- NTSB hearing on San Francisco airliner crash postponed
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford insists he has dried out, vows sobriety test
- Greenpeace video warns that climate change is wrecking Santa’s home
- Herman Cain profiled in ‘Political Power’ comic book
- Hagel renews Qatar defense pact despite differences over Iran, Syria
- Fire departments fear Obamacare will gut volunteer ranks
- Rep. Alan Grayson loses $18M in stock scheme
- Christmas secularists get 6-foot beer-can Festivus pole at Florida Statehouse
- George Zimmerman’s girlfriend flips on assault: Let ‘my boyfriend’ go
- Lululemon Athletica chairman quits after firestorm over his fat-thighs comment
Redskins’ reeling special teams take another loss with pair of injuries
It is rare in the NFL that one unit can be blamed for a loss in a single game.
There’s always something the defense could have done better. The offense always leaves some points on the field. But Sunday’s special teams disaster by the Washington Redskins in a 31-16 loss at the Dallas Cowboys was an extreme exception. And the news only got worse on Monday, according to coach Mike Shanahan.
Two of the Redskins‘ top special teams players are done for the season. Reserve linebacker Bryan Kehl sustained a torn ACL in his left knee in the second quarter on an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Dallas’ Dwayne Harris. Also, longtime long snapper Nick Sundberg, who has held that position since 2010, tore the meniscus in his right knee and is also out for the season.
“Special teams definitely lost the game for us,” Kehl said after Sunday’s loss. “Just got to play better. … I couldn’t put my finger on it. We just need guys to really step up and take pride and ownership.”
Shanahan said the team has yet to bring in other long snappers to try out, but that will happen this week. Starting center Will Montgomery served in that role on two kicks during Sunday’s loss after Sundberg was hurt while covering a punt in the third quarter.
The special teams struggles were a hot topic during Washington’s bye week after a Sept. 29 win at Oakland. The Redskins had a punt blocked for a touchdown in that game and were fooled on a fake punt attempt deep in Raiders territory. It has been a season-long trend so far and it is costing them.
That has put heat on first-year special teams coach Keith Burns, who replaced longtime special teams coach Danny Smith this past offseason. Burns had never run a special teams unit on his own during his first six years on NFL staffs.
Instead, for those six years Burns was the assistant special teams coach for the Denver Broncos. But anyone waiting for Shanahan to fire a man who also played 10 seasons for him in Denver, primarily as a special teams standout, probably shouldn’t hold his breath.
“I think Keith Burns is a very, very excellent football coach, very capable,” Shanahan said Monday. “To get at this level, to be in charge of something, it takes a lot of years of work to be put in this position. And I feel very confident that he’ll get the job done even though we’ve started out a little bit rough.”
Washington ranks 16th in yards per kickoff return and 21st in punt returns. Rookie Chris Thompson, who began the year as the No. 1 punt returner, was inactive on Sunday. Josh Morgan hasn’t been much better when he has subbed in.
The Redskins have also missed three of nine field goal attempts, with starting kicker Kai Forbath appearing in just two games thanks to a groin injury. They committed five special teams penalties on Sunday in addition to the two long kick returns allowed and a Forbath missed field goal.
Shanahan again noted the personnel changes that Burns has inherited, with younger players adjusting to special teams roles or veterans playing different positions. He even referenced former special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander, who signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals during the offseason.
“Lorenzo Alexander’s not going to show up so somebody’s got to take control of those special teams,” Shanahan said. “One guy’s got to define himself or two guys have got to define themselves. It’s us working as a group and it just takes one guy to look pretty average.”
NOTES: Redskins rookie cornerback David Amerson suffered a concussion on Harris‘ 90-yard kick return in the third quarter that set up a Cowboys touchdown. Amerson was hit helmet-to-helmet by Dallas’ Cameron Lawrence. Shanahan said Amerson will be evaluated day-to-day before deciding if he can play this weekend against the Chicago Bears.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- 2013 MLB winter meetings: What to watch for in Orlando
- RG3's relationship with Shanahans a work in progress
- Doug Fister addition lets Nationals rest easy with rotation
- Redskins notes: Tight end Jordan Reed suffers concussion setback
- RG3 starts fast, but Redskins' offense fades in loss
Latest Blog Entries
- MLB Winter Meetings: The Nats' plan if Wilson Ramos can't stay healthy
- MLB Winter Meetings: Can Danny Espinosa play third base, too?
- MLB Winter Meetings: McLouth signing adds depth to Nats outfield
- Nationals reportedly sign reserve OF Nate McLouth
- New Nats starter Doug Fister: "You're a world of mixed emotions"
By Tom Fitton
New photos confirm the attack's coordination and its cover-up
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama shakes hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Troops forced to rely on welfare, holiday charity
- Oregon fails to sign up single person on health care website as states struggle
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- George Zimmermans girlfriend flips on assault: Let my boyfriend go
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Notes from a running nerd: musings and more on all things running.
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow