One year ago to the day, the Redskins were getting ready for their first home playoff game in 13 years. They were fresh off the franchise's biggest win and best regular season in recent memory. They were the "hot" team entering the playoffs and were considered a legitimate threat to go deep.
Even better, all signs pointed to a very bright future. They had finally found their "franchise" quarterback. Robert Griffin III's rookie season was one of the most exciting in NFL history. The front office looked shrewd for pulling off the deal to get him while the coaching staff looked innovative for the way they leveraged his unique skills during his first season. Optimism reached a 20-year high. What followed was the Skins' version of October 1929. Their market crashed.
One year after the franchise was stretching to a 20-year optimistic high, it’s back in the gutter again. How they got here for the most part comes down to what happened on one day in one game, one year ago--The Seattle game.
No single event over the last year changed the fortunes of the franchise like the Seattle game on January 6, 2013. The optimism heading into that early January playoff matchup was genuine and justified and it grew during the early portions of the game.
Up 14-zip in the first quarter, the hottest team in the NFL was on the verge of becoming a trendy Super Bowl pick. The 7-game winning streak to end the season was nice but a playoff beat-down of the bully Seahawks would’ve legitimized them as one of the teams to beat.
Then came the crash. It started with an injury. Then came the decision to keep the injured player in the game. A few hours later, the game was lost, the season was over, and the franchise and its fan base were heading into a deep depression that nobody saw coming.
The circumstances of what happened on that January evening caused the collapse. It started with the injury to Griffin. It continued with the decision to keep him in the game. After the game, things began to get ugly. First, the diagnosis of torn ACL/LCL. Then, the mean-spirited criticism from everywhere of a coach for not saving his quarterback from himself even though the doctors and trainers assured him he was okay and Griffin himself would’ve forced Shanahan to come onto the field and fight him before he would leave the game.
The playoff game produced the physical damage that started the crash. The psychological damage came over the next eight months courtesy of immaturity, selfishness, and vanity.
There was a rehab that came with its own marketing campaign. Griffin was “All In For Week 1” before he was able to walk.
There were passive-aggressive shots from all the key figures. Shanahan talked about Griffin needing to learn to slide. Griffin couldn’t keep his mouth shut and even when he did, he texted and tweeted out alternating vague and direct shots at his head coach that began to turn an idolizing fan base against him.
And then there was Mr. Griffin. There was no reason for him to become a key figure but that didn’t stop him. I can only imagine the Ashburn head-shaking over a parent going public with his own offensive playbook.
With training camp came threats from RG3. "Play me if the doctors clear me" or else.
Chris Cooley said last week on his show that Griffin told him that he didn’t think Mike liked him and couldn’t understand why. Delusionville is a nice place to be when the reasons are obvious and unflattering.
Shanahan missed his opportunity to spare everyone including himself from the carnage that unfolded during a dreadful 3 and 13 season. He was the adult with the authority and he didn’t act like it or use it.
He wimped out. He should’ve rounded up the owner, the GM, and the quarterback and let em all know who the hell was in charge. Beating the Eagles in the opener was the goal; validating the Adidas campaign wasn’t. If Griffin wasn’t interested or able to run the offense they asked him to run, so be it. Start Kirk. If the owner didn’t like it, Mike should’ve told him to fire him.
Instead, Shanahan allowed himself to get run over and then defended himself in a cowardly way. Armed with a phone, he leaked his quarterback and owner under a bus instead of manning up and solving the problem by addressing them eye to eye...man to still-growing men.
January 6, 2013 was a day that began so bright and bullish. Amazingly, one year later, things are bleak and bearish....once again.
Here we go again. Another new beginning with a splashy offseason to hype all that is shiny and new. Gruden, Cowher, the RG3-Briles reunion….it’ll be a show I’m sure. More on that in a moment.
So much for the owner’s declaration last year….”we’re in good hands with Mike and Bruce”. As it turns out, at least two of those hands weren’t used for much good. Mike Shanahan should’ve used one of his hands to massage and stroke his star quarterback into feeling good about his commanding officer. The other one should’ve been used to yank the owner away from his star quarterback. Instead, he used one hand to wave a white flag and the other to call Adam Schefter and Dan Graziano. What an utter S-show this place is.
Back to the shiny and new. It won’t be an easy hire. For starters, this organization is perceived and justifiably so as toxic. It’s not the job most quality NFL men have as #1 on their list. With that said, the money is good and the overall football situation isn’t as bad as many have made it out to be.
It was much worse four years ago. Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato’s final 2009 roster included an incredible 55 players who are no longer in the NFL. That includes players who were on IR and the Practice Squad at the end of that season but still, 55 players on one team no longer playing professional football a mere 4 years later. Wow, that was a true "cupboard is bare" situation. Throw in the miserable cap situation at the end of that year and if it wasn’t clear then, it should be now….they left the place in shambles.
