- DeAngelo Hall said that the Redskins still have confidence in Donovan McNabb, but has doubts about whether the quarterback will re-sign with Washington. (Photo: Associated Press)
The morning after McNabb was benched with the game on the line and a minute and 50 seconds left on the clock at Detroit’s Ford Field, teammates still are choosing their words carefully, but were admittedly surprised to see Rex Grossman take over at quarterback.
Most of the offensive players were told on the sideline that McNabb had been benched, but didn’t know why. The defensive players saw Grossman trot onto the field with Washington down 31-25 and did double-takes.
“Surprised,” DeAngelo Hall said of his reaction. “I thought he was hurt. I think a lot of guys thought he was just banged up, so for him to be pulled like that is a shocker to a lot of us.”
Carlos Rogers said he didn’t even know that McNabb had been benched so to speak, and just assumed injury as well.
But others didn’t want to take a side on the matter, fearful that taking a stance on the matter might cause backlash from Shanahan
“I have no reaction to that. That’s Coach’s decision, I have nothing to do with that,” fellow cornerback Phillip Buchanon said. “Stuff goes through my mind, but like I said, that’s the coach’s decision and I have nothing to do with that.”
Only three offensive players dared venture into the Redskins’ locker room during the 45 minutes that it is open to reporters for to conduct interviews (the hallways at Redskins Park are forbidden interview areas per Mike Shanahan rules).
Those three were guard Kory Lichtensteiger, who reluctantly talked, and kept it short, and backup lineman Will Montgomery and receiver Roydell Williams, who both left quickly.
“We were thinking we were going to win the game,” Lichtensteiger said. “We were kinda questioning what was going on, but its not really our job to question what the coach is thinking. We didn’t know if he was injured or whatever, but we were still in position that we could’ve won the game, and that’s what we were thinking.”
Hall and defensive captain London Fletcher both said that Shanahan’s decision to bench McNabb wouldn’t shake their confidence in the quarterback. McNabb hasn’t lost any supporters in the locker room, they say, but neither expect a rift between team and coach.
“He’ll never let you guys know what’s on his mind. He probably won’t even let us know what’s on his mind. He’s a great pro in that aspect,” Hall said. “Would we [lose confidence in McNabb]? Not at all. There’s a reason we’ve been winning games, and he’s a big part of that. Definitely.”
Like most everyone outside the Redskins organization -- from fans to media members, Hall did wonder if Shanahan's decision has hurt Washingtons' chances of re-signing the quarterback.
“It does raise an interesting point,” the cornerback said. “After the season, will he be here or not? He has a decision to make, too. It’s not strictly up to this organization. He has a choice as well. I guess we’ll as a team, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”