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Mike Shanahan had his “Swinging Gate” moment just 8 games into his first year.
Skins fans haven’t been this blindsided by a coaching blunder in, well, however many weeks it’s been since Jim Zorn called that fake field goal against the Giants.
What made memories of Zorn’s call so durable was that the coach stuck with it even after the Giants defense sniffed it out and called a timeout. The play, to downplay its all-time awfulness, didn’t work. Zorn was dead man coaching from that play on.
Shanahan, too, had plenty of time to think about his desperation move to bench Donovan McNabb. He had a whole defensive series to reverse it. He still benched the veteran starter for Rex Grossman. Unless it was a Grossman jersey that Tanya Snyder was wearing in her new NFL women’s apparel spots and the sales proceeds would help raise money for cancer cures, this was senseless.
Jay-Z’s assessment of the sub’s performance: He wasn’t Grossman. He was gross, man. (First and last Jay-Z allusion ever found in Cheap Seats Daily!)
Shanahan then crushed McNabb in the postgame presser by saying yanking him “gave us the best chance to win.”
And now comes the fallout. At least two weeks worth of off-field drama, with the bye coming up.
Looking at the long-term, the benching stomps on the marketing scheme Dan Snyder cooked up to move all the seats that the 200,000 people on the Skins season ticket waiting list (wink, wink!) wouldn’t touch.
That multi-media campaign, featuring spots on TV and even Metro buses, featured Snyder’s three latest big hires, the folks who were going to bring the organization its first respectability in the Snyder: Shanahan (“the leader is in command,” according to the ad copy), McNabb (“the franchise quarterback is in place”) and GM Bruce Allen (“the architect has arrived”).
The campaign was called “R You In?”
Also, this is why you don’t bring your son to work. Now that the head coach is saying McNabb doesn’t know the system as well as Grossman, who came to Ashburn from Houston with Kyle Shanahan, McNabb knows that the head coach’s son/offensive coordinator ain’t an ally. As long as Mike’s here, so’s the boy.
And McNabb’s contract is up.
So if McNabb bounces back from the humiliation and is able to, um, learn the offense’s terminology and have a big second half, Allen and the elder Shanahan are going to put a big contract in front of him and ask the question asked of fans during that ad campaign: “R You In?”