Okay, it’s finally time I present this long-winded rant about the Redskins. Just a quick disclaimer, there may be some foul language, I may target some people, and this is not going to be a rant all about the team or coaches… “fans” are as open a target as any.
First off, I want to point out the most apparent problem with the Washington Redskins this season, the offense. Even more important, the REASON for the problem, Kyle Shanahan. Sure, the players contribute, and for the last 2 weeks, everyone has said Kyle is not to blame for sacks, INT’s, deep attempts, balance, etc. I say to that, yeah right. And here, I provide the evidence to the theories I’ve been expressing here and on Twitter to which I’ve received hate for my opinion on the Kyle Shana-plan for 2011.
It all started with the Eagles’ game, or more notably, with the start of this losing skid (well, it actually started with the end of the Rams’ game but since that was a win and we ran, I can’t use that as a vantage point). The Redskins started the game against the Eagles with a couple drives that didn’t garner anything, and they went down quickly. When they went down, they abandoned the run game. At the time, the Eagles were ranked 31st in the NFL in run-defense, and the Redskins were ranked in the top half of the league in rush-offense and were hitting a stride with the returning Ryan Torain performance against St. Louis. So basically, run the ball and win, right? Well, the Redskins suffered some injuries and shuffled some guys around on the line, but that was a little later in the game than the focus of the ideology. As soon as the Redskins went down, they abandoned their gameplan which featured 3 runs up to that point. The rest of the game, the Redskins threw in a couple garbage runs, and a couple to try and stay balanced on what looked to be some long drives. At the end of the game, there were 14 rushes, 1 touchdown coming from John Beck in the red zone.
Then we move to the Panthers’ game. When the Redskins surrendered their first touchdown in the 3rd quarter, the plan focused less on running the ball (which they did three times after that point) in a game where the Redskins faced the then-32nd ranked rush defense. The Redskins were only down 10 points after that Carolina touchdown, so running the ball (which had been successful for Hightower to that point prior to his injury on one of the 3 runs following) shouldn’t have been out of the question. Instead, the Redskins saw a lot of 3-and-outs, or would pick up a first down or two, but struggle to find manageable third downs and forced themselves to punt the ball away.
The Bills game featured a few more runs following the first score by the Bills in the first quarter, but the run game was never a focus, especially on the primary 1st down of every drive. There were a couple drives extended by some conversions through the air, and Torain was given a run or two to follow up. But as soon as the scoreboard was 13-0 in the 2nd quarter, the focus shifted primarily to passing the football, which wasn’t working either.
I will make note that I believe the presence of Eric Cook at Center and Montgomery at Guard at this point was really harming the run game as well, as Cook got no push and Montgomery lacks the ability to pull and block instead of being the point of attack in the middle. However, that’s something we’ll also discuss in a minute.
Moving on to the 49ers game, and this one was by far the most disappointing performance of the offense for me personally. Before the 49ers scored their first 3 points in the 2nd quarter, Roy Helu had run 9 times for 30 yards. He ran the ball 1 time following that first score by the 49ers for 11 yards, his second longest of the day. Helu had registered 10 rushes for 41 yards, a 4.1 yards-per-run average in less than a half against the NFL’s #1 ranked rush defense. There were a few 2-yard runs in there though, but going down 3 points and chipping off those yards, you would expect the Redskins to keep handing the ball off and trying to generate a ground game. There’s no one person involved with football (except for Kyle Shanahan of course) who will say anything other than “if this guy is breaking these runs in the first half, it’ll tire the defense down in the second and he’ll start getting more yards”. In fact, Mike Shanahan used to run guys into the dirt in the first half no matter the output, in hopes of getting yards in the second half on the ground, and it generally worked. Well, the Redskins ended the game with 15 rushes, 4 by John Beck himself scrambling, and didn’t generate anything more on the ground, eventually falling to the 49ers by becoming pass-happy.
