“I can’t figure it out. I can’t figure it out.”
This is what Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said after his team’s 31-16 loss Sunday night to the Dallas Cowboys.
He was talking about the call on a fumbled punt that the Redskins appeared to recover, but the call went against them. But he might as well be talking about his 2013 Redskins football team, because he doesn’t seem to have a clue about how to get this team ready to play every week.
The Redskins are 1-4 and about to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday at FedEx Field and the Denver Broncos on the road the following week.
Unless Shanahan figures it out, things are about to get ugly at Redskins Park. Questions that no one wanted to answer will be asked, such as:
SEE ALSO: Redskins’ reeling special teams take another loss with pair of injuries
What is Shanahan’s future in the middle of the fourth year of a five-year contract?
Were the three first-round draft picks and one second-rounder worth trading to the St. Louis Rams for the opportunity to draft Robert “SuperBob” Griffin III second overall in the 2012 NFL draft?
Or, taking a page from Shanahan himself, when he declared after a loss to the Carolina Panthers last year to put the Redskins at 3-6: “Now you’re playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come.”
This time, Shanahan could look in the mirror and ask that question.
Week after week, the Redskins look unprepared to take the field, a team defined by its mistakes.
They had 12 penalties for 104 yards Sunday. “Penalties, we kind of hurt ourselves with that,” said linebacker Brian Orakpo, who has yet to emerge as a play-making pass rusher he has always thought himself to be. “We got to limit the penalties. Those are really huge when you got a back-and-forth game like that.”
Remember, this is a team that has been practicing together since late July, when training camp opened. This is a team in its fourth year under Shanahan. Yet the Redskins looked unprepared when they opened the season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, and they looked unprepared Sunday night in Dallas, still talking about limiting penalties after five games in the 2013 season.
They are struggling with the clock, both with Shanahan’s time management, which was so poor, particularly at the end of the first half, that he seemed confused by being in the Central Time Zone, and the ability to run an offense with a sense of urgency with the game on the line.
Then there are special teams. The Redskins invented special teams. George Allen was the first coach to hire a special teams coach. From Marv Levy to Wayne Sevier to Danny Smith — yes, Danny Smith — Redskins special teams performed at a professional level.
Not Sunday night.
Special teams gave up an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown to Dwayne Harris, followed by a 90-yard kickoff return by Harris, putting the Cowboys in position for a Tony Romo touchdown.
It was so bad that first-year special teams coach Keith Burns got called for getting in the way of a referee on the field — “illegal contact with a referee on the sideline.” If he’s going to be on the field, he might as well tackle someone.
SuperBob looked more super in the first half Sunday night, showing more speed and mobility than he has at any point so far this year in rushing for 77 yards on nine carries. But he learned that being a pocket passer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when the pocket collapses so quickly behind a poor protection performance by the offensive line.
SuperBob completed 19 of 39 passes, less than 50 percent, for 246 yards, one interception and a 58.3 quarterback rating. And this was supposed to be the game where, after the first four games that supposedly served as SuperBob’s preseason, we could judge him fairly on his performance.
He looked unprepared, as did the team, as did the coach.
“In order to win on the road, you have to play a complete game,” Shanahan told reporters after the loss.
They have yet to play one either on the road or at home.
They haven’t been prepared to play one.
.• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,”noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio andespn980.com