Still, it is a quarterback-first league, and the Redskins can take considerable solace in the fact that their primary building block is in place.
“This is the first year we’ve actually had a quarterback, for the most part,” linebacker London Fletcher said after Sunday’s game. “So that definitely makes a difference. And you see with Robert, he’s going to be a great player and he’s going to give you a great chance to win. Now you just continue to build pieces around him.”
Griffin’s presence probably provides job security beyond this season for Shanahan and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The two have earned praise for the work they’ve done developing Griffin during his rookie season and designing an offense that takes advantage of Griffin’s varied skills. The Redskins would be foolish, some people in the sport say, to make a change at head coach or offensive coordinator that would force Griffin to start over next season.
Shanahan was asked Monday whether Snyder remains supportive of him and measures progress the same way.
“You’ll have to ask Dan Snyder that,” Shanahan said. “If he feels like this team is going in the right direction, then you ask him, not me. I know I’m going in the right direction.”
Snyder was not available to comment.
Shanahan said Monday there would be no changes to his coaching staff during the bye week. He has expressed support for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett as the team’s defense has struggled without four starters. Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker were lost to season-ending injuries. Safety Tanard Jackson won’t play this season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Safety Brandon Meriweather hasn’t played at all this season because of a knee injury, but the Redskins hope he joins the lineup after the bye.
But the Redskins still have needs, some of them glaring, at a variety of positions, including wide receiver, right tackle, cornerback and safety. They may need pass-rushing help if Orakpo can’t recover fully from injuries to a pectoral muscle. Tight end Fred Davis, whose contract expires after this season, ruptured an Achilles’ tendon, ending his season early.
With all these holes in the lineup, the Redskins are without a first-round draft choice for the next two years, thanks to the trade with the St. Louis Rams that enabled them to select Griffin. They also must absorb another $18 million salary cap reduction next year as part of the penalty imposed by the NFL in March for the way they structured player contracts during the 2010 season, when the NFL had no salary cap.
“I think I’ve told you a long time ago it was going to take awhile,” Shanahan said Monday. “And I like the direction we’re going, both on offense and defense.”
— Staff writer Mike Jones contributed to this report.