Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan admitted Thursday that his team's bye week came at just the right time. Fresh off benching his 12-year veteran quarterback, the Redskins got back to work this afternoon in advance of their most important game so far this season. Washington is 2-0 in the NFC East, and a win against the Eagles Monday night would pump some life back into a suddenly controversial season.
Of course, a healthy Donovan McNabb is crucial to a productive Redskins offense. Without much firepower in the run game, McNabb and the Redskins passing attack often steer the ship. While the week off has helped heal McNabb's ailing hamstring, Shanahan said his quarterback is far from healthy.
"Number one, he's much improved over last week," Shanahan said. "Just (having) the week off helped him. His hamstring is still tight, but it's improving day by day. By no means is he anywhere close to one hundred percent. He's getting a lot of treatment, so we'll find out by the end of the week how he is."
While McNabb's health is of concern to both the Redskins and Eagles this week, the relationship between Shanahan and McNabb is receiving far more attention nationally. McNabb insists that he has moved on from the benching against Detroit and is solely focused on the next game in front of him.
Shanahan said Thursday that if he could do it over again, he would have expressed himself more clearly to the media with regard to his decision to replace McNabb with Rex Grossman for the final drive in Detroit.
"Well I think you always probably would clarify things a little more the second time around," Shanahan said. "But it's over with and you move on."
Shanahan went on to say that he and McNabb were always on the same page, and that he, "clarifies everything with Donovan."
As Monday night approaches, Shanahan knows the magnitude of this game. With a win, the Redskins would improve to 5-4 and get back in the NFC playoff hunt, putting themselves in contention for the NFC East crown with seven games to play. A loss, however, makes all of those goals a lot more difficult to attain.
Remember that last time McNabb was benched – against the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 - he responded with a brilliant game against Arizona at Lincoln Financial Field. That night, McNabb completed 69 percent of his passes, threw for four touchdowns and finished with a quarterback rating of 121.7. Shanahan hopes that McNabb will respond similarly come Monday night.
"Hopefully he'll play well," Shanahan said. "He's had a good couple days of practice. We've got everything at stake playing a division game against a team that's very talented and very well coached. So we know what's at stake just like Philly does, and we're excited for the opportunity."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 5:27 p.m., November 11