By Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post.


The crazy, zig-zag, absurd nature of the modern NFL — combined with Washington’s upcoming bye week — has created an interesting dynamic to Sunday’s Skins-Panthers game. Win, and people will spend two weeks wondering whether 4-5 Washington can mount a late-season playoff push. Lose, and people will spend two weeks wondering whether 3-6 Washington needs to win a certain number of games to save Mike Shanahan’s job.

I’m not saying either topic would be appropriate, but you know as well as I do that those will be the storylines.

And so it was that Kevin Sheehan asked Adam Schefter on ESPN 980’s Sports Fix this week whether the pressure on Shanahan would mount if the Skins lose on Sunday.

“Here’s the deal, okay,” Schefter replied. “Let’s flash forward. They lose to Carolina, they’re struggling, fans are upset. I get it. And I don’t just say this because I have a longstanding relationship with Mike. Who are you gonna go get? You want to fire him? Go ahead, go make that move. Who are you gonna get that’s gonna work better on that offense, with that quarterback, than Mike Shanahan right now?

“Let me say this,” Schefter continued. “Mike’s greatest strength as a coach: He is to offense what Bill Belichick is to defense. And don’t get that from me; ask Bill Belichick that, okay? Bill Belichick has said that on the record numerous times. Mike is a brilliant offensive strategist, okay?

“So again, go make a change and go bring in someone that you believe is better for the team, the overall team. Who is that? Who’s gonna maximize RGIII and that offense better than him? The Redskins, believe it or not, I don’t think have ever been better positioned for the future than they are now. I don’t care if they lose on Sunday to Carolina, I don’t care how dark the season may get – and it may not at all. If you were to pick a team that you wanted to be in the NFC East for the next 10 years, you would pick the Washington Redskins.”

Well now. The Redskins haven’t won a division title since 1999. There are four teams in their division. That’s a pretty long legacy of non-domination. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but golly, I’m not saying he’s right, either.

So then Schefter was asked how the Redskins will turn a not-very-good defense into a defense capable of achieving such a goal.

“You know what, let me say this,” Schefter replied. “The Giants once traded their first-round pick the next year for Eli Manning, which is essentially what the Redskins did this year, okay? So Washington doesn’t have a first-round pick. First and foremost, [the Giants] went into the draft that year, and that year they drafted in the second and third rounds, Corey Webster, Justin Tuck and in the fourth round got Brandon Jacobs.

“So there is pressure on the front office to come through and find prospects. Secondly, the Redskins will have a case pending against the league to appeal the $36 million cap space that they lost. Let’s see how that turns out. Maybe they get back some relief, maybe they don’t….I don’t know and they don’t know. This I do know; the Redskins think they have a case, and we’ll see what happens.”