While Shanahan isn’t leaving a roster full of superstars, there is an attractive young nucleus of Griffin, Morris, Garcon, Reed and Williams on offense with at least a couple of legit players/intriguing prospects on defense (see Kerrigan, Cofield, Amerson and Jenkins). There are others like Thomas, Crawford, and Thompson that may prove to be impactful but haven’t had the chance because of injuries and a few more like Hankerson, Riley, Baker, and Bowen that have showed occasional promise.
As far as draft picks, after one more RG3 first-rounder goes to St. Louis this year, they’ve got all of them after that. In terms of cap space, they’ll have more room under the cap than every team in the NFC except Chicago with roughly $28 million to spend if they choose to. Add to that, Shanahan will leave a roster full of team-friendly contracts. Don't underestimate the importance of that to a prosepective new coach. It's a major plus that there won't be any Albert Haynesworth or D-Hall 400-pound contracts sitting on the chest of the new coach when he gets here. For those that have written and spoken about how Shanahan has left the “football” situation in worse shape than Zorn, it’s not even remotely close to true. The toxicity of the place aside, the “football” situation should be viewed as a potential quick fix with just a few solid moves.
It gets old trying to figure out the best course of action for this group but assuming Bruce Allen is staying, I’d like to see him be given the authority to hire a new personnel director and new coach. It would be nice if both were good, got along, and had compatible philosophies on the type of players they desire. Allen could continue to handle contract and cap management along with Eric Schaffer.
As far as the new coach goes, Allen’s top priority should be to find someone capable of molding Griffin into a top-flight NFL quarterback on the field while also nimble enough to deal with everything that comes with a still-maturing Griffin off it. I'd also prefer someone who understands how to manage the clock. This is the one area you could compare Shanahan to Zorn. Both seemed confused on how to do it and apparently too insecure to admit they needed help.
After the seedy drama of the last few weeks, answers to the coach question are around the corner. After that, their typical splashy offseason marketing machine will motor through the months of March, April, and May at warp speed. And then after all of that, the answer to the most important question will have to wait. Maybe it takes a year, perhaps 2 to 3. The most important question when all of the BS smoke of the last month clears is this....do they have a franchise quarterback or not?
1. Pierre Garcon. The catch on his back was incredible as was his game and his record-setting season. He set the single-season reception record for the franchise; a record that stood for 29 years.
2. Forced turnovers. A nice play by Wilson to force the fumble on Clutts and a nice interception by D-Hall.
3. Kai Forbath. He made 3 kicks and 2 of the snaps were a little off. Nice job by Rocca to get both of the snaps down. Forbath has quietly made 12 straight kicks.
1. Ineffective pass rush when they had to have it. Tony Romo converted two crucial 4th-down plays in the 4th quarter including the game-winning touchdown pass with little pressure from Skins' pass rushers. Bottom line, the guy (Orakpo) that thinks he's a game-changer didn't change anything. Few if any impact plays from Brian Orakpo who appeared to be dominated at times by Tyron Smith.
2. Penalties and offensive miscommunication. The Skins' final offensive play where Moss seemed to lineup on the wrong side of the field forcing a hurried snap and a frenetic Cousins reflected too much of what went wrong today. Receivers not knowing where to line up or lining up illegally was an issue and shouldn't be in week 16. Penalties were killers all day but none more ridiculous than the back to back penalties on 3rd and goal at the 2 (2nd qtr) when the Skins followed up a false start with an illegal shift. The next play was a Skins' timeout. A possible 7 pts. became a self-inflicted 3.
3. Not enough offense. Bottom line, Dallas was allowing 427 yards per game coming in and the Skins didn't even get 300. Other than Garcon & Morris who consistently moved the pile for extra yards, nothing else was that impressive. There were drops by Morris on the first play of the game and Darrell Young in the 3rd qtr and there was the big miss from Cousins to Moss late in the first half that resulted in an interception. They made Dallas' defense look professional for the first time in several weeks.
4. Punt coverage. The worst the league has seen in a long time at 17.2 yards per allowed coming in. They gave up a 62-yarder on the first punt of the day. It would be less painful and maybe more productive if they just went for every 4th-down. With that said, their kickoff coverage was pretty good in this game.
5. Clock mgt. The Redskins took a crushing timeout on defense with 2:16 left, the clock stopped, and the playclock winding down to 3 seconds. First, it was possible Dallas would've been called for delay-of-game....secondly, the Redskins needed that timeout to stop the clock when it was running. It cost them 40 potential seconds of clock when they got the ball back. Shanahan said it was called on the field by a player....who cares. The timeout used on the 4th and 2 earlier in the 4th quarter because of 10-men on the field would've been helpful at the end also. Not saying they shouldn't of called it in that particular situation, but having 10 men on the field for a play that crucial is embarrassing.
1. Cousins' day was average. His miss to Moss that ended in INT was points off the board and he had an opportunity with 1:08 left to get the team in FG range and he didn't get them close. With that said, for the 2nd straight week, it was clear that he is a much better pocket passer right now than RG3.
2. The field was torn up and players were slipping all day long.
3. It was far too early for the Skins to go for 2 when they scored in the 3rd qtr to take the lead.
4. Ryan Kerrigan is better lined up inside than outside.
5. Tony Romo's 2 touchdown passes were all because of his extend-the-play ability. As good as anyone in the league buying time to make a throw.
