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Mike Shanahan Press Conference Highlights (Lowlights)

December 10, 2013 in Redskins Personnel

Here is a sampling of Mike Shanahan's responses and my thoughts from yesterday's press conference.


Q: On if quarterback Robert Griffin III will remain the starter:Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys

“Well the reason why I kind of left it up in the air, talking about that after the game, anytime you have 24 sacks in the last five games and you go against a team that’s had two sacks in five games and you give up six, you always are taking a look at what is in the best interest of your organization. So the reason why I was hesitant, I always take a look at you’ve got your franchise quarterback, you want to make sure going into the offseason that he’s healthy and that he goes through a full offseason program, and that’s why I didn’t say he was the starter. That’s just something in the back of my mind I’m thinking about right now, and I’ll let you know in the next couple of days exactly what I think.”

My Take: 

– Yeah I don't believe this for a second. The idea that he's doing this basically to preserve Griffin's health is absurd. Is that a real benefit? Absolutely, but it is at the cost of Griffin getting three more games worth of work. Given how much Griffin has struggled this year, it's clear that he needs the extra work if he's going to become the elite quarterback the Redskins expect. While Shanahan is right that it's key that Griffin has a full offseason program as well, you don't pull the guy with 3 weeks to go. You don't see other teams who are either out of the playoffs or already locked into the playoffs pulling starters coming off injuries (whether they are in season or from a year ago).

It would be one thing if Griffin was a 7 year veteran playing at the top of his game and you maybe want to protect him, but completely different with a 2nd year quarterback who you already admit is behind because of missed time. The only way this would make any sense is if Griffin had some sort of minor injury (not necessarily knee related) that could get worse by playing on it.


Q: On if he wants to come back next season:

“Anybody have anything to do with football?”

My Take:

-This was after a series of questions on the report that broke on Sunday that he didn't want to come back last year before the playoff game. My take is pretty simple: Yo Mike guess what, that does have to deal with football. You are the football coach of the Washington Redskins football organization. In fact you are more than that as you make personnel decisions for this football team as well. To think that these questions aren't relevant is ridiculous, and a response like this is immature. Whether it is you directly or someone close to you, reports like this continue to leak out, so you shouldn't be surprised that these questions exist.


Q: On if this team is capable of a turnaround next season like the one Kansas City has experienced this season:

“I think you answered your question. Anytime a team is 2-14 and all of a sudden they turn it around, every team has that ability. I think it was a little unusual that they were 2-14 with six Pro Bowl players. That doesn’t happen very often.”

My Take:

-Perhaps you shouldn't mention the fact that the Chiefs had six Pro Bowl players and struggled to get wins. While six could be a stretch, it's not impossible the Redskins have 6 Pro Bowl players this year. Trent Williams, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon are probably locks. Brian Orakpo has a real good shot of making it as well, so that's four guys. On top of that we could see a D-Hall or Barry Cofield sneak in there, especially to replace say someone in the Super Bowl. Even if the Redskins have just 3 or 4 guys, it is clear that this team had some star power and you failed to capitalize on it. Also, let's not forget that the Chiefs went with a new head coach to get them to where they are this year.


Q: On if it is fair to say he may have a similar thought process with other positions:

“The one thing about the quarterback position, or at least our quarterback position, he’s never had an offseason. He’s coming off an ACL/LCL surgery. We’ve got three games left and we’ve had 24 sacks in five games. That’s a little bit unusual. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body. So that was just some of my thoughts, especially going against a team that’s had two sacks in five games and we have six sacks. I want to make sure that he is healthy, and it doesn’t mean that he’s not going to go that direction, but if he did get injured I think I might be very disappointed going into the offseason that he’s not there for whole offseason. It’s very important for him to be there.”

My Take:

-I have got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale if you are interested. I mean come on. Complaining that Griffin hasn't had a full offseason, Really? His rookie year he had rookie camp and all the OTA's, and while he missed the stuff before hand, let's not forget you were sending coaches down to work with him even before the draft. This idea of protecting him for next year (a season you won't be a part of) is a bit of a joke.


Q: On if he still feels things are going in the right direction:

“I think you have to look at every segment. You take a look at the quarterback position, you’re talking about some growing pains. There’s going to be growing pains when you do things a little differently. I was hoping to be a lot better on special teams than we have been. We don’t have quite the depth that we did have a year ago. I think our kickers are struggling, relative to our punter and our place kicker, with distance. That doesn’t help your special teams as well. We’re going to have to make some improvement in a couple of areas and hopefully we can get there.”

My Take:

-Umm this could be why so many people think there is a rift. You get asked an extremely broad question about the issues for this season and the first thing you bring up is your 2nd year "franchise" quarterback who is going through growing pains. Is it part of the reason why there is some question about the direction of the team? Yes absolutely, but you could have mentioned any other aspect first and try to minimize Griffin's struggles this year. Also, here you didn't make any mention that he's coming off an injury (not that it should be fully blamed), which right or wrong would have at least given you cover. The other issues apparently are just the special teams, specifically the kicker and punter. So if one wanted to know why there is concern about the direction this team is going in, it's pretty simple in Shanahan's eyes, it's Robert Griffin, Sav Rocca and Kai Forbath who are holding this team back!


Q: On if he is surprised by tight end/returner Niles Paul questioning effort on special teams:

“I’m surprised Niles Paul would say that, to start with. Once you start playing a perfect game you can start critiquing other players. So, yeah, that does disappoint me that he would say something like that.”

My Take:

-Nice advice Mike, perhaps you should take it. When you coach a perfect game, then you can start critiquing the officials, the players, the reporters, the fans etc. I don't think what Niles Paul said was inaccurate or unfair, but it's good that you can blame probably the one guy who actually made a play or two on Special Teams.


Q: On if he considered kicking away from the Chiefs’ returners:

“Well, that was our game plan going in, to kick the ball out of bounds or hang it high enough where he had to fair catch it. Obviously it didn’t work out that way but our game plan was never to kick it to him, either to kick it high enough where he had to fair catch it or kick it out of bounds. Then when you do take a look at kickoffs, you take a look at the hang time on kickoffs and that last one that he did score a touchdown on, that was a squib kick, and it never did hit the ground. It’s a little tough on your coverage when those things happen, and collectively we didn’t get the job done. And I’m not blaming it on our kickers because we’re all in this thing together, but when you give a guy like [Kansas City Chiefs punt returner Dexter] McCluster, in those kind of conditions, a chance to return a ball or not kick it high enough, you’re going to be in for a long day just like we were.”