Then last week against the Dolphins. Well, I explained already (twice) that the scheme for the Dolphins’ defense should strictly be to score some points, and then play pass defense. That’s what they did, and they won because of it. The Redskins didn’t run much following the Dolphins scoring, even when the Redskins had it at a 7 and 3 point game in the 2nd quarter.
The point of this information is, the Redskins aren’t a team who can pass the ball… yet. Rex Grossman was never a great passer, no matter how willing he was to air it out. John Beck is not a good passer. So run the ball. I’m convinced that if you can run 10 times for 41 yards in 1 half against the #1 ranked run-defense in the NFL, you can run the football. So where does this veil of the Redskins not being able to run the ball come from? Simple. Kyle Shanahan creates it with this mask of having to overcome deficits. Mike Shanahan also publicly supports the offensive strategy, and in doing so, puts blame on the defense with backhanded compliments where the defense plays well but doesn’t do enough.
Right now, it looks as though Kyle Shanahan is (as Mark here at TheHogs.net has pointed out) is trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Or maybe Kyle is of the belief that he can use any QB as his dream QB in this system. It’s clear he wants to be in the mold of New England, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Green Bay and the 2008-2009 Houston teams. Newsflash to Kyle, you can show that confidence in your QB, but it won’t make your QB as good as those guys. The other difference with those systems, is their teams had years to develop, with good core players surrounding. I think there’s some good youth at receiver with some good veterans, and the line is promising (which I’ll get into shortly) but this offense isn’t ready to be a 5,000 yards passing team, and depends heavily on the zone-blocking set up by the RUN-GAME to allow you to utilize playaction, and bootlegs. In closing (on this point), Kyle Shanahan has to settle down, adjust, and stick to what will work here. Hell, part of me thinks he’s doing it in order to put us in position to acquire his QB in the draft, but we don’t talk about or condone tanking here in the NFL, so never mind that.
Now on to the fans. There are several points I want to bring up which you all have contributed to making Sundays even less enjoyable every single week. First, firing Mike Shanahan. Absolutely not. In fact, I don’t even want his son gone no matter how much I say it during the game. I just wish we fielded everything so we knew what to look forward to in terms of the run game. More opportunities means more growth for Roy Helu, and the line, and the entire team will benefit NEXT YEAR from running a little more now. This is Mike Shanahan’s offense, but it’s not being run like Shanahan’s offense. But to Mike Shanahan, he’s the answer here in Washington. In the offseason, he made genius moves, and this draft has contributed some core players who will likely contribute in Washington for years. Jarvis Jenkins should return and be a dominant force on our defense and help generate pass rush and stop the run. Kerrigan is a stud already, and will only grow and grow and has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Roy Helu is an animal, and he’s versatile. Leonard Hankerson (lmfao @ all of you assholes, I already made my points about him here on TheHogs) is a future #1 receiver, and I told all of you he’d make you eat your humble pie soon enough for declaring him a bust. The sky appears to be the limit for DeJon Gomes, who hasn’t had a lot of time but has been solid when he has gone in. And Neild looks solid any time he takes the field, and could be a future anchor for this defense to give us more versatility along the D-Line alongside Jarvis. I’m confident Mike will repeat last-years draft magic this year, especially with Bruce Allen’s incredible acumen. This team IS young, and the veteran players here have either been amazing starters here for years, or are legitimate stop-gap role players who can contribute more than some of the young guys who may not be all the way prepared for their roles yet.
Next, the fans hating on Jim Haslett. Haslett is an amazing coordinator, and this scheme is also awesome. The reason it was successful earlier in the year, is because the offense was able to do enough to let them still dial up pressure. Haslett’s scheme is all about pressure, and when the linebackers can gel a little more and grow, they should generate even more pressure. With pressure comes poor throws, and with poor throws come interceptions. The defense, and Haslett, are safe and sound and will be dominant with time and an offense who can put pressure back on opposing offenses to make them force some things.
