Brian Mitchell points the finger at the coaches

December 3, 2013

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Normally I wouldn’t post a talking head’s Sunday night postgame thoughts late on a Tuesday afternoon, but I’ve been felled by some sort of food poisoning that has prevented me from moving or functioning as a human or even transcribing thoughts on the Redskins.

It’s surely not as bad as it feels right now, but it’s a wacky experience, this food poisoning thing. It removes you from your body, makes repulsive the most quotidian of activities (eating, drinking, standing), allows you to peer down from above at the puny bits of flesh and bone that seem so powerful on ordinary days, makes you realize what a miracle good health is, and makes even television talking-head transcripts seem like high art, in a return-to-amazing-normalcy sense.

I don’t recommend it, though. Apparently six-day old Chinese leftovers should not be eaten cold.

Anyhow, I thought this Brian Mitchell piece from Comcast SportsNet’s postgame show was interesting. It came when Chick Hernandez asked about some of the foolish penalties committed against the Giants — Santana Moss getting a personal foul, DeAngelo Hall doing the same, Pierre Garcon booting the ball out of the end zone and earning a delay of game.

“I guess people don’t like when I say this, but I played on many football teams,” Mitchell began. “And teams that the coach has total control of don’t make those selfish, bonehead mistakes in critical times, and it will not be veteran players. When we see this, that’s why I keep going back to coaching. Something is wrong somewhere, when you have veteran players, at inopportune times, making bad plays. Do they fear somebody coming back at ‘em? Do they fear what could happen? Or do they not care?

“I can say this: I played with Joe Gibbs, I played with Norv Turner, I played with Andy Reid, and we didn’t have those situations,” Mitchell said, a claim that’s begging to be fact-checked by someone with more energy. “Now, we can sit up here and say when Joe came back the second time, was he the same as he was the first? No he wasn’t. Could the same thing be happening with Mike Shanahan? You are a guy who had a lot of success early on. A lot of the players playing for you don’t know who you are, what you did and a lot about you. Do they respect you the same way as the guys who were playing for you when you were successful did? That question should be asked over and over again.

“Because when it comes down to losing and making mistakes over and over again, it has a lot to do with the guy who’s on the chariot, slapping the hell out of the butt of the horse,” Mitchell concluded. “And he is the guy that’s running this show. It’s not always on the players. When veterans make boneheaded mistakes, does the coach have that much control?”

Shanahan was asked on Monday whether he would address such loss-of-control moments with his club.

“You do address it,” Shanahan said. “The one with D-Hall, I was pretty upset with D-Hall during the game, because he’s a competitor and he’s done a great job recently of trying to stay away from it. Then after I took a look at what the offensive lineman did to him, I could understand why he retaliated, even though you never want a guy to retaliate.

“Santana Moss is another great competitor, and he’s a guy that always keeps his cool,” Shanahan said. “And when they called that holding penalty on him on that sideline, I could see why he was upset, because I agreed with Santana — it should not have been called a holding penalty, but it was. And Santana, he knows that you’ve really got to keep your cool in those situations, or else you’ll draw a flag.”

“And Pierre kicking that ball, even though it didn’t cost us — No. 1, it was one of the best kicks I’ve ever seen,” Shanahan joked. “I’ve never seen a ball go that far. But on the serious side, he’s one of the most fierce competitors I’ve been around. If I get everybody playing like him, you won’t need coaches.”

Mitchell, of course, placed more issues than just these penalties in the coaching staff’s inbox.

“Listen to me, it comes down to a well-coached, well-oiled machine,” he said. “I watched the Patriots game a little bit today. They were getting their butts handled by a terrible Texans team. They won that football game. The Eagles came out and they fired off, and they started losing [momentum], but they won the game, and they have gotten better. I’ll ask the question to everybody who’s watching us on TV, and everybody around me: did this team get better over the year? Or did this team begin to falter?”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Sarah Kogod · December 3, 2013

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