Mike Shanahan saw ‘a playoff-caliber offense’ the rest of us missed
By Tracee Hamilton,
You’ve seen the quote in the D.C. Sports Bog, or read it on Page 2 of Tuesday’s print edition (mine is now covered with iced tea after a sitcom-worthy spit take). Here is Mike Shanahan on the 2011 Washington Redskins:
Really? With apologies to Jim Mora, let me say this about that:
“Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?”
Shanahan went on to cite in riveting detail all the offensive injuries that kept the Redskins from falling just short of the Super Bowl, or the NFC Championship, or the playoffs, or a .500 record, or even respectability. Ac-cen-tuate the positive and e-lim-inate the negative all you want, but come on. The Skins were 5-11. There’s a difference between “spin” and “delusion.” At least we know now why Rex Grossman says the things he says: It’s contagious.
What Shanahan forgot to mention was this — the Redskins did not have a playoff-caliber quarterback or wide receiver, and they can’t blame that on injuries. They did suffer a big loss at running back when Tim Hightower went down, and Roy Helu and Evan Royster both provided some invigorating moments, but none of their performances seemed to scream “playoffs!”
Grossman’s quarterback rating of 72.4 ranked 28th in the league. Was that partially due to injuries along the offensive line? Perhaps. Did those injuries keep him from matching the QB ratings of playoff quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers (122.5), Drew Brees (110.8), Tom Brady (105.8) or Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning (92.9)? No. Not being a playoff-caliber quarterback kept him from matching those numbers.
The offense managed to average 336.7 yards a game, 16th in the league. But when it came to scoring, the Redskins fell far short, their 288 points ranking 26th out of 32 teams. There would have to be a catastrophic amount of injuries to account for the difference between the Skins’ production and that of, say, that Green Bay Packers, who scored nearly twice as many points.
The Redskins ranked 25th in the league in rushing yards a game and 14th in receiving yards. But those receivers weren’t scoring; the Skins had just 19 receiving touchdowns, ranking 23rd in the league, and only seven passes of more than 40 yards.
Anyone who watched the playoffs with an unbiased eye had to notice that most of those offensive lines were, shall we say, bulkier than the Skins, that the running backs had bigger holes, that the quarterbacks had more time to throw, that the offenses (mostly) seemed more in sync, that the play-calling seemed to make sense given the game situation. In short, the playoffs — at least on my TV — seemed to point out the ways in which the Redskins could improve.
On Shanahan’s TV, apparently, those teams looked no different than his. But maybe he doesn’t have HD.