The Redskins lost 27-26 in Atlanta on Sunday, but is it possible to lose a sixth straight game and win at the same time?? Hypothetically, yes. In reality, no but in the overall short and long term view - it is pretty clear they did.
Let's take a look. We will start with the cold harsh reality first.
**The Redskins dropped their sixth straight game and dropped to (3-11). Clearly, that's the bottom line.
**Washington turned the ball over SEVEN (7) times in the contest. According to ESPN stats and Information, they had not turned the ball over that many times since Week 2 of the 2004 season against the Giants.
**The Redskins seven turnovers on Sunday, were the most by any team in any one game this season. They had five lost fumbles, a stat that is best illustrated by the fact that no team in any game had lost more than three fumbles in a game all year.
According to ourpal, John Keim of ESPN.com and ESPN980- "They've turned the ball over 29 times, leading to 88 points -- the offense has scored just 74 points off turnovers. Last year, the Redskins turned it over 14 times and allowed just 51 points -- while scoring 113 points off opponent turnovers. That margin was third best in the NFL. In the past two seasons there have been 30 teams that have scored more points off turnovers than they've allowed; 22 have had winning records."
***Another game, another special teams debacle. I thought Santana Moss was interfered with after he called for the fair catch, the gunner for the Falcons contacted Moss in a leg-whip type motion but clearly the Redskins lost that argument.
**The Redskins special teams coverage was very good (for them) allowing four kickoff returns for 78 yards (4-78, 19.5) and three punt returns for 25 yards (3-25,8.3). The averages are a little deceiving, but again - you will take it. The number that continues to stand out to me is this. Washington had no kick returns because of six touchbacks. Kai Forbath, while connecting on (2-2) field goals in the 2nd quarter, had only one touchback in five opportunities. That's only second touchback on a kickoff since the Redskins were in Denver on October 27th. YIKES.
***The Redskins defense had a poor start. They yielded a touchdown on the Falcons opening drive, because they could not get off the field on third down. Atlanta had a 14 play, 83 yard drive capped off by a Steven Jackson 3-yard touchdown. He completely trucked Josh Wilson at the goal-line for the score. Jim Haslett's defense allowed conversions of 3rd/6, 3rd/10 and 3rd/3. Twice on the drive, the Redskins had a chance to sack Matt Ryan and missed.
***Washington's first offensive drive was just as shaky as their defensive counterpart, as Cousins was blasted on two stretch play-action fakes and then sacked by Osi Umenyiora who beat Trent Williams on a 3rd/10 for a sack and forced fumble.
***The Redskins third-quarter wasn't much to see, as they had 13 net yards of offense on ten offensive plays. Alfred Morris was (2-6) and Kirk Cousins was (3-8, 7, INT) and the offense was (0-3) on third down.
***As good as Cousins was overall, he had two bad interceptions. He took the blame, both were in-cut dig routes and he led both of his targets too far. Kirk sees something and rips it. Coaches will live with those mistakes. One coach told me Sunday that they have no problems with those mistakes and this is what they love about Cousins. "He'll see it and rip it" which is what they prefer over a more conservative approach.
Now the good side.
***Nobody suffered any major injuries, which is of extreme importance especially when playing out the schedule. Trent Williams and Darrel Young battled injuries with Williams leaving and returning. Young had a setback, and sat out the entire 2nd half plus the end of the 2nd quarter.
***The Redskins defense could not get off the field early, but was terrific afterwards from Brian Orakpo to Chris Baker to Perry Riley and Ryan Kerrigan. The loudly booed DeAngelo Hall continued his very good year and I thought David Amerson was pretty active.
***While the Redskins loss solidified their # 2 pick status which is heading to St. Louis - it is important to recognize that they are also in position to have the # 34 overall pick in the second round and subsequently high picks in every round, which makes it a lot easier to jump into the bottom part of the preceding round.
***What I am trying to get at is this: If a player the Redskins really like is still on the board at say for example # 30 ...It's very possible the Redskins could get a first round pick after-all and move up a couple of spots while surrendering their high 2nd round pick and another late round pick.
**The Redskins moved the football very well against a young secondary and a bad defense. Sure, this is all true. However, to say that is the main factor in success is preposterous. They had their third highest net yards total all year, and their highest passing output of the season. Imagine if they actually had any success in the third quarter??
Without being overly critical here, the Redskins offense as a whole struggled mightily against Philadelphia in both games for long stretches, and was largely invisible against a putrid Dallas defense in the 2nd half. Not to mention, a Denver defense that was in the bottom three in the league against the pass. In Minnesota, they had some really good drives and first half success, but left 10-14 points dangling at the one-yard line. The Giants offense looked like the '85 Bears in the last 2 + quarters and Kansas City which had been torched in three consecutive weeks by Peyton Manning (twice) and Phillip Rivers looked like the Ravens in the early part of this century. Sorry this is the reality of the situation, and not some kind of hateful agenda as I have been accused many times of.
