Yes, I’m again in peak word-parsing form.
But I was watching Mike Shanahan’s postgame press conference on Monday. He was mostly falling on swords, talking about how his team had been dominated and embarrassed. But when one media hound got particularly pushy, Shanahan struck back, in the process arguing that “a very poor football team” wouldn’t have as highly ranked of an offense as the Redskins do. Which struck me as an odd rhetorical move, because a whole lot of people had just decided this was a very poor football team.
Here’s the exchange.
Reporter: “Mike you’ve often said about your offense, productivity is sometimes a play here, a block there, a throw here. Tonight,  yards in the entire second half. Last week, four yards passing in the first half. Tonight, minus-one yards passing after the first quarter. Is it to the point now where there are some fundamental things that you’ve got to go back and look at, moreso than just a play here, a play there, a throw here, a throw there?
Shanahan: “Well if you’re talking about the running game…”
Reporter: “Everything, really: passing, running…”
Shanahan: “Well, that’s what you have to do, you’ve got to look at the whole thing. You don’t just look at the first quarter or the second quarter; you look at the whole game. And that’s what you do every week. I said today we went against an excellent football team that dominated us. We haven’t got dominated like that since I’ve been here. And congratulations to them. They’re very well coached, they played well. We could have coached better, could have played better. And we’ll do everything we can to get ready for next week. And that’s the nature of the National Football League. They’re going to do that to a number of football teams, or they have done it. They’re a pretty good football team, one of the reasons why they were in the Super Bowl last year.”
Reporter: “Let me respond, because I want to be clear on this. Coaches sometimes get to a point where they say we’re not doing something right, we’re not where we need to be. Do you feel like you’re there? Do you feel like this offensive football team is at that point where you say whoa,  yards in a half, minus-four yards passing, whoa. Something. Is. Wrong. Or is it just this was the 49ers and there’s nothing you can do about it?”
Shanahan: “No, I think I’ve told you that. I said I was disappointed in the way we performed today. When you take a look at what we’ve done all year, you’ve got to take the embodiment of what we’ve done. You don’t just take a look at one game. Did we have a poor game? Yeah, we sure did. Are you going to say that what we’ve done in the running game and the passing game all year is poor? No, I don’t think so. You’re not in the top 5 or top 6 in total offense if you’re a very poor football team. Now, we played poorly tonight and hopefully we get better against the Giants, because they’ve been playing pretty good defense. That’s just the nature of this job. And you’re gonna have some bad games or some poor performances, and all you can do is go back and build on them.”
A few questions later, Mike Wise chimed in with a question.
Wise: “I’m just wondering, this WAS primarily the same roster, give or take a couple guys, that DID win the division a year ago….Is it literally breaks? Is it breakdowns? If you could put your finger on why a division winner a year ago is 3-8 now…”
Shanahan: “If you take a look at our football team last year, take a look at our defense, we were ranked 28th, special teams was ranked 31st, offense was ranked fifth. Almost identical to that this year. But we HAVE turned the football over a lot more this year than we did the year before. You turn the football over, you don’t win, you don’t have a chance to win. And that’s been the case in a number of games this year.”