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MMQB Mailbag: Redskins have long-term concerns about McNabb

I think the Redskins have long-term questions about Donovan McNabb's work ethic, mechanics, footwork and ability to play well in the clutch. That's why coach Mike Shanahan has spent the past few days explaining and re-explaining why he pulled McNabb from the final minutes of Sunday's game against Detroit, with the outcome still very much in doubt.

"The cardiovascular endurance that it takes to run a two-minute, going all the way down with no timeouts, calling plays, it's just not easy," is one of the more interesting ways Shanahan has put it. "If I thought it was the best situation to do, then Donovan would have run the two-minute offense."

I didn't hear this while doing Sirius Radio this morning, but I read it on profootballtalk.com. It's a quote from Tim Hasselbeck, the former Eagles backup, who was on the Mike and Mike show on ESPN radio this morning. "One of the things that drove them crazy in Philadelphia was the lack of tempo at which [McNabb] practiced ... It was always something where you're leaving the quarterback meeting and it would be, 'Hey, listen, the head man wants a little more tempo today.' Nearly every single day. That's been the deal with Donovan McNabb. I know exactly what Mike Shanahan is talking about."

What do I see happening with McNabb going forward? I see maybe a one-year deal to play there in 2011 -- if McNabb would be willing (doubtful) and if the Redskins can't find a quarterback they like better.

The Redskins were among the teams that scouted the Washington-Stanford game Saturday in Seattle. I don't want to make too much of that, but with Andrew Luck and Jake Locker as first-round prospects, it's interesting, and perhaps telling (perhaps, I stress), that a team with Donovan McNabb in-house would be scouting a game with two quarterbacks likely to go high in the April draft.

I hearken back to the pre-draft days this year. The Redskins were very interested in Sam Bradford, even after the trade for McNabb. Everyone thought Mike Shanahan was smoke-screening his interest before the Redskins took Trent Williams, the tackle from Oklahoma, but I think he had legitimate interest in drafting Bradford.

And today's news is that the Redskins have brought in JaMarcus Russell, among other free agents, for a workout during their bye week. I don't view this as anything other than a fact-finding mission by the Redskins. I doubt very seriously Russell has the traits Shanahan is looking for in a quarterback. That is, unless he's been scared straight and scared into being a student of the game, which he never was in three seasons in Oakland.

The bottom line in all of this: McNabb has two months to prove to Shanahan that he's their long-term quarterback. There's an awful lot of smoke here. McNabb's going to have to put out the fire with how he practices and how he plays.

Author's note: A clarification from my Monday column: Donovan McNabb did not skip any of the Redskins' offseason program to spend time at his home in Arizona. I implied in the early version of the column that he spent too much time in Arizona, which was not the case.

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I'm sure Randy Moss would be a good get for some team making a playoff push in the second half of the season, but I wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole.

As one NFL executive told me this morning: "This is Manny Ramirez being waived by the Dodgers.'' With one exception: That happened with one-sixth of the season remaining; this happened halfway through the season. Given that, I think a lot more teams still in contention could be interested in a quick fix for the price of $3.3 million for the rest of the season.

I'd stay away. There's something off-kilter about Moss. Something weird. He might engender love from his teammates, but overall, he just doesn't fit into a team well. What kind of guy pushing for a new contract, the last rich contract of his life, would be the kind of consistent distraction that Moss has been?

This season, instead of being a solid guy and working hard and doing everything he can to show he's still an impact player, he's been a consistent "me'' guy in a game that hates that. From Moss' self-centered rants at press conferences to his childish and needless boycott of the media (do you realize that, to satisfy the NFL's media "demands,'' all a player has to do is talk to the press twice a week for five minutes apiece?), the team that takes him is going to wonder if he's going to go off on them the way he went off on the Patriots and, evidently, the Vikes this year.

I'd guess about four teams would claim him. I think Washington, Seattle and Tennessee seem most likely. Maybe St. Louis too.

ANDREW PERLOFF: 10 potential landing spots for Moss

***

Now for your e-mail:

• TOO MUCH OFFENSE. The NFL Films' top 100 players list seems to be a little heavy on offensive players. Was the list of 260 players you had to grade similarly offensive heavy?'--Dave Roby, Anchorage

I think it was about even; I don't recall. But even if it were, I think 63 offensive players and 37 on defense is about what I would have predicted because of the traditional obsession with the guys who handle the ball with those who don't. It's the kind of inequity I've been conscious of in our Hall of Fame voting the past few years.

• FAIR ENOUGH. "I am having some trouble understanding your power rankings. You have the Chiefs at 12 where you criticize them for needing 74 minutes to beat the Bills in Arrowhead. Yet no such penalty for the Ravens, your No. 3 team, who needed 65 minutes to beat that same Bills team and got gashed for 30 points just a week earlier. Care to explain?''--Paul Carter, Morgan City, La.

Very fair point. I guess what it comes down to is this: I trust Baltimore to be able to put up points more than I trust Kansas City. I would worry about Matt Cassel in a big spot later this season much more than I'd worry about Joe Flacco. The way I rank the teams is based solely on how I think each one would do against the team directly above it on a neutral field. That changes every week, and this week I thought the Ravens deserved to be much higher than the Chiefs.

• NO CONNECTION. Observation about Jets: Mark Sanchez was better before Santonio Holmes joined the team. Sanchez has 1 TD, 4 INTs in the three games since Holmes came back. The Jets seem to be getting away from the run more and that may be putting some pressure on Sanchez. Thoughts?--Raul Allegre, Austin, Texas

I think to draw the connection between those two events would be wrong. Sanchez loves Holmes. And adding a better receiver to the mix is certainly a positive. I think it more has to do with -- especially on Sunday against Green Bay -- his receivers not dropping the ball and Sanchez being more accurate. In the long run, I see the Jets keeping Holmes, not Braylon Edwards, and part of the reason is because he has more upside.

• BOTH ARE BRILLIANT. Give me a break! You write a good column but your ending to me was a BIG laugh. I'd take Bill Walsh's game preparation over Manning any day of the year and twice on Sunday. Recall back to Super Bowl 19, remember what they did to Marino? 38-16 final score. To me Manning is a lot like Marino, a boatload of passing yards and minimal Super Bowl wins to show for it. Walsh was the best, and he would have had a field day stopping the overrated Manning. Book it, King-O. --Walt Sherwood, Olean, N.Y.

My point about Walsh and Manning was not to denigrate Walsh in any way, but simply to say that when Manning is given extra time to prepare for an opponent, I wouldn't trust anyone -- coach or player -- more than Manning to come up with solutions. Walsh was a brilliant strategist and offensive architect -- putting together a playbook, teaching his offense, and getting the right players for his scheme in place. I can't imagine anyone in an offensive meeting room better in my lifetime than Walsh. But I also can't imagine anyone better than Manning in taking disparate pieces of lesser offensive talent and not missing a beat with them during a game. Jacob Tamme had six catches in his career coming into this year and last night against Houston, in the Colts' first game without Dallas Clark, Tamme had six catches and was an integral part of a division victory the Colts had to have.

• THE APOCALYPSE IS NEXT. Hey Peter, loyal weekly reader. Thanks for all of your great insights throughout the years. Quick question -- did your editor delete the first page of your column? I was expecting a play-by-play dissection of the great Brett Favre playing with two fractures, and miraculous resurrection from taking a hard hit Sunday. I'm kidding of course. I'm just glad that after the week (really, four months) of non-stop coverage over whether or not he'll play, that you mentioned him only briefly. I think the rest of the sports world -- and other NFL players that deserve the coverage -- would greatly benefit from a week or two moratorium on stories on Brett Favre. Keep up the great work. --J. Lee, New York

Well, thank you. That's the first journalistic praise I've had about Favre in 15 years.

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