Mike Shanahan has always had something of a soft spot for mobile quarterbacks.
In Denver, he jumped at the opportunity to sign Jake Plummer and tweaked his offense to feature bootlegs and roll outs that took advantage of Plummer's ability to scramble. The experiment worked, and for a brief time period Plummer seemed like a credible NFL quarterback.
When he came to Washington, Shanahan signed Donovan McNabb, not realizing that McNabb's age and inability to stay in shape had not only reduced his speed but hindered his ability to throw downfield passes.
This season, Shanahan went out of his way to start John Beck, a career back-up, for three full games. Part of his reasoning was that Beck is fast and would therefore be able to make plays with his legs.
The McNabb and Beck experiments did not work out, but I have a feeling that hasn't dampened Shanahan's enthusiasm for quarterbacks who can threaten defenses with more than just their arms.
So I have a solution that will give the Washington Redskins a better quarterback then they currently have and allow Mike Shanahan to get one more chance to let a mobile quarterback run his offense: The Redskins should trade for Joe Webb.
On Sunday, Webb shredded a stout Redskins defense while playing in relief of injured starter Christian Ponder. He finished with two passing touchdowns, one running touchdown and a quarterback rating of 158.3—granted, he only threw five passes, but that number is still pretty spectacular.
What should the Redskins do this offseason?
Webb made plays with his arms and legs and spent the majority of the second half looking like a poor man's Cam Newton—another mobile quarterback who torched the Redskins this season.
Webb is only 25 years old, and despite his obvious talent, has never been given the opportunity to start for an entire season. In all likelihood, the Minnesota Vikings will start rookie Christian Ponder next season because, as history has demonstrated, franchises tend to go out of their ways to justify the previous season's draft picks. There is also a chance Minnesota could finish with the league's worst record and thereby receive the rights to draft the prodigious Andrew Luck.
Regardless of which scenario plays out, the Vikings may be willing to trade Webb. If that becomes the case, the Redskins should jump at the opportunity, assuming the asking price is not prohibitive.
Conventional wisdom says Washington should use their first pick in the upcoming draft to procure a quarterback. I understand why many fans support this sentiment, but the fact remains that drafting a quarterback is one of professional football's most inexact sciences.
For every Cam Newton there is an Akili Smith, and for every Aaron Rodgers there is a Heath Shuler. No matter who the Redskins draft, it is important to remember that they will be obtaining an immeasurable commodity, a player that could become the next Philip Rivers or end up as a Mark Sanchez clone.
Obtaining Webb would at least give the team an exceptional athlete who has shown occasional flashes of excellence during his brief NFL career. And there's no doubt that Mike and Kyle Shanahan could design plays within their offensive scheme to utilize Webb's talents.
If the Tim Tebow experiment has taught us anything, or at least reminded us of something we thought we already knew, it's that quarterbacks who are a threat to run put extra pressure on defenses. The Denver Broncos don't have a great offense, but they are least challenging the notion that the future of NFL resides solely in the passing game.
Webb is not as good a runner as Tebow or Newton, but he's in the same category and is already a better passer than the former. Putting him in a Redskins uniform would add versatility to an offense whose two biggest hindrances are a lack of big plays and overall predictability.
Knowing the state that the Redskins are in—approaching historical levels of desperation and wearing down a thinning fan base's patience—I imagine Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen will take the conventional route and draft a quarterback, if for no other reason than to save face with the public.
But this may be the time to try something unconventional and see what happens. A trade still may end up being unfeasible, but it's at least worth considering.