Donovan McNabb benched – is he done in Washington?

Donovan McNabb hasn’t played like the second coming of Y.A. Tittle this year, so let’s not act as if he’s the difference between the Redskins finishing this miserable season 3-0 or in a fiery blaze of their own hell. (They’ll probably choose the latter.)

But for crib’s sake, he’s still light-years better than Rex Grossman, whom Mike Shanahan will start against the Cowboys this Sunday.

Once again, the Redskins have befuddled the masses. Both McNabb and Shanahan say that McNabb is healthy, yet Grossman received an increased amount of reps this week practice and has been named Sunday’s starter. But why? Because he gives the Redskins their best chance of winning? That can’t be it. Grossman can hold his own when he plays on a team that employs the top ranked defense and a returner that sets his offense up at midfield every possession. But last time I checked, the Redskins had neither of those at their disposal.

So if McNabb isn’t hurt and Grossman doesn’t give the Skins their best chance of winning, then why start him? The only logical explanation is that they know McNabb won’t be around next year and therefore, are trying to see what they have in Grossman. They signed McNabb to an extension in mid-November but only committed $3.5 million more in guaranteed money so they aren’t tied down to him financially. They could release him and only lose $3.5 million in the process, which is chump change when it comes to a starting quarterback.

Thus, that must be the reason Grossman is starting on Sunday – because McNabb’s days in Washington are numbered. They have to be, or else why start the human turnover machine? Because McNabb still doesn’t have a feel for Kyle Shanahan’s offense? If he’s going to be a part of the Skins’ long-term future, then both Shanahans would want McNabb to get as much playing time as possible in preparation for the future. They wouldn’t bench him so he could take cues from Rex freaking Grossman.

Yep, that has to be it. McNabb is done in Washington. No coach in his right mind believes Rex Grossman gives his team its best chance of winning. He may play well for a quarter, a half or even an entire game, but over the course of a season Grossman is not the answer. If Shanahan knows this, then he must also know that McNabb’s time in D.C. is up.

Update: Rich Campbell reports via his Twitter page that Shanahan has informed McNabb that there’s no guarantee he’ll be brought back in 2011. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also says that, “It’s obvious that Donovan McNabb will not be back in Washington this season.”

This is a downgrade to the entire Washington offense: Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Anthony Armstrong…even Ryan Torain, who is going to get even more attention as the Cowboys dare Rex Grossman to air it out. I see Moss and Torain as fringe WR2 and RB2, respectively, while Cooley becomes a fringe TE1 play.

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