Washington is now 1-4 after a brutal Sunday night loss to the Cowboys.
There is plenty of blame being sent about for the disastrous start. RG3’s inability to run the ball. Jim Haslett and the worst Washington defense in the history of the franchise through the first 4 games. A special teams unit completely lacking in simple fundamentals. A terribly unimaginative offense. Poor players. And on, and on, and on.
You know who is missing from that list? The guy that actually deserves the most blame. And the guy that needs to be sent on his way – head coach Mike Shanahan.
Yet, somehow, Shanahan has gotten a pass. The focus has all been on RG3.
Without RG3 having arguably the greatest rookie season by a QB in the NFL history, the team would have missed the playoffs last year, and badly. They were 3-6 and Shanahan had given up on the season. Only RG3 and, again for emphasis, the GREATEST ROOKIE SEASON EVER, saved the team for another disappointment.
While the talk throughout the offseason centered on the rehabilitative powers of Robert Griffin III, the team did nothing to make his life easier. Look at the team’s skill players and beyond Alfred Morris, it is probably the worst collection of wide receivers and tight ends in the league.
The 49ers lost in the Super Bowl last year, they added Anquan Boldin. The Broncos lost in the Divisional Round, they added Wes Welker. The Colts lost in the Wild Card Round, they added Trent Richardson during the season after sensing a need in the running game.
Washington, after coming off an amazing season in which they discovered their franchise quarterback and running back for the next decade, added…nothing.
Somehow, this is RG3’s fault.
For the opening Monday Night game, the team was absolutely annihilated by Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Even now, quotes from London Fletcher and other players indicate that they were the “guinea pigs” for Chip Kelly’s offense.
Huh? Did they not have access to Oregon film? Is the hurry-up offense – one that the Patriots have been exploiting for years – really that different?
No, the team was woefully unprepared. The coach needs to be blamed.
Against the Packers, Washington was helpless…as in HELPLESS…to stop Aaron Rodgers. The game was over by halftime. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett deserved the blame.
Against the Cowboys, Washington was helpless…as in HELPLESS…to move the ball against a team that had given up 51 points the week before. RG3 ran the ball more, hopefully to shut up that portion of the critics, and it didn’t help. Why? Because guys weren’t open, the playcalling was atrocious and receivers such as Leonard Hankerson love to drop the ball. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan deserves blame.
But what about the guy in charge?
Here’s the truth about Mike Shanahan – he’s old, out of touch and everything that is wrong with football coaches. He’s stubborn. He hires his buddies and his son. The coaching staff acted as if they were geniuses for how they used RG3 a year ago, ignoring the facts that the “option” has been around as long as football itself and that RG3 thrived in college as a pocket passer.
With option plays limited due to RG3’s recovery, it exposed the Shanahan clan as archaic when it comes to offensive football. They have nothing to give anymore, unless you like incomplete passes and a QB running for his life after yet another unaccounted for pass rusher takes dead aim at him.
Washington stunk in 2010. Washington stunk in 2011.Washington stunk in 2012 until RG3 rescued them. And Washington stinks in 2013.
But the absolute worst part of the ongoing fiasco is Shanahan refusing to defend his quarterback – also known as the guy who has saved his job. Without RG3, Shanahan would be getting all the blame. Without RG3, Shanahan would be long gone.
Instead, Shanahan says nothing and allows the pressure and criticism to mount against his star quarterback. It’s easy in today’s “page view” culture to take shots at RG3. Howard Bryant revealed himself as a trolling hack for his hatchet job on RG3 in ESPN: The Magazine.
There are more Google searches for “RG3” or “Robert Griffin III” in an hour than there are for Mike Shanahan in a month. You get noticed by calling out the face of the franchise. You don’t get noticed for calling out the head coach.
And Shanahan has gladly played along. Where is his soundbite defending his quarterback? Where is Shanahan taking the blame and responsibility? His team has been unprepared in EVERY SINGLE GAME this season. They have been down at the half every time. Even the Raiders were up 14-0.
These are coaching problems. When your teams loses the first half every single week, there is a fundamental problem with coaching. Yeah, maybe they should all be gone, but the head coach needs to bear the brunt of this responsibility.
This week, the special teams coach will be aimed at by the firing squad. Bob Costas, with his commentary on the name situation*, will further remove heat from Shanahan. At some point, the coach needs to answer for his shortcomings. But no one in the media – local, national or otherwise – has decided to take him to task yet.
If no one else will do it, then I will.
Mike Shanahan should be fired. He is ruining RG3. He is further ruining a franchise that, with the glorious exception of RG3, has been the football equivalent of a raging dumpster fire for the past decade.
I don’t know if anyone can save the team from itself and Dan Snyder. I just know that Mike Shanahan can’t.
It’s time for Shanahan to go.
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*The name is racist. The team’s fans disagree with that. Everyone else agrees with that. Until the fans of the team care, it’s not changing. So it’s a pointless debate.