My Take:

-This is what I love about Mike Shanahan's press conference responses. He and his coaches apparently did nothing wrong, because they never planned to kick to McCluster and company, so it's all the players fault. If that is true (and it very well could be) there are two things to consider: One, the coaches should still have the players ready to make a play if the kick is short and they don't call a fair catch, so that is still on the coaches somewhat. Two, as the head of personnel decisions, Mike Shanahan is the one responsible for having Sav Rocca and Kai Forbath on the team. Hey Mike Graham Gano is looking pretty good in Carolina, and the Panthers lead the NFL in touchback percentage (74.6%) the Redskins are sitting at 31% 3rd worst in the NFL. And if you were going to roll with Forbath, why not get a punter who does kickoffs instead of re-signing Rocca? This is completely on you Mike so perhaps it's time to take some blame.


Q: On Griffin III’s decision making and how it contributes to the number of sacks:

“When you take a look at offense and you have sacks, it’s always somebody. Is it the decision making by the quarterback? Is it the offensive line? Is it a receiver? Is it a hot receiver? Did a receiver run the wrong route? And we don’t go through who is responsible for what.”

My Take:

-So you don't go into responsibility on sacks, but you did go into who was responsible for the big returns in the special teams game. Makes perfect sense. This response is really just comical. The non-answer here is pretty telling that they feel Griffin is more responsible than they think he should be. But you know what really kills me with his response? The fact that coaching never came in to play for the responsibility. Guess what coach, you drafted a quarterback who played his career in a spread offense and who has spent his life being able to run away from sacks. Historically two types of quarterbacks take more sacks than you'd like to see: Mobile QB's and Young QB's. Of course Griffin is going to take sacks that a veteran guy isn't going to take. As a coach you should know that and have a game plan to protect (perhaps not asking him to throw 40 times a game). Also, you see Griffin up close in practice and know that he's struggling to read blitzes and feel pressure, so you have even more insight, and as a coach/GM you should have invested in offensive linemen to protect him better.


Q: On his relationship with Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith and their similar situations right now:

“We probably should talk to each other, but you don’t get a chance with your preparation. I know Mike, he’s a great guy. I’ll get a chance to talk to him before and after the game. But I think you’ve got empathy for everybody, because there’s only one person that’s happy and that’s the person that wins. At the end of the season, there’s only one true winner. I’ve been to the Super Bowl three times and lost and it doesn’t matter – if you’re at the Super Bowl and you lose or you win five or six games, there’s only one champion at the end of the year, only one person that’s happy.”

My Take:

-Similar situations is a bit of a stretch. Mike Smith is in his 6 season in Atlanta, and while he's 3-10 right now, he's got 5 winning seasons under his belt and 4 playoff appearances. Smith's winning percentage in Atlanta over these 6 seasons sits at .634. Mike Shanahan is at the end of his 4th season and only has 1 winning season and playoff appearance, and his Redskins winning percentage sits at .393. Also Smith is responsible for 1/3 of all the winning seasons and playoff appearances in Falcons history. That builds you some pretty good will. Mike Shanahan is now responsible for many of the worst Redskins performances in the last three decades.

I also  commented on this one, because Mike Shanahan used his classic response talking about how only one team is happy at the end of the year. He's said this multiple times every season, and its from an old Vince Lombardi quote. I hate this quote to no end because it equates the misery of the Redskins season to that of the misery of the 11 playoff teams who lose in the postseason. Do you really think Seahawks fans are going to be as upset if they lose in the playoffs as the Redskins fans? They might be disappointed, but they will be proud of their team and have hope for next year. And it's not just the playoff teams that are in a better position. Teams that look to be on the rise are going to feel better than we do. Do you think Cardinals fans are going to be upset if they go 9-7 and miss the playoffs?



Washington Redskins Mishandled RGIII Situation Top to Bottom

September 17, 2013 in Redskins Personnel

We are two weeks into the NFL season and "Operation Patience" has taken on a whole new meaning, as the defending division champs are floundering at 0-2. The Redskins franchise quarterback looks nothing like the player who won Offensive Rookie of the Year and helped the Redskins have a top 5 offense in the league last season. It might just be two weeks into the season, but their record is the least of the Redskins worries at this point. The real issue is just how bad they have played, which looks like they are susceptible to lose to anyone on their schedule this year (and at this point losing to everyone is even a concern).

While Griffin and the lack of offense is only one part of the equation for their struggles as a team, it takes away the safety net they had last season. In 2012 due to Griffin's elite level of play, the entire offense performed better and at times they were able to overcome deficiencies on defense and special teams. That is no longer the case, and it shows just how bad the Redskins have handled Robert Griffin's recovery and return to the field.


operation patience2

Dr. James Andrews' Role:

The first person one can point to for mishandling this situation is doctor James Andrews, the surgeon who repaired Griffin's ACL and the team orthopedic doctor. Andrews uncharacteristically spoke out about Griffin's recovery early on, calling him "super human". While it is a nice soundbite, it didn't do anyone any favors. For the fan base, they heard that and started booking tickets to the Super Bowl. For the Redskins, it backed them into a corner a little bit.

How could they temper expectations about when RGIII should return, or how effective he would be when he did return, when the most famous sports surgeon in the world basically said he was perfect just two months after surgery? Most importantly I don't think comments like that were good for Griffin to hear. Not only does he then have to face them in interviews with the media or in responding to fans, but they also reinforced Griffin's belief that he could be ready week one and could automatically return to form.

The other concern with Dr. Andrews is this whole clearance timeline and whether or not he had some concerns with Griffin playing early on like was initially rumored. Now this is a tough area to look at, because we are dealing with more rumors and conjectures. But given what we've seen so far, perhaps there is some fire behind that smoke. What we do know is that James Andrews cleared Griffin for the start of camp on a limited basis, as opposed to the PUP route we typically see players with ACL injuries on his timeline. We also know that most players come back to game action in the 9-12 month window after the surgery, and that is for all ACL surgeries not just revisions which are riskier. The Week 1 return date was 8 months after the initial surgery, or a month before the typical best case scenario.

