Archives for posts with tag: Mike Shanahan

The official attendance figure at FedEx Field was 61,459–although if we’re playing the “Price is Right” game I’m going to say it was more like 41,596.  The other number of note was 9-0, as the Redskins fell to San Francisco in the rain.  It was also Alumni Day, which we repeat IS NOT HOMECOMING as the franchise recognized former players who came back home.  Instead of the lineup this year, former Redskins gathered by the decade of service.  I’m just glad that former assistant coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t try to stand with the 2010’s alums.  Or bring his father, who certainly qualifies as a Redskins alumnus.  Instead–Kyle gave his dad the game ball.

The Case Against Keenum- proof that while figures do not lie, liars do figure.  A 91.3 passer rating looks impressive-until you realize that the 9 for 12 was built on short throws with a long gain of 19 yards.  The Skins averaged under nine yards per completion–and with sacks taken into consideration managed 3.3 yards per pass play.

Grinding on the Ground- Adrian Peterson began the day with a bang, getting the ball on the first seven plays from scrimmage. He’d post 49 yards on 8 carries before finishing with 81 yards on 20 tries, meaning after that first possession the veteran was held to 32 yards on 12 attempts.  He also got stuffed on a fourth and one, and fumbled in the second half to set up a San Francisco scoring drive.

McLovin McLaurin- Terry had just two targets on the afternoon, making one catch for 11 yards.  The rain really reined in the passing game; Steven Sims made a team-high three receptions went for a combined five yards–all on third down.

Third and Wrong- the Skins converted on just 3 of 9 attempts, with seven runs and two pass plays called.  Keenum was sacked twice and completed 4 of 7 passes for two conversions. Peterson ran the ball twice, moving the chains once.  As mentioned, Sims was the top target.  Yardage Breakdown: 1-1 in short yardage, 0-5 in medium (4 to 6 yards needed), 2 for 3 in long yardage situations.

D earns a rain-assisted B- they shut out the number three offense in the NFL for the first thirty minutes and held Joey Garoppolo to a passer rating of 59.8.  But when they needed to make stops after intermission, the Skins couldn’t keep the Niners out of field goal range.  San Francisco scored the final three times they had the football.  The Redskins didn’t break, but they bent enough to come up short.   Matt Ioannidis led the team with nine tackles, Noah Spence had one sack, and Troy Apke notched an interception.

Special Situations- Dustin Hopkins missed a 39-yard field goal in the wind and rain, while Tress Way averaged 49.5 yards per punt.  There were no disasters in the return game, although Richie James Jr. did have punt returns of 13 and 17 yards.

Flying Flags- seven penalties for 47 yards, giving the team 58 for the season-third most int the league.  The five on offense featured three holds (two on Brandon Scherff) and two false starts.  The two defensive flags were illegal hands and pass interference.  Their 18 offensive holds this year is tied for the most in the NFL, while the 10 false starts are eighth most in the league.  What’s additionally disturbing is back to back penalties, something that happened once in each half.  The most costly flag?  A first quarter hold on Scherff that turned a 3rd & 8 into a 2nd & 18, helping push the Skins back from the Niners 21 to the 31 before missing a 39-yard field goal.

Dissecting the Division- how ’bout them Cowboys?  Dallas’ 37-10 win over Philadelphia gives them a 4-3 record and first place in the NFC East, as well as ownership of the #4 seed.  Philadelphia (3-4) is in second place of the division and is 11th in the NFC.  The New York Giants (2-5) are in third place while holding down the #14 spot in the conference. The 1-6 Redskins are in last place of both the East and the NFC, thanks to Atlanta owning a better conference record.

West is Best- the NFC West owns an 18-8-1 composite record, best of the league’s quartets.  The AFC North brings up the rear at 9-17, but the NFC East is not far behind (or ahead, depending on your perspective) at 10-18.  The NFC owns a 20-11 mark against the AFC in the highly useless interconference contest.

Blame the Nationals playoff run.  Blame the ongoing college football season plus the start of mens’ and womens college basketball, plus the NHL opener and the NBA’s preseason.  Somehow on the way to documenting what went right and wrong in the Redskins’ 24-3 loss to the New York Giants the Skinsanity got lost in the shuffle.  Because how they fared on third down (both offensive and defensive units rank 31st in the NFL) and which penalties hurt them the most (45 flags over five weeks has the team as the third-most whistled unit in the league) is such a micro thing.  Those are fundamental flaws in a team, but those are bad fruits that are the byproduct of poor soil and worse gardening.

So over the last weeks after watching this team play that way I tried to crank out the usual analysis, but each post died amidst busy days at the ballpark and voting for All-Big Ten and Top 25 polls.  The failed flights are below; consider this a “director’s cut”…:

 

“This just in:  the Redskins are going nowhere.  The 0-4 Burgundy and Gold mess are headed to another last place finish in the NFC East, barring disasters elsewhere.  Sunday’s 24-3 loss to the New York Giants extinguished whatever remaining playoff hopes there were, and who knows how bad things will get between now and the end of the season.”

