- Kyle Shanahan expects Donovan McNabb to start on Sunday, but still is stressing a need for improvement from his quarterback. (Photo: Associated Press)
Mike Shanahan on Wednesday shed as little light as possible on Donovan McNabb’s job security this week and wouldn’t commit to the quarterback -- or any player on the team for that matter -- as a starter for Sunday’s game in Dallas. But offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said today that he expects McNabb to start against the Cowboys.
“There’s no difference this week than last week, so there’s nothing really to talk about,” Shanahan said. “We’ve prepared this week the same as we did last week.”
Shanahan said that contrary to reports, backup Rex Grossman hasn’t received an increased workload in practice over the course of the last two weeks as preparation to take McNabb's job.
"No. It's the same as always," Shanahan said of Grossman's reps in practice.
Shanahan said he has not felt the need to speak with McNabb to reaffirm the quarterback’s confidence or to assure him that he is still the Redskins’ starter because nothing has changed.
“It really isn’t relevant to what I’m doing, because unless I’m told something -- and if I knew something, I’d talk to him about it,” the offensive coordinator said. “But just hearing it out in the media, no, it’s no different. It’s the same this week as other weeks.”
The relationship between McNabb and Kyle Shanahan has been highly scrutinized throughout the season. Both have admitted there have been growing pains as McNabb learns a new system for the first time in 11 seasons, and Shanahan figures out what plays best suit the quarterback’s strengths. Shanahan described McNabb's play over the last few weeks as "up and down," and obviously would like to see more accuracy out of McNabb, who this season has completed only 58.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
McNabb has said that ever since sitting down with the younger Shanahan following his benching in the final two minutes of the Redskins’ game at Detroit on Oct. 31, their relationship has improved. Shanahan himself was less committal on an improving relationship with McNabb, however.
“It’s the same since the day I met him," Shanahan said. “Donovan doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s consistent with it, and I feel relationship’s been the same since he got here in minicamp. You get to know each other better and stuff, but I can’t really pin-point anywhere that it’s changed.”
McNabb last week had one of his most solid outings as the Redskins’ starting quarterback with 22 completions on 35 attempts (62.9 percent) for 228 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 100.7. On Washington’s final drive of the game, McNabb marched the Redskins 75 yards downfield in 13 plays while completing eight of 12 passes, the last being a six-yard touchdown strike to Santana Moss.
Shanahan acknowledged that McNabb had a good drive and “did some good things,” but when asked what made the difference in the quarterback’s play, or what he did well that made the drive successful, the offensive coordinator simply said, “We threw the ball every play. He throws it, so he did a good job.”
Shanahan later added, “As a coach, you’re never pleased. No one’s ever perfect.”