Monday, October 24, 2011

Two Blind Mice: Shanahans Need To Explain Some Play Calls

By Judge Patrick

There is a rodent problem at Redskins Park. One mouse, the father, has a proven track record of success, both offensively and in the win column. The other mouse, the son, has Chris Simms' initials tattooed on his ankle. You want to guess which one is in charge of the offense? I'll give you a hint; he has a tattoo of another dude's initials on his ankle.

I woke up Sunday morning worried that John Beck would be the reason why the Redskins would lose to a 1-5 Panthers team. Instead, 3 coaching decisions, that I still cannot comprehend, went a long way into sending the Redskins home 3-3, and into a possible tailspin.

Some people say that you cannot mix business and pleasure, nor business and family. By doing so, you are inviting, and opening yourself up to a whole new set of problems and questions. This is what I think Mike Shanahan faces come Monday morning.

Now before I so eloquently make my point, I will state that the Redskins defense, for the second week in a row, has looked like the defense who aspired to suck into next dead last place last year. And the defense didn't exactly help the cause, when it came to yesterday's efforts. But I'd like to point out some interesting coaching decisions, that for the most part, were made well before the game got out of hand.

3 decisions, at 3 different points of the game, went a long way into determining the outcome of this game. If Mike Shanahan had final say on all 3 decisions, then his status as a "genius" needs to be re-evaluated. If he didn't have final say on these decisions, and his son Kyle did, then I'd like to know (especially if I'm Dan Snyder) just what he's getting paid $7 million dollars for. Let me explain as I go McLaughlin Group on you.

ISSUE 1!: 2nd quarter, 0:36 to play in the first half, the Redskins have the ball at their own 31 with 1 timeout. This situation gives you two ways to go in my opinion. Take a knee and go to the lockerroom tied at 6, getting the ball to start the 2nd half, or take your chances down the field, and see if you can steal some points before the half.

On 1st down, the little mouse decided to take a shot down the field, which fell incomplete. Fair enough, shot taken. On 2nd down, with even less time on the clock and still just 1 timeout, whoever is in charge of play calling decided to run a quick slant towards the middle of the field, which in this situation will net you 10-15 yards at best, and it will force you to call your last timeout. If Gaffney doesn't fumble there, what are you left with? 1st and 10 from your own 40, no timeouts and maybe 17-20 seconds left? But Gaffney did fumble, Carolina then kicked a FG to take the 9-6 halftime lead, and in my opinion a huge momentum shift.

They took a shot on first down and came up empty. At that point, you swallow your pride, take a knee, and go into the half tied 6-6, knowing that you are getting the ball to start the second half.

ISSUE 2!: Going for it on 4th and 2 from the Carolina 40, on the Redskins opening drive of the second half. Some might say that if you can't get 2 yards, you don't deserve to win. I say if your coaches can't figure out that you are only down 3 early in the 3rd quarter on the road, you have a defense you claim to be good, a guy playing QB for you that hasn't started a game since 2007, and a punter that has been all world the first 5 weeks of the season, you punt the ball and play for field position.

And if you are so inclined to go for it in this position, I'd take my chances doing the only thing that you had done consistently to this point in the game, which is run the god damn ball! I would not run back to back plays out of a shotgun formation when I only needed 2 yards. But that is exactly what somebody in charge decided to do, the second resulting in a 7 yard loss as Beck was sacked. Two plays later the Panthers scored, and the Redskins now trailed 16-6. That's now 10 points that were thrown away to end the 1st half, and start the 2nd.

ISSUE 3!: 4th quarter, 5:05 to play. With all 3 timeouts in hand, having just gone 80 yards in 10 plays in 3:08 to score a TD to make it 30-20, the idea of a onside kick was presented, and unfortunately approved. The Panthers, like the rest of the world, were caught off guard when the Redskins lined up in a onside kick formation and burned their last timeout.

At this point I said to myself, "Way to go rat face, you just made them burn their last timeout!"

Unfortunately, Shanny and Co. lined up for another onside kick, one in which Carolina was prepared for, and Carolina recovered it.

I honestly can't think of a good reason to go onside there. It's a 10 point game, there is 5 minutes left, you have all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. Gano is good for a touchback. You kick it off, let them start at the 20, and try to play some defense. I realize that the defense failed to stop Carolina most of the day, but why then would you give them the ball at your own 49 with 5 minutes to play and down 10, instead of their 20 and down 10?

And spare me the "what if?" scenarios. Onside kicks are a low percentage play, and I just don't see how this situation called for that desperate of a play. It was stupid, end of story.

There certainly is an argument that the Redskins defense (or lack thereof)was the reason they lost on Sunday. But I still think those first two coaching decisions went a long way in sealing defeat. I have been a big supporter of the Shanahan regime, but I cannot give them a pass for those decisions today.

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