Cowboys should fire Phillips now; 'Skins, McNabb head for split, too?
Jerry Jones' team has given up, so it's time to cut his losses
Raiders playing tremendous football, setting up Week 9 showdown with Chiefs
New team atop the Fine 15, plus the MVP Watch, weekly awards and much more
Sunday, Week 8. About as boring a football Sunday as there could be for the first couple of hours, Denver and San Francisco exporting horrible football to London; the Redskins stinking it up at Detroit; the Cowboys looking as pathetic as the '62 Mets; Kansas City and Buffalo playing offensive football like it was 1930 and not 2010; the Jets throwing a slumber party for their offense.
Then some interesting things happened. Lots of them. The benching of The Solution by Mike Shanahan; Troy Smith grabbing hold of the 49ers quarterback job; Ndamukong Suh playing like not only the Defensive Rookie of the Year but also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate; the Packers shutting out the Jets with a tour de force defensive performance that would have made Lombardi proud. And we haven't even gotten to the Patriots lacerating Favre and the Raiders humbling Hasselbeck and, Saints alive, the Saints coming alive.
Off we go on a tour of the NFL as the calendar turns to November.
Jerry's got heartburn, and he needs to act on it.
To: Jerry Jones.
From: Me, representing everyone in the football world.
Re: Your team.
As much as it pains you to admit it, Jerry, you have to do what you know needs to be done right now. You've never fired a coach in the middle of a season and there's no good reason to do it under almost any circumstance. Except these. Your team has given up. In the span of six days, Eli Manning and David Garrard have come into your sparkling new stadium and made sure the entire town turns its attention down the street to the Texas Rangers and the World Series. They've each thrown four touchdowns against your team in a week, combining to put up 76 points on what was supposed to be a top-five defense.
But everyone can see your Cowboys are not playing hard. We saw it in the NBC viewing room Sunday, and Garrard saw it, too. He told me: "It just looked like they weren't into the game like an NFL team should be.'' Said he noticed a "woe-is-me'' attitude among some of your players. You don't see that with a Baltimore or Pittsburgh. Andy Reid's teams don't do that. Your team's embarrassing. You said it yourself after the game. And at 1-6, there's no hope for the season. You've got to put Wade Phillips out of his misery, and you've got to do it now.
We all know Wade's a prince of a guy. But he's the exact wrong man for this job right now. This team has abused Phillips' decency. It's time to put a guy in the job for the rest of the year who won't take the same crap Phillips is taking right now. I'd choose offensive coordinator Jason Garrett or special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis. Garrett will be uber-organized, and he'd show you whether he should or shouldn't be a candidate for the full-time job when you interview John Fox, Leslie Frazier, Bill Cowher and maybe Jon Gruden after the season. DeCamillis has some fire to him, as you well know, and it looked like he wanted to bite some heads off after a shoddy special-teams play Sunday. As for the defense, Paul Pasqualoni has been a coordinator on a 3-4 team before -- last year in Miami. He can do it for the rest of the year, and he's right there on your staff.
One and six. An ugly 1-6. A give-up 1-6. You said this: "There's no way the result and the way we played tonight, there is no way I can rest, sleep, eat well with a diet of that right there. There is no way. If you look at what we're about, our team, our stadium, the pride I have in this franchise, you know it doesn't digest. It doesn't go down. We've got to do something that changes this on the field."
There's only one thing to do. You've never shied away from the tough calls, Jerry. This isn't even one of them, honestly. But it's got to be done. You've got to fire your coach.
McNabb in a weird place.
When Washington coach Mike Shanahan made the move he made Sunday with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter and Washington trailing by six at Detroit, removing a healthy Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman to run the two-minute offense, he said it was because of Grossman's familiarity with the two-minute offense from working with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan at Houston in 2009. But the move tells me three things:
1. Mike Shanahan can't be happy with the work ethic or the performance in the clutch, or both, of McNabb. To say you're more comfortable with Rex Grossman than Donovan McNabb with the game on the line is something that should strike McNabb to the core. There's no way after a full offseason in an offense, particularly with an offense as quarterback-friendly as the one run by Shanahan father and son, that an experienced quarterback with pelts on the wall wouldn't know it very well. If he doesn't, the inference is clear: McNabb hasn't worked hard enough to master it.
2. Shanahan is simply going by what he's seeing. I went back and looked at the first eight games of the Redskins' season. McNabb has had the ball four times inside the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter. Once, against Green Bay, he led Washington on a seven-play, 53-yard drive that ended in a game-tying field goal that forced overtime. On the other three drives, he threw one interception and couldn't get a first down on two others. Four two-minute drives at the end of games, three points. But that's not unlike McNabb's overall production. As of this morning, at the season's midpoint, he's the NFL's 25th-rated quarterback ... and he's also in the lower 20s in fourth-quarter passer rating. Don't show Washington owner Dan Snyder the quarterback rankings, by the way. McNabb's three spots behind Jason Campbell.
3. McNabb turns 34 this month. His contract is up at the end of the year. All along, we viewed the long-term deal of McNabb in Washington as a formality, to provide the fitting coronation to the Easter-night trade from the Eagles to the Redskins. Not so fast. Do the Redskins want to pay a flawed player -- and how else would you look at McNabb after Sunday's yanking -- $15 million a year to be their quarterback for the next four years? And does McNabb want to remain in Washington for a second season after getting blindsided with the game on the line in Detroit?
I tend to think McNabb should be the more worried party after Sunday. Is he really that desirable a quarterback? The Eagles dangled him for two months last spring, and the only team to give a market offer for him was Washington. If the Eagles didn't want him with three or four prime years left, and if the Redskins no longer want him, what are teams around the league to say? Well, Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan -- those are two guys who sure don't know quarterbacks! I'll take McNabb! Doubtful. Very doubtful.
Maybe McNabb needs to have a heart-to-heart with Mike Shanahan in this off week. Maybe he needs to emphasize to him he'll do whatever it takes to win the trust of the Shanahans through the offseason, even if it means working daily beyond the regular OTA periods with Kyle Shanahan on the mechanics and footwork of the position the way the Shanahans want him to play it. If I were McNabb, and I still wanted that one big contract, and I wanted to play with a team that has a chance to be good in the next three or four years, that's what I'd do.