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Shanahan Benches McNabb and I Bash, Question, and Second Guess

Shanahan's Signature Look

If you missed the Redskins/Lions game yesterday than you know that ‘skins coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench McNabb in the last 2 minutes of the game in favor of starting former Chicago Bears QB Rex Grossman. Grossman has a speckled past to say the least, and even if you think he’s an awesome QB most of us wouldn’t consider him to be preferable to McNabb.

After the game, Shanahan stated that he felt that Grossman gave them “the best chance to win” due to his knowledge of the 2-minute offense. (It’s important to note that McNabb stated that he was very comfortable with the 2 minute offense) When asked about whether or not the Skins’ offensive line was lacking, McNabb said “I wouldn’t say the offensive line let me down.”

Even casual fans should be able to tell you that the Skins haven’t had a good offensive line in at least 6 years. And RB Clinton Portis’ workhorse nature was many times the only thing between former Redskin QB Jason Campbell and death.

But that’s McNabb…classy to the end. Mind you, Grossman got into the game and was on the field for all of about 8 seconds (I should replay it and count) before things went terribly awry.

Brian Mitchell said of Shanahan’s decision to bench McNabb:

“You basically made your quarterback look like a scapegoat. You made your quarterback look like he was the guy that caused all the problems today, and that is definitely a problem.”

Already this season, Shanahan has had a public falling out with the team’s new highly paid defensive tackle (Albert Haynesworth), unceremoniously cut a WR (Devin Thomas) and now has benched one of the most talented QB’s to play the game. What’s next? A slap fight with Dan Snyder?

When Coaches make rash moves like benching a starter, it messes with team morale especially when there’s no clear reason for doing so. It further encourages a feeling that nobody’s job is safe-not that jobs in the NFL are ever safe-but benching without apparent warrant makes guys nervous about their own value and rightfully so.

I think Shanahan could stand to learn a lesson from Giants Coach Tom Coughlin. He tried the my-way-or-the-highway reactionary approach a few years back. It didn’t work. He came back the next season with a new attitude and the Giants have been contenders ever since.


Ray Lewis To Sports Illustrated: The NFL Has Too Many Rules

Ray Lewis Cool on the Red Carpet at the 12th Annual Espys

Sports journalists use the term “larger than life figure” for all sorts of people, but when it comes to Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis, the phrase is completely accurate. Lewis scares me a little. He doesn’t scare me in a way that would make me afraid to meet him-oh no, I’d LOVE to meet Ray Lewis. Would love to interview him and get inside what’s left of his mind (just kidding).

But he scares me in the sense that he’s so raw-verbally and physically. He’s a beast on auto pilot. A lawless enforcer. The toughest man among men. He’s an anomaly. Most guys don’t make it 15 years in the league. Most don’t even make it to 5 years. And playing the way that Lewis plays, it defies logic that he wasn’t one of the NFL’s former players a long time ago.

As his career comes to a close (could this be the year he retires?), it’s the dawning of a new era. He’s seen the game change…and change and change. And he ain’t too shy to say he doesn’t like it. Sports Illustrated profiles Lewis this month and like anything else Lewis is involved in-especially those Old Spice commercials-it’s more than a little intriguing.

“My goodness. You can’t do anything anymore. It’s a tragedy. Look what they’ve done to the greatest gladiator sport we’ve ever played. When you step on this gridiron, there’s something coming with it. That’s why you strap up the chinstrap. You sacrifice your body. You sacrifice everything you’ve got. That’s what the game has been. That’s why we praise the Dick Butkuses and the Jack Lamberts. Night Train Lane, the only thing he did was clothesline people. The stuff that Butkus did? If you did that now, people would be screaming on TV, ‘He’s out of control!’ I’m telling you, it’s a bitter subject.”

Bitter and also complicated. Lewis walks the same fine line—on one side the health of players, on the other the integrity and entertainment value of an immensely popular game—as the league itself. He is not only one of the best defensive players in the history of the NFL and a lock for the Hall of Fame. He is also an embodiment of the kind of athleticism and ferocity that get a man to the pros. Now that combination might make him a dinosaur.

Lewis goes on to say that the hits James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather were fined for were “totally” legal and the fact that the two men were fined is “embarrassing.”

Read the rest here.


The Houston Texans’ Search of Player Lockers Smells Funny

Having had two players suspended this season due to doping, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair is taking what some consider drastic measures to protect his investment. McNair has ordered team staff to search player lockers for banned substances. Of course the conversation that has begun is whether or not teams should do searches. I vote no. Not because players need and deserve privacy-though I think they do-but because, well, it just seems kinda dumb.

Sportsgrid suggested a compromise-telling players that there will be random searches of their lockers. I think that compromise is fine, but I still don’t see the point. Most players are caught after they’ve already taken substances via drug testing by the league. Searching lockers only takes care of the problem of players bringing drugs into training and practice facilities. I have to note that I’m not sure that that actually IS a problem. And if it is, it shouldn’t be that hard for offending players to alter doping locations and routines. Whatever the case, searches don’t do anything to solve the issue of drug use.

NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello essentially said teams are allowed to implement their own rules when it comes to locker room searches. Does this mean they’re allowed to implement their own rules regarding testing? If an owner like McNair really wants to ensure that his players don’t end up on the suspension list I think he’d seek or advocate more effective means to do so. If not testing, than something else. This seems more like a ploy to convince fans and big brother that he and his organization are not accomplices to player drug use than a plan to eliminate the use of prohibited substances by Texans players. Sports sites and blogs are already calling the two Texan suspensions a “trend” for the team. The PR on this is out of wack and McNair can’t just stand by and let it spiral further out of control.

Image is still everything, right?

The floor is yours to disagree.


WHYMELAWD: Tony Romo Breaks Collar Bone and NFL Releases Game Audio

Oh what a difference a couple years makes. Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo’s signing was to be the dawn of a new day for the Dallas and their success-starved fans. But 3 years later, things aren’t going so well. The Cowboys were already off to a terrible start this season, and now Romo is out at least 6 weeks with a broken collarbone.

As the Cowboys begin to consider whether it might be a good idea to sit Romo even after he’s cleared to return, the NFL releases Romo’s game audio from Dallas’ Week 7 loss to the New York Giants was released. I know that when players are mic’d up they act slightly different, but Romo seemed genuine. I have to say this audio just was NOT what I expected from Romo. I never thought him to have so much…personality!

Highlight: After Romo breaks his collarbone and is lying flat on the ground he says: “Did he catch the pass?” To which the attendants say “yes, it’s a first down.”

Romo then tries to get back in the game with his body leaning from injury. Yikes.


In Defense of Thomas Jones–Former Falcon Jamal Anderson Makes the Case

Thomas Jones With the Dapper Look

This is the first post in my “In Defense of” series where I choose one player to defend against the criticism levied against them. Today’s post was inspired by a longer and better post by former Falcons running back Jamal Anderson.

In a world where T.O.s and Ochocincos rule the airwaves in more ways than one, we sometimes forget about the quiet warriors that take the field week after week during football season. Thomas Jones is one of those guys. After playing a key role in the  Chicago Bears’ 2007 march to the Super Bowl, Jones was steeped in a little bit of controversy.  He left lots of Chicago fans disappointed when he left the team and moved on to the Jets. in 2009, Jones found himself in a standoff with the always-interesting Coach Rex Ryan when he asked for a contract renegotiation after Ryan had made it clear that veterans would not be receiving extensions until their current contracts expired.

Now that Jones is playing for the Chiefs (he signed in March 2010), those days feel long gone. He’s productive and has quietly helped the Chiefs improve their offense by leaps and bounds.

Anderson covers Jones’ history in the league well:


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