competency at the game's most important position. Instead, this decision has left the organization with a familiar title—a national laughing stock. Redskin fans realistically shouldn't have expected the Redskins to be big winners this year, but they shouldn't have expected to be embarrassed, either.
Mike Shanahan should be thankful for this. People would be far more comfortable calling for his firing if the owner's name wasn't Dan Snyder. As frightening as Shanahan's quarterback evaluation has been so far, nothing would make Redskin Nation lose sleep like the thought of Dan Snyder getting involved again.