“I know it starts with me,” the offensive coordinator would later say.
Redskins’ offense lacks the talent to compete in the NFL, analysts say
He had never been shut out before as a football coach. Neither had his father, Coach Mike Shanahan.
As he found his seat toward the front of the plane, Kyle Shanahan wasn’t especially eager to relive the misery of a 23-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills, but he had no choice. He wanted to take it all in right away, before the chartered plane touched down at Dulles Jet Center.
As he studied the film, the problem in front of him wasn’t an easy one: What is wrong with the offense? and Can it be fixed?
The Redskins’ offense is a complex one, with a lot of moving parts, a playbook that changes weekly and coaches who aim to be as aggressive as any player on the field. When the offense struggles, the explanations are usually simple: a player didn’t execute an assignment, he’s not capable of executing it or the play was either a bad design or wrong for the situation.
But football analysts who have reviewed film of the Redskins’ recent woes say the team’s offensive struggles don’t lie with the scheme, the game plan or the play-calling. Rather Shanahan has assembled a roster that is not nearly as capable or talented as his past teams.
“If you win, everything’s great. But if you lose, everything is magnified. And what’s magnified right now is the lack of talent in Washington,” said Dave Razzano, an NFL scout for nearly a quarter-century with the 49ers, the Rams and the Cardinals. “Schemes aren’t going to do it; you’ve got to have the players.”
Washington’s offense has been ravaged by injuries. The Redskins used the same offensive starters each week of their 3-1 start. They’ve since had a different lineup every Sunday, losing their past three games by a combined score of 76-33. Compared with Week 1, they will likely take the field Sunday against San Francisco with different starters at seven offensive positions.
As he did in Denver, Shanahan plays a major role in all personnel decisions. Though he has been in Washington for all of 22 months, Shanahan is not exactly working with leftover parts. He has overhauled the roster in 11 / 2 seasons and is mostly relying on players he selected. Of the 25 healthy players on offense, only five predate Shanahan in Washington. And of Sunday’s projected offensive starters, only tight end Fred Davis and lineman Will Montgomery were on the 53-man roster before Shanahan came to town. Those who have been forced into starting roles were handpicked by the head coach to play in this scheme.
“Everybody knows there’s nobody to game-plan for,” said one longtime NFL executive who has reviewed film of the Redskins. “Scheme can only take you so far.”