Quarterback issues take center stage across NFL

So let me get this straight …

Donovan McNabb is out of shape and doesn’t practice well and Rex Grossman is a better option.

Well, it could be worse. You could root for the Minnesota Vikings.

We take a look at six quarterback “situations” in the NFL, and check out the strangest team in pro football, with our weekly SCHEINERS, SCHEIN 9 style.

1. Go Fish? Go figure.

In the preseason I picked the Dolphins as a playoff team. I loved the new defensive coordinator, the top two draft picks, the free agent signings, the Brandon Marshall trade, the head coach, and the potential development at quarterback.

Miami is 4-3 heading into a showdown with the Ravens. And frankly the Dolphins have more questions than answers.

What a bizarre season for them.

They are a perfect 4-0 on the road. The Dolphins haven’t won at home. They were certainly a bit lucky on Sunday, not that anyone is asking them to give back the game against the Bengals. As we wrote last week, Miami was robbed by the refs against Pittsburgh, and that game looms very large for the playoff picture. Special teams cost Miami against the Patriots, and cost a coach his job. They were fantastic on defense against the Vikings in Week 2, but maybe now you wonder how good of a win that actually was.

Miami’s red zone offense is horrible. Ronnie Brown is stuck in the mud and Ricky Williams is, in my opinion, a better option to run the ball. Chad Henne has put together an up and down season and hasn’t taken that jump that I anticipated. Brandon Marshall isn’t getting the ball enough. And you have major problems when your big threat to put points on the board is a kicker in Dan Carpenter, who was the entire offense against Cincy and Pittsburgh.

Mike Nolan has done a nice job with this defense. Cameron Wake is a stud. But I’m still waiting for the Dolphins to have a game-changing defense.

Look at Miami’s schedule the rest of the way. Look at the competition. There are very few guarantees for Miami.

But here’s the good news. The Jets lost. So did Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Houston.

The Dolphins are still in the thick of things if they can actually put it together. I still love the upside But studying the first half, why should I be convinced they are ready?

2. If Rex Grossman’s the answer …

I’d really love to know the question. For the sake of fairness, if Jim Zorn benched Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman in crunch time, we’d be going ballistic. This one makes absolutely no sense. This one is awful. This one is beyond baffling. This call is between irresponsible and comical. McNabb is an All-Pro. Rex Grossman is, well, Rex Grossman. On Sunday, Shanahan said the reason he sacked McNabb in favor of the human turnover machine was that Donovan lacked the knowledge Grossman had when it came to the two-minute drill. Um, what? Grossman was a back-up last year for Kyle Shanahan in Houston. He didn’t exactly play, let alone lead the Texans to a phantom game-winning drive.

You would think Shanahan, with his ‘Skins going into a bye week, would have never turned the ball over to Grossman and created a quarterback controversy that will last for two weeks.

Think again.

On Monday, Shanahan said McNabb lacked the “cardiovascular endurance” to stay on the field down the stretch of a two-minute drill. Holy cow. Is McNabb overweight? Is this a commentary on his lack of urgency or when he vomited in the Super Bowl a few years ago? Is Mike Shanahan playing the worst set of mind games ever? Instead of defusing the bomb, he added to the fire.

McNabb hasn’t been fantastic this year by any stretch, but look at his receivers.

It’s a no-brainer to start McNabb against the Eagles (do you think there will be some hype and quarterback chatter for that one?) in Week 10. But then again it was a no brainer to play him a full game against Detroit. And a no brainer to end the insanity at your Monday press conference.

3. Next “Jim Plunkett”

No team in the NFL has dominated quite like the Raiders in the last two weeks. Tom Cable has done an amazing job with this team. And credit Jason Campbell for a strong game in a big spot against Seattle. And you know somewhere on Monday, Al Davis was walking around the office saying something like, “See, I told you he was the next Jim Plunkett.”

When it comes to accuracy and leadership, the answer is Bruce Gradkowski. When he is healthy, look for Tom Cable and Hue Jackson to smartly turn the offense back to Gradkowski, regardless of what Al thinks. And let’s be honest: The offense now runs through Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, regardless of who is under center.

4. Do the right thing, Vikings

Randy Moss is gone (more on that later). Brett Favre has a bum ankle, a busted face, and a bad knack for throwing the ball to the other team. The Vikings are 2-5. Brad Childress has, according to reports, lost the locker room.