Yes, other players have returned prior to 9 months, but it is not a huge group. Typically clearance in these situations is meeting the bare minimum standard for the strength of the knee. If this was the case with RGIII, should there have been a higher litmus test needed, especially given the fact that this was a revision?


Griffin's Role:    rg3willtowin

Though he's not a doctor and not in charge of the team's decisions (though at times that appears debatable), Robert Griffin III definitely is responsible in part for the mess we've seen to start the season. While Griffin's hard work and dedication to getting healthy are extremely commendable, he handled this offseason completely the wrong way. From the "All-in for Week 1" campaign to the "Operation Patience"  saga, Griffin has made this recovery into a spectacle (and also one that he profited on). This set the expectation bar extremely high for the fan base, and forced the team into a corner.

Would the team have perhaps been more cautious if Griffin didn't put this pressure on them? It is tough to say, but it definitely made it harder on them to do anything to temper expectations or even think of holding Griffin out to start the season as he builds up confidence in his knee. Griffin's comments to the media throughout training camp undermined the Redskins and implied there was some sort of secret agreement between the Redskins and RGIII promising him that he could start Week 1. Instead of worrying about whether he should be out there Week 1, Griffin's focus was on himself being out there and not whether he was actually ready to be playing.

In many ways that looks like he put himself before the team, and that is a dangerous precedent to set. The icing on the cake was the documentary/infomercial "RGIII: Will to Win" that Griffin produced and profited on. Given all the promotion that Griffin did for him starting the season, it gave fans no indication that he simply might not be ready and that he will need to suffer through growing pains as he gets back to form. Plenty of other famous athletes come back from as bad if not worse injuries every year, but they don't make the spectacle that RGIII did and they don't set the bar to unreasonable levels.

See my interview from a couple months ago with a leading orthopedic surgeon who saw some issues ahead for Griffin and his recovery/timetable.


Redskins Organization's Role:kyleshanahan

For as bad as Dr. Andrews and RGIII handled the recovery, the Redskins as an organization were worse. For one thing, both Dr. Andrews and RGIII are employees of the Redskins. The team could have exerted influence to diffuse the mistakes they made in this situation, particularly when they put the Redskins in a bad spot. The Redskins should have done everything they could to temper expectations this offseason. Both in regards to Griffin starting day one, and how he would perform when he was out there.

Early in the offseason we heard some half-hearted comments from HC Mike Shananan and GM Bruce Allen, but by in large they allowed the expectations to go unchecked. Whether this was just to sell tickets and merchandise or they didn't want to undermine RGIII is unclear. What is known is they didn't reign things in and it has now cost them. The Operation Patience saga became an unnecessary distraction during preseason, away from the question as to whether or not Griffin actually should be out there (unless that was their intention). Griffin's recovery story took over and the actual issues behind it were temporarily forgotten.

The Redskins went with a very advanced timeline for bringing Griffin back from this injury, and did so despite the added risk of it being a revision surgery. Add to that the fact that as a quarterback Griffin couldn't be limited. Other players like star running back Adrian Peterson, who came back early from his ACL last year, are able to be limited in the early going. Last year Peterson was on a carry limit for the first 6 weeks as they got him back to game form, and it only was ended because he repeatedly proved that he didn't have that much rust. That is something that just in general you can't do with a quarterback, and given how poorly the Redskins have played, they actually had to put more on Griffin's plate with more passing attempts. For Griffin to play he should have had to have met a higher standard than a player like Peterson who could be eased back into the position.


Game Planning/Coaches' Role:     griffinstruggles

On top of how the Redskins brought him back, they also did a poor job in game planning and supporting him. The Redskins made no effort to upgrade their offensive line, despite their two biggest weak spots (Kory Lichtensteiger and Tyler Polumbus) were free agents. Instead the Redskins brought back the same line that allowed plenty of pressure and sacks on Griffin a year ago when he was fully healthy.

Now with his mobility likely to be somewhat compromised, they weren't going to protect him better. Also, the Redskins did little to improve their defense which was a big problem area a year ago. Unlike last year the Redskins shouldn't have been counting on Griffin to make up for their deficiencies. Though the Redskins didn't have a lot of money to spend, they could have moved some money around to find some moderate upgrades (even some league minimum guys could be considered upgrades).

In addition to not upgrading the personnel, the game plan has just been awful to start the season. Despite an entire offseason to figure something out, the Redskins appear to lack a plan to utilize RGIII without having the threat of the read option. It wasn't going to be easy, but a better contingency plan needed to be in place. And if you couldn't have found a game plan that would protect Griffin as he battles back from the injury, then you shouldn't trot him out there to fail.



As you can see, the blame goes top to bottom and there's enough to go around for everybody. Its an unfortunate situation, that if handled better, the hope of the 2013 Redskins season may be in a different place. The question remains, what do the Redskins do now?

Well, there is still 88% of the season to go, but the Redskins need to fix things pretty fast if they want to salvage this season at all. Not just from the sense of making another postseason run, but simply restoring the faith of their fans, which feel lied to.

Mike Shanahan has said there will be no quarterback change and that Griffin does not need more time to heal. Unfortunately, the Redskins as an organization can't do much to bolster their roster currently, but they can come up with a better game plan for using Griffin going forward. As for Griffin he needs to change his attitude as well, and recognize that he's human, that these struggles are normal and that he just own them.



Random Pre-Draft Redskins Thoughts

April 15, 2013 in Redskins Offseason

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Now that the free agency period has dwindled down I feel that the Washington Redskins did a very good job so far, even though they had a major obstacle to deal with.  I knew that the cap penalty was going to be an issue but was shocked on how bad it actually ended up.  Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen should be commended for at least getting them into a decent situation before incurring the second $18 million penalty.

The Redskins used free agency to hold onto most of their key free agents, unrestricted and restricted.  The one main loss was Lorenzo Alexander leaving for Arizona.  I think they will miss him but I am not devastated by the loss and Lorenzo had to do what was best for him.  The old Skins would have way overpaid to keep Zo and hurt the team in the long run.  But Shanny and Allen have been all about working good deals which won't crush the team.

Two guys who had a chance to test free agency and ended coming back for modest deals were Fred Davis and DeAngelo Hall, which will bring up much debate.  As I have said in the past, I wanted Davis back for sure and I think the one-year deal he signed was very good.  If he can get healthy he will help this offense and the passing game.  I have been criticized for my support of Davis but when he is on the field he is the Skins 2nd best option in the passing game to Garcon.  This is Davis' last chance and I think he will step up and make the most of it.

As for DeAngelo Hall.  I was very happy when the Skins decided to cut Hall.  I am not a big fan of his and never have been.  But I am fine with deal they struck to bring him back.  If it doesn't work out come September, they can just let him go and no harm is done.  If he comes back and plays like week 17, it is a great deal for the Redskins.  I would have loved to see Antoine Winfield but that didn't work out.  Hall at least gives them another corner that can play.  I will be interested to see what they get out of E.J. Biggers next season.  I am not expecting him to be Revis, but I think he should help.

The secondary is still a huge question mark and I expect them as most do to address both corner and safety in next week’s draft.  Especially since they are sitting without a legit option at free safety.  The good news is Shanahan and Allen's draft track record in Washington has been very good.  Adding a franchise quarterback, should have been pro bowl running back, pro bowl left tackle and a pass rusher in the past three years.  Now it would be nice to have a cornerstone corner and a rock at the free safety spot for years to come as well.

Finally I still would like to see them add at least one more playmaker to the offense, preferably at the running back position.  Roy Helu hopefully comes back healthy and can help, but if he can't I would like to see the Shanny mid to late round flyer used to address this.  Before I was hoping, just like Robert Griffin III was, that Reggie Bush would have an interest in Washington.  He didn't and I think he made a mistake.  Yes, he got more money and most likely more playing time in Detroit but he had a chance to do special things in Washington with Griffin and Morris.  Bush should be financially set based on his NFL career and what he got at USC, so I didn't think it was far off to think he could have played for low money in DC.  But that is his choice and hard for me to truly argue.

How would you grade Redskins free agency moves given their cap situation?



Why Running Equals Winning For the Redskins

March 7, 2013 in Washington Redskins

The other day I wrote a post on why it was a good thing that the Washington Redskins were a run first team and why we should expect that trend to continue. That post was based on the success the league was having running the football more often and how it helped equate to winning. Today I'm going to look at what it means for Mike Shanahan, and how rushing attempts and passing attempts for his offenses translate into Wins and Losses at the end of the season. Below I will list his team's rushing attempts, passing attempts, the percentage of each, where they ranked in the league and finally how they did that season, from every season since he started in Denver.


Passing attempts: 594

NFL Rank: 7th  Offensive Percentage: 57.44%

Rushing attempts: 440

NFL Rank: 16th Offensive Percentage:42.66%

Finish: 8-8, 3rd in AFC West, missed the playoffs


Passing attempts: 536

NFL Rank: 16th Offensive Percentage: 50.5%

Rushing attempts: 525

NFL Rank: 2nd Offensive Percentage: 49.5%

Finish: 13-3, 1st in AFC West, made playoffs


Passing attempts: 513

NFL Rank: 20th Offensive Percentage: 49.66%

Rushing attempts: 520

NFL Rank: 6th  Offensive Percentage: 50.44%

Finish: 12-4, 1st in AFC West, made playoffs and won the Super Bowl


Passing attempts: 491

NFL Rank: 21st  Offensive percentage: 48.32%

Rushing attempts: 525

NFL Rank: 2nd  Offensive percentage: 51.68%

Finish: 14-2, 1st in AFC West, made playoffs and won the Super Bowl


Passing attempts: 554

NFL Rank: 10th  Offensive percentage: 54.36%

Rushing attempts: 465

NFL Rank: 9th  Offensive percentage: 45.64%

Finish: 6-10, 5th in the AFC West, missed playoffs


Passing attempts: 569

NFL Rank: 9th  Offensive percentage: 52..44%

Rushing attempts: 516

NFL Rank: 4th  Offensive percentage: 47.56%

Finish: 11-5, 2nd in AFC West, made playoffs


Passing attempts: 511

NFL Rank: 20th  Offensive percentage: 51.5%

Rushing attempts: 481

NFL Rank: 6th  Offensive percentage: 48.5%

Finish: 8-8, 3rd in AFC West, missed playoffs


Passing attempts: 554

NFL Rank: 14th  Offensive percentage: 54.79%

Rushing attempts: 457

NFL Rank: 11th  Offensive percentage: 45.21%

Finish: 9-7, 2nd in AFC West, missed playoffs


Passing attempts: 479

NFL Rank: 26th  Offensive percentage: 46.86%

Rushing attempts: 543

NFL Rank: 2nd   Offensive percentage: 53.14%

Finish: 10-6, 2nd in AFC West, made playoffs


Passing attempts: 521

NFL Rank: 16th  Offensive percentage: 49.38%

Rushing attempts: 534

NFL Rank: 2nd  Offensive percentage: 50.62%

Finish: 10-6, 2nd in AFC West, made playoffs


Passing attempts: 465

NFL Rank: 25th  Offensive percentage: 46.17%

Rushing attempts: 542

NFL Rank: 2nd  Offensive percentage: 53.83%

Finish: 13-3, 1st in AFC West, made playoffs


Passing attempts: 454

NFL Rank: 26th  Offensive percentage: 48.19%

Rushing attempts: 488

NFL Rank: 9th   Offensive percentage: 51.81%

Finish: 9-7, 2nd in AFC West, missed playoffs


Passing attempts: 515

NFL Rank: 21st  Offensive percentage: 54.55%

Rushing attempts: 429

NFL Rank: 18th   Offensive percentage: 45.45%

Finish: 7-9, 2nd in AFC West, missed playoffs


Passing attempts: 620

NFL Rank: 3rd  Offensive percentage: 61.56%

Rushing attempts: 387

NFL Rank: 28th  Offensive percentage: 38.44%

Finish: 8-8, tied for 1st in AFC West, missed playoffs


Passing attempts: 605

NFL Rank: 4th  Offensive percentage: 63.28%

Rushing attempts: 351

NFL Rank: 31st  Offensive percentage: 36.72%

Finish: 6-10, 3rd in NFC East, missed playoffs


Passing attempts:591

NFL Rank: 5th  Offensive percentage: 59.63%

Rushing attempts: 400

NFL Rank: 25th Offensive percentage: 39.37%

Finish: 5-11, 4th in NFC East, missed playoffs


Passing attempts: 442

NFL Rank: 30th  Offensive percentage: 45.99%

Rushing attempts: 519

NFL Rank: 3rd  Offensive percentage: 54.01%

Finish: 10-6, 1st in NFC East, made playoffs



Finished in the top 10 in the league in rushing:

11 seasons out of 17 combined seasons between the Broncos and Redskins

When finishing in the top 10 in rushing: 

116-60 record (.659 winning percentage), eight playoff appearances, just one losing season

When finishing out of the top 10 in rushing:

43-53 (.447 winning percentage), zero playoff appearances, three losing seasons (out of 6)

Finished with at least 50% rushing attempts: 

Seven times in 17 seasons. Made the playoffs in six of those seasons and finished above .500 every season. (Note this does not count: 1996 where they were just half a percentage point away from having 50% rushing attempts)

Finished top 10 in the league in passing:

Six times they finished in the top 10 in the league in passing attempts with a record of: 44-52 (.458 winning percentage), with just one winning record and playoff appearance.

Final Thoughts:

While much of the league may be in pass first mode, it is pretty clear that for the Mike Shanahan system to work the Redskins must remain a run focused team. He has never made the playoffs when his team has run the ball less than 47.5% of the time and seven of his eight playoff appearances his team has run the ball at least 49.5% of the time. So the idea that the Redskins are going to be throwing the ball 60% of the time and winning football games should end for as long as Mike Shanahan is at the helm. That might work for some other teams and coaches in the league, but it's not going to work here with Mike Shanahan. Running the football this much may not seem as flashy or exciting, but for Mike Shanahan it is a way of life.

The fact that the run is so important to his offense, shows just how key the health and production of Alfred Morris is to this team's success. In many ways he's as important as star quarterback Robert Griffin III. The depth behind Morris is very crucial as if he goes down, another back has to be capable of producing similar numbers or the Redskins chances for success plummet.

So keep this in mind as the Redskins go about the offseason and look to allocate resources. The greater upgrades they can add for the running game (back-up running backs, run blocking TE's and Offensive linemen), should help point to a better winning percentage and a far more likely postseason run.

Three Things the Redskins Should be Focused on this Offseason

February 11, 2013 in Redskins Offseason

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

If I'm the Redskins front office, there are three main areas I'm focused on this offseason. Redskins have Salary Cap issues, which need to be addressed first. But which area do you think is the biggest need?

1- Secondary help

Not a surprise here since at times last season it was ugly.  And to be more specific I am looking at free safety as the most important position of need heading into next season.  Way too many times we saw Madieu Williams be a step late on a touchdown or long pass completion.  The Victor Cruz winning touchdown is the play everyone will most remember.

And I know this team is weak at the corners, but I think the combination of a true free safety and Brian Orakpo's return will be a huge lift for the defense.  In house the only option could be DeAngelo Hall but I am against that.  First, Hall needs to be cut and only brought back to a much lower salary, which he says he is open to, but I really doubt it.  I think we overplay the whole corner to safety transition thing.  Ronnie Lott did it early and Rod Woodson late in his career but other than that it has not been that successful.  I would rather look to free agency or the draft for a new safety.

Jarius Byrd could be out there as an option.  He would clearly fit what the Skins needs.  Problem is he needs to make it to free agency, not be franchised and then the Skins would need the money.  One guy who everyone expects to be there is future hall of famer Ed Reed.  If he leaves Baltimore most see him in Indy or New England most likely.  I think if the Skins are interested in a more veteran star, Washington has been very “U” friendly and wouldn't discount it.  We have seen younger and older players have burned us but Reed is still a difference maker.  And a solid singer.

2- Not a shocker but number two is obvious as well.  Washington needs to shore up its line with a legit right tackle upgrade over Tyler Polumbus.

Polumbus has filled in admirably the past two seasons but it’s time to upgrade.  If the Skins make a move on a safety in free agency then the second round pick is in play for that tackle.  But this is a rare offseason where there are a lot of tackles available in free agency and not jumping on that may be a mistake.  The key could be with the hope that the cap penalty is lessened but we cannot count on that.

There are plenty of big time left tackles out there who may reach free agency from former Shanahan pick Ryan Clady to Miami's Jake Long.  With that position being a premier now many of these guys will see the franchise tag soon.  Branden Albert or Sebastian Vollmer could be a fit for the Skins but they will costly as everyone wants legit tackles.

Protecting Robert Griffin III has turned into huge focus after what happened last season and I can't see Shanahan not looking to upgrade the right tackle position.  The Washington Redskins have a chance to become a consistent offensive juggernaut but to be this Griffin has to be out there.

3- Speaking of making this team an offensive juggernaut, I want to see some improvement is at the running back.

What?  Alfred Morris just ran for over 1600 yards as a rookie.  Morris was unreal last season but I think this team could get scary on offense with a solid compliment to Morris.  Morris is and will continue to be the feature back, but I would love to have someone who is more of a big play threat to add to this offense.  The good thing is that Shanahan has a knack for finding backs anywhere in the draft but I think this should be more of a priority than trying to hit on another 6th round gold mine.

Roy Helu should be back but it’s up to the Shanahans to determine if Helu can fit this role in the offense as more of a home run and receiving guy.  I am not sure of that.  I think this offense can be scary silly if they have that homerun threat in the backfield with RG3 and Morris.

Darren Sproles isn't available but Reggie Bush looks to be.  At first thought I wasn't for Reggie Bush but if his price isn't high I think he could really help with his explosive at times abilities.  I am not sold that this would be a good move, but should be on the table.

Now if the Redskins are able to address both safety and right tackle in free agency and they are on the clock in the second round and the best player on their board is Kenyon Barner, I say jump at it.  Defenses are already on their heels facing the Skins offense and this could have them at a complete loss.  I know we may have bigger needs, but this is an offensive league and we have a treasure in Griffin and must continue to build off of that.



Redskins Post-Game and Post-Season Recap

January 7, 2013 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

After the playoff loss to Seattle Seahawks, here's the top five postgame observations for Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin and their future:

1. I will get to the "should he have been taken out or not", but first the game itself.

Seattle dominated the Redskins after the first quarter and deserved to win Sunday.  They did to us what we did to Dallas the week before and ran Marshawn Lynch to control the game.  Add to that Russell Wilson's ability to be unfazed and make plays.

It is crazy to think that the Redskins somehow still had a lead in the 4th quarter and an obvious chance to win.  After the first two drives by Washington, the Seattle defense came together and limited what the Redskins could do.  Add to that starting twice inside the 10 in the second half and the Redskins were doomed.

Seattle has a very good chance now to go to Atlanta and knock off the Falcons next.  The Seattle team that the Redskins faced was much different than the Cowboys, Eagles or Browns wins during the streak although we all should be thrilled to win 7 in a row and to be NFC East Champs.

2- Now to the big debate.  Mike Shanahan is getting killed since the game ended Sunday in leaving Robert Griffin III in the game.

What's your feelings on Shanahan's decision to keep RG3 in the game?

What's your feelings on Shanahan's decision to keep RG3 in the game?

I think it’s a lot easier to criticize Shanahan knowing now the Redskins lost the game and RG3 is most likely hurt worse than when the game started.  But during the game he had to go with who he thought could win him the game.  Griffin has electrified DC all season and even at 60/70/80% if Shanahan felt he was the one to win the game, he should be out there.  Big Ben does this all the time and he has 2 rings.

Is it Shanny's or Griffin's fault that Hankerson short armed what would be a huge play?  That Will Montgomery suddenly started to struggle in shotgun and pistol snaps?  It is easy to say Kirk Cousins should have been in there since now we know the Redskins lost.  But I think Griffin seeing all types of defenses all season compared to Cousins was the better option versus a team like Seattle.

If RG3 has a torn ACL (and that may be the case by the time this is up) it is a very tough pill to swallow.  But he will be back and he will be Robert Griffin III still.

3- I think the biggest play of the game was the play when Brandon Browner got called for illegal contact versus Pierre Garcon.

It was 14-3 and Garcon got by Browner causing Browner to foul him and actually fall to the ground.  But as Garcon was going free, Griffin was unable to get the deep ball off because Seattle had pushed the o-line back into Griffin.  An easy touchdown turned into a five yard penalty and the game was never the same.

The other game changer was the two missed turnovers in the first half.  One was when Doug Baldwin was able to break up a would-be interception from Reed Doughty.  Doughty was great Sunday at making plays at the line of scrimmage but really needed to pull that one in.  The other was the mis-hand off between Wilson and Lynch.  The ball went free and Madieu Williams as we have seen all season was a second late in getting to the ball allowing Lynch to get to it eventually and run with it.  Two tough misses for a team that strived the past two months getting turnovers in key spots.

I also should add the huge 3rd down conversion in the first quarter down 14-0 when Wilson was able to avoid pressure and get the ball to Zach Miller who made a nice catch and run to convert.  Would have given the Skins a good chance to grab solid field position with a Crawford return.

4- My player of the game is simple.

Other than Barry Cofield's head knocking the ball out of Lynch's grasp at the goal line, no one protected the lead like Sav Rocca yesterday.  Rocca had his best day of the season and was able with two huge punts keep the Skins in the lead until midway through the fourth.  If Washington pulled this game out, Rocca would be a hero.

I also continue to be impressed with Niles Paul's ability to get down on punt coverage all day.  Leon Washington was someone I was very concerned with and the special teams did a great job controlling him on kickoffs and punts.  I still love what Alfred Morris brought especially in the first half.  And I feel Reed Doughty and London Fletcher came to play.  Other than that unfortunately not many others stood out Sunday.

5- Although losing a home playoff game is tough (crazy thing is I was at the last one versus the Bears in 1984) this success has to be looked at as a success.

No one predicted the team to win the NFC East and that is what they did.  I think the Redskins now are a year ahead of schedule but a lot will obvious hang on the health of their star quarterback.  But we do have a younger nucleus to go with into 2013 and that hasn't happened in years.  Griffin's rise to stardom should be a huge factor in Washington's ability to attract better talent to Washington in the coming seasons.

We also must not forget that this team was unfairly crushed with a huge cap penalty hours before free agency and that the battle over that is not over.

Finally, I hope that London Fletcher has not played his last game and that he will return next season.  Although he hasn't had the winning success of Redskins of the past, he should be up there with the Riggins, Monk, Theismann and Greens’ of Redskins history.



Redskins Keys to the Game vs. Seahawks in Playoffs

January 4, 2013 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Playoffs are here for the Washington Redskins, so here are my keys to the game and what to watch for in Sunday's Playoff battle against the Seahawks:

1. This matchup brings us the two hottest teams in the NFC.

The Redskins have won seven games in a row while the Seahawks have won their last five.  Both teams win streaks have come against solid opponents as well.

The Skins used their win streak to capture the NFC East crown while the Seahawks just missed out catching the 49ers and are the wildcard.  Seattle has dropped Washington in their last two playoff appearances but those games were in Seattle.  I think this plays a major role Sunday.  Earlier in the season Seattle struggled on the road but their recent play has shown them to be a much better road team.

Good news for the Skins is that both Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have had much better statistical performances on turf than grass this season.  And we all know by now that the FedEx Field surface is far from turf.  This could play a major factor Sunday.

2- The key matchup all of the NFL world will first look at is between the two rookie quarterbacks.

Both Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson deserved Pro Bowl nods as rookies.  RG3 made it and Wilson didn't, but if it went the other way around it would have been hard to argue.  Both quarterbacks have shown poise in big games and have produced in big games.  Much will be made about Griffin's knee, but I think he is better than most feel.  I have confidence in him in the pocket and he showed last week he could still be a running factor as he ran for over 60 yards.

Unlike last week’s game versus Dallas I cannot see quarterback play being such a huge factor in who wins Sunday.  I don't see either Wilson or the Seattle game plan putting him into situations to make mistakes like Tony Romo did.

3- One of the biggest factors why the Redskins have won seven in a row is that they have not faced any top notch defenses during that stretch.

Philly, Dallas, New York, Cleveland and Baltimore were far from stellar on the defensive side of the ball.  Seattle is a different story.  Up front they can get after the quarterback and on the back end they have two corners who can man up on receivers.  "Drip cup" Sherman and Brandon Browner are the best corner pair Washington has faced all season and will challenge Redskins receivers like Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to get open.

Griffin will need his mobility in this game to make time for his guys to break open.  Browner and Sherman, as well as Earl Thomas are very opportunistic so RG3 must protect the football as his has done all season.

4- Both teams like to run the football and both teams have shown they can run the football.

Seattle has been successful when they go into "Beastmode" with Marshawn Lynch and the Redskins cannot let him get going Sunday.  It could be a long day for a defense that has played much better recently if Lynch can move the ball down the field.

They have to get Wilson into 3rd and longs and not 3rd and shorts so stopping Lynch will surely benefit.  As for the Redskins, once again it will be key for Alfred Morris to pound an opposing defense.  The Skins ran well against the Seahawks last season without the force that is Alfred Morris.  Sunday they must continue to ride Mo' Diesel like the Gibbs teams did on their first runs.  Morris has not hit any kind of rookie wall and seems to be getting stronger like Riggins did in the past.  We have to like that.

5- Finally special teams have a couple concerns for me.

Cobra Kai finally had a miss last week, but I am still confident in him as our kicker.  I am worried about the Seahawks being able to block a kick especially with Red Bryant in the mix.  He got us last year and it’s a concern for Danny Smith's crew.

Also, as I have mentioned in the past I really wish the team brought in a kickoff specialist and this week one is clearly needed.  Leon Washington is dangerous and I would rather not give him the opportunities to break one.  Forbath's kickoffs will give him the chance to burn the Skins.  And I was very happy with Niles Paul last week on kickoff returns.  When Dallas had the momentum, Paul came up with a great return that put the Redskins at a good starting point.  He and Richard Crawford need to do the same again.

This is the toughest opponent the Redskins will have faced since going on the streak, but I am confident not only our game plan will work but our quarterback and others can win this game.  Good news is that the last draft has put us in great position for years to come, but I still would love to see this team go far this year.  I see it being a battle and the Skins coming out victors, 17-16.



Washington Redskins Postgame Review & Celebration

December 31, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Postgame thoughts on Victory Monday, NFC Champs edition:

1. I have to look at the season as a whole first.

No one had the Washington Redskins winning the NFC East last summer and that is what just happened.  Not only winning it, but winning it by winning 7 straight games, including a 5-0 run in the division.

They were supposed to be at least a year away from contention but Mike Shanahan and his staff was able to get this team from 3-6 to 10-6, and I am as shocked as anyone that it happened.  Shanahan deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround but having a young leader in Robert Griffin and a true veteran leader in London Fletcher cannot be overlooked.

2.  As for the game, the story was Alfred Morris.

Morris will end his rookie regular season only behind the great Adrian Peterson in rushing yards and as the Redskins single season record holder.  And he saved his best performance for last night.  Morris gashed the Cowboys Defense for four quarters and three touchdowns.  He probably stole some offensive rookie of the year votes from RG3 but who cares about that now.

The offensive line took care of a depleted Dallas front seven.  What was a concern back in August, the Skins o-line has been very productive all season and an obvious bright spot giving the Skins their best team rushing season in team history.  Staying a mostly healthy intact unit cannot be overlooked.

3.  As for the defense on Sunday night there were many stars on the field and one major one on the sidelines.

Jim Haslett was once a goner in DC and now deserves much credit for the d's turnaround.  His unit saved its best performance for last night in the biggest game.

And the struggling secondary led the way.  DeAngelo Hall (yes, D Hall) and Josh Wilson were all over the Dallas receivers all night making it tough for Tony Romo.  The defense was able to get pressure on Romo and force him into three huge picks including the 4th quarter game changer by Rob Jackson.

Finally, once again London Fletcher was London Fletcher.  Forgot the Pro Bowl snub talk after every season, it is time to discuss Fletcher as a Hall of Fame candidate once his great career is over.  Hopefully after a bunch more playoff games.

4. We can talk big plays from Griffin or Morris, Shanahan, the defense but what made this team NFC East champs is the turnover margin the Redskins had.

Once again Robert Griffin didn't turn the ball over while the defense forced three picks from Tony Romo.  Romo will be feeling the heat in Dallas today so they can have fun with that.  Our QB is a big game quarterback and no rookie QB has protected the ball like RG3 has in 2012.  No one could have predicted that before the season.  We knew it was going to be a key going into the Dallas game and it was.

5. Now the NFC East Champs have to get ready for the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.

The two hottest teams in the NFC face off and should be a big game.  Two solid rookie quarterbacks, two beast running backs and two Adderall suspension returners as well.  Today is a day of celebration and we will look more into the Seattle game later in the week.



Dallas Week: Washington Redskins Keys to the Game vs. Cowboys

December 28, 2012 in Washington Redskins Keys to the Game

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

Its Dallas Week.  Here are my keys to the game for the Redskins to beat the Cowboys in the Sunday Night Showdown at FedEx for the NFC East crown.

1 – I will get right into it with first and foremost we need to look at the opponent.  The Dallas Cowboys are an 8-7 football team not a 10-5 or even 9-6.  They are what their record is.  And honestly if Antonio Brown could have protected the football on a punt return this game could have been meaningless for them.  I do think they can be explosive and play like they did week one versus New York but that was week one, not seventeen.

Although the Redskins have not had any games of this magnitude in years, Dallas has had a few and when they have they failed.  The Cowboys have been up and down all season, eking out wins the past two months usually having to come from behind late in games.  The Redskins did the same versus Baltimore but took care of business against teams like Cleveland, in Dallas, New York and last week in Philadelphia over this six game win streak.  Yes, the games ended close but except versus Baltimore, Washington had the lead in all those games down the stretch of the fourth quarter.

2- I could almost copy the same thing I had on the quarterbacks before the Thanksgiving game in Dallas.  Tony Romo did have a big statistical game that day almost all in the second half after the Cowboys fell way behind.  The knock on Romo has been that he can't win these types of games and now to do it on the road gives me confidence he won't be able again.  Before the season I thought Dallas could be a disaster waiting to happen and that Romo could be the fall guy by seasons end.  I will admit that Romo has played very well but let’s see what he does Sunday night.

On the other hand we as Skins fans have full confidence that Robert Griffin III will show up and do what he has done all season.  Yes, the knee will have an effect but all Griffin does is move the ball, don't turn it over and put up 100+ passer rating performances.  And oh yeah, be a true leader as a rookie.  A captain.  That is what he does.

3- Everyone's main concern this week is dealing with Dez Bryant.  And by having to deal with Dez Bryant does that open it up for Jason Witten and Miles Austin.  Bryant last week was as good as anyone other than Calvin Johnson and clearly the weakness of the Redskins is in their secondary.  But will Dez Bryant show up?  Does Dallas add 2 or 3 more chaperones this week to make sure?  I still think that the Cowboys need to watch over a 24 year old is a joke by the way.  Though every time Dez Bryant looks to be on the right path, he does something stupid.  As for on the field, I do think he will be tough to handle.

The return of DeMarco Murray also will be a factor in the Washington defense being able to slow down the Dallas offense and force turnovers.  Washington's bend but don't break approach has worked in recent weeks but it has worked because of causing timely turnovers.  Ryan Kerrigan has to do what he did last week.  Rob Jackson has to get back to level of play versus the Ravens as well to help the struggling secondary face the likes of Bryant, Austin and Witten.

4- The first game showed a head to head coaching advantage for the Redskins.  This must happen again.  Mike Shanahan has obviously been in more big games than Jason Garrett and Shanny needs to win the coaching battle.

Can Shanahan win the coaching battle Sunday night?

Can Shanahan win the coaching battle Sunday night?

The obvious battle between the coaches will pit Kyle Shanahan and his offense against Rob Ryan and his defense.  Shanahan worked Ryan in Dallas on Thanksgiving and I would expect no change this week.  Rob Ryan like all the Ryans', is a clown.  Kyle has had his ups and downs but right now has it going and going good.  Ryan will not be helped by Demarcus Ware being far from 100% but Ware is tough and even at 70-80% will give Pro Bowler Trent Williams a handful like always.

On the other side it was turning into a long season for Jim Haslett until the win streak occurred.  His defense is still giving up yards but just holding opponents points down enough to win.  Just holding them down this week may not work so he will need to find holes in a suspect Dallas offensive line.

5- Maybe the most famous Redskins/Cowboys game for Washington fans is 1982 NFC Championship Game.  The game will be mostly remembered for Darryl Grant's touchdown and Dexter Manley knocking out Danny White but what can't be forgotten is how the Redskins were able to run the ball down Dallas' throat with John Riggins all day.  Washington must do the same Sunday night with Alfred Morris.

Morris has proven all season to be this team's Diesel.  And although I doubt Alfred Morris needs any motivation losing out on a Pro Bowl nod to Frank Gore makes for adding motivation.  I expect Griffin to be more of a run threat Sunday night which will open it up more for Morris as well as the receiving core.  Dallas has been torched like the Redskins many times this season so matching big plays with Dallas will be a key as well.  But I would love to see the 2012 Cowboys get pounded into the FedEx turf like 1982 Cowboys were at RFK.  Here is a link to that game.

As for what will happen.  It is crazy to say that we finally have a huge game at FedEx Field after so long.  It is actually embarrassing after the success the team had for many years under Gibbs' first coaching run.  But I have confidence in my quarterback and I have confidence in our leaders like London Fletcher.

Over the past six weeks these guys have yet to fail us on the field and I don't see it happening Sunday night.  I see a win and a division title but not as high scoring as Thanksgiving and more like the Giants Monday night game.  Redskins 23  Dallas 17




Washington Redskins Postgame Thoughts Week 16

December 24, 2012 in Washington Redskins Post Game Recap

By Staff Writer John Manuel:

My postgame thoughts on Washington Redskins must-win over the Eagles:

1- My first thought after the game was that was too close of a win against a bad Eagles team.

But then I thought about it and a win is a win and that makes six in a row.  Now the Redskins have a week to get ready for the Dallas Cowboys and a chance to win the NFC East.  I didn't expect the Eagles to lay down especially in Andy Reid's last home game.  It wasn't spectacular on either offense or defense like we have seen in recent weeks but it was a win and that is what Washington needed.

2- Robert Griffin's return was solid as expected.  By the stats he put up another 100+ QB rating which is what he does every week.

The early one run to the right didn't look like the RG3 we are used to seeing but everyone knows by now that RG3 is a complete quarterback.  We love that he can take off and go for 20, 30, 40 or more at a time but he can also stand in the pocket and make all the throws.  Griffin moved the ball down the field all game and especially in the first half before Alfred Morris got going.  I would expect RG3 to be ready for next Sunday and put on another show.

One coaching call I didn't like.  I think that Shanahan or Shanatan according to Rob Riggle, should have gone 4th and 1 late in the game.  Morris could have gotten that yard.

3- Everyone knows what Pierre Garcon has brought to this team since his return by now Josh Morgan is making a difference also.

Unlike Garcon, Morgan is not putting up bigger numbers but he is becoming a threat to get into the endzone.  A receiving core that looked very shaky after Fred Davis went down has stepped up during the winning streak.  Passes are being caught and I would not put the Griffin interception on Morgan.

I love what Leonard Hankerson is adding in the blocking game.  Actually I like what a lot of the receivers are doing in the blocking game.  And it would be wrong to not mention Santana Moss and what he has done.  I have lost track on how many big touchdowns he has pulled in.

4- I wasn't thrilled with what the defense did today.

The return of LeSean McCoy made it a much tougher day for Haslett's crew.  Madieu Williams always seems to be a second late, especially in the red zone.  We are seeing that way too much and probably why DeAngelo was playing a lot of deep safety today.

Big ups to Ryan Kerrigan today.  Kerrigan has been good, but not great all season, which he needs to be with the injuries.  Today he was great getting after Foles and hopefully he can do the same versus Dallas.  I love the effort by Barry Cofield getting to the outside in stopping screens and quick passes.  I wish the last two drives the Redskins went after Foles like they did earlier in the game.

5- Finally, an easy one.  IT's freakin' DALLAS WEEK!!!