Browsing all articles tagged with Buffalo Bills
Nov
1

Why Shanahan Should get Another Year

After the 23-0 loss to the Bills on Sunday, many Skins fans are calling for head coach Mike Shanahan’s head. That is understandable emotion from a fan base sick of years of losing and embarrassing performances. I’ve certainly overreacted to a loss before and pondered firing Shanahan.  But I hope owner Dan Snyder doesn’t get impatient and pull the plug too early, something he’s arguably done before. Norv Turner was fired during a winning season, a year after going to the playoffs. Marty Schottenheimer was never given a chance and was pulled after one year in DC. Joe Gibbs retired from his second stint as Redskins head coach after a year he led the team to the playoffs. What would have happened if any of these coaches had another year or two in DC? What if one had become the guy long term? Would the Redskins still be in this constant state of rebuilding that has lasted over a decade?

So far Mike Shanahan has led the Redskins to a 9-14 record and his offense looks terrible. Still, Snyder and the Redskins fans need to be patient. Firing Shanahan would create more problems than it would solve. Even if the team finishes out the season 3-13, Shanahan should get the 2012 offseason and at least six games next year. Why? To finish out what he started.

Brian J. McDermott flickr

Shanahan is currently in year two of a rebuilding process. Fire him and the last two years of losing will have been for nothing. If Snyder brings in a new coach what is the likelihood that the new coach will want to run a 3-4 defense, West Coast offense, and a zone-blocking scheme for the offensive line? Why would Snyder want to bring in a Shanny-clone if he thinks Shanahan failed? Any new coach Snyder brings in will want to blow apart the roster and start again.

A case for Shanahan’s firing can be made easily enough. He misjudged the roster coming in, believing he could win with the team last year. He has put too much faith in his system and his defense. He’s cut players that didn’t fit and brought in some questionable talent that did. Instead of working with players that have obvious football skills but weren’t system matches he let them flounder. Offensive guard Derrick Dockery and defensive end/outside linebacker Andre Carter failed so miserably under Shanahan that they weren’t even tradable.

His QB evaluation has been terrible in his coaching stint so far. First he let go of Jason Campbell last year and brought in Donovan McNabb.  Campbell was having a career year and putting up wins in Oakland this year before his season-ending injury. Meanwhile, Donovan McNabb flamed out in D.C. last year, was shipped to Minnesota where he flamed out even more quickly this season. Shanahan went into this season with John Beck and Rex Grossman, two career journeyman as his top two QBs. He believed he could win games with either. It turns out he CAN’T win games with either.

So, why should he get another season after those mistakes? Because some progress has been made and firing him would destroy all that progress. In the first four games the Redskins 3-4 defense was looking stout.  The team is still 7th in points allowed at the end of Week 8. They have given up a lot of points and yards since the Week 5 bye, but they have also been dealing with injuries and an offense that hasn’t held the ball for more than 25 minutes the past three games.

That offense has looked horrendous the past few games but it’s had one of the worst rashes of injuries in the NFL. In two of the first four games the Redskins rushed for over 170 yards. Then starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger went down for the season and starting left tackle Trent Williams injured his ankle. Without those two starters the o-line has looked overmatched. The losses on the offensive line, combined with losing starting RB Tim Hightower for the season, starting TE Chris Cooley for the season, and number one wide-out Santana Moss has turned an average offense to an abysmal one.

But the point is that GM Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan were able to create a good starting core for their West Coast offense and 3-4 defense in the two seasons they’ve been here together. Give them another off-season and they should be able to finish filling in the holes and put some reliable backups in place. Next year an injury to a starter hopefully won’t have such a drastic effect on the team’s chance to win.

Lastly, Shanahan’s hasn’t yet chosen his QB of the future. I admit this is a bit of cop-out here as Rex Grossman, John Beck, and Donovan McNabb have all been floated to the media as “Shanahan’s guy”. Shanahan has had two drafts and not only didn’t spend a high draft pick on a QB he didn’t spend any picks on one. This is almost unconscionable in what is becoming an increasingly quarterback-driven league. The last five Super Bowl winning coaches had their Super Bowl winning QB starting or on the roster during their first year behind the reins. But the fact is Shanahan has bought himself extra time by avoiding this necessary step (perhaps purposefully). There are many QB options in the draft and through trades in the 2012 off-season. Shanahan should be easily able to get a guy that is both high-talent and fits his system. He may even be able to trade for his “now” QB and draft his future QB.

So, let’s stay patient DC. If after six games into the 2012 regular season the Redskins don’t look like they’re on their way to a winning record then Shanahan should get the ax. He’s clearly not going to win here.  But I think if you give him another off-season he’ll put in place the next franchise QB, a quality starting offensive line, and roster depth on both sides of the ball. At that point the Redskins should be setup to win for the next few years. But if Snyder gets impatient and fires him this season or during the off-season, he’ll just be restarting the three year rebuilding cycle with a different coach.

Oct
27

Episode 61 – The Optimist Show?

Matt and Mark breakdown the loss to the Panthers and preview the game against the Bills. They also hand out game awards, talk injuries, discuss John Beck’s performance and ponder the future of the franchise.

Sep
29

Episode 57 – Major Fail

Bryan rants and raves about the Redskins loss to the Cowboys, The Capitals preseason, and the MLB playoffs. Jake, Matt, and Mark join to talk bout the Buffalo Bills and Michael Vick.

Topics:

MLB Playoffs

Skins/Cowboys

MMA

Washington Capitals

Sep
22

Episode 56 – We Want Dallas

Bryan, Matt, and Mark discuss the Redskins Win over the Cardinals and look ahead to the Cowboys. The guys then break down the other big week two NFL story lines. Plus, Bryan checks in on the Capitals preseason.

