Even with McNabb, Redskins are struggling

Donovan McNabb returns to Philadelphia as a Washington Redskins. (Reuters file)

Donovan McNabb returns to Philadelphia as a Washington Redskins. (Reuters file)

MIKE RUTSEY, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:03 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA — The City of Brotherly Love is all amped up this weekend, what with their beloved Phillies set to open the divisional round of playoffs on Wednesday while Sunday afternoon’s NFL tilt features the return of Donovan McNabb, in the uniform of the hated Washington Redskins.

Nice time to be a sports fan in Philly, no?

What’s not so fine is the situation that McNabb finds himself in these days.

McNabb’s return to Philadelphia is a very big deal to the Eagles fan base but to the Redskins it is a sideshow masking a far bigger problem, namely sorting out a team that is on the skids and heading to irrelevance in the always interesting NFC East.

When Andy Reid dangled McNabb under the nose of the Washington brass — and that means controversial owner Dan Snyder — the Redskins bit down hard.

By gaining McNabb they believed they had landed the third missing piece to the puzzle, the first two added parts being the hiring or Bruce Allen as their general manager and Mike Shanahan as resident genius coach.

Then McNabb arrived and Washingtonians were dancing in the streets.

Overlooked in the brilliance of the big name acquisitions was the fact that the Redskins were a bad team, as evidenced by their dismal 4-12 record in 2009.

Last year’s Redskins ranked 22nd overall on offence, while their defence was a solid 10th and the thinking was that McNabb could raise the bar all by himself.

If only it was that easy.

The ’Skins came out of the gate like gangbusters, turning aside the super-hyped Dallas Cowboys 13-7 in their home stadium and Snyder looked to be so charged in his private suite that it wouldn’t have come as much of a surprise if he had re-upped McNabb to a $100-million deal right after the game.

But all that joy went out the window the following week when against a solid Houston team, Washington, in another home game, blew a 17-point lead over the final 16 minutes and ultimately the game in a dispiriting 30-27 overtime loss.

In that game, McNabb was stellar as he was 28-for-38 for 426 yards and one touchdown.

But it was not enough.

Last week the Redskins hit the bottom of the barrel as they suffered a humiliating 30-16 loss to the Rams in St. Louis to drop to 1-2 on the season.

It has been a steady downward path for the Redskins from the giddy victory over Dallas and proof that perhaps the team needs more than a big-name coach and big-name quarterback to reverse multiple seasons of poor drafting and bad signings to say nothing of the meddlesome interference from Snyder.

Washington is presently a team that on offence has forgotten the run, has downgraded the importance of Clinton Portis and is relying too heavily on the right arm of McNabb.

Defensively, they are still attempting to adjust to the 3-4 concept and seem to be a team in flux and out of sync.

Which leads McNabb and company to Sunday’s game against his old team, one that is filled with a host of young exciting players to say nothing of the reformation and resurgence of one Michael Vick.

In the local papers it’s all about McNabb’s return, his relationship with Vick, about what he will ‘feel’ and how he will be received by the fans when he trots on to the field at sold out Lincoln Financial Field. And why not given what he meant to the franchise the previous 11 seasons.

What’s been overlooked is that McNabb is leading a team that is not particularly talented and is plummeting in the wrong direction.

“For us, it’s a must-win,” McNabb said earlier in the week. “No matter who we play (at 1-2) it doesn’t matter, it’s a must-win.”

In the end it’s as simple as that, an overrated team looking for a way out of their current mess.

It’s hard to believe McNabb will find one in the unfriendly confines at Lincoln Financial Field.


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