- Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
Shanahan assessing talent for next season after Redskins’ latest loss
Mike Shanahan shook hands with the opposing coach Sunday afternoon, gracious in defeat. He put his left hand in his front pocket and began a lonely walk to the locker room. A 60-yard stretch of solitude was an opportunity to contemplate the bleak state of the Washington Redskins. Shanahan stared up into the stands with a steadfast scowl. He spoke no words.
His team, his program, continues to lose. On Sunday, the Redskins lost 21-13 to a Carolina Panthers team that came to town with one victory and a five-game losing streak. Shanahan called this a “must-win” six days earlier. Now the Redskins enter the bye week at 3-6 and freefalling.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In the third year of Shanahan’s tenure, he thought he had assembled a strong supporting cast around a budding star quarterback. After two straight last-place finishes, expectations included respectability and relevance. Instead, the postgame conversation — with seven games remaining, mind you — centered on evaluating for next season.
“Obviously very disappointing,” Shanahan said. “When you lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who, obviously, is going to be on your football team for years to come. Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at. Obviously, we’re not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”
Shanahan’s candor was a bit surprising for a man who characteristically concedes nothing. His words, however, rang true. Several key players are injured on both sides of the ball, and to this point the team has found no solution to overcoming those losses.
The Redskins repeated their typical mistakes in Sunday’s game. They failed to score a touchdown on their first two drives inside Carolina’s 20-yard line. Their offense converted only 3 of 15 third downs. They committed 13 penalties for 97 yards. And the defense surrendered an 82-yard pass that set up the decisive touchdown in the fourth quarter.
In other words, things aren’t improving. And considering the once-prolific offense failed to score at least two touchdowns for the second straight game, the bottom might not be in sight.
In spite of the concrete reasons for despair, though, several players seemed surprised to hear Shanahan’s thoughts about looking ahead to next season. They vowed to dig in.
“When you get down, you need to find out who’s willing to fight and who’s just in it for the paycheck,” guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “I think that’s probably more what he’s talking about. I’m not sitting here saying our season is over and we’re just going to treat this like an evaluation for next year. I think we still have a lot to fight for, and there’s a lot of pride on the line, too.”
The threads that held together Washington’s defeat Sunday were familiar. The details were painful, too.
The Panthers went ahead 7-3 on their second possession and never relinquished the lead. They gave the Redskins a taste of their own medicine, amassing 50 of 69 yards on the drive on three zone-read runs. DeAngelo Williams‘ 30-yard touchdown run was one of them.
Linebacker Perry Riley believed he could have pushed Williams out of bounds at the 12-yard line, but he pulled up because he heard the whistle blow. Referee Carl Cheffers conceded after the game that there was an inadvertent whistle, but the referees gathered and ruled Williams was in the end zone when the whistle blew. The television replay proved Williams wasn’t even close.
The play, basically a quarterback sweep to the right, was doomed from the start because Carolina overloaded the front side. The Redskins, who had one timeout left with 5:21 left in the first half, ideally would have gotten out of that play, tight end Logan Paulsen said.
“They had numbers but based on our formation and our personnel I think we were kind of stuck with it,” Paulsen said.
Shanahan explained his thinking in going for it. If the defense held, the Redskins would regain possession with great field position. “I really believe it’s a mindset of your team that you’re not afraid to go for it,” he said.
The problem is that the Redskins defense has broken down way more often than it has stood up. And when Carolina drove 98 yards for a touchdown before halftime, it was clear the Redskins ship is taking on water.
Now they have a week off to suffer this stench and to ponder their direction.
“Very disappointed right now, very emotional right now, just as everybody would be,” Shanahan said. “You go back and look at who made mistakes and what we need to do as a staff to improve to make sure we eliminate some of those mistakes.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- REDSKINS 2013: Breaking down the schedule, game by game
- NFL 2013: Ranking all 32 teams in terms of staying power
- REDSKINS 2013: Washington seeks staying power among NFL's elite
- With no blueprint, Redskin Hankerson seeks success as dad
- Redskins receiver Leonard Hankerson learning to manage family life with football career
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- MILLER: Dick Heller challenges D.C.s gun registration, files for summary judgement in Heller II
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Human interest stories to feed interest, satisfy curiosity and see outside the box.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
News and views on the Civil War.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow