Friday, November 8, 2013
Throwing the Season Away.....
Every year it seems, Redskins fans like myself watch a promising, hopeful season, take a turn for the worse en route to a grinding pointless death.
Last year was the exception. This year is a return to the norm.
Last year's version of "3 and 6" saw Shanahan (inadvertently) shock the system with comments about "evaluating players" and "finding out who wants to be here for the next few years." Then POOF! - a miracle 7-game run to end the season was born.
That's not happening this time.
At best, I see two more losses for sure. San Fran at home, and at least 1 of the 3 remaining road games as the likely culprits. But it could easily be two other games. Or several more of the remaining seven.
They won't lose 'em all. They aren't that bad. They just aren't that good. They don't know how to close. The defense is still a distinctly non-disruptive force, despite repeated excuses for brief periods of competence.
That'll make for 8-8, and they would need an insane flurry of tiebreakers to fall their way in a division that fails to produce at least one 9 win team.
Nobody's any good, okay? Not Dallas. Not us. Not Philly, and surely not the Giants.
But the Redskins have lost too many games while being "not any good" this year to make up the gap with the other "not goods." It's that simple.
Last year, it took some pretty incredible stuff to pull off that 7 game win streak.
At 3-6, they had a bye week to regroup. This year, they get 3 extra days, but it's not nearly the same.
Win 1: They beat Philly 31-7 at home, as the Eagles had to play Nick Foles, who was terrible.
Win 2: A great game vs. Dallas on Thanksgiving. Noted.
Win 3: A 17-16 win vs. Giants, thanks in part to a "fumble-td" from RG3 to Morgan.
Win 4: Ravens blow 8 point lead in final 4 mins. Cousins makes miracle rally after RG3 gets "dump trucked" by Haloti Ngata.
Win 5: Cleveland flat out lays down for Cousins in Factory of Sadness.
Win 6: Solid return trip effort at Philly.
Win 7: Win vs. injury depleted Cowboys, where Romo throws crushing last drive INT.
This loss to Minnesota was as bad as any I've seen in recent Redskins memory. To be dominating the game as they were, and to allow Shrimpy McPonder end up beating them before giving way to Matt Cassel is sickening.
The Redskins were moving the ball with Tecmo Bowl-like unstoppability, then it all unraveled.
Bad play calls. Worse penalties. Two terrible sacks taken by Griffin.
And then like Lenny and Squiggy barging in the door at just the wrong time on Laverne and Shirley, HERE'S A SHANK BY SAV ROCCA!!
Then you had 4th and goal, and Griffin locks onto Santana Moss on a fade pattern. Covered. Our shortest, oldest wideout. Close. No cigar.
The replay shows he missed a wide open Garcon and wide open Reed - HIS TWO FAVORITE TARGETS - right there in front of him. The screen cap is enough to make you ill.
I still like Griffin. A metric ton. But his trigger pulling abilities in the pocket are very much a work in progress. How can he not see these open receivers? He is certainly smart enough to grasp any offense put in front of him. He has a 1% quarterback intellect in this league. He's brilliant. Literally.
But it's not translating under pressure in the pocket.
Then there's the running. He sells out. On almost every play. Absent all other considerations, it would be awesome and cool and heroic and all of that.
But he's gonna start to break at an alarming rate, and very soon. I think Griffin hits his helmet hard on the turf more than any other single QB in the league.
It's just a matter of time.
When you spend 4x the resources to get a guy like that (total draft cost: 3 #1 picks, and a #2) and most teams spend 1x on a franchise QB (Colts draft cost on Andrew Luck: 1 #1 pick) you need that player to pan out as a 10 year starter for your team to recoup that steep investment.
You would also like him to be "ready to go" out of the box, as an NFL passer.
But now, for the first time since last season's rookie tour-de-force we are hearing things like "he's never really played in a pro style offense" and "he never even had a 'route tree' while at Baylor."
Then there's the ol' Crimson Fox himself. I'll give Shanny credit for stabilizing this dying patient known at the Redskins under Vinny and Zorn. There's no more nonsense. Expensive purchases (like Garcon) are now worth every penny, not fruitless cash sinkholes (Haynesworth). They are finding "A" players downdraft like Morris (6th, with a re-claimed pick from the McNabb trade, nifty!) and Reed (3rd).
But Shanny can't win games for this team on Sundays. His clock management makes Les Miles look like a technocrat by comparison. And his delusion on those bad decisions borders on delusional.
There's never that feeling watching the Shanaskins of "don't worry, ol' Mike is gonna find a way to win this one!" He's the guy who sends his kicker - fresh off an injury and with one of the weakest legs in the league - out to try a 59 yarder, only to see it blocked.
Then makes a point of saying the next day that the kick was "too low."
Thanks. Got it.
So here we are, ready to just bleed out hopelessly through the holidays. Then a very crucial decision by this owner as to whether he wants to...
a. Sign up for more of this regime with a Shanaclan Extension
b. Let his guy coach one more year for the last big contract he's ever gonna get
c. Get a jump start on what the owner does best: get to firin' and hirin'
Me? I've got no firm opinion either way. This team has beaten the firm opinions out of me. This roster does have some talent. But not nearly as much as they think. I like Griffin's potential, but I think he's been under-coached and poorly served so far by the "star status" treatment on this team.
Winning is hard in the NFL. I accept that. But losing is easy, especially when you aren't brutally honest with yourself as an organization.