 

“For those hoping for an October surprise Sunday, you should have turned your TV off after Cam Sims’ 65-yard touchdown run. Just like you should have moved on after Vernon Davis’ 48-yard TD catch against Philadelphia and Adrian Peterson’s triumphant one-yard plunge against Dallas.  But in the NFL, they play a full 60 (sometimes more) and once again the Burgundy and Gold glass is far from half-full.  The 33-7 loss to New England results in an 0-5 start as well as a coaching change; Jay Gruden leaves having lost 11 of his last 12 games.”

 

Okay, now we’re past that.  What now?  Bill Callahan takes over on an interim basis; he’s the first to be in that post here since Terry Robiskie took over for Norv Turner.  While you could argue that the 2000 Redskins were close to contention, as all six losses were one-possession affair, this year’s team is nowhere near respectable.  Even the Eagles loss looked closer than it actually was because of a garbage-time touchdown. This team is in meltdown mode, even judged against other meltdowns this century: Jim Zorn’s 4-12 disaster started the year 2-2 and Mike Shanahan’s 3-13 farewell was 3-5 at one point.  This year’s club could have a date with 2-14 or 1-15 destiny.

Meanwhile, the failed Gruden regime gets buried under an avalanche of losses.  If one takes away his period of adustment (a 4-12 rookie season in 2014) and Gruden’s final 16 game stretch (4-12 as well-how symmetrical!), the team went 25-25-1.  And yes, I count the playoff loss to Green Bay- after all, it was the high-water mark of the era.  What was in 2016 the most stable coach-quarterback combination in the NFC East (https://wtop.com/washington-redskins/2016/09/redskins-new-identity-continuity/) didn’t take long to unravel, and the familiar coach & quarterback carousel is back.

But the quarterback & head coach are merely hood ornaments;  one wonders how long the engine of the current Redskins regime stays in Ashburn.  Bruce Allen came to the franchise almost ten years ago with promises of accountability and a rescue from the Vinny Cerrato era/error.  Just like the peasants who cheer the departure of one ruler, Redskins fans had no idea that Allen would oversee a decade where the team would get worse, as in 59-89-1.  As in currently the fourth-worst mark in the NFL this decade (during a decade dominated by Vinny, the Skins were a robust 71-92, good enough for 23rd).  As in the only franchises who have been worse this decade have been Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

Allen is reportedly working on getting a new stadium deal for the franchise;  as the FedEx Field fiasco is one of the factors that has turned this team from one that dominated the district into a squad that regularly plays at home in front of opposing fans-dominated stands, this is the silver bullet (Coors Light reference not intended) just like the return of Joe Gibbs in 2004 was the Burgundy and Gold bullet that undid previous miss-steps.  But he’s also in charge of the football operations, and for the last decade we’ve seen that patient suffer on the operating table.

Will they fix this mess?  The immediate road ahead is a nightmare.  After a trip to Miami their pre-bye week foes are a combined 11-3.  After the hiatus, the Skins face just a pair of teams that currently have losing records (the New York Jets and Giants).  Back to the Dolphins- this 0-4 team isn’t just bad, they’re Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1976 bad.  The team that can’t even wear the right color of aqua or position its dolphin correctly on the helmet ranks 32nd in the NFL in scoring, points and yards allowed, rushing offense and defense, offensive and defensive passing efficiency, sacks for and third down defense.  They rank 31st in total passing and total offense as well as passing defense.  A loss would tempt many to clamor for relegating the Redskins into the CFL or something.  Hail…

 

 

 

The NFL Draft has been many things over the years.  For a while it was a Tuesday cable curiosity–and those lucky enough to be on spring break that week were blessed.  The selection show on ESPN moved to Saturday-Sunday in the late 80’s before residing in the current Thursday-Friday-Saturday format.  Now there’s talk of stretching it out to four days…PLEASE DON’T.  Although I like bothering my baseball/basketball friends by suggesting the league might just go to a “round a month” format to stretch out the suspense from February to August.  Heaven knows they can also release each week of the regular season schedule …week-by-week from March until the end of June.

The Redskins traded down in the second round to add another selection… and wound up making eight picks.  Will they make an impact?  Conventional wisdom says more than a few will get long looks because whenever there’s a coaching change–there’s more roster turnover.  Team President Bruce Allen last week said he imagined 25 new players this fall…and with free agency the draft isn’t the lynchpin it was in the 1970’s and 80’s when trades was your only alternative.

Under Bruce Allen/Mike Shanahan the Burgundy and Gold had four drafts:

2010– surprisingly not a lot sticking despite the regime change from Vinnyzorn to Bruce & Mike’s Excellent Rebuilding Adventure…but two hits:  OT Tre Williams (4th) and LB Perry Riley (103rd).  Williams has two Pro Bowls to his credit and Riley’s a two-year starter.  Terrance Austin was out of the league after the following season and T Selvish Capers played 3 games with the NY Giants in 2012…while RB Dennis Morris and C Eric Cook didn’t play a regular season down in the league.

2011– highly underrated:  LB Ryan Kerrigan’s played in every game while notching one trip to the Pro Bowl.  DL Jarvis Jenkins and Leonard Hankerson have started one season while Dejon Gomes, Niles Paul, Roy Helu and Aldrick Robinson have all played in more than 60% of the Skins games over the last three years.  Even 7th rounder DL Chris Neild has played in 24 games in his career.

2012– two hits with a couple of possibilities:  QB Robert Griffin III (28 games, 1 Pro Bowl) has paid off in the form of a Division Title and is the face of the franchise.  Alfred Morris (32 games, a Pro Bowl and 2888 yards rushing) has exceeded the expectations of a 6th rounder.  Fourth round pick LB Keenan Robinson, 5h rounder OL Adam Gettis and 6th round choice OL Tom Compton have all played between 34 and 47% of the Skins games…while 3rd round OL Josh LeRibeus has been limited over the last two years.

2013– tough to gage after one year:  DB David Amerson (2nd round) started as a rookie and played in all 16 games…3rd rounder TE Jordan Reed averaged 5 catches a game until a concussion ended his season…Bacarri Rambo played in 11 games after being faked out of his shorts by Tennessee’s Chris Johnson in the Preseason.  RB Chris Thompson and DE Brandon Jenkins combined to play in 10 games…while DB Philip Thomas spent the year on IR.

So all in all not a bad runnow to this year’s picks:

2nd Round (47th pick)– Stanford DE/LB Trent Murphy.  Upside:  you can never have to many pass-rushing linebackers in the 3-4…and didn’t Orakpo miss most of 2012?  Downside:  some experts say he was a reach…and with Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan manning the OLB spots, did they need to make their first pick here?

3rd Round (66th pick)– Virginia OT Morgan Moses.  Upside:  a steal– on many boards he was a low 1st/high 2nd round…I tweeted that he was a possible pick by the Skins at pick #34.  Downside:  some players drop for a reason…the question is can he back up his 6-6, 314lb potential with solid pro play?

3rd Round (78th pick)– Nebraska G Spencer Long.  Upside:  a good football team is like a steak dinner…and the OL/DL is the entrée that can overshadow sub par potatoes lyonnaise, or make awesome creamed spinach worthless.  Another 6-5 lineman who can create depth and competition is huge.  Downside:  he missed a big chunk of his final season with the Cornhuskers thanks to a knee injury…we all know how the Malcolm Kelly worked out.  But Long has had to work his way into a lineup before (from walk-on to starter at Nebraska).

4th Round (102nd pick)– Clemson DB Bashaud Breeland.  Upside:  they gave up the 2nd most points in the league last year…and the last line of defense is the first thing you look at.  Notched 4 interceptions and 10 passes defended last season.  The coaching staff thinks he can also slide over to safety if need be.  Downside:  less than ideal acceleration and high-tackling were two red flags by some of the scouts.  Will he be able to shine in a secondary that’s crowded with young players trying to make their mark?

5th round (142nd pick)– Tulane WR Ryan Grant.  Upside:  he produced (over 1000 yards receiving last fall) and he’s used to adversity (the Green Wave is not a powerhouse). Downside:  he’s not the RB from Notre Dame that’s currently with the Green Bay Packers.  And it’ll be tough for him to make the roster at a position that has plenty of depth.

6th round (186th pick)– Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk.  Upside:  wicked cool name.  Every team that’s any good has to have at least one player whose name leaps off the sheet at you.  He’s fast as well (4.46 speed).  Downside:  Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster aren’t going anywhere soon.

7th round (217th pick)– Indiana TE Ted Bolser.  Upside:  a position in transition (Fred Davis departing, Jordan Reed ascending) can use a 6-5 receiver who can make plays in the red zone…and he set school receiving records at his position.  Downside:  his school is Indiana University and this isn’t basketball.  Can he cover kicks?

7th round (228th pick)– Arkansas K Zach Hocker.  Upside:  future Redskins Rehash segments will feature “Mr. Morris” and “Zach Attack” entries.  Perhaps Mr. Hocker and Alfred can be friends forever.  At least until one of them suffers a sprain.  Downside:  if he makes the roster, that means no more “Cobra Kai” Forbath segments.  And although the Billy Zabka tangents have been mined to all extremes, much like Johnny Lawrence wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Ali Mills at the end of the summer (“She broke up–he didn’t”)…I’m not ready to say goodbye to Cobra Kai.  Even if it means going “Double Bell” this fall.