***Let's get one thing straight. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan certainly have an agenda. There is no doubt about that. However, and this pains me to say - the decision was warranted in my opinion (based on performance) and justified largely by Kirk Cousins success. Sure, he was far from perfect - but one has to wonder how Robert Griffin III would have fared Sunday. Robert probably would have put up big numbers as well, but I just can't say that for sure because of the stunning lack of success throughout the year against bad defensive groups.
***The Redskins offensive line which was allegedly so putrid all year long, did have a very poor start but rebounded strongly after the first series. They only allowed one sack and three quarterback hits according to the NFL generated game statistics.
By my count, that occurred all on the first drive. When you pass the ball 45 times and run 67 plays, you take that production any day of the week.
***Despite the turnovers (two purely on Cousins), "Captain" Kirk made the decision at least defensible, if not completely justified. Again, Robert Griffin III was benched for protection according to the public record, but privately it was all about the lack of performance and Cousins did what the Redskins staff asked him to do. As one team source said to me late last week "You'll see what we see every day" and certainly Cousins ability to move the offense and get rid of the football quickly was on display. Redskins coaches felt very confident the hits and sacks that Mike Shanahan gave as a public reasoning would not happen to Cousins, and they were proven right. We'll see what happens Sunday against Dallas.
**The final reason why the Redskins won on Sunday is what Mike Shanahan strongly alluded to many times on Monday. He wanted to send a message to Robert Griffin III and Dan Snyder that Kirk Cousins is for real and Griffin has to work his butt off to get better. He has no excuses, none at all. A super motivated Griffin III will be determined to prove everyone wrong.
"The thing that you want on your football team is you want competition – legitimate competition. The better players you have, the more people compete. When you look behind your shoulder and you know that guy is pretty good, that makes you work a little bit harder in the offseason," Shanahan said.
You can read that any way you want, but the way any reasonable mind has to clearly interpret that is Griffin III did a great job rehabbing himself last year BUT now he has to rehab his inconsistent play. Benching Griffin was and is a multi-layered and very involved message. It's not JUST about protection. It's about motivation.
I have no doubt that Robert will get much better. I do worry about having to learn a new system, if that is indeed what happens.
Regardless of who the coach is, Shanahan is saying Griffin III has to stay away from everything but football.
Before you hate, I would also point out that Shanahan has to stop the implosions on his end. Enough already, for the love of humanity.Just zip it. If both sides would have been more reasonable, the Redskins would not be in divorce court.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Atlanta Falcons are (3-10) and yet barely a peep. Does anybody even know they exist to be honest? The Washington Redskins are (3-10) and they make so much noise you'd swear they have a military jet strapped to their decaying carcass.
By now you know that it has been a extremely grueling season for many reasons, and has been a complete nightmare from head to toe for the coaching staff, players and even most of us in the media. Some revel in dysfunction, I abhor it. Just can't deal with it properly. Five years of this nonsense has taken a toll and then some on my personal life for sure.
It got even crazier on Wednesday as Robert Griffin III was benched for the rest of the year with Kirk Cousins set to start on Sunday against those very quiet and calm Falcons. Naturally, reaction poured in along with analysis and opinions. It always does. Nothing like a good old quarterback controversy.
The most interesting comments came from ESPN's Steve Young who played for Mike Shanahan and often credits Shanahan for a large part of his success
Very interesting comments indeed, and certainly indicates that either Young has been watching a lot of Redskins tape or Young's opinion and thoughts were garnered via conversations he's had, presumably with Shanahan. My take? Young is saying Griffin III did not play well enough to keep playing.
Young on ESPN's NFL Live described some of the challenges of young quarterbacks and NFL offenses, with a partial focus on Shanahan. "They have five receivers go out, but they're only throwing to two, or one even, and that's a lot easier for young players," Young said. "Mike asks a lot and if he doesn't get it, he's the kind of guy who says, ‘Well, let's bring the next guy. I want to take a look,' even with what that means on the team, the city, the organization, everything. It doesn't matter. 'I want quarterbacks who are performing and performing well.' "
Young added "I know him (Shanahan) well," Young said. "He gives very little tolerance for quarterbacks -- including me, John Elway, whoever else is playing -- if you're not playing well and you're not preparing to throw to five receivers every play. He puts quarterbacks in position to have to read sideline to sideline. That's a huge task for young players, and he wants guys that are willing to go work that out and play well. If you're not going to play well he's going to find someone else."
OK then. Sounds like Mr. Young is still very much in support of Mr. Shanahan in this matter.
Then there's John Madden who said, "I mean, you know it's baloney" , on SIRIUSXMRadio Wednesday. “I like Mike Shanahan, and I’m not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that’s not right — you’re not going to sacrifice regular season games. There’s only 16 of them a year. You’re not going to sacrifice regular season games for an offseason program. I know that part of it was he wasn’t healthy last offseason and that really hurt him, so it would be good if he were healthy this offseason. I believe that. There’s some truth to that."
ESPN's Adam Schefter weighed in on ESPN 980 on his thoughts "He wants to go see Kirk Cousins play. In my dealing with him this week, I did not get the sense at all that this was some sort of message over, veiled, however you want to categorize it at Dan Snyder. I think it's pretty clear how the two feel about each other. I don't think they need to do anything more. I think everybody agrees the Redskins are not keeping Mike Shanahan. Correct? So why does he have to do that? I think we're past that. To me this is something that I think he feels this is something in the best interests of the team moving forward. That's my sense of having spoken to him this week," Schefter said on Wednesday.
Kevin Sheehan then asked if it was possible that Shanahan is directing the message at Robert Griffin III? Schefter hesitated and paused noticeably, before answering "Again, I'm not telling you it can't be. In this case, there is so much going on. there are so many different dynamics, I don't think it's directed at the quarterback so much as this is just what he wants to do right now. For everybody's sake. Period."
You can listen to the entire interview here, but listen closely as Schefter delves into the 'real reasons' for Mike Shahanan's decision. Again, this is a decision about poor performance as much if not significantly more than protection.
McNabb continued, “Mike and Kyle Shanahan trying to show why they feel like Kirk Cousins gives them the best chance of winning. So many things have leaked out, and I’ve always kept my ear on things that are happening with the Washington Redskins, teams that I’ve played with. And when you hear reporters that I know are linked to Mike Shanahan talk about [RGIII’s] preparation, you talk about he’s missing some reads, you know, he’s not reading some things. And I knew that he was big on having Kirk Cousins to get out there and run the offense.”
So you see, it's business as usual here at Redskins Park. Feel free to move on with your daily lives. Only Kyle Shanahan speaks on Thursday for the first time - so things should be much more ummm calm?
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Mike Shanahan gave his reasons over and over for benching Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season on Monday before he made the move and then again on Wednesday after making it official. He didn't however give what I believe to be the real reason.
Griffin III will not play again in 2013, nor is he expected to even dress as a backup. Rex Grossman is scheduled to be Kirk Cousins backup and be active for the first time this year.
Shanahan's rationale makes some level of sense. The timing and the plausibility of it is (as usual) hard to fully grasp. He said he consulted with Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen as early as last week after the Giants Sunday night game and before the Chiefs loss.
"Anytime you’re hit as many times as he’s been hit, I thought it was in his best interest, the organization’s, to talk about if we should continue playing Robert if he’s hit as many times as he’s been hit," Shanahan told the assembled media.
"Dan [Snyder] thought about it and talked to Bruce [Allen] about it, and at the end of the day we felt that the best thing to do for Robert was to not play him – give Kirk an opportunity to play – so he could go into an offseason healthy. Any time you miss an offseason in the National Football League it does set you back quite a bit, and we thought going into this offseason [after] missing last year, that this was the best way to do it."
OK that seems fair. The offensive unit has been sacked 25 times in the five game losing streak. That obviously doesn't count the quarterback hits that Shanahan more specifically cited as the thing he looked at more.
Griffin III missing last off-season was absolutely a crucial blow to his development. One that he probably never recovered from. Surely, there is nothing better than live game reps and perhaps 13 games with no pre-season was enough in the regime's eyes. The Redskins had 901 total plays, with 456 passing attempts. That means he had more passing attempts in 2013 than his rookie year of 2012 in two fewer games. I suppose the amount of passing plays at least gives a convenient statistic for the reasoning.
This move, provided Griffin III does not get injured during practice at some point the rest of the season, clearly ensures that Griffin III will be able to participate in the off-season program. The problem is he will likely have to spend more time bonding with a new coach and learning new terminology, than he will being able to get better on the field.
Lots has been made about the real motives behind the benching. Was it a ploy by Shanahan to get fired? Possibly. Was it a move to show who is boss one more time? Probably. Was it designed to hurt Griffin's development for the future? I don't know about that. It honestly is hard for me to think that Shanahan would be that hard-core.
However, I strongly believe the real reason has not been getting enough play. I tweeted this on Wednesday morning before the press conferences and still remain convinced of this. Mike Shanahan benched Robert Griffin III because he was not very good this year. He was awful at times. Poor at others. Mediocre at times. Good on a couple of occasions.
Bottom line, he was nowhere close to the quarterback he was last year, and that had little to do with read-option or play-calls or anything like that. Griffin III needed to be a lot better for this team to have a chance and he wasn't. It's OK. Players have bad years, and they have great years. He's probably somewhere in between, with the needle more on the positive.
I believe this to be true with everything I have. Mike Shanahan won't say it because he rarely crushes players in public. This decision was made because Mike and Kyle Shanahan amongst many reasons believe that Kirk Cousins is better off running their offense in practice and in games, and he has earned that right.
They can deny it all they want, but the numbers and missed targets tell a completely different story. Every week, targets are running free and are missed. Take for instance, Griffin III's final interception of the year. Chris Cooley explained to me on our "Monday Morning Redskins Roundup" show on Redskins.com that Logan Paulsen was Griffin's number one read and choice. Paulsen was running free and clear in the left flat. Griffin either did not see him or for whatever reason didn't make the throw and instead threw to his # 2 target on the play, Pierre Garcon. Garcon ran a slant route that was jumped by Derrick Johnson. Easy interception. Bad read. Bad everything. A 21-yard touchdown by Dwayne Bowe was the ensuing result, because the defense was put in a brutal position.
This is the kind of mistake that has been happening several times a game, and just can not continue to happen on a team that doesn't have a great defense and has a horrific special teams unit.
Here's the rub though, The Redskins traded the world for Griffin III and invested so heavily in the quarterback position last year that it cost them a 2012 # 6 (1st), # 39 (2nd), # 102 (4th,Cousins), along with a 2013 # 22 (which St. Louis traded to Atlanta) and what right now is a 2014 # 2 overall pick. That's an enormous bill for one position. A simply ridiculous bill.
You have to put more of the onus and expectation on that one position. You have no choice. If you want to be a franchise quarterback and the franchise pays a kings ransom for you, a lot more is going to be expected out of you. Perhaps too much was expected, but that's the way the world works.
Again, the message should have been made clearer, but Mike Shanahan did answer it in this way when I asked the question about the decision being more performance driven than protection based. “I understand what direction you’re trying to take this, but I’m honestly trying to tell you, man-to-man, we made a decision that I think is the best for Robert."
No doubt, health is a very good thing for Robert Griffin III. However, every explanation must be taken with a grain of salt and I believe this is a case where the lack of production is the real reason.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Here we go again. We've been here, done this before.
There were Norv Turner's final few hours in December of 2000 which included the absurdity of Eddie Murray attempting a field goal from a distance he told the coach he couldn't make in a 9-7 loss to the Giants. Hours later, Norv was fired and Terry Robiske (aka Robinski according to Deion) took over with a little help from Pepper Rogers.
The next year ended with no "gleam men". Marty Schottenheimer had changed the entire culture of the organization in less than a year but despite an 8-3 finish with Tony Banks and Kent Graham at quarterback, he knew his final hours in a monsoon at Fed Ex against the Cardinals were numbered. His team won that game but he was fired the next day because at least one person in the ownership group didn't like him. Like that should’ve mattered. His 2001 team was as well-coached as any Skins' team in the last 20 years and he was on the verge of turning the Skins into winners again.
Then you had the 2003 snap shot of Steve Spurrier bundled up in the sleet and rain at Fed Ex Field during a late-season 27-0 loss to Dallas. He looked so unhappy and cold. Coaching any team north of Myrtle Beach was never going to be an option for him again even though he had two years left on his contract...."5 and 11, not too good."
The debacle of Jim Zorn and "swinging gate" against the Giants on a Monday night in 2009 with a former Bingo Caller in the booth calling plays was pure comedy.
And then there was today. A 2-time Super Bowl-winning coach seemingly positioning himself to get out of town with a planted story about wanting to leave a year ago because of the quarterback's relationship with the owner. Whether true or not and it's hard to believe that it is true doesn't really matter. He's gone. Add the embarrassment of a borderline unprofessional performance from his team on a snowy Fed Ex Field in front of hearty few; this day fits perfectly with those mentioned above.
This organization has been a freak show for a while now. Sure there have been a few moments here and there. Joe Gibbs 2.0 included two thrilling late-season runs to the playoffs. Last year's first division title since 1999 felt like an organization that had reached a good place. I was convinced the franchise had finally found solid ground. Good culture, franchise QB, division champs....it's still hard to fathom that a franchise could fall apart so quickly in less than 12 months. I mean seriously. How the hell did we get from division title and the feel-good of the win over Dallas to where we are now in less than a year? Even the Shanahai haters didn't predict this.
On another note, I don’t believe that Mike Shanahan had made up his mind that he was going to leave before the playoff game against Seattle. That story makes no sense. His personal popularity among the fans had just reached its highest point. It's ridiculous if he thinks anyone would believe that he had decided to quit after beating Dallas to win the division. There is a perfectly reasonable motive for the story if it came from the coach. He wants the "not my fault" narrative to reign. But that's not fair. He was given a lot of autonomy to do the job and if he got persuaded to do things like play a quarterback that wasn't ready or trade for Donovan McNabb, that's on him.
I certainly buy that at some point since that playoff game against Seattle he’s thought about leaving. For eight months he had to deal with a marketing campaign that pushed for his starting quarterback to come back earlier than he should have. He had to deal public and private suggestions from the QB’s family about his offense and his son’s play calling. Then he was pressured and perhaps even manipulated into playing Griffin in the opener against his better judgment. But he had the power to stop all that and didn't.
He wasn't leaving last January. But it's obvious now that this season and the future of this coaching staff was compromised the second Griffin took the field unready to play in the opener against Philadelphia. And that decision and everything that came after it lays at the feet of the head coach. He's a good coach and he'll coach somewhere else, maybe even next year, but it certainly appears to be over here.
One of the worst days in franchise history. The good, bad, and more from the game.
1. The fans that showed up at the game. On one of the worst weather days in team history, props to the diehards that showed up.
1. Overall effort. A no-show by the team.
2. Coaching. I disagree that the team wasn't ready in recent weeks but today, they weren't ready and that's on the head coach. Additionally, some of the worst Sp Teams coaching decisions you'll ever see. To continue to punt the ball to Dexter McCluster was outrageous.
3. Tackling. Laughable.
4. Running game. Non-existant.
5. Quarterbacks. Both were bad.
1. Franchise is at rock-bottom again. This week should be interesting to say the least. Shanahan, Snyder, who starts at QB....total S-show.
A good start, bad finish. The good, bad, and more.
1. Brian Orakpo. As active as he's been this year as a run-stopper and pass rusher.
2. Barry Cofield. He's their only legit defensive linemen although Chris Baker is growing on me.
3. Reed Doughty. Despite getting hurt, when he was in there he was what he always seems to be....a solid run-stopping safety and a very good special teamer.
4. Santana Moss as a punt returner. He catches what he's supposed to catch and when he doesn't fair-catch it, he's decisive as a runner. So much better than Thompson, Morgan, and Williams that it just angers me that they didn't put him back there in mid-September.
1. Offense after taking 14-zip lead. After taking a 14-nothing lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Redskins had 9 drives the rest of the game with the following results--184 total yards, 4 dropped passes, 4 penalties, 5 sacks, one fumble, 3 points. As for why the offense fell apart, it's not because Alfred Morris didn't get enough carries. He had 9 carries in the first half for 11 yards. How much more did you want him to get the ball? To whom was it obvious that he was on the verge of a monster 2nd half? Until they proved that they could make plays down-field in the passing game, their conventional inside-zone/outside zone run-game was going to be a tough go. The offense's lack of productivity over the final 3 quarters had more to do with drops, penalties, sacks, and lack of passing game execution.
2. Game-changing Special Teams gaffe. The Redskins had a 17-14 lead with a dominant field position advantage when Kyle Nelson rolled the snap back to Rocca and Rocca had his punt blocked. The net yardage with a holding penalty added on was 8 yards. Giants started at the Skins 46 instead of deep in their own territory and they took the lead on that drive. Not that it was game-over but it was a game-changer for sure.
3. Drops and penalties. As mentioned above, one of the reasons the offense didn't produce more in the final 3 quarters. Garcon, Davis, and Paulson all had at least one. Davis' drop on the final drive was huge. It would've given the Skins a chance late.
4. The field. Too slippery. Cost the Skins a first-down in the 2nd quarter when Morris slipped after a catch and came up a yard short. Next play, Royster stopped on 3rd and 1.
5. Aldrick Robinson. His effort and ball skills on the one deep ball weren’t very good. He also appeared to have had a big opportunity on a reverse but got less than he should've.
1. Collinsworth is one of my favorites but he went overboard with his praise of everything Redskins-related. He said the following about Mike Shanahan and staff....."if they stick with this group, they'll win the division next year".
2. Why did RG3 run rather than throw a "Hail-Mary" on the final play of the first half?
3. Griffin went to his check-down receiver several times, especially in the first half. It seemed to be an emphasis for him. It almost looked like the coaches made it a point to let him know it was okay if that's where he ended up. It worked for the most part. He was an impressive 16-17 in the first half for 149 yards.
4. The refs blew it on the "1st-down" indication on the Skins' final drive. Bottom line, even if Triplett himself indicated third-down, other officials including at least one that authorized the chains to be moved were handling the result of the play differently. There was crew confusion so he should've stopped the clock and measured the 2nd-down spot. That was the appropriate course of action. They obviously blew it and while it DID cost them a chance to continue their final drive, I've seen enough in recent weeks to believe that their chances of tying the game even if they got the correct call were less than 50-50. We were probably headed for another Minnesota/Philly ending.
The Washington Redskins are (3-8) and get a primetime showcase to either keep their extremely remote playoff chances alive against a team that is better than them in the standings, the New York Giants (4-7). It is the first time the teams have met this year and it has been almost a full calender year before the two squads shared the same gridiron. The two division rivals played two terrific games last year, and this year could be playing in two games that mean absolutely nothing.
I have a feeling it will be a very dis-interesting December 29th at MetLife Stadium as the clubs finish out the regular season.
Either way, we will have pre-game coverage for you that begins at 4:30 on ESPN 980 AM, 94.3/92.7 FM, ESPN980.com and Audio Now at (832) 999-1980. The game doesn't start until about 830 so make sure you bring some toothpicks to keep your eye-lids open. This will be the Redskins fifth regular season primetime game, and eighth game this season played under the lights including the preseason schedule. As you know, they are a robust (0-4) on the primetime stage.
With that as our scene-setter, let's go "Inside the Numbers" for this epic battle of two teams that have crapped their pants more than a six month old on stewed carrots overload.
I. The Mike Shanahan era in Washington has not produced enough wins. That is indisputable. What are the reasons for it? That's in every way debatable. As you know by now, the Redskins are (3-8) this year, and when you combine that with (6-10), (5-11) and (10-6) plus an NFC East Crown - you get a unsavory (24-35) with the one divisional crown and one playoff game.
