But Mike Shanahan recently sat down with Redskins Minister of Information Larry Michael, and after spending four or five hours praising the coach’s work ethic, Michael asked a question.
“Kind of take a look at where the improvement needs to happen for your offense to take that next step up and be a playoff-caliber offense,” he asked.
“Well, I think we were a playoff-caliber offense this year,” Shanahan responded. “But we didn’t have the depth that you need to go through a season. You can’t lose your left tackle, your left guard, your center. You can’t lose your starting running back and tight end, especially your tight end that’s your best blocker in Chris Cooley. And then you lose Santana Moss for four or five games, and a guy like Hankerson who finally gets ready, he goes down.
“And it’s just part of football,” he continued. “There’s no excuses. But what you have to do is you have to build your football team, where you can lose three or four guys on offense, you can lose three or four guys on defense, you’re deep enough to still win football games. And that is what great organizations do.”
No arguments there. And I’m sure I’m being tendentious and petty and overly literal. And I know that points scored is far from the best measure of an offense’s potency.
But the fact is, in their first five games last season, the Redskins lost a grand total of one start from one starter on offense: Tim Hightower, in game No. 5, against the Eagles. Everything else remained the same, although Logan Paulsen got one start in place of Jabar Gaffney.
And in those five games, the Redskins offense managed 16 points against a Dallas team that would miss the playoffs, 17 points against a St. Louis team that would win two games while allowing an average of 25.4 points a game, and 13 points against a Philadelphia team that was allowing more than 26 points a game at the time. I’m not sure that Leonard Hankerson’s injury in November can really explain away those performances.
Anyhow, whatever. Ancient history. The coach continued.
“And that’s why you just can’t give away the farm,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to make sure that you’re making decisions that are in the best interest of the organization, because I can name you a bunch of guys. I can give you the best quarterback in the National Football League. And I can give you 10 examples, and all of a sudden they look very average with not the right supporting cast. So you’ve got to make sure whatever you do as a head coach, whatever you do as an organization, that you’re giving your organization the best chance to win.”