Why don’t you try to get Favre healthy and play Tarvaris Jackson, like you should’ve last week in New England?

5. Smith vs. Smith

If you read the tea leaves or speak Singletary as your first language, it certainly sounds like the Niners are going to stick with Troy Smith under center even when Alex Smith is healthy.

I am a big Troy Smith fan. I liked him coming out of Ohio State. Steve McNair personally recommended him to the Ravens, who drafted him. And you easily forget, until Smith came down with an illness in 2008, he was going to be the starter at quarterback, not Joe Flacco, in Flacco’s rookie season. He was winning the three-way quarterback battle with Flacco and Kyle Boller that spring and summer.

I think this one should come down to wins and losses. As you know, I like Alex Smith and believe he can play if he would ever get stability. But it would be tough to argue against Troy if the Niners keep winning. If they start losing again, Alex starts when healthy. He’s currently the better player.

6. Can anyone play?

It’s Max Hall vs. Derek Anderson in Arizona. This is hardly Steve Young and Joe Montana. Forget having a top 32 quarterback. The Cardinals do not employ a top 64 gunslinger in the NFL. Did you see Anderson’s deer-in-the-headlights approach in the final three minutes against Tampa?

Hall is way too careless with the ball, but I like his spunky persona. Or better phrased, I like the fact that he isn’t Derek Anderson.

7. “Bag it, loser”

The headline for my Schein 9, a piece that began with Kevin Kolb’s demise, last week was vicious. Kolb is one of my guys and I believe in him. But he blew it against the Titans. Michael Vick is healthy. I still like Kolb. But I need to bag beating the drum for him. Perhaps the headline was talking about me?

8. My Guys …

David Garrard – The Jaguars officially proved they are “America’s Team” with their thunderous victory in Dallas. And when Garrard joined us on Sirius NFL Radio on Monday, he gave credit to his teammates, ranging from Marcedes Lewis to Maurice Jones-Drew to Mike Sims-Walker. That’s being classy. Garrard threw for four touchdowns. He told us, “We felt like we put the pedal to the metal and imposed our will on them.” Well said.

Ndamukong Suh – He is the clear front-runner for defensive rookie of the year. And the Lions’  dominant defensive tackle is squarely in the mix for defensive player of the year. In talking to Suh on Monday, he praised fellow lineman Kyle VandenBosch, Corey Williams and Cliff Avril for showing him the ropes. Suh was dominant against the Skins, including running in a Grossman fumble for a touchdown.

Josh Freeman / Mike Williams – What another fantastic fourth-quarter comeback win for the Bucs! Williams told us Monday that Freeman has “ice in his veins” and he has a “great way of making it fun and making everyone calm.” Williams said that Freeman texted him the minute he was drafted and told him to get in early, which the rookie receiver did. They spent countless hours perfecting routes, specifically the back shoulder and fade throw. This can be a prolific combination in Tampa for years to come.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis – When the Vikes made the Patriots sweat at 21-18, New England sealed the game with a clinching drive. It was the running back who gave Bill Belichick’s team a key first down, highlighting a great overall day for the Pats, who have the best record in pro football. How about that!

Steve Spagnuolo – The Rams have four wins. It’s an amazing feat. Talking to Steven Jackson on Sirius NFL Radio, the star running back said, “Everyone is buying into Spags in Year 2. We have players who believe. It’s a great mix of young players and hungry vets.”

9. My goats

Randy Moss – His play and postgame act was pathetic. But …

The Vikings / Brad Childress – You knew what you were buying. You waive him weeks after you trade a valued draft pick for him? This is what happens when you sell your soul to the devil (Brett Favre) and are totally mismanaged. Bag it, Brad Childress?

Jerry Jones – The team was built with flaws. They have quit on their coach. Show that there is accountability and put Wade Phillips out of his misery. Elevate Dave Campo to head coach, now, for the rest of the season. Then fire yourself as general manager at season’s end.

Rex Ryan – The Jets coach wasted two early challenges in the first half, so he couldn’t challenge the Charles Woodson pick, which would’ve been overturned. You cannot let your punter call a fake punt on a 4th and 18 from your own 20 in the first quarter. And you cannot let your offensive coordinator throw the ball 38 times in the wind against the Packers while abandoning your power run game.

Josh McDaniels – The only thing worse than losing to Oakland at home by giving up 59 points? Losing to the Niners.