Before we get to Shanahan's tenure here in Washington (which may be coming to an end), it is often said that Mike Shanahan was nothing without John Elway. He hasn't won a Super Bowl Championship without Elway, so that must mean his success is largely a byproduct of # 7 getting over the top and wanting to go out with the perfect Hollywood ending.
Let's take a closer look. Shanahan took over the Broncos as their Head Coach in 1995 after appearing in three Super Bowls as an assistant and several league championship games. He went (8-8) in his first year with Denver, after a previous top job stint with the Los Angeles Raiders that finished (8-12).
The next three years for Shanahan (with Elway) were (13-3), (12-4) and (14-2) with two Super Bowl titles and a (7-1) playoff record. Shanahan was (47-17) in the regular season, with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Shanahan as we speak going into Sunday Night Football is (170-133) in the regular season as an NFL Head Coach, for 56.1 winning percentage. This is just as a head coach, the numbers are more impressive if you combine his record as an assistant with the Broncos and 49'ers.
Focusing then on the success level of Shanahan without Elway is the purpose of this argument. If you take away his time with Elway, Shanahan is (123 - 116). He is (1-5) in the playoffs without Elway. Obviously not overly impressive on the surface, but I would counter by saying that the best coach of this era - Bill Belichick - is (41-55) in full seasons without Tom Brady as his starting quarterback.
Brady took over in the Patriots magical 2001 season in Week 3, after New England was (0-2) with Drew Bledsoe. The Patriots were (11-5) in 2008, while Brady was injured in the very first game (win vs. Kansas City). In essence, without Brady in games those two years, the Patriots were (10-7). Brady was (11-3) in 2001 and (1-0)in 2008 as the starter.
If you add the (10-7) record for Belichick without Brady in those games to the (41-55) in his stint with the Browns and his first year as head coach in New England, Belichick is (51-62) without Tom Brady as his starting quarterback. Belichick overall in regular season action is (195-104) as the top banana. With Brady, Belichick is (144 - 42) and three Super Bowl Championships.
Is Bill Belichick EVER going to be looked at in any other way other than a coaching genius? Before you scream, no - I am not saying that Shanahan is even on the same neighborhood block as Belichick - but the overall point is this, head coaches are only as good as their quarterbacks make them.
Shanahan's 123 wins without Elway are more than Mike Ditka, Dick Vermeil, George Seifert, John Madden, Tom Flores or the legendary Bill Walsh had in their careers. Of course, not everybody has been a head coach for the same amount of time, but the point still serves.
His winning percentage is 51.4% without Elway as his starting quarterback, which would rate him ahead of Marvin Lewis, Norv Turner, Buddy Ryan, Jim Mora, Jerry Glanville, Herm Edwards, Butch Davis and Jim Schwartz. Again, not elite company by any means but Belichik's winning percentage without Brady is 45.1% which would rank him 114th all time.
The point is for those that argue Shanahan has not been successful since John Elway retired, you have a point. Shanahan has been just above the average mark since that time. Not sure about you, but I'd rather be above average than well below.
The Rest of the Rest
***Speaking of Shanahan, according to Redskins public relations , in his time as an Offensive Coordinator with the San Francisco 49'ers (1992-1994), Head Coach of the Denver Broncos (1995-2008) and his nearly complete four years with the Redskins, Shanahan guided teams have scored 8,136 points in that time span. That's only 2nd to the Green Bay Packers at 8,180 after their loss in Detroit.
So if the Redskins score 44 points tonight, that would vault "Team Shanahan" as Redskins PR calls it into the lead during that 20-year span.
***During that span, "Team Shanahan" leads the NFL in rushing yards with 44,774 and net yards of offense at 124, 215. Shanahan's teams (including the SF stint) ranks fourth in regular season wins and postseason wins during that time as well.
**Per ESPN Stats & Info - 6.79 is the Yards per play-action pass for the Redskins, ranking them 23rd in the NFL. Last season, the Redskins averaged 10.35 yards on such plays, which was second best in the NFL.
***Eli Manning has not had a lot of statistical success against the Redskins in his career. He's 11-6 which is the ultimate goal, but that is about team as opposed to the individual. He's only had two 300-yard passing games with the second one coming last October 21st (337) thanks to that blown coverage and long Victor Cruz touchdown.
He's averaged 33 passing attempts per game in his 17 starts against Washington, with an average of 18.7 completions per game for an average completion percentage of 56.2 % (Career 58.5%). Manning averages 227.4 passing yards per contest against the Redskins and averages 0.82 touchdown passes per contest. He also has thrown 15 interceptions in the 17 games.
This year, Manning is targeting and completing 26.7% (60-851, 4) of his completions to Victor Cruz, 18.8% to impending free agent Hakeem Nicks (42-620, O) and 14.3% to the rising Rueben Randle (32-524, 6 TD). TE Brandon Myers (29-336, 2)had a touchdown last week and he counts for 12.9 %. The Redskins have struggled against tight ends as many defenses do and Myers is a guy who many around the league hold in good regard.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980