McNabb will face his old team Monday night when the Redskins play host to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he has the added incentive of showing he deserves to be Washington's starting quarterback despite slogging through his worst season since he was a rookie.
The Redskins had last weekend off, but people still are buzzing about Coach Mike Shanahan's decision to bench McNabb late in a 37-25 loss at the Detroit Lions on Oct. 31. Rex Grossman went in to run the two-minute offense, then was sacked and fumbled on his first play, with the Lions returning that turnover for a touchdown.
Afterward, Shanahan had multiple explanations for the move, first saying that Grossman knew the hurry-up offense better. The next day, he said McNabb's hamstring problems and lack of "cardiovascular endurance" were the reasons for pulling him.
"I like to handle my business behind closed doors," McNabb told reporters. "You come up with a solution, and you move on. For a lot of guys it's a hard deal to manage because they want to vent."
Likewise, the Redskins (4-4) are hoping to put the controversy behind them. McNabb stayed after practice for extra work last week but apparently is still bothered by sore hamstrings.
"Right now, he's improved from last week, but by no means is he full speed yet," Shanahan told reporters Wednesday. "As we go later in the week, I'll get a feel exactly where he's at, but right now I can't tell you if he could go full speed."
The definitive answer will come when McNabb faces the franchise with which he spent 11 seasons, the one that surprisingly traded him within the NFC East in the spring.
So far, the Eagles look smart for doing so. McNabb's passer rating of 76.0 is his lowest since 1999, his first year in the league.
Philadelphia has Michael Vick, who not only has the NFL's top passer rating (105.3) but also is the league's only quarterback to start multiple games and not have an interception this season. The last time he was picked off?
Christmas Eve … of 2006.