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Back From the Bye, Questions Linger On McNabb Situation


A week has passed.

The controversy involving the benching of Donovan McNabb has remained a hot topic on NFL pre-game shows, talk radio and fans.

Fresh off their bye, players say they have moved on.

Out of sight, out of mind.

With a key Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles – McNabb's former team – coming up, the media scrutiny is sure to linger this week.

"It's the nature of the beast," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "Anytime that you make a decision [to bench the quarterback], obviously there's going to be a lot of controversy in it. I've always been one to do what I think is in the best interest of the team, even though sometimes it's very controversial.

"But you've got to make those decisions based on what you see during the week. Sometimes it's injury, sometimes it's how somebody practices. You've got a gut feel of how the game is going and you have to go with it."

On Monday, the Redskins returned from the bye and held an afternoon practice that included some wind sprints.

Shanahan said that McNabb did not push his injured hamstring too hard during practice.

"He felt better, so that's a good sign," Shanahan said.

Shanahan had benched McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman late in the fourth quarter of the Redskins' 37-25 loss to the Detroit Lions on Oct. 31.

McNabb had been limited in practice due to hamstring and quad injuries, Shanahan said. He suggested that McNabb may not have had the cardiovascular endurance to fully run the Redskins' 2-minute offense.

After the game, Shanahan emphasized that McNabb remains the Redskins' starting quarterback.

Explanations for the benching aside, at the heart of the matter is that coaches believe the offense is not performing up to standards.

The unit is ranked in the bottom half of the league at 19th overall and 23rd in the run game. McNabb is the NFL's 25th-ranked passer and he has seven touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He has been sacked 22 times, tied for second-most in the league.

"We knew right at the halfway point that there are a number of areas that we have to improve in," Shanahan said. "Basically every area – offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks. Collectively, we have to get better. Everybody has a responsibility to do that to finish where we want to in the second half of the season."

Coaches may make some adjustments to the scheme to fit the personnel, Shanahan said, but the key to improvement could be a simple matter of communication.

"We have a chance to go back and really look at the numbers and see the things we did well and see the things we did poorly," he said. "Oviously get on the same page with things that you enjoy doing and things that [players] feel more comfortable with…We'll talk together and hopefully put the right game plan together."

Shanahan is confident that the team will respond in a positive manner, even if the controversy re-emerges in the coming weeks.

"On our football team, we've got a lot of character," he said. "We're at the midway point, we've got a lot at stake and we'll have some great focus here with the remaining games. We're on to the next chapter."

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