Now, for fans hating on LaRon Landry… boy oh boy do I have something in store for you!? Firstly, this isn’t about his taunts and trash talking. I think it’s silly too, though I like that he’s got that fire. This isn’t about his desire to freelance and anticipate a play, he gets beat far less than he makes an amazing read and play, and he’ll grow because of that. This is about the people who say “Landry looks NOTHING like he did in 2010!” or “He’s done. The injury ruined him. Time to cut him loose and find a replacement.” ………… NO! LaRon Landry should NEVER replicate his 120 tackles in 9 games performance from 2010. That’s a result of the front-7 doing absolutely NOTHING. And while you can pick out 1 or 2 horrible plays from LaRon every game, I can show you 3 or 4 great ones. And at the same time, I can show you 1 or 2 horrible plays from even London Fletcher… but I’d never think to use that as an excuse to even ask to use Fletcher less on this defense. Landry should NEVER replicate the 2010 performance, and if he ever has to, I’d ask for the heads of each and every member of the front 7. Landry should be a 40-60 tackles a season guy, and when the pressure generated up front starts, he should find himself in far more favorable positions everywhere. Landry is still worth top-3 salary among safeties in this league, and his extension needs to come before week 17 this year. Landry is still favoring his ankle, though it’s not severe before you lunatics start saying he was an idiot for returning too soon and not having the surgery. Landry’s going to be fine, and he’s going to be an all-pro for years in this defense.
Now for the people thinking Orakpo isn’t cut out for this. He’s growing. Kerrigan had experience at TE in high school, so he’s used to the way edges block a little more than Rak is, and he’s more suited for coverage immediately. Rak hasn’t been horrible in coverage this year though. Rak has struggled a bit against the run at times, but for the most part, he’s setting the edge better than most others in the league, and it’s not fair to criticize him for the minority of his plays and not give him praise for the majority. It’s also worth noting that Rak is a game changer who draws the line shifts his way no matter what and people still leave Kerrigan one-on-one at times. Also look at Rak facing LT’s and Kerrigan facing RT’s… the talent of opponent is different. Could Rak do more? Of course. But he’s still growing. I think he’d benefit greatly from just running through these blatant holds which refs aren’t calling as I’ve seen Kerrigan do. I don’t blame him for NOT running through them though, as holds around the throat can lead to broken necks, and it’s more important that Rak looks out for his health than sacrifice his life to make 1 play. Hopefully Kerrigan doesn’t get injured doing this, and hopefully the league will address this issue sooner, rather than too late to save someone.
The last thing I want to address about the fans, is this idea that the draft will produce our day-1 starter. As we stand right now, the only quarterback who will come out in the draft that is ready to start anywhere from day-1, is Andrew Luck. I put our chances at landing him at 0.0025%. The other QB’s are all projects, and guys who have some substantial flaws. Could I be wrong? Of course. You never know when a guy can start from day 1 and at least manage the game and do enough to stay successful. But I see us as needing to be in the search for an Aaron Rodgers or a Tom Brady. My QB on the radar is Matt Flynn, whom has showed the ability to play at a high level AT this level, and the only reason he isn’t starting, is because Aaron Rodgers is on the same roster. I wouldn’t even start Brady, Brees, Manning, Manning, or Roethlisberger if I had Rodgers on my roster, so stop with the nonsense of “he’s a backup for a reason.” Flynn could come in and suck, I agree, but I believe that’s why you DO draft a QB anyways. But if Flynn is better than the rookie you bring in, or he’s good or great, you have your franchise and a guy on the bench with some value who you can groom until he gets better than Flynn, or he is good enough to trade for value for your next guy to groom and keep under your sure-fire starter in Flynn. But that’s with the assumption we get Flynn. IMO, the Redskins HAVE to have someone who can stand ahead of the rookie while you groom the backfoot throw away from Barkley, or the impatience out of Landry Jones.
That’s about it for now. As always, leave a comment, spread the link, and follow me on Twitter.