While the penalty is a legitimate obstacle, the Redskins haven’t compensated by developing a slew of bargain players. Even the Seahawks, owners of the NFL’s best record, start gunners on their punt unit who were undrafted and a sixth-round pick. Spurred by those two players, the unit has allowed 15 yards in punt returns all season. The Redskins allow an average of 15.9 yards per return.
But Shanahan has improved the roster’s talent, from mining Alfred Morris in the sixth round to developing receiver Leonard Hankerson. A third-round disappointment like Josh LeRibeus, little as the team can afford it after the four draft picks sent to the Rams in the Griffin trade, are an inevitable part of the NFL.
The catch is that Shanahan hasn’t done enough to warrant an extension, even if you buy the cap penalty as the main culprit behind this year’s disappointment. And attracting top-flight assistant coaches for the staff’s needed reshuffling would be difficult, if not impossible, without the security of an extension.
Would the hyper-competitive coach embrace the challenge of going all-in on one season?
Does Snyder have the patience to see through the rebuilding process Shanahan believed would take five years?
The questions extend to Griffin. The sometimes-strained relationship between the coach and quarterback over the past 11 months could go a long way toward determining Shanahan’s fate. Can they get along? How much say will Griffin have in the eventual decision?
There aren’t easy answers.
The on-field mess fuels the easy belief that dramatic, franchise-altering change is the lone solution to make all this better. But that change is fraught with as much risk, if not more, than maintaining continuity. The decision is as ugly as the season gone wrong.
Meanwhile, the dumpster fire smolders on.