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POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Assessing Redskins at the Half Way Point

November 2, 2012 in NFL

By John Manuel & Steve Shoup:

JOHN – POINT:

Not only have we reached the halfway point of the 2012 Redskins season but last week’s game marked the halfway point of Vice President and Coach Mike Shanahan's five year contract.  So let’s debate where the team and coach Shanny stand at this point.  Two weeks ago we looked at a possible split between the Giants and Steelers games, but that didn't happen.

The good news is that NFC playoff spots are still up for grabs.  Is this team a legit playoff contender or are the St. Louis Rams on their way to getting a very nice first round pick?

Let’s start with the status of the team this year.  At 3-5, how do you see the second half going?  Will it be another 2-6 run like we have gotten used to?

STEVE – COUNTERPOINT:

Great question and topic! Well at the beginning of the year I predicted 5-11 so a 2-6 run would make me look smart, but I'm going to say it is most likely that we match our first half record and go 3-5 again. I know that will disappoint the people who think we are playoff bound, but currently 13 of the 15 other teams in the NFC are ahead of us in the playoff race. One of the teams that are behind us is our opponent this week the Carolina Panthers. For the Redskins to not finish in the bottom 5 in the league I believe this is a must win for us this week.

If we do finish 6-10 can we really consider this season progress and what does that mean for the Redskins going forward?

JOHN:

I don't see this team as a playoff team either but I have them getting to 7-9 and not falling into the second half swoons of the past as bad.  My feeling is the defense can't be any worse and the offense should at worst stay the same.  Would 7-9 be progress?  At quarterback, yes but everywhere else would be a no.  Saying that progress at quarterback was a given based on who was under center last season and before.

But the colossal defensive drop from middle of the road to complete joke outweighs the quick development of a young quarterback.  What really makes me think that there is going to be no progress at seasons end is all the holes the team will have come off season.  We know that there are holes when it comes to who lines up on the field but now it gets fun for us.

Does it stop at the players?  Do we look at coaches?  Do we look at Shanahan and Allen?  Most say no but they are nowhere close to even .500 so far.

STEVE:

I'll take it a step further and say we'll see progress both at quarterback and running back, but agree that we've regressed quite a bit, primarily on defense. The Redskins are facing a year without much in the way of cap room (even after releasing the dead weight), and without their first round pick.

As for the coaches I think we will see significant turnover on the defensive staff and with Special Teams Coach Danny Smith, but the question is should it stop there? While I love the offense that is playing up to Robert Griffin's strengths, Mike Shanahan currently has a 14-26 record (a .350 winning percentage). That is a worse winning percentage than Jim Zorn, Steve Spurrier or Norv Turner.  Even if we went 6-2 down the stretch, Mike Shanahan will have a 20-28 record in three years (a .417 winning percentage). That is not what you'd expect from one of the highest paid coaches in the league.

Though Vinny's demons still haunt the Redskins, much of this team was signed or drafted by Mike Shanahan, and it is many of his failures that have the Redskins losing. How much blame should be on Mike Shanahan, and should the Redskins move to bring in a better personnel guy to take some of those responsibilities from him?

JOHN:

Vinny the Demon would be a solid Halloween costume although I still have last year’s Sgt. Antonelli in the closet.  I have been one to put a lot of Shanahan's problems onto the personnel moves of the past but do agree that the current roster does have his mark all over it.  I don't blame him for the penalty because those contracts would be hurting us still anyway unless I am wrong.

If it stays the same, the defensive staff will have to be overhauled led by a dismissal of Jim Haslett.  Raheem Morris has done nothing to show he could be the man even with a bunch of backup-types and as you said before he comes as a 4-3 guy anyway.

We really missed out on Wade Phillips to run this 3-4.  Rex Ryan could be available though I think he runs his mouth worse than D Hall.  Shanahan and Allen won't be going anywhere and I don't think Snyder would remove either.  And if he went to Shanahan and said bring in a new personnel guy then it could get interesting.  Possible Marty situation but doubt it.  RG3 is making Snyder money and I doubt he wants to hurt that by removing the Shanahans as well.  I do think Kyle and Mike have done very well with Griffin and I was afraid to break that up in the past weeks.  Now I am thinking there are a lot of coaches that could do well with Griffin.  Where do you stand on this?

STEVE:

The Capgate would still be affecting the Skins, but the cost would have been spread out over more years, so it would have maybe meant that Shanahan couldn't have re-signed Jammal Brown.

Wade Phillips definitely turned it around in Houston, though it is clear they gave him some tools to work with (is it time we start to regret the Kerrigan trade that we took instead of drafting J.J. Watt?). I don't want to see Rex Ryan either as I think he's too much of a distraction, though would be happy for a more aggressive defense.

I do think Robert Griffin would make it easy for a lot of coaches to be successful with, but I do give Shanahan credit for completely basing his system around his QB's strengths and eliminating a lot of the low percentage throws that get most rookies in trouble. Maybe the Redskins could bring in Chip Kelly to run the offense. That could be scary for other opponents (esp. if we add speed around him).

JOHN:

Chip Kelly, wow.  If he flirted with Tampa I think he would jump at the Redskins job especially if he takes home the crystal football this year.  But that is getting way ahead of ourselves.

As for Kerrigan I have been disappointed in his play this season and losing Orakpo is no excuse.  JJ Watt is rolling towards defensive player of the year and it seemed the Skins liked him a lot.  If Kerrigan can turn it around it would be the makings of third consecutive good first round picks for Shanny since Trent Williams seems to be playing at that level.  I am sure we will be running back this same question in nine weeks, or hopefully eleven or twelve from now.

STEVE:

At the time I was happy with the Kerrigan deal and taking Jarvis Jenkins in the 2nd round, because I thought a rush linebacker was a bigger need and the Skins needed the picks. But now it seems pretty clear that J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed are far superior to Kerrigan and Jenkins. And the fact that the Redskins got Leonard Hankerson, Roy Helu, Aldrick Robinson and Maurice Hurt doesn't seem so special anymore. Hopefully Kerrigan will figure it out and get back on the path of being a dominant player. Still not sure I'm ready to claim Trent Williams a success yet (still pretty up and down), but he's at least improving which is good.

Unfortunately I fear we will continue to have some of these questions about replacing coaches and poor personnel decisions before either the 9-12 week window you are hoping. Hopefully the Redskins can improve on their second half failures from the last couple of years and at least go .500 down the stretch.