Sep
21

When Fans Boo (Why, Player Perspectives, and My Opinion)

The Washington Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams today at home, 9-7.  But you wouldn’t have known it by the sounds of fans.  The Skins were booed multiple times in their win against the Rams.  There were three times in particular the booing stood out.  Once was before halftime when they were down 7-6.  Another was when Zorn called a conservative running play on third down when the team was when backed up near their own end zone.  The last and most telling time was in the closing seconds of the game as Campbell kneeled to run out the clock.  It’s not often teams get booed when they win, so what the heck is going on?

Why The Fans Booed

  • Expectations were high for today’s game. The Skins were favored by 14 by some and the Rams seemed like a perfect opponent to get into an offensive groove.  The Rams last week lost to the Seattle Seahawks 28-0.  Of course, even with Matt Hasselbeck back, the Seahawks are not an offensive juggernaut.  Surely, the Skins could put the points on the board after playing a suffocating Giants D last week, right?
    • The fans weren’t the only ones who thought this game would be different.  One of the best analysts of the NFC East, Matt Mosley with the NFC East Blog on Espn.com wrote in his NFC East: Final Word:

Santana Moss is about to go off on the Rams: There, I said it. I think Jim Zorn will take more shots downfield, in part, because Jason Campbell should have more time against the Rams’ front four…But the Redskins will roll in this game. Clinton Portis goes for 115 yards and a touchdown and Moss goes for six catches for 127 yards. Trust me on this stuff.

  • Last year’s loss to St. Louis is still fresh. The Redskins were on a roll last year before the talented but poorly executing Rams surprised the Skins at home.  Along with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams game was one of the “should have won games” that  could have put the Skins in the playoffs.
  • Coach Jim Zorn’s play calling has been blamed for the offensive drought.  The fans aren’t the only ones voicing concerns.  Mike Wise of the Washington Post, wrote last week that Zorn’s trick FG play was an act of desperation.  Sonny Jurgenson also supposedly called out Zorn on the 4th and short play where Portis followed Sellers to nowhere and was stopped.
  • You don’t go to FedEx Field to cheer on Shaun Suisham.  Okay, maybe there are a few of you out there.  But you go to see Moss, Portis, Campbell and Cooley score touchdowns.

What the Players Thought of Being Booed

Dan Steinberg of Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog had some great quotes in his piece, “So is it really time to boo the Skins?” Here are some highlights:

Chris Cooley: ”You take a win when you can get it. And there’s a lot of good players, and there’s a lot of good teams in this league. I think Washington prides themselves on being the best fans, and I think that they should try to be the best fans. We won. I understand they wanted us to beat the Rams by 40, but we still won, and we if we continue to win games, that’s great. Booing’s unnecessary.”

Antwaan Randle El: “We appreciate them, and everyone has freedom of choice,” Antwaan Randle El said, “but for us as a team, we play better when you don’t [boo].”

My favorite was really Fred Smoot and Steinberg’s conversation:

“They’re the fans; if they want to boo, let them boo,” Fred Smoot said. “They should have booed.”  I asked why he thought fans should boo; “because they wanted to,” Smoot said. “You can’t control them, you can just control what we did on the field.”

My least favorite: Redskins Linebacker Robert Henson from his twitter account: “The question is who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds.”

(Agents, do you know where your clients are?  Here’s a hint to Henson: don’t try and apologize or defend yourself to everyone.  Put up a tweet or two to everyone and call it a night, let it blow over!)

Why I Wouldn’t Have Booed

  • We won.  Yes it was ugly.  Yes, Zorn could have called some better plays.  Sellers dropped a TD pass, as did Devin Thomas on plays called by Zorn.  But we’re tied in the NFC East after the Eagles and Cowboys lost today.
  • This is DC (or the DMV if you prefer), not Philly.  I hate to say it but who else boos their team when they win?  Philadelphia Eagles fans are known as being some of the most critical fans in sports. However, Redskins fans have a tradition of being the most loyal fans in the NFL and all of sports.  The fan base has taken a toll in recent years due to ticket prices, sparse playoff appearances and free agent acquisitions that  have only teased it.  What a drop off from the rocking days of RFK?  Let’s not pull a Philly here and boo a winning team at home.
  • There should be an advantage to being at home. Why not cheer for them and not against them?  Having one of the largest stadiums in the NFL should haunt the visiting team, not the Redskins.
  • This is a dangerous precedent. I kind of understand the booing at half time, but after the game is over when you win?  Is there a certain point differential you need to have to not get booed?  Do you boo through the third quarter if they are still losing?  Often the fans can be instrumental in shifting the momentum between teams.  It can provide the energy or optimism players can use as that “spark” to do things like this.

What Washington Sportsjam Twitter Followers think:

nunyabeeI think the final score & the fact that we didnt destroy the Rams irritated the entire fanbase 2day. I dont see any improvement

nunyabee@dcsportsjam I personally dont & didnt boo but I cant really blame the fans that did. We need 2 c a better product on the field IMO.

WithAView@dcsportsjam Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

jbeardsley@dcsportsjam My take – fan frustration at playcalling, poor execution, owner and playing down to lesser teams. For years. Not player focused

dcborn61@dcsportsjam players, coaches are professionals. Getting public feedback goes with the territory. Fans would much rather cheer

Other follower tweets:

Hensen, who isn’t on the 53, should practice hard and keep his mouth shut. When he produces on the field, he can talk.

Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

What Do You Think?

Do the Skins deserve to be booed?  Does it matter?  What do you think about Robert Henson’s idea that those that booed are fake fans and haters?