In Redskins Nation–the regime change is a refined art. Excessive optimism surrounds each hire: Marty’s going to bring discipline! Spurrier’s going to change offensive football as we know it! Gibbs will bring back the glory days! Zorn’s the next diamond in the rough! Shanahan’s going to have total control! Whatever misgivings there may be are ignored: Marty’s already gone on record he won’t work Snyder…Spurrier can’t schedule Ball State and Louisiana-Monroe…Gibbs hasn’t coached in over a decade…Zorn is only a position coach…Shanahan’s going to have total control. Occasional flashes of brilliance follow: Marty coaching the Skins to a 5-3 finish…Spurrier’s offensive fireworks in Osaka…Gibbs leading the team to a pair of fantastic finishing kicks into the playoffs…Zorn had this team 6-2…and Shanahan led the team to their first division title in 13 years. But eventually the story ends with a coach departing:  sometimes by fire…sometimes by retirement…sometimes via fax machine.

The Redskins freefall from the NFC East penthouse to the outhouse saw the team’s longest losing streak since 1961 (the year the future RFK Stadium opened as “DC Stadium”) and worst finish since 1994 (Norv Turner’s first season).  The 20-6 loss at the NY Giants almost ignored because of the winds swirling around Ashburn over the last month:  Coach Mike Shanahan meeting with owner Dan Snyder Monday morning puts the area on pause…as they wait to see if what’s already been reported (by ESPN and the Washington Post) happens.

Where do they go from here?  How much of a shakeup will there be on the staff and in the front office?  After dipping into the college ranks, the pro assistant ranks and time machine–where will the Redskins hire wheel stop this time?  If nothing else, this is an extremely intriguing team in the offseason…and 2014 looks to be no different.

Now to the 20-6 loss at the NY Giants… if we must:

Cousins Diminishing Returns– from 381 yards passing against Atlanta to 197 yards against Dallas to 169 yards against the Giants… Kirk at the controls saw the Skins tie for their second lowest offensive output of the season.  So much for the first round pick he’d fetch.

Morris Season Finale not a very special episode–  instead of Jessie dealing with caffeine pills or the Johnny Dakota marijuana PSA…the season-ender saw Alfred carry the ball 16 times for 62 yards.  Last season Morris notched 20+ carries in 10 games… this year he got the ball 20+ carries just four times.  And it wasn’t as though he was hurt like RG3.

Peerless Pierre– Monsieur Garcon wraps up the season with 6 catches for 56 yards… concluding the campaign with 113 catches for 1,346 yards.  Unfortunately #88 was the only receiver doing much damage this fall:  Jordan Reed despite missing the final seven games still finished second on the team with 45 catches…and Leonard Hankerson finished 3rd on the club in receiving yards while missing the same amount of time.  Tough to be a good #1 option when there’s no #2 of note.

Third and long gone– the Skins went 5-20 in moving the chains…including 0-9 in the first half.  Playcalling breakdown:  17 passes and 3 runs.  Kirk Cousins completed 6 of 16 passes on third down for 3 conversions with one interception…while scrambling for 3 yards on 3rd and 8.  Yardage breakdown:  1-5 on short yardage (1-3 needed), 0-5 on midrange (4-6 yards needed), and 4-10 on long yardage (7+).

Flying Flags– only three penalties, two on special teams:  an illegal kick (?!) on Jose Gumbs and an ineligible man downfield against Perry Riley.  One defensive flag:  a horsecollar tackle call on Chris Baker.  Only Riley’s penalty aided a scoring drive by the Giants.  A season finale with nothing at stake is prime breeding ground for sloppy play…nice to see the penalties come at a minimum.

Cobra Kai– no mercy from the leg-sweeper…as Mr. Forbath connects on 31 and 49 yarders.  This concludes a stretch where the Johnny Lawrence of NFL kickers made his last 14 attempts…and didn’t miss once during the 8-game losing streak.  Hold on, maybe that was the problem…

Dissecting the Division– Philadelphia captures the NFC East with their win over Dallas on Sunday Night Football…claiming the 3rd seed (and a wildcard date with New Orleans).  Dallas drops to 9th in the conference…while the NY Giants finish the year 7-3 and claim the 10th spot.  The Redskins?  Last in the NFC for the first time since 1994 (Norv’s first).

Which West is Best– While the NFC West boasts a 42-22 mark and three 10-win teams, the AFC West features three playoff teams and a 37-27 mark.  The SEC of the league finishes 28-36…good enough for 7th.  But take out the Skins’ 0-8 finish, the division went 16-8 in the second half of the season…of course, we’d all prefer to take out the Redskins descent into oblivion.