I have no idea what Donovan McNabb is talking about when he says quarterback Robert Griffin III isn't suited for the Washington Redskins and coach Mike Shanahan's offense. How can a player as talented as Griffin not excel in Shanahan's offense, or in any offense for that matter? Griffin has a unique NFL skill set, which is well-rounded and adaptable to any scheme.
Is McNabb just bitter about his time in D.C.? He has to know that offenses are tailored to quarterbacks, not the other way around.
When McNabb first started with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, his skill set wasn't suited for the West Coast offense. McNabb lacked accuracy, timing and quick decision making, and in his first season he completed less than 50 percent of his passes. As Eagles coach Andy Reid learned more about what talents McNabb possessed as a quarterback, he then highlighted those talents, and McNabb quickly improved. It was not until his sixth season that McNabb was able to achieve a passer rating above 100 and eclipse 60 percent of his completions.
There was a long trial-and-error period for McNabb, and once Reid focused on the strengths of McNabb's game, and not trying to fit the system to the player, McNabb became much better. Even though many in Philadelphia claimed the Eagles were running the West Coast offense, in reality they were running the McNabb version of the West Coast, not the pure West Coast. Just because a team runs Y stick or X drive -- both core plays in the West Coast system -- doesn't make it a pure West Coast offense.
So when McNabb makes a ridiculous statement that Griffin can't function in Shanahan's offense, McNabb should know that the skill set of the player shapes the offense. The West Coast offense that he ran in Philadelphia was different than the Joe Montana version in San Francisco. McNabb and Montana clearly had different skills sets, different talents, therefore their coaches made the right adjustments to fit the offense around their individual games -- just like Shanahan will do in Washington with Griffin.
What Redskins fans can expect from the Griffin-based Shanahan offense is more downfield throws, more hard play action and more spread passing. It will look a lot like the Jay Cutler-based Denver Broncos offense the last year Shanahan was there. Griffin's style of play is similar to Cutler's. Both have great arms, and both have the foot quickness to move around the pocket and make the defense respect any quarterback runs. (Though Griffin's legs clearly strike more fear into defenses.) Both are willing to drive the ball into tight spots, and both can make the players around them better. Shanahan already has a blueprint for Griffin in place, therefore RG3 will be able to start from Day 1.
However, Shanahan is smart enough to know that the blueprint he has in mind for Griffin will change daily because he will learn more about what his new signal caller can and can't do well. Shanahan will eliminate all the things that are not suited for Griffin's game, and inherently highlight the things that work well. Much like Reid did for McNabb -- which, again, makes me ask why McNabb thinks it won't work with Griffin and Shanahan?
For the first time since coaching Cutler, Shanahan will have a quarterback with enormous talent that will allow his own creative juices to flow. And because of the last few seasons, some fans might not remember how creative Shanahan can be when he has the right player under center. For the first time since coaching Cutler, Shanahan will not have to manage the quarterback during the game. He can spend more time attacking the opponent, and correctly attacking the opponent has always been Shanahan's strength.
By the time the Redskins' offense reaches Week 10 of the 2012 season it will look vastly different than it did from the start of the season, much like the Carolina Panthers' offense last year with Cam Newton. With new receivers and a new quarterback, the Redskins' offense will be a work in progress. There will be some highs and some lows, but with Griffin under center, even the bad plays have the potential to become good plays with his unique skills and speed. There will be some plays made outside the realm of coaching that will allow the offense to be productive -- plays that separate the good players from the great ones. Griffin has the ability to make something out of nothing, which is what all great players must do. He will make the offense, not the other way around.
For all Redskin fans, this has to be an exciting time. Finally they will have a potential franchise quarterback under center, which will then allow them to compete for a title each year. Griffin will bring out the best in Shanahan, which will make them a deadly combination.
Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi