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
1. Run defense. One of the best run-stopping games of the year for the defense. Niners never got anything going on the ground. Then again, they didn't have to with the success they had throwing the ball. With that said, only allowing the opposition to score on 5 of its 11 drives is reason to celebrate one of the better defensive games of the season.
2. Santana Moss as a punt returner. Major improvement. His 13-yard return was the most impressive punt return of the year (not sarcasm) and the ball never hit the ground except when it hit in the end zone. A bad decision not to have him back there earlier in the season.
1. The offense. A bad night all-around for the offense. It started with sub-par quarterback play, got brought down even further by zero pass protection, mix in a few drops including Morgan's drop after the team got a short field off a turnover, throw in what looked like a bad route by either Paulson or Garcon when they were both in the same area on a play that may have been a touchdown, add a missed potential touchdown when Aldrick Robinson slowed down on a deep ball where he had a step on his defender and in summary....it was a pitiful night for the offense.
2. O-line. The 49er defense is really good but the O-line didn't put up much of a fight. Polumbus was a turnstile and Trent Williams was abused on a few occasions.
3. Robert Griffin III. 2nd straight rough performance. He played with no confidence and made no plays of note. The interception was brutally bad. He threw poorly on several other occasions. Some of his completions were bad throws. He didn't feel pressure well. He held the ball too long. It also looked like he didn't get a play call correct that led to an unnecessary timeout which hurt the team's chances to score a touchdown at the end of the half (may be wrong on that but Shanahan seemed angry with Griffin). With that said, Aldrick Robinson didn't do him any favors when he slowed down on a deep ball that may have been a touchdown.
4. Josh Wilson & pass defense. Colin Kapernick hadn't thrown well for 2 months but got healthy tonight. The Skins did a very nice job of making the 49er offense one-dimensional by stopping the run but they weren't good enough to stop the Niner air attack. Kapernick had his highest QB rating of the season. The 49ers hadn't had a pass play over 17 yards in 3 games; they had 5 tonight, 3 of them were for 30+ yards. Wilson seemed to be the target for the Niners and he didn't disappoint. Receivers were wide open in his area all night long.
5. Special Teams. Nothing on kickoff returns. Kickoff and punt coverage were lousy. Kickoffs were too short.
6. End of first-half use of timeouts. The use of timeouts killed their touchdown chances. They did a nice job however getting the field goal team on the field to get the 3 pts before the end of half. Garcon had the first-down with forward progress that would've allowed a spike to stop the clock and a few shots at the end zone.
1. Perry Riley had a huge Pick 6 opportunity but didn't pull it in.
2. The Vernon Davis fumble gave the Skins starting field position in opponents' territory for just the 2nd time in 7 games. It wasn't deep in SF territory but just barely at their 49.
3. RG3 got hit close to late on a couple of plays including the INT play but didn't get calls other QBs have been getting all year.
4. The new field was slippery.
5. They should go to the "turbo"/hurry-up more often.
6. Merriweather still leads with helmet on tackles.
7. Kyle called a 3rd and 3 RO run and a 4th and long-1 run. Neither worked so for all of those who say run it on 3rd and 3 and 4th and 1, he did. You happy now?
8. Skins real chance came after the Davis fumble early in the 3rd quarter. Offense didn't deliver. Morgan's drop killed the drive.
9. I wonder if Shanahan would've made a QB change if the Skins didn't get those two drives at the end of the first half.
1. they stop the run. Colin Kapernick has struggled as a passer for most of the season in part because he doesn't have many healthy weapons. The Niners can really run the ball but stopping the run has been the one thing defensively that the Skins aren't awful at. If they can make San Francisco one-dimensional and force Kapernick to beat them with his arm, they have a chance to limit points-against.
2. they improve starting field position. The Skins' starting field position is historically bad. The offense has just ONCE IN THEIR LAST 6 GAMES started a drive in the opponents' territory. That's hard to do and it speaks to poor Sp Teams in particular. Their average starting field position of their own 22.8 yard line is the worst in the NFL in 30 years. You could legitimately argue that starting field position has had the biggest impact on their overall W-L record. It's hard for the offense if every time they get the ball they have to go 78+ yards to score. Their Special Teams and Defense must keep field position competitive. The Skins can't get themselves into a situation where they need 50-60 yards just to get into FG range.
3. the offense is productive in the Red Zone. The offense needs to score when it gets into the Red Zone. Their last 3 trips into the Red Zone have gone a) 4th down miss in Minnesota, b) fumble in 1st quarter in Philly, and c) interception to end game in Philly. The Skins' offense is #5 in total yards, #1 in rushing, #1 in yards per carry, #4 on 3rd-downs. They've been very good at moving the football between their own 1 and the other team's 20. They need to finish when they get close.
The discussion in recent weeks has become whether or not Dan Snyder will tolerate a bad ending to an already poor season. There's a chance we're looking at it the wrong way.
While many believe that Snyder may be faced with a tough decision about his head coach at the end of this year, Shanahan could surprise us and make the decision himself. I could be way off but something tells me that Shanahan isn't in love with his situation here.
First and perhaps least importantly, he's never faced the public and media criticism he's faced here over the last 3+ years. Denver was in love with Shanahan for most of his tenure thanks to two Super Bowls. Even in his final few years when he heard skepticism, it was delivered in faint Rocky Mountain tones. He's a Midwest guy softened by 14 years of Colorado's beauty. DC may not be Philly, Boston, or New York but when it comes to its professional football team, it's got east coast passion and when appropriate, northeast rage. Shanahan is absolutely sure he knows more than you and for a while was humored when he was questioned by you. But the humor of those questions is long gone. The 24-34 record gives weight to the questions. He's not used to it and my guess is he's getting sick of it.
Secondly, while Shanahan the competitor might be willing to take the hits until he gets this thing right, he probably doesn't like watching his son get battered around. Kyle Shanahan had success as an offensive coordinator in this league without Dad standing next to him but nobody here seems to care. He's the coach's son and the view from the beginning on Kyle has been skeptical. Despite four top 10 offenses in his six seasons as a coordinator, Kyle is thought by many here in Washington to be someone who was gifted the job. Shanahan and son know they are a capable offensive duo and may decide that Tampa, Miami, or Dallas would be more appreciative.
More importantly than the heat he and his son are taking, Mike Shanahan's relationships with his boss and star quarterback will likely determine his future in Washington. The word is that Snyder and Allen felt great about Shanahan and the football operation before the season began. There was recognition that the salary cap penalties of the last two years could impact this year's record if there were a rash of injuries but there was confidence that a healthy team could compete for another division title.
Have they been healthy? If you discount their star quarterback's inconsistent play due to offseason knee surgery then yes. But that's a huge discount. It's not a reach to think that the team would've been better off losing 5 front-line starters in exchange for a healthy RG3 from the start. How Snyder is handling the nuance of their 3-7 is either straining or strengthening the relationship with his head coach. That's a key question that nobody really has an answer for right now but it's probably the second-most important factor in how Shanahan views the job moving forward.
Then there's the most important factor....his relationship with Griffin. Is there a rift or not? And if there is, can it be repaired? Bottom line, Griffin isn't going anywhere and Shanahan knows it. Is he willing to stay if the relationship is irreparable or if it can be fixed, is it worth it to him? If he's come to the conclusion that Griffin is too diva for him then I can't imagine the thought of coaching him is as attractive as we once thought.
Despite what many think, Mike Shanahan and his son are employable if it doesn't work out for them here. Sure $7 million is a ton of money to leave on the table but there will be multiple openings at the end of the season and if Mike is available, he'll get one of them for at least $5 million. Knowing that he can get paid somewhere else in combination with everything mentioned above may lead to a surprise end-of-year decision. A decision he makes all by himself.
A bad loss that for all intents and purposes ends the competitive portion of this year's schedule. The good, bad, and more.
1. The comeback. The defense gave them a chance by stopping Philly on their final 5 drives and the offense made a few plays. I respect the fight till the end but the way they played the first 3 quarters made it too big of a hill to climb.
2. Alfred Morris. He's the best draft choice of the Shanahan/Allen era.
1. The final play. A bad play with the game on the line. He said that he didn't want to take a sack on that play with no timeouts left and I get that but the play he made was both a bad decision and badly executed.
2. RG3. It started with a throw that was 20 yards off the mark to a wide-open Logan Paulson on the opening drive and it didn't get much better from there until the 4th quarter. That miss to Paulson was one of the worst throws you'll see from an NFL quarterback and it killed a potential tone-setting opening drive. Overall, he threw high, he threw short, and he had several balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. After the 3rd and 1 incomplete pass to Paulson early in the 4th quarter that was badly underthrown I thought he should be benched for performance. One more, Aldrick Robinson was open on that 1st down throw to the end zone on that final drive.
3. The offensive play calling. It's LOL funny to hear people complain today about the play calling in the first half saying there was "no balance" when the same people have been begging for exactly that, "no balance". Today however, those complaints were valid. Kyle seemed intent on proving to a certain part of this fan base and media group that you can't run the ball over and over again and win. If that was his point, he proved it. 28 runs and 7 throws in the first half would've been fine if they had scored but it's too hard to score up here as Coach Joe would say without making plays in the passing game. Yes, there were some early opportunities with the miss to Paulson and a drop by Moss but there should've been more play action throws on early downs. After the first-drive miss to Paulson on a first-down play action throw, the Redskins ran the ball on 10 of their next 12 first downs in the first half.
4. Defense until late 3rd and 4th quarters. It was as bad as it's been in the first half and the first drive of the 3rd quarter. Players wide open, screens were a problem, and tackling was an issue even though most teams in the league have a challenge tackling McCoy.
5. Special Teams. Nick Williams' decision-making wasn't any better than Josh Morgan's. He cost them 15 yards of field position on the Eagles' last punt. He also fumbled another but was able to recover it.
6. Injuries. No Jordan Reed hurt a ton more than no Leonard Hankerson but not having both no doubt limited the offense.
7. Turnovers. The first one was clearly a result of a confused/botched pass protection with Jordan Reed but Robert should've called timeout or thrown the ball away. The last INT....head scratcher.
1. RG3's height/stature in the pocket is a problem. Teams are batting a ton of balls. This is just another reason the drop-back game doesn't work for Skins.
2. McCoy on Kerrigan is a mismatch. Skins need a ton more speed on defense.
3. Santana Moss had the big 3rd and 25 catch but his early drop was costly.
4. Interesting to hear Robert say that the Eagles schemed them up well and that they seemed to know what was coming....shot at Kyle?? He also said that they've been very good on offense the last few games but today nothing seemed to work.
5. Shanahan's challenge of the spot on the Eagle 3rd down late in the game was obvious.