Foolishly, Shanahan staked his reputation on Rex Grossman and John Beck this season, expressing confidence that both could effectively guide Washington’s offense. Truth is, Shanahan staked his reputation on himself, arrogantly believing his coaching and his offensive system would elevate the play of Grossman and Beck.
How’s that working out?
Instead of selecting a quarterback with their 2011 first-round pick, the Redskins drafted Kerrigan, which I thought was a good move. Washington needed to focus on bolstering its defense in the draft, I repeatedly wrote, because Shanahan didn’t do enough to address the move to a 3-4 defensive scheme before last season — a move that resulted in the team’s worst defensive performance since 1954.
On the other hand, I never thought Shanahan would actually rely on Grossman and Beck.
Snyder’s unfulfilled search for a franchise quarterback has been among his biggest disappointments as owner. He probably won’t be happy if one or more of the rookie quarterbacks the Redskins passed on in the draft in April have a star turn this season.
Washington’s awful offensive line could ruin a young quarterback. The group Shanahan picked wasn’t very good before Williams was sidelined and guard Kory Lichtensteiger was lost for the season. It’s downright awful now, as evidenced by Buffalo’s nine sacks Sunday and Washington’s 26 yards rushing in the game.
In the secondary, strong safety LaRon Landry is a potential star, but he hasn’t regained his pre-injury form. Cornerback Josh Wilson and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe haven’t helped as much as the Redskins hoped.
At 36, inside linebacker London Fletcher was Washington’s lone bright spot in Sunday’s debacle, finishing with a game-high 20 tackles and intercepting a pass. The Redskins should re-sign Fletcher, but at his age he could suddenly experience a big drop-off.
The Redskins have young wide receivers and running backs. Maybe they’ll emerge as playmakers.
Regardless of what the Redskins still may be lacking in personnel, though, the person in charge must achieve the best results with the available talent. Obviously, that’s not happening.
Although Shanahan would disagree, Washington was not prepared to face the Bills. Shanahan and his staff were unable to deliver a timely spark — in play-calling, motivation, adjustments, anything — during the Buffalo game, which was only the most recent example of a problem that has been increasingly apparent during the losing streak.
This gets to what may be a deeper cause for concern. And that is coaching.
At the end of the 2008 regular season, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen made the difficult decision to fire Shanahan, who had failed to deliver for years despite having his every request met. Snyder also has given Shanahan a lot — and come January he will have the right to question what he’s doing with it.