Browsing all articles tagged with Derrick Dockery

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.


A Lionshare Share of Blame to go Around

In week 8 the Redskins dropped their second consecutive game to the terrible Lions. Redskins fans will recall that last year the Skins gave the Lions their first win after 19 straight losses. This year the Lions came in a little better  — at 1-5 for the year but only 1-9 over the previous ten games.

There were many people, including local sportswriters,Matt on the last podcast, and the Redskins themselves thought that this game would show the difference between this year’s team and last year’s.  This time the Redskins weren’t going to play down to the competition. This year they were going to beat a team they should beat decisively. They weren’t going to commit stupid penalties, weren’t going to give up big plays on D, and the offense was finally going to start clicking.

Well, it ended up being deja vu all over again. The Redskins once again couldn’t protect the ball, didn’t commit to the run, and made penalties in crucial situations. Yet again their defense played well enough to keep them in the game but couldn’t win the game for them. Special teams almost did, but a penalty negated one of the two return TDs. This year’s Redskins aren’t looking that much different from last year’s Redskins.

Two years ago after the Jim Zorn slide began, I wrote an article instructing which Redskins player and personnel I thought should be let go. I don’t feel quite as strongly this year, but some heads should roll over some of the poor play and decisions that have taken place this year. So here’s who should be replaced if an upgrade comes along.

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

How long to we have to wait for the younger Shanahan’s system to work? In the 8th game of the season it looked worse than ever. Kyle Shanahan seems incapable of adapting his system to the players instead insisting the players adapt to his system. Which could work if the O-line wasn’t terrible.

Kyle has stated that in this offense you set up the run by getting in a rhythm with the pass. That is never going to happen behind in this offense. The line doesn’t protect well enough and the receivers aren’t sure-handed enough. Another flaw of the Shanahan’s’ systems is the pass reads. Apparently, QB Donovan Mcnabb is supposed to read the deep routes first, then the middle, and then the shallow routes last. In a more traditional West Coast offense it would be the opposite.  Reading routes this way sets up more big plays but gives the QB less time to complete an accurate pass.

No one knows for sure if the 2-pt conversions and the benching of McNabb were Kyle’s decisions, his Dad’s, or a combination. However your go-to-guy on a conversion can’t be Fred Davis. Oh, and if your QB doesn’t know your 2-minute offense you’re  a terrible OC.

The whole Offensive Line except Trent Williams

The offensive line is atrocious and getting worse, more injured, and older every day. They gave up a season high seven sacks against the Lions and only averaged 2.3 yds per rush by running backs. Trent Williams is the only player on the line who’s going to get any better but he’s going to have a hard time surrounded by this “talent”.

Safety Reed Doughty

Doughty had huge penalty that may have altered the game. During a Brandon Banks return TD, he was called for an illegal block in the back. Whether or not Banks could have made the run without the block is debatable. However, you never block a man when his back is to you and a professional football player should know that. Doughty hasn’t played well all year on D and has been a liability in both the run and the passing game. If he’s going to start making stupid penalties on Special Teams there’s no place for him on the team.

Bruce Allen GM

Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan’s offseason moves resulted in a major overhaul of this team. Yet the team seems to be stuck between trying to win now and a rebuilding phase. The offensive line they put together is terrible and not going to improve. While the Ravens, Jets, and Bengals were putting together stacked receiving cores Allen was only able to get the Skins Joey Galloway. Brandon Banks and Anthony Armstrong are nice pickups, if you’re rebuilding. They’re not legitimate receiving threats yet.

The most egregious though was the McNabb trade. After  the trade for McNabb they did not sign him to an extension right away. Now, after he was benched for Rex Grossman, they may not be able to re-sign him even if they want to. If he decides to go elsewhere  they’ll be forced use a high draft pick on a QB and start building the team around the new guy.

I don’t see how the Skins can put together a playoff contender next year without some major moves. Right now it looks like a lot of the “win-now” guys will be scrapped for younger potential.

Head Coach Mike Shanahan

This is a little drastic I admit. I don’t think the Skins should cut Shanny loose after just one season. But, if Bill Cowher or another coach with similar credentials is looking for a job you have to question whether Shanahan is right for DC and this team.

Shanahan was in on the personnel moves. He could have told Allen to get him a younger, healthier, and better offensive line but let the GM go out and sign a number of questionable veterans. There are rumours that he has been treating this year as a rehearsal for McNabb before decided whether or not to offer him a serious contract.  He brought  in his son, who doesn’t appear to be able to call an effective offense with players he had a huge part in picking. He decided not to dress a healthy Derrick Dockery and Chad Simpson despite injuries to the running back core and o-line. The decision to go for 2 and to bench McNabb ultimately came down to him.

Maybe Shanahan was trying to prove he’s the boss. Maybe he was trying to light a fire under unproductive players. Maybe that was his motive for benching McNabb and not dressing Dockery. In hindsight he picked a terrible time to prove a point.

I hope this loss served as a wake-up call to the Shanahans, Bruce Allen, the O-line, and Reed Doughty. Because if they want to be successful in Washington they still have a lot to prove. And they can’t prove it if they’re not around.