The Redskins have used the season's first quarter to find an identity on offense. They were sluggish in Week One, prolific through the air in Week Two, confused in Week Three and an efficient ground team in Week Four. The trend toward the ground in the win over the Eagles, however, might be the most
telling development in the team's early going.
The PFW spin
The Redskins' offensive struggles in the Week Three loss to the Rams boiled over when offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan appeared frustrated on the sideline. He's the one calling the plays, with input from his father, head coach Mike Shanahan. But an interesting development took place in Week Four at Philadelphia. Mike Shanahan was seen holding a play-call sheet through much of the game and perhaps had a greater fingerprint on the offense.
In a game that was labeled by many as Donovan McNabb's revenge against his former team, the more interesting story line from an X's and O's standpoint was the fact that the Redskins appeared to take the ball out of McNabb's hands in the second half. Instead, the team turned to a run game that to date had been an inconsistent one.
The move was less of an admonishment of McNabb's ability than it was of Mike Shanahan's desire to run the ball more — especially with a lead late on the road. Through three games, Kyle Shanahan called for 107 passes (plus three McNabb scrambles) to only 58 rushes. Against the Eagles, the Redskins ran it 30 times (plus five McNabb scrambles) to only 20 pass plays.
Has Kyle Shanahan been benched as the play-caller? No, likely not, and even if he was, we might not find out about it. But Mike Shanahan is doing what he hinted he would do when he took over, and that's have a big influence on the offense. And in this case, he knows there are limitations to the passing game, even with McNabb. Against a porous secondary such as the Texans', throwing as much as the team did is going to be part of the game plan. But expect a more run-heavy approach in most games.
The Redskins found something with hard-charging Ryan Torain and could lean on him more. Their offense line, especially with first-rounder Trent Williams sidelined, appears more comfortable going straight ahead and playing power football rather than sliding laterally and pass-blocking. And the limitations among the receivers is becoming painfully obvious. The team lacks at least two receivers to run the kind of multiple offense both Shanahan men want to employ eventually.