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Donovan McNabb Benching Leaves Washington Redskins Embroiled In Controversy

Quarterback Donovan McNabb’s benching in favor of Rex Grossman late in Sunday’s 35-37 loss to the Detroit Lions has left the Washington Redskins with lots of questions this morning.

Coach Mike Shanahan had an odd explanation.

“I thought that was the best scenario for us to have a chance to win,” Shanahan said.

And with that one move, and that one statement, the Redskins’ bye week – and the rest of their season – may have taken on a completely different tenor.

Grossman came in and, on his very first play for the Redskins, fumbled as he was sacked. The loose ball was recovered and returned by Detroit rookie Ndamukong Suh for a touchdown that was merely the final humiliation in the Lions’ 37-25 victory over the Redskins. The aftermath was dominated not by the fact that the Redskins lost a winnable game against a 1-5 team. It was dominated by Shanahan’s decision to replace McNabb with Grossman with the game in the balance.

“At the end of the game with Donovan, with a minute left and Rex knowing how to run that two-minute offense, I felt with the time and no timeouts he gave us the best chance to win in that scenario,” Shanahan said. “Just knowing the terminology of what we’ve done, how we’ve run it, it puts a lot of pressure on a quarterback that hasn’t been used to that terminology.”

Washington Post columnist Mike Wise said it is obvious there is a rift between McNabb and the Washington coaching staff.

Here’s the dirty little secret the Redskins have been concealing as well as they can, until the fed-up Shanahan clan just couldn’t take it anymore Sunday afternoon:

They don’t yet trust Donovan McNabb to run this offense. In the aftermath of Washington’s annual Motown meltdown, they may never.

Neither My-Way Mike nor Quality-Control Kyle (the heir apparent to the coaching throne in, oh, three years) have complete confidence the future Hall-of-Famer they traded for in the offseason is the Redskins’ man for the job in the long haul, let alone two weeks.

The coach and his son can’t say that after Washington ruined a tremendous opportunity to enter the bye week at 5-3. And for the sake of 2010 team unity, they probably need to steer as clear from that notion as possible.

But with the surprise benching of McNabb with less than two minutes left and the Redskins down to the Lions by a mere six points – in essence, sitting a proven late-game playmaker at the exact moment he was acquired for last spring – the evidence keeps building toward an undeniable reality:

Halfway into a 4-4 season, the quarterback and his immediate supervisors don’t see eye to eye.

It’s pretty clear for the first time since Todd Collins helped guide the Redskins to the playoffs after Jason Campbell was injured in 2007, Washington has a quarterback controversy.

Fans of the 5-2 division-leading New York Giants can only sit back and smile at this as they watch another division challenger apparently dissolve into disarray.