Washington Redskins Week 9: Post-game Thoughts

NFL Washington Commanders

Washington Redskins Week 9 Thoughts and Observations:

1. Mike Shanahan Needs to Take Responsibility:

Look the Redskins playoff hopes are extremely small right now, but you don’t say that as a head coach. Making statements about now being an evaluation process, is offensive to both the players and the fans. This entire season and Mike Shanahan’s three years with the Redskins should be a time where you are evaluating players, and perhaps that is the problem. If Mike Shanahan had been properly evaluating players, perhaps he’d know that Brandon Banks is awful as an offensive weapon, so perhaps he shouldn’t be out there in goalline situations (also he’s not a good return man, so perhaps we should fix that as well). If he had been evaluating personnel perhaps he’d notice that Alfred Morris has been the Redskins most consistent offensive weapon, and that he should probably have more than 13 carries. Maybe he’d notice that many of the gimmick plays (WR and TE end arounds, Banks formations etc.) are not fooling anyone. Perhaps evaluation could have told Mike Shanahan that the offensive line is a huge mess, and actually really hasn’t improved as much as people try to say.

In addition to his post game comments, the buck also stops with Mike Shanahan. He hand-picked this coaching staff and almost this entire roster. He helps with the game planning on offense, and at the end of the day he’s the one who decided to ignore (or go cheap) on the offensive line and secondary. Shanahan also is responsible for why this is the most penalized team in the NFL, as well as continued poor clock and game management. Mike Shanahan has to bear responsibility for being outplayed and out coached by a 1-6 team, despite being at home and winning time of possession.

2. Brandon Banks needs to Go:

This Brandon Banks experiment has to end, and it has to end ASAP. He is awful as an offensive weapon and just can’t make plays when given the opportunity. And why are you even attempting to use him in to-goal -to go situations. The only chance for Banks to be effective at all is if he can get the ball in space, which is pretty impossible to get when the defense is only three yards away from the goalline. That final play of the game was just horrendous as well, that was almost as awful as “Swinging Gate”. Who thought that would be effective? And Why was Banks running around killing the clock? If whatever you were trying to do didn’t work, either go to the ground for one more play or go out of bounds.

3. Offensive Play Calling Hurt The Team:

Throughout this game the play-calling was just really poor. In addition to the awful use of Brandon Banks, Mike and Kyle Shanahan have a lot to explain about what they were thinking in this game. Going for it on 4th down, instead of kicking the field goal to make it 7-6, was inexcusable. As was the play call to try and run Griffin to the sideline, with little apparent help. Continuing to try to attempt passes throwing down the field as opposed to the quick passing attack that worked so well the first month of the year, exposed Robert Griffin III to a lot of pressure. Not running Alfred Morris more in the 2nd half, regardless of the score. Not keeping in more backs and tight ends to max protect for Robert Griffin III, when it was clear the offensive line was not up to the task.

4. Robert Griffin III Had  Rough Game:

Yes I know he didn’t have a turnover, and no it wasn’t a downright awful game, but there is no doubt that he struggled. Griffin was 23-39 for 215 yards, while being sacked 4 times for the loss of 29 yards. That is just a 58.9% completion rating and just a 5.15 yards per attempt average. If you include net yards per attempt, which includes sacks the Redskins passing offense had just 4.3 net yards per attempt. Those numbers are all poor (especially the ypa and nypa). Tough one can point to Griffin having to suffer a few drops, and that he threw some nice strikes, many of his passes were well off the mark, including multiple ones that were complete. Now the pass rush did impact a number of those off target throws, but Griffin bears some of that responsibility as well. Though the failure was mainly with the offensive line and the coaching schemes, Griffin also held on to the ball too long on a number of occasions. Sometimes he was able to make positive plays occur, but other times it led to sacks or errant passes.Griffin was also for the most part contained in the running game. He did have 11 carries for 53 yards, but going beyond the box score they were pretty ineffective scrambles. 21 of those yards came on the final two drives when the game was pretty much out of reach. Early in the game, Griffin was contained, especially on designed runs where the Panthers got him for a loss or no gain multiple times.

5. The Defensive Struggles Continued:

Now there play was perhaps the best of the season (though the Panthers helped out greatly by blowing some opportunities), but it was still very poor overall. They might have limited the Panthers to just 330 yards (which for the Redskins is a positive) and 50 plays, but they still managed to give up some big plays, and allow Carolina to score three touchdowns (including going 2-2 in the Red Zone). The Redskins defense also failed to force any turnovers, or get any sacks. They managed maybe a couple of pressures, but by in large their pass rush failed them again.

6. The Offensive LIne Matters:

The Redskins ignored the offensive line in free agency, and took project players in the draft (including 3rd rounder Josh LeRibeus), and it is costing them. While the thought has been that the line is better this year, even heading into this game there were some serious concerns. Penalties were up among the offensive line. Sack percentage was up (overall sacks were down, but the Redskins were throwing far less). While the rushing numbers were impressive, Alfred Morris had dealt with a lot of contact, at or behind the line of scrimmage. Also, much of the rushing numbers came from Robert Griffin scrambling after the offensive line broke down in pass protection. Yesterday the line had their worst game, committing three penalties, allowing 4 sacks, numerous pressures and allowing multiple runs to be stopped for no gain or a loss. The Panthers for the most part were able to rush four and get that level of penetration which is very problematic going forward. Though much of the blame will be on RT Tyler Polumbus, the reality is all five linemen struggled, including LT Trent Williams who the team has been suggesting as a Pro Bowl candidate.

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