Pro football is a game of precision. Teams prepare all week to exploit favorable match-ups against opposing teams, and then some guy comes off the bench and obliterates the game plan.
That's the story of Redskins-Vikings. The Washington Redskins held Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and the great Adrian Peterson in check for a half. Then they knocked them out of the game early in the second half. The day should have been ours.
In some twisted Clint Longley imitation of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Joe Webb enters the game at quarterback in place of Ponder and stupefies the Redskins' defense.
Webb threw the ball only five times—for two touchdowns. Webb carried the ball only five times—for another touchdown.
Some guy named Toby Gerhart replaced Peterson and ran All Day (ahem) on the Redskins for 109 yards on 11 carries. How in the name of London Fletcher-Baker does a thing like that happen?
Thank you, Vikings, for the lump of coal you dumped on my Christmas.
By the way, Minnesota, your team name is a slur on Scandinavians and ought to be changed to something plain and inoffensive, like Lutefisk. Redskins Hog Heaven is considering the use of your place name only when referring to your team for the rest of this story, Like the Minnesota media does when referring to the "Washington team." So there!
And I still hate Clint Longley.
Ghost of Christmas Past: Donovan McNabb
Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier is no smarter about quarterbacks than Mike Shanahan is. Why in the name of Andy Reid did he bring Donovan McNabb on board with an athlete like Webb on the bench?
Never do a quarterback deal with Andy Reid. Never.
Merry Christmas, Donovan, as you sit at home in shock that your phone is not ringing on a call by some team desperate for a quarterback. The argument about youth and strength versus old age and cunning has been won by the young. That will never change. Given a choice between Tom Tebow and you, teams would pick Tebow.
McNabb's only shot for a decent season was to stay with Washington. A second year in the Shanahan system would have done him a world of good. So would the humble pie he would have suffered. Mike Shanahan might have won another game (perhaps this one). Everyone would have been better off, though not by much.
Donovan McNabb no longer plays for Minnesota or the Redskins, yet he haunts them both.
Ghost of Christmas Present: Rex Grossman
Like many fans, my high state of frustration at the Redskins yesterday was visited on Rex Grossman. The Ghost of Christmas Present visited last night and guided a more generous thought. Grossman's interception that Minnesota would convert to a field goal was not a dagger. By then, the defense's breakdowns had worked its damage. Minnesota would have won anyway.
Grossman tries hard. The players know that he gives us the best chance to win. But Grossman may have something in common with Baltimore's Joe Flacco. The team will never win the division with him at quarterback.
Ghost of Christmas Future: TBD
Here's a deal for Mike Shanahan: We give you a dollar and you give us a quarter back.
Greg Trippiedi's story about Matt Barkley made clear that fewer first-round quarterback Draft options means that we will be stuck with Grossman. Fan interest in Barkley, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III so soon before the Shrine Game and the NFL Combine tell us one thing. Fans want better options at quarterback than Shanahan gave us this year.
Options are far wider than Adam Schefter's if-then guesswork about Redskins strategy to move up in the Draft in a play for Andrew Luck. (Hey, silly speculation is our job.) The Redskins are just as likely to offer picks to the Rams for Sam Bradford, if St. Louis wins the Suck for Luck race. Bradford would be cheaper to get and could serve the purpose. Just saying.
Why wouldn't the Redskins make a play for that Joe Webb?
Jason Campbell or Carson Palmer could be the top 2012 free agent quarterback depending on which player the Raiders choose to keep. Campbell is no more likely to come back here than his college roommate, Carlos Rogers is.
The front office has a long time to figure this out. They had better get it right this time. Count on the team to suffer a revenue hit next season if Grossman is the starter. Blowing smoke in our face only works once.
Mike Jones: Five Observations About Redskins-Vikings.
John Keim: Ten Observations, Vikings 33-Redskins 26.
Dan Steinberg; The Redskins-Vikings Crowd at FedEx Field.