Posted by Ryan Wilson
It took nearly a week and the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement, but Minnesota quarterback Donovan McNabb finally got on the field with his new teammates.
And not unlike his 2010 season in Washington, McNabb's first official day on the job was a mixed bag. The St. Paul Pioneer Press's Jeremy Fowler writes that "From 50-yard completions to ducks crashing into the grass, Donovan McNabb made just about every throw in his first full practice with the Vikings."
To be fair -- and McNabb pointed this out after the fact -- it was his first workout with a new team, with new faces, in a new system.
"We made a lot of big plays today, but some plays we want back," McNabb said, according to the Pioneer Press. "Everything was moving a mile a minute (early on); your legs feel so fresh that your drops are extremely fast. You just have to calm down."
One difference between Minnesota and previous teams -- at least to hear McNabb tell it -- is that Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is more amenable to input from the quarterback than former coaches (we won't name names but we'll venture a guess…).
"Some coaches say 'Hey, it's my way or no way,' " McNabb said. "You become robotic. That's when you pull away from your style of play and the way of things that got you successful. If things don't go as well as you'd like them to, you find out what the mistake was, you correct it and you go right back and get it done."
McNabb probably deserved to be benched at some point last season, but that's not the issue. Why did Mike Shanahan give up a second-round pick to division rival Philadelphia for a guy who didn't fit his system?
(And if the argument is, "Well, he thought McNabb was a good fit and that's why he traded for him," that makes Shanahan seem out of touch and a horrible judge of talent. Which is fine for your fantasty football team, less so when you're coaching an actual NFL franchise.)
Worse still: once it was determined that McNabb wasn't working, the backup plan was … Rex Grossman. (If nothing else, the Redksins' chronic ineptitude over the years has provided some much need comedy relief. So there's that. )
Now McNabb gets a fresh start in Minnesota. And maybe he will find some of the magic that helped propel the Eagles to annual playoff appearances in the mid-2000s. But it's just as likely (and maybe more so) that 2011 will not only signal the end of McNabb's run as an NFL starter, but usher in the Christian Ponder era. The only question is when.
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