Kyle Shanahan is not Redskins' offensive problem

Posted Nov. 07, 2011 @ 5:28 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The Redskins struggled to move the ball in Sunday's 19-11 loss to the 49ers, as they have the past two games, mounting drives Sunday of 20, six, 35, 21, two, seven, 32 and six yards through the first three quarters. The criticism has centered on the Shanahans — head coach Mike and offensive coordinator Kyle — as the Redskins are becoming perhaps the most futile offense in the NFL.

The PFW Spin

If there was an irony in Sunday's loss it was that the 49ers have executed a blueprint for what the Redskins could be: a physical, hard-running offense with a mistake-avoiding quarterback and a game-changing defense. But the Redskins have not been able to capitalize on that formula with Rex Grossman and John Beck at quarterback and with injuries crippling the rest of the unit.

Kyle Shanahan calls the majority of the plays on game days, and he deserves criticism for earlier in the season trying to make this offense something it wasn't. With Grossman at the helm, there were a lot of deep and intermediate passes called when the Redskins lacked that kind of personnel.

Against the Niners, they did the opposite, using a bevy of short and checkdown passes (RB Roy Helu broke Art Monk's club record with 14 catches in the game but he totaled only 105 yards). They had nothing downfield, not with Beck at QB, Santana Moss out of the lineup and Jabar Gaffney not instilling trust with his hands.

But that didn't stop Gaffney from semi-throwing Beck under the bus by saying, "I feel like (I was) kind of open out there today. For whatever reason John goes through his reads and a lot of times he didn't come to me. That's for coach to talk to John about."

Not exactly a confidence builder for the locker room.

The Redskins, Mike Shanahan said, would stick with Beck. And maybe he's not the future starter (that man is not on the roster), but you at least know what you have with Grossman. The only way they can go back to him is if things implode this week against the Dolphins in Miami, the same team that went on the road to upset the Chiefs in a 31-3 thrashing in Week Nine.

Beck might not be able to handle the Dolphins' situation, considering he flamed out there as a failed high draft pick, but it won't be all his fault. The Redskins started three rookies Sunday at guard (Maurice Hurt, whom they cut after training camp), running back (Helu, a fourth-rounder) and third-round WR Leonard Hankerson, who had all of one career catch prior to Sunday.

The issue here is not play-calling, not entirely. The team simply isn't talented enough. It has a shoddy line, very little established pass-catching talent and two inconsistent running backs. The Redskins will have to find their future QB in the offseason. And perhaps there was a greater need to find someone they liked to at least consider developing this season.

But until they find that quarterback, fortify the line and get healthier and more experienced at receiver, there is little the Redskins can do to improve significantly on offense. The fact that Kyle Shanahan has received the lion's share of the criticism is unfair at best. Mike Shanahan still needs to build up this team for it to have a chance.