Just three weeks ago, the Washington Redskins were sitting at an even 3-3 with playoff hopes still very much a possibility. Following three consecutive losses and a misplaced offensive identity heading into their bye week, head coach Mike Shanahan sounded ready to throw in the towel.
The Redskins and their star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III were outdueled once again on Sunday afternoon, this time by Cam Newton and the lowly Carolina Panthers. The loss was a difficult one to swallow, especially after Griffin dismissed comparisons to Newton earlier in the week, but Shanahan appeared to be most upset over the letdown.
A downtrodden Shanahan, who is now in his third season leading the Redskins, took the podium at FedEx Field after the 21-13 loss on Sunday and sounding like a man defeated by much more than just one game.
“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,”
Shanahan said after the loss, according to the Washington Post. “I’ll get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at.”
The evaluative tone is indicative of a coach already conceding the current campaign and prepared to direct his attention toward the future. Even though the Redskins underwhelming 3-6 record may justify such forward thinking, surrendering a season, even if only implying it, in the face of adversity is a show of cowardice and desperation.
The Redskins record reflects their chances at playoff contention, which are understandably low. The more realistic vantage
point may even be to shift gears with a more progressive approach. Team owner Dan Snyder, a loose cannon by all rights, may be doing some evaluating of his own, which may have also caused some panic on Shanahan’s behalf. But, whatever the reason, you still can’t say that.
Shanahan is leading a team of young, impressionable players with a strong drive and desire to win. Right now, they’re merely overmatched. But that doesn’t have any impact on their effort. So, to call the outlook of this season into question after just nine games, intentionally or not, could be disastrous.
Shanahan’s comments could cause Griffin and other players to lose focus, lack motivation or even revolt in the face of such criticism. Even worse, the derogatory remarks could cause the players to essentially forfeit the rest of the season.
There is clearly a lot of heat coming out Snyder’s office, seeing as Shanahan’s accumulated a ghastly 14-27 record in his 2 1/2 seasons in the capital. But while such desperation is understandable, it can’t be tolerated.
Shanahan at least had the aptitude to recant and correct his comments on Monday, explaining that thoughts of him giving up on the 2012 season were “ridiculous,” according to ESPN. Still the players in that locker room need to be addressed with the same
sentiments if there is any hope of Shanahan salvaging what’s left of this season or, better yet, his job.
Fortunately for the Redskins, and Shanahan especially, the bye week is upon them, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With plenty of problems cropping up and Griffin beginning to struggle, there will be plenty to evaluate. Something, I’m sure, Shanahan will look forward to.