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What If The Redskins Used Those Draft Picks For Someone Other Than Donovan McNabb?
ASHURN, VA - APRIL 6: Mike Shanahan, head coach of the Washington Redskins, answers questions during a press conference introducing Donovan McNabb to the media on April 6, 2010 at Redskin Park in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)


The next Redskins Hog Heaven Bye Week debate asks what if the Washington Redskins used their draft picks differently than trading them to Philadelphia for Donovan McNabb. Whew! Talk about a discussion.

Greg Trippiedi: Better off using the picks than to trade them

Without a doubt, this topic gets at the essence of what is wrong with the 2010 Redskins.

Redskins fans as a group find solace in pointing out how the franchise has never had a “real” quarterback in the mold of a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning or Drew Brees or Philip Rivers, at least not in most of our lifetimes.  This, however true it may be, has caused the jump in logic that the quarterback problem in Washington is the primary reason that the Redskins have been a losing franchise since Joe Gibbs’ first retirement.

That part isn’t true.  Quarterback play has had very little to do with the failures of the franchise over the long term.  The Redskins have had numerous passing leaders since 1993 when Mark Rypien lost his stranglehold on the job.  Here are all quarterbacks to lead the Redskins in single season passing year to year since then:  Heath Shuler; Gus Frerotte; Trent Green; Brad Johnson; Tony Banks; Patrick Ramsey; Mark Brunell, and Jason Campbell.

Shuler and Banks weren’t good quarterbacks, admittedly, but neither led the Redskins in passing for more than just a season.  Green was a good quarterback on an absolutely dreadful football team.  Ramsey was an average performer with crystal clear deficiencies that Gibbs couldn’t fix.  Every other player on this list had a really good year as Redskins quarterback: Frerotte in 96, Johnson in 99, Mark Brunell in 05, Campbell in 08.  Those quarterback seasons are…very spread out, which is why the Redskins have been unable to find *1* guy to be the QB of the Redskins.  But the big point is that: they occurred, and have continued to surface with different players time and again.

So the very notion that the acquisition of Donovan McNabb would solve a problem that never existed was minor lunacy.  That he’d pull some miracles with this supporting cast: absolute lunacy.  That he’d be able to do it with no concessions whatever from a coaching staff that had (and has) accomplished nothing in Washington, wow.  In a word: Shanahan.

We can see now how misguided and hubris-motivated the McNabb trade was, if you couldn’t at the time.  There are differences in the way that Jason Campbell and Donovan McNabb approach and handle conflict, but if at any point Kyle Shanahan concluded that Jason Campbell couldn’t execute the system he wanted to run, it made little sense to get McNabb, who has the same deficiencies plus some in the accuracy category.  This point was made by Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders (an Eagles fan and McNabb expert) in a pre-season interview he did with Hogs Haven:

“I am saying that the team could have gotten a veteran placeholder AND a quarterback of the future instead of spending draft picks on a short-term solution. And I don’t doubt that McNabb will be better in 2010 than any of the other options available. The concern is about 2011, 2012, 2013. There is no quarterback of the future whatsoever, which is a real problem when your starter is in his 30s and has had a lot of injuries in recent seasons.

“As for who is and who isn’t a traditional WCO quarterback, I am as big a supporter of McNabb as you’ll find in Philly, but if you are worried about accuracy on short passes and a slow trigger, I have some bad news for you.

“The bad news is that you said ‘Campbell is the furthest thing from a WCO QB, which was evident with his slow release and problems with accuracy.’ That was your argument as to why Shanahan shouldn’t have kept Campbell around for another year while developing a Clausen or Colt McCoy. By those standards, McNabb is hardly the prototypical WCO quarterback, either. Of course, McNabb is a better quarterback, for 2010, than Campbell. The crux of the argument remains that the Redskins have no plan for when McNabb takes the next step toward breaking down. The Eagles, who know him better than anyone else, started planning three years ago. The Redskins should have started planning in April, or (better) recognized that they aren’t a Win Now team and passed on him.”

Any small amount of critical thinking could have saved the Redskins the trouble as this was never a good move from the beginning.  What this teaches us is that there is someone high in this Redskins organization who lacks critical thinking ability.

There may have been a better option to trade those picks for in terms of veterans, but I think it was imperative that the Redskins had kept those picks.  That second rounder could have been Colt McCoy had the Redskins wanted to add some quarterback help should Jason Campbell had been unable to pick up the Shanahan system and Rex Grossman needed to actually lead this team into the regular season.  But they also could have passed on quarterback for the time being, and got a quality defensive player such as Nate Allen or Torrell Troup, or a running back to fix the biggest offensive weakness or an interior guard.  Any of those choices would have been more productive than McNabb, and the Redskins would still have a third round pick in next year’s draft.

I like McNabb as a quarterback and a leader.  He reminds me a lot of Jason Campbell in both of those ways.

Anthony Brown: Anquan Boldin was an intriguing possibility

I agree with everything Greg says above, which screws up the debate content of this post. Second and third round picks are how you source offensive linemen. But if picks had to be traded to support a “win now” approach, then a wide receiver would have had immediate impact. Two players could have breached that chasm on the Redskins: Brandon Marshall and Anquan Bolden.

Here’s how the off-season deals for those players went down.

The Redskins trade their 2010 second round draft pick and their 2011 third/fourth round pick to Philadelphia for Donovan McNabb.

The Ravens traded their 2010 third and fourth round pick to the Cardinals for Boldin and for the Cardinals’ 2010 fifth round pick. The Ravens agreed to a three year, $25 million contract extension for Boldin.

The Dolphins traded their second round picks for 2010 and 2011 to the Broncos for Brandon Marshall. The Dolphins agreed to a four year, $47.5 million contract extension for Marshall with $24 million guaranteed.

Donovan McNabb will be 34 years old this month. Boldin is 30. Marshall is 26.

And here’s one other important factoid: Santana Moss (31) will be an unrestricted free agent in 2011.

Whatever the offensive scheme, any pro football team needs two wide receivers who can combine for 150 receptions, 1800 or more yards and 16 or more touchdowns.

Boldin or Marshall could compliment Moss for a wide receiver one-two punch. Boldin is the superior win-now choice as much for his maturity and strength of leadership as for his catching abilities. Boldin is having the better year for scoring (5 TDs) than Marshall (1 TD).

Marshall brings size (6-2, 230 lbs.) and youth (and immaturity) to the table to compliment Moss this year and to replace him if Moss walks at the end of the season. Marshall played for Mike Shanahan in Denver, which may be a factor in why he’s not here now.

I would pick Boldin over Marshall, while understanding that the roster won’t get younger if he’s on it. Boldin’s deal can be more easily folded into the next salary cap than Marshall’s and his intangible value over Marshall is solid.

If you read these pages last August, you already know that McNabb brought modest improvement over Jason Campbell. The well in Washington was poisoned for Campbell so he had to go, but can we agree that he could have been more successful with Boldin or Marshall and Moss as targets?

Trade picks to Philadelphia for McNabb crippled the Redskins’ effort to deal a second round pick to San Diego for WR Vincent Jackson.