News & Politics

Defensive Dismay

Donovan McNabb signs a new contract, only to have his defense let him down

Image used under a Creative Commons license courtesy Kevin Burkett.

It wasn't unreasonable to expect, as Jason Reid suggested in the Washington Post today, that Donovan McNabb might come back from his benching with a big game. And it was reasonable to assume that the five-year, $78 million contract that McNabb signed with the Redskins today (the contract guarantees him $40 million) might act as even more of an incentive. McNabb played just fine. He just had the bad luck to play just fine against Michael Vick, who under the bright lights of Monday Night football, against the backdrop of the emotional tumult in Washington, and in heavy rain, turned in an astonishing performance.

McNabb's a great quarterback when he's on, but Vick is the more consummate athlete. He's reportedly run a 40-yard dash in under 4.2 seconds. And Vick used that speed to rush for two touchdowns himself in the first half, even as he tossed another three to his receivers. And it was only the beginning. With Vick on or near the field, every other player in the stadium had the misfortune to look merely mortal.

In his profile of McNabb for our September issue, Harry Jaffe wrote: "On Easter Sunday 2010, he became the 11th Washington Redskins quarterback during the Dan Snyder era. The trade from the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles could be a resurrection for a quarterback and a team."

Thing is, it's tough to have a resurrection without some backup. Going into this game, the Redskins already had the third-worst defense in football, allowing 393.2 yards per game (the Eagles, by contrast, allowed 318.8 yards per game before tonight). If Dan Snyder's going to spend $78 million on his quarterback, he might want to reconsider how he's spending his money on the men who take the field when